When to start fall cleaning – 6 jobs you should be doing right now

Cleaning experts offer their tips for fall cleaning so that you can freshen up your home for the cozier seasons

Metal bucket with sponges, ECO-friendly hygienic supplies and organic cleaning items, wooden reusable brushes of coconut bristles.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fall cleaning is a thing. So, while we have all heard of spring cleaning, more people are asking when to start fall cleaning, ready for the cooler seasons when we spend more time in our homes. 

Although you can use cleaning tips any time of the year, a deep clean of your home as the season's change will help to prepare your home for fall and freshen up your space in time for welcoming guests and family over the holidays. 

Here, cleaning experts have offered their advice on how and when to start fall cleaning so you can get on top of your fall tasks this season.

When to start fall cleaning 

As the name suggests, the best time to begin fall cleaning is at the beginning of the fall period. Early September is a great time to start cleaning for fall so that you can space out your cleaning schedule and still complete your tasks on this checklist before the holidays roll around. 

Starting early with fall cleaning will allow you to separate your biggest cleaning tasks such as cleaning a kitchen and cleaning a living room, and your smaller home maintenance tasks like cleaning an oven so that your to-do list does not become overwhelming. 

What is fall cleaning?

how to get rid of black mold with natural and professional cleaning products

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'Fall cleaning is the same as spring cleaning in that it is a deep clean of your home, but the focus of fall cleaning is to get ready for winter and the holidays so there are a few different things to do for the changing seasons,' explains professional cleaner Sara San Angelo, The Cleaning Lady (opens in new tab)

'Although there are similarities between fall and spring cleaning, spring cleaning is a time to purge and scrub, while fall cleaning is a great time to get inspired,' suggests Maria Mooney, brand director of Truly Free (opens in new tab), the eco-friendly cleaning subscription service. During fall cleaning, people often create a cozier feel throughout their homes, especially when hosting and preparing for guests during the holidays.'

'It is easier to clean when the weather is temperate. In spring, things warm up after the winter and we all get a little burst of energy and renewal. In fall, we are coming to the end of a sometimes oppressive summer, and any chill in the air brings excitement and relief,' Sara continues.

'There is also a tactical need to clean when the seasons change. There are certain things you need to do to your home to get ready for the changing of the weather, like getting your car ready for winter. These things are even more important if you live where it snows.'

How to start fall cleaning 

'Like spring cleaning, you should do a deep clean of your entire house in fall,' Sara suggests. 'This includes cleaning under furniture, washing windows, dusting thoroughly throughout the house. Washing walls and baseboards, light switches and doors.'

1. Freshen up your carpets and rugs

A dressing room with white ceiling and cabinets, sisal carpet, grey walls and chair, and terrier dog lying on the floor.

(Image credit: Mel Yates)

After long summer days outside, you've likely walked dirt through from your backyard, so deep cleaning a carpet and cleaning an area rug in the fall will be much needed, freshening up your home ready for cozier nights in. 

'Whilst frequent vacuuming ensures your home is dust, dirt, and debris free, a foam freshener is great to use in between vacuuming especially during the colder months when windows aren’t opened as frequently, as it eliminates odors and leaves a lovely fresh and clean smell,' advises Jennifer Sharpe, Chief Fragrance Officer at Fabulosa (opens in new tab).

Febreze Heavy Traffic Carpet Foam (opens in new tab) is top-rated at Amazon.

2. Deep clean your sofa 

Neutral room, assorted sofas, sash window, gilded mirror

(Image credit: Sarah Kaye)

'Ahead of those crisp, fall nights when you become well acquainted with your couch during lots of cozy evenings spent indoors, you are going to want to give the upholstery a deep clean,' Jennifer continues. Cleaning upholstery or cleaning a couch more specifically can not only help to keep it look its best but help to extend its lifespan too.

'My go-to product for a thorough and effective clean of my fabric sofas is a upholstery cleaning foam. All you need to do is spray the area to be treated evenly with the powerful foam, rub with a clean, damp cloth and leave to activate for five minutes before wiping down with another clean, damp cloth. It’s fantastic for removing any stubborn stains – just allow it to dry thoroughly before use,' says Jennifer.

Amazon's top rated foam cleaner (opens in new tab) is one option, though cleaning with baking soda can remove odors effectively. Cleaning a leather couch equally requires good product: Leather Honey Leather Cleaner (opens in new tab) is by far Amazon's top rated buy.

'Leather couches are easy to wipe clean and don’t tend to cling onto unwelcome odors, but if you have a fabric couch, I also suggest using a specialist upholstery freshener to get rid of any persisting odors.'

3. Have a closet clean out 

Large white wardrobe on a grey carpet next to a window with venetian blinds.

(Image credit: Pearson Lyle)

'Fall is a good opportunity to clean your closet while you are switching your wardrobe from summer to winter,' says Sara. Knowing how to clean a clothes closet while it is relatively empty will help to keep your clothes cleaner for longer once they have been washed and stored away, too. 

When organizing a closet, remove everything from the unit before wiping down the sides, base and top both inside and out. If you have a fragrance sachet – we love Myaro's fragrance sachets for drawers and closets (opens in new tab) – this is a good time to swap in a fresh one. 

Before adding your clothes back into your closet, sort your items by type and remove any summer clothes that you won't be using over winter to make space and keep your space functional.

4. Don't forget your home's exterior 

Front view of the house and front lawn of Philippa and Rupert Abrahams' new build home, based on the style of a cottage orne in the Nidderdale area of North Yorkshire.

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Household cleaning is usually associated with the inside of your home with the exterior easily forgotten about. Cleaning the outside of your home and your surrounding land will help to keep your home in top condition in the face of adverse weather, however. 

'Take inventory of the outside of your home and clean and store outdoor summer items like patio furniture, parasols and pool equipment,' suggests Sara. 

It is important to carry out regular home maintenance in the lead up to fall and winter to prevent larger problems down the road. 'Clean your gutters,' Sara reminds us. Gutters are frequently forgotten about however can clog up quickly as the leaves fall.

Other fall home maintenance includes fall lawn care to remove rotting debris and tidy your yard before the weather is too cold to work outside comfortably or cleaning your deck to prepare the wood for rain or snow, depending on your climate. 

5. Sweep your chimney for a thorough clean

Lorenzo and Mariarosa Pellicioli home. Fireplace, pair of white armchairs

(Image credit: Sarah Kaye)

One of the main ways that fall cleaning differs from spring cleaning is that you are also preparing your home for more rigorous use, especially in colder climates. When carrying out a deep fall clean, cleaning out fireplaces and chimneys can save you a lot of hassle in the long term as well as making your home safer.

For example, you are more likely to use indoor fireplaces in fall and winter so knowing how to prep your chimney for winter can help heat your home more effectively. 'If you have a fireplace that you use during the winter, you are going to want to get the chimney inspected and cleaned. Make sure your HVAC is in working order too.' says Sarah.

6. Swap out your summer items

A white sofa with wooden legs in a white room, with sisal carpet, dark grey coffee table, cushions and blankets, a terracotta tea set on a wooden tray, and a dark green leafy plant

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

'Fall cleaning can include washing and storing summer blankets and comforters and cleaning and organizing your kitchen and pantry for the colder months ahead,' says Maria. 'Fall cleaning is a great time to prepare for months of indoor baking and cooking instead of grilling outside as you do during the spring and summer. It can also involve organizing mudrooms and closets to switch out your spring and summer shoes with fall and winter shoes and boots, flipping mattresses as you are changing comforters for the season, and swapping out air filters, including your furnace, to prepare for cold nights.'

Why fall cleaning is important

'Cleaning during seasonal changes is essential to protect you and your family from cold and flu season. When the seasons change, it increases allergens in the air,' explains Maria. 'A mid-spring cleaning removes what has accumulated over the winter, including the heavy allergens, dirt and germs pushed out in early spring. Regular cleaning at home is a must to keep surfaces fresh for your family.

'On the bright side, fall cleaning makes spring cleaning much easier!' she adds.

Is fall cleaning a thing? 

While we all know about spring cleaning, you may be surprised to know that fall cleaning is equally as important – even if it is not spoken about as frequently. Spring cleaning helps to prepare your home for summer, allowing your to dig out summer clothes, bedding, and outdoor furniture whereas fall cleaning allows you to prepare your home for adverse weather and make you space cozier for longer nights inside. 

Chiana Dickson
Junior Writer

Chiana is a junior writer for Homes & Gardens having joined Future plc as a new graduate in 2022 after achieving a 1st class degree in Literature at university. She first became interested in design as a child after spending her summers helping her parents redecorate her childhood home. As a long-time reader of Future’s homes titles, Chiana is constantly finding new inspiration at work as she focuses on emerging trends, how-to’s, and news pieces.