The winter months bring shorter days, cooler temperatures - more time indoors - and a rapid succession of holidays which often translates into house guests, visitors and entertaining. Here is a fall cleaning, organizing and home-maintenance checklist to help you prepare:
• First, complete any outstanding items from our Prepare Your Home for Fall checklist as you will want this list completed before winter sets in.
• Clean and dust permanent lighting fixtures to maximize indoor brightness. While you are at it, replace any spent bulbs you have neglected to change because they require a ladder to reach.
• Wash walls and ceilings. You might see this more as an end-of-winter task but - again - the idea is to maximize brightness in your home. Using the right cleaning solution to remove accumulated oily grime from flat surfaces will allow light to reflect rather than being absorbed.
• Deep clean and treat wood and tile floors to guard against etching from winter grit and salt. This is a good idea even if you live in warmer climates where grit is less of an issue. Over time, embedded soils of all types cause etching, which diminishes your floor's ability to reflect light evenly (meaning it can't shine). Also, place rubber mats or low-sided trays near doorways to receive shoes and boots so grit never comes inside.
• Flip and rotate mattresses. To maintain shape, resiliency and comfort, mattresses should be flipped and rotated at least four times a year. Take the opportunity to vacuum thoroughly for dust mites, accumulated skin cells and other air-quality hazards as well as underneath and behind beds.
• Clean winter bedding and leave in sun for a few hours. While your winter bedding may have been laundered before going into storage, it is likely to have picked up dust mites and possibly a bit of mold or musty odor over the summer.
• Deep clean your guest room (if you are fortunate enough to have one and are expecting visitors for the holidays). Chances are it's a room you clean infrequently. Stock with fresh linens and other items you might expect to find in a hotel room. If you do not have a dedicated guest room, clean underneath and change linens on any spare beds you may have; pull out and vaccum sofa beds; blow up and test air mattresses or other temporary accommodations you may have.
• Polish silver and clear space in your kitchen or dining area for seasonal platters, bowls and other holiday serving and entertaining items that are typically in storage for much of the year.