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The season’s turn. With the change from the warm weather of summer, we face the colder winds and chilly rain of fall. With winter on the horizon, it’s crucially important that you prepare your home. We’ve pulled together the ultimate list of fall chores to do around the house to get ready for winter. Set aside a time each day, and a bit more on weekends, and you’ll be through before the first frost.
Outdoor Fall Chores
Bring in Outside Toys
The changes in weather can quickly deteriorate and destroy the plastics and rubbers used in many outdoor toys. Store them in a garage or even your gardening shed to prolong their life.
Clean, Repair, and Store Outdoor Furniture
Cold weather can quickly ruin outdoor furniture. The very least you should do is make sure outdoor furniture is fully and properly covered so that it’s protected by the elements. Bring in any cushions or removable padding. Properly clean your grill and cover it with a high-quality cover like those found here at Tractor Supply. Remember, all it takes is a small crack for moisture to get into. Once the frost hits, that ice will expand and quickly split plastics. Lingering moisture will rot any wood furniture.
Prep Patio for Winter –
Wash down your deck and seal it if necessary to keep the wood safe from the winter weather.
Fall Chores for Gardening
Clean and Sharpen Gardening Tools
There’s nothing worse than heading out to the garden shed in the spring only to find your tools rusty, broken, and useless. Avoid the heartbreak and frustration by taking the time, now, to clean and sharpen tools. Make a list of any that are broken beyond repair so you can replace them. Store your tools safely away until spring.
Move Plants Indoors or to a Greenhouse
Hot house plants, vegetables, and fruit trees may enjoy the summer heat, but they will quickly wither and die in the rapidly cooling fall weather. The best way to prepare them for winter is to introduce them to the greenhouse over a couple of weeks before finally storing them away for winter. Let them have a few hours at a time in the shelter, gradually increasing their time indoors each day.
Drain and Store Garden Hoses
The plastics used in garden hoses quickly wear down over the exposure to heat and sun in the summer, especially when they’re then subjected to frost and snow over the winter. Save yourself money by draining, rolling up, and storing hoses somewhere indoors; garages, greenhouses, and garden sheds are perfect.
Pick End of Season Fruits off Fruit Bushes, Trees, and Vegetables
Harvest, preserve, or eat the bumper crop your summer garden will give you. Don’t allow it to rot on the vine.
Turn Off Sprinkler Systems
Leaving your sprinkler system connected will cause those pipes to burst and will ruin your system.
Prune Fruit Trees
If you prune and seal fruit trees in the fall then they’ll be ready to go in the spring. You can grab a can of pruning seal here at Tractor Supply
Mulch Plants for Overwintering
Do you have a winter garden? Mulch plants you intend to harvest during the winter or put in cold frames.
Check out our other checklists for Winterizing Your Barn and Preparing Your Homestead for Winter
Fall Chores for Landscaping
You don’t want to let leaves decompose on your walkways or driveways. As the weather gets colder and the leaves break down they can become slippery and dangerous. Instead, rake them up, mix them with compost, and use them as mulch.
Dethatch Your Lawn
Dethatching involves cutting through the intricate root system your grass will make as it grows. This allows it access to air and other necessary nutrients. Do this before you fertilize but after you weed otherwise you’ll just end up spreading weeds around your lawn.
Fertilize and Weed
Before everything settles down for the winter give it a last going over for weeds so that plants you want have a better chance of crowding weeds out in the spring. You’ll also want to give them a dose of fertilizer to hold them over winter so they’re ready to go when the sun comes back around.
If you spread seed in the fall make sure you drop a little more to make up for what is taken by critters or just doesn’t germinate.
Mulching involves putting cardboard or other biodegradable material such as compost around your plants to keep their roots from freezing and dying in the snow. About four inches of mulch is usually sufficient to keep most gardens safe over the course of the winter.
Update any Seasonal Flowers
Take a look at your landscaping. Do you have any seasonal flowers that are ready to be pulled? Now is the time to replace them with fall and winter varieties.
Clean Up Branches and Debris
Sweep walkways and driveways, pick up any branches and debris that have fallen, and make sure your home is safe for the coming winter.
Home Exterior Fall Chores List
Close Down Your Pool
Drain above-ground pools and put all the equipment away. Give inground pools one last treatment before covering for the winter.
Winterize Windows with Caulk
Clean off any old caulking and properly seal windows closed.
Install Storm Doors
In areas where there are heavy fall and winter storms, it’s time to install storm doors.
Cover Outdoor Hose Bibs
Make sure that you have fully shut off the water on all outdoor faucets. Cover them with insulation to keep them warm. Most hardware stores carry insulating foam covers specifically for outdoor hose bibs. These are easy to install in winter and remove in the spring.
Make sure you have plenty of firewood, make sure some of it is very near the house, and make sure you have a good pile of wood inside your house in case the weather makes it too dangerous to go outside.
Fall Chores for the Roof
Check and Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Clear gutters and downspouts are a crucially important part of preparing for the rains and snows of fall. Water that gets trapped in gutters and downspouts can cause damage both to your room and the foundation of your home. Ensure that the path water takes moves away from your home and is free of obstruction.
Inspect the Roof and Make any Repairs
Having a professional inspector assess your roof will clue you in to any repairs that need to be made to prevent leaking.
Foundation Fall Chores Checklist
Seal Gaps to Prevent Vermin from Sneaking Inside
Walk around your home and look for any areas where vermin, like mice or voles, can wiggle into your home. Seal any of these spaces so they can’t get in when they’re searching for food and warmth during the cold.
Inspect Foundation and Repair any Cracks
The best way to check this is to have a professional inspector come out and check your foundation. It’s important to have this done annually, especially if you are on a concrete pad foundation. Cracks will fill with moisture that freezes in the winter. That ice will expand, worsen any cracks, and weaken your foundation.
Check and Replace Broken or Ruined Weatherstripping
Weatherstripping helps prevent heat loss during the winter which, in turn, lowers your electricity bills. Check doors and windows to make sure weatherstripping is free of cracks or rips and doesn’t need to be replaced. Tractor Supply has a great selection of weatherstripping for doors and windows.
Indoor Fall Chores Cleaning Checklist
Inspect and Clean Chimney
You should inspect your chimney and clean it every single year before your first use. Even better if you can have it inspected and cleaned by a professional just to make sure there aren’t any serious issues that need to be dealt with. Lehman Bros. sells a creosote-destroying chimney cleaning formula if you are comfortable cleaning your chimney yourself.
Cleaning out your fireplace helps to ensure that it works well and is safe. While the main concern is certainly the chimney, creosote can still build up on the fireplace walls and affect how safely wood burns.
Replace Furnace Filters
Checking out your furnace filters is also a great way to check the status of any air conditioning duct systems in your home. If the filters are super dirty it might be a good idea to schedule a duct cleaning for the spring!
Dust and clean window sills and grooves. Vacuum, then wipe them out. Take the time to wash window interiors and exteriors, as well as remove and rinse all screens. As part of your fall chore list, now is also the time to add storm shutters if you use them.
Wipe Down all Doorknobs, Doors, and Lightswitch Plates
Though you might not notice it at first, as everything around them becomes sparkly clean you will begin to see all the dirt, grime, and fingerprints that have gathered on them over the months.
Vacuum Vents and Vent Covers
While you can’t really get into the ducts (and probably shouldn’t) to clean them out, you can pull your vent registers out and vacuum the immediate vent area. When preparing for winter you’ll also want to vacuum the registers and make sure they’re free of lint or pet hair.
Fall Chores List for Living Areas
Check all Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, and Fire Extinguishers
You’ll want to make sure the batteries are working on all these alarms, especially since some issues with furnaces and fires may go unseen and can be deadly. Make sure that you have at least one on each level of your home, outside sleeping areas, and within 20 feet of furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters.
Clean Humidifiers and Replace all Filters
If you struggle with your home getting too dry during the winter then you’ll be bringing out the humidifiers. Make sure you give them a quick clean and replace their filters. You can easily clean your humidifier with 6% white vinegar. Mix with a cup of water and let sit for an hour in the base of your unit, and pour a cup of straight vinegar into your unit, seal, and shake. Rinse, wipe down, and it’s ready for use.
Check and Restock First Aid Kits
Though checking and restocking your first aid kit might not be necessary for you to do in preparation for winter, it’s still a good idea to do this twice a year. Making it a part of your household fall prep makes sure it gets done without being a hassle.
Vacuum Upholstered Furniture and Cushions
Freshen furniture by vacuuming upholstery and cushions. You can even sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes, and then vacuum it away.
Wash and Dust Living and Artificial Plants
Getting ready for fall is the perfect time to make sure your plants are dust-free and clean. Make sure to check for any annoying fruit flies and to apply some Neem oil to control them. You can also sprinkle the dirt with a little cinnamon to help prevent mildew problems in the cooler weather.
A little soap and water can quickly and efficiently clean down walls in every room. Rooms will feel brighter and definitely cleaner as you head into fall and winter.
Vacuum Under Furniture and Rugs
Move rugs out of the way and make sure carpet and solid flooring have been cleaned from wall to wall.
Dust and Wipe Down Tops of Doors, as well as Door Frames and Floor Molding
These places quickly gather with dust but escape notice. A quick wipe-down helps the house feel more open and much lighter which definitely helps as things get darker.
Spot Clean Carpets and Rugs
Go through and clean your rugs and any spots on your carpet. You can even hire a carpet cleaning company to do this for you, however, fall and winter tend to be muddy. It is usually better to just spot clean carpets heading into fall, then professionally clean them again in the spring.
Wash or Dryclean Curtains
Pull down curtains and have them washed or dry cleaned. Now is also the time to change to any seasonal window treatments. You’ll also want to dust blinds.
Wash/ Replace Vacuum Filters
When you’re all done using it for big cleaning projects, take the time to pull out all your filters. Replace those that cannot be rinsed clean, and wash and dry the others.
Dust Picture Frames, Art Frames, and any Sculptures or other Artwork
Make sure to get into grooves and crevices carefully. but thoroughly.
Wash Light Fixtures and Clean Out any Hanging Lights
Remove lights from the ceiling and dump out any bug bodies. Wash gently with warm soap and water, then dry and rehang.
Office Fall Chores
Wipe Down All Electronic Screens
Take a moment to sweep through your home and wipe down all television, computer, phone, gaming system, and tablet screens. Over time fingerprints can build up without you even really noticing, so this is a quick chore to freshen everything up.
Clean Keyboards and Remote Controls
Start the fall and season out the healthy way. Make sure you wipe down all keyboards and remote controls. These are huge gathering places for germs!
Condition Leather Furniture
Your leather furniture deserves just as much love as all the rest of your furniture. Give it some affection and carefully condition your leather according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Books are incredible dust catchers. Take some time to dust the tops and spines while you’re cleaning everything off and have the vacuum out.
Kitchen & Laundry Fall Cleaning Checklist
Scrub Grout in Bathroom and Kitchen
This should be done twice a year to keep your grout sparkling white and beautiful. It’s part of closing things down for the fall and winter, and opening things up again in the spring. Definitely a ‘must-do’ on your fall chores list.
Clean and Condition Wood Cabinets and Wood Furniture
Use a half and half mixture of distilled vinegar and water to cut through grease and grime on cabinets. Follow up with a bit of wood oil. On wood furniture, you can use something like wood oil soap to clean before polishing. But be sure to follow up with a high-quality polish like this feed and wax polish from Lehman Bros.
Seal and polish granite countertops according to the manufacturer or installer’s directions.
Disinfect Garbage Cans and Composters
Use about four cups of vinegar for large kitchen-style trash cans, a little bit of dish soap, and then fill your trash can about halfway with water. Let it soak for about an hour, then scrub, empty, rinse and dry. Consider adding a little baking soda in the bottom of each bag to cut down with smells over winter.
Clean and Organize Pantry
Throw out any expired food. Put aside unopened foods that are not expired, but more than a few months old; if you have no active plans for them consider donating them to a food bank. Sweep out your pantry shelves, and then sweep and mop the pantry floor.
Wipe Out Cupboards
It might seem silly, but as part of your fall chores, you want to clean out your cupboards. Remove dishes, cups, pots, and pans from the cupboards. Wipe out the shelves to get rid of dust and crumbs that always manage to get into the corners. You may even want to vacuum if you have one with a hose attachment that can get into corners. Take time to clear out anything that is broken, chipped, or doesn’t match.
Organize Storage Containers and Pots and Pans
Make sure all pots and pans have fitting lids. If any have gotten warped consider throwing them out or carefully putting them back into shape. Make note of any missing lids and look for replacements. Tighten handles if needed. Make sure any cast iron is properly seasoned and in good shape. Make sure every storage container has the right lid and clean out any you don’t regularly use and any lids that are missing containers.
Scrub Down Backsplash
These can get covered in greasy grime as you cook. You can use a fifty-fifty mix of vinegar and water to cut through the grease to make cleaning easier.
Clean Beneath and Behind Large Appliances
Pull your stove and refrigerator away from the wall. Vacuum and mop around behind and beneath them. Make sure you vacuum the coils on the back of your fridge. Do the same with your washer and dryer, clean out and vacuum the lint catcher in your dryer.
Clean the Inside of your Dishwasher and Washing Machine
The best and simplest way to do this is to run both through a wash cycle with vinegar and baking soda. In your washing machine use vinegar in place of bleach in the bleach holder, and baking soda in place of laundry detergent in the detergent holder. In your dishwasher use baking soda in place of detergent in the holder and set a bowl of vinegar on the top shelf of your dishwasher.
Clean Dryer Vent
The dryer vent often goes unnoticed, but it can be a huge fire hazard in the home. Take some time to disconnect it from your machine and carefully vacuum it out.
Clean Small Appliances
Go through your small appliances and make sure they work. Check that the seals on your blender are in good shape. Empty the crumbs from your toaster. Order any missing accessories and get rid of any duplicate appliances.
Freshen your Garbage Disposal
Do this by running it as you add some baking soda and vinegar. Consider using a weekly deodorizer.
Clean the Oven
While you should probably run your cleaning cycle in your oven any time there is a spill, this is the perfect time to run it just to make sure everything is working at peak efficiency.
Scrub Vent Hood
When you cook, grime doesn’t just make it only your backsplash and cabinets, it gets up in the vent hood too. Take the time to scrub it inside and out, replace the grease catcher, and clear out any filters.
Deep Clean Fridge Interior
It’s time to clean out the fridge! Throw away any spoiled food, wipe down the shelves, consider putting liners on them, wash the drawers, and then put it all back together.
Wipe Down Tables and Chairs
If you use chair covers for the holidays now is a good time to get those out. It’s also a great time to change table decorations for the seasons.
Wash Tablecloths and Placemats
This is also the right time to switch them out for fall table linens.
Organize China Cabinet or Buffet
Make sure everything is polished and looking beautiful.
Fall Chores for the Bedrooms
Switch Out Linens and Bedding
This includes washing, drying, and folding the bedding before you put it away, and includes pillows, throw blankets, and the comforter hidden inside any duvet covers.
Switch Ceiling Fan Direction
Switching the direction of your fan blades before the cool weather kicks in will help keep your house warmer. Check your owner’s manual to find out how to change direction on your units.
Flip and Vacuum Mattresses
Remove and wash any mattress covers, vacuum the mattress, rotate or flip, then vacuum again. If you like to freshen with baking soda this is the time to sprinkle that on as well before putting back on the cover and linens.
Switch out Clothes for the Seasons
This is the perfect time to clean out any clothes that aren’t worth keeping. See if they can be turned into rags or toss them. It’s also time to go through kids’ clothes and either put them aside for another, smaller child or prepare them for donation.
Dust and Condition Bedroom Furniture
Just as with kitchen cabinets and other furniture in the home, any wood furniture in your bedroom will need to be cleaned and conditioned. Everything else will need to be dusted and wiped down.
Bathroom Fall Chores List
Scrub Shower and Tub
This doesn’t need much more than a little elbow grease and a spray bottle of equal amounts of water and vinegar with about a tablespoon of dish soap. Spray liberally, let sit for 15 minutes then tackle with a gentle, soft-bristle brush. Make sure to get it in corners to remove any mold or mildew. Also, make sure to get a good look at any caulking. Remove any pieces that have mold or mildew in them and recaulk the areas.
Wash Shower Curtain
A quick dip in your washing machine on the delicate cycle with about a cup of vinegar will refresh and renew both your shower curtain and the liner.
Unclog Shower Heads and Drains
Pull out hair and other debris that can clog up your drain. Pour a few tablespoons of baking soda and follow up with vinegar to safely and gently clean out any gunk and clogs, then rinse with hot water. Lastly, using a ziplock back and rubber bands, submerge shower heads and faucets in straight distilled white vinegar for an hour before rinsing with warm water and wiping clean.
Disinfect Toilets and Sinks
Get down and clean out the dirty with your toilet. Take a moment to check the seals around your toilet and sink to make sure they’re still water-tight. Finish up by replacing or sanitizing your toilet brush.
This is a great tip for good mouth hygiene. Make your dentist happy by breaking out a new toothbrush twice a year.
Handle Bath Towels
Go through your bath towels in all your bathrooms. Repurpose or throw away any that are too old to use and replace them. This is also the time to switch out to fall or holiday towels.
Wash and Scrub Solid Floors
It’s time to get down and dirty with your flooring. Head for where the floor meets the wall, corners, under cabinets, and under furniture.