KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With stores already putting out holiday decorations and items, it can seem like it is far too soon to think about what your home will look like this holiday season. Whether you’re already excited for Halloween and Christmas, or if holidays are a bummer, fall cleaning is a great way to kick off the season.
Everyone knows of spring cleaning, getting ready for the summer, and the changing weather. Similarly, implementing fall cleaning can help make your home look and feel better while helping create a functional environment as the temperature changes. Here are some practical steps you can take when fall cleaning.
Wash winter clothes
Swapping out wardrobes from summer to winter is a regular part of the yearly cycle, but the last thing anyone wants is to wake up on a cold morning and not be able to find a warm jacket before heading to work or school. Before that happens, go ahead and find those clothes and give them a good wash. Spring-to-fall storage can leave clothes musty, but getting ahead of the game before the first cold morning could mean that you never have to face not being able to find what you need.
Get rid of what is no longer needed
When swapping out clothes, it’s a great time to evaluate what is no longer needed or what needs to be gotten rid of. Clothes that don’t fit your body or style but are still reasonably nice are great candidates to be donated to a thrift store that supports a great cause or sold through Facebook Marketplace or Poshmark. Clothes that have holes or have otherwise gotten ruined can be trashed, aside from a trusty set or two to be kept for painting or otherwise messy labor.
While clearing out the closet, consider what else in the home no longer fits but might still be useful for someone else. Outgrown items, extra books, or items that have been upgraded may still be functional for others. This is also a great time to make space for the extra items that are sure to come in the holiday season. Having kids make space for more toys or knowing what gifts might come during the winter holidays in the fall can make the holiday season a little less cluttered and stressful.
Swap out air filters
Air filters for homes that have HVAC systems should be done regularly, but the change can be very helpful moving from the summer to the fall. Build-ups of pollen, dust, and dirt, plus pet hair for those who have pets, can make the HVAC system less efficient. Before turning on the heater, go ahead and change out the air filter to make sure your home is running efficiently.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Along with turning on the heater, additional things to consider are the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance says that smoke detectors should be changed every 10 years, and batteries should be replaced every year. Winter often sees an increase in house fires because of heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candle according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Carbon monoxide detectors are also an important part of keeping everyone in the home safe. The Environmental Protection Agency shares that carbon monoxide is often created by a variety of different combustion devices, such as heating devices or cars, and that the batteries in carbon monoxide detectors should be changed yearly.
Reverse ceiling fans
It can be a frequent joke to point out people who use ceiling fans in the winter, but the ones who use them correctly are onto something. During the summer, the fans blow air down and create a cool breeze, but once the temperature outside gets colder, the fans can be reversed to circulate warm air into the room according to Energy Star.
“In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.” Energy Star said on their website.
Check the seal around doors and windows
Making sure your home has the best chance of keeping warm air in is an important step to preparing your home for the cold temperatures of late fall and winter. The Department of Energy suggests in addition to checking around doors and windows, other places that should be checked for potential air leaks include: electrical outlets, switch plates, electric and gas service entrances, baseboards, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, wall or window mounted air conditioners, cable and phone lines, vents, fans, and where dryer vents pass through the walls.
While weather stripping and caulk are two simple and effective measures of sealing around doors and windows, the Department of energy has a full list of suggestions on how to air seal your home for the winter.
For renters, making alterations to winterize their space may cause concern. To start, consulting the landlord is an excellent starting point, but if they are not in favor of any work being done by either party to keep the cold air out, Apartment Therapy suggests thermal curtains and plastic insulation film for windows and an under the door seal that can be removed.
Winterize outdoor water spigots
For those with outdoor water spigots, every year they need to be winterized to reduce the likelihood that a pipe will freeze and burst. An excellent time to get ahead of this is in the fall, so that if insulation tubing is needed to cover pipes or a new winter cover is needed for the spigot head are sold out, there will still be time to get what is needed before the pipes freeze.
Tackle dust and dirt
Summer and the beginning of the school year can cause a build up of dirt, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Between running constantly all summer and then getting back into the swing of “regular life” during the fall, dirt and dust can slip through the cracks. Aside from contributing to allergies, dirt and dust can make your home look unkempt, especially when you spend more time in it during the fall and winter. Dusting surfaces, deep cleaning around appliances, vacuuming floors and furniture, and giving the walls a good wash can spruce up the space and make it much more welcoming.