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Spring is synonymous with cleaning and decluttering, but we feel that the cozy season is just as good a time to hit reset.
When fall arrives, the way we use our homes starts to shift, with more evenings in, more muddy winter boots and coats in the entryway, and an increased need for a hot bath and warming dishes for dinner.
As we reach the end of the summer, here is what professional organizers say you can be decluttering for an organized and clutter-free fall.
5 things to declutter before fall
The items you might need to get rid of are personal to you and your household, but as Vicky Silverthorn, professional organizer and brand ambassador at Vintage Cash Cow points out, fall is the season for relaxing inside as the weather turns colder, and it's hard to truly relax in a messy, cluttered home. Plus, spiders love a cluttered home as it means more hiding spaces – here is some inspiration for a seasonal decluttering session.
Homes & Gardens' professional home organizer Caroline Roberts says that taking stock now and seeing what you need to replace can also help you to save money: 'As the summer winds down, I take note of the items that will not last another season, such as rusty beach chairs, stained/worn towels, almost-expired sunscreen, patio cushions/pillows, and even clothes, and I'll try to buy replacements during end-of-season sales rather than wait until the following year.'
Vicky Silverthorn has been a professional organizer for over 10 years, helping people from all walks of life to declutter and organize their homes. As an expert in the industry, she believes that your wellbeing starts at home; if your home is in shape, other elements of your life will follow. Vicky has written an Amazon bestselling book on living a less cluttered life.
1. Bathroom clutter
The new season is a great time to clear out sun creams, bug sprays, and old toiletries so that you have enough space for the products you actually use. Make a bathroom decluttering checklist to guide you and focus on the end goal of a calmer, more streamlined space for unwinding.
Among the things not to store in bathroom cabinets are expired skincare, makeup, and anything that never gets used. Vicky Silverthorn recommends taking everything out and laying them out in categories so you can take stock of everything you have and give everything a clean.
'Double-check the use-by date on old toiletries and cosmetics. You’ll find a symbol on the back that suggests how long after opening it you should keep it. Any out-of-date products should be emptied and recycled.
'Stay as minimal as you can to alleviate space issues. You only need one of each product, and potentially one spare (keep these in a ‘spares’ section, area, or basket), so avoid hoarding numerous of the same. If you've got multiple bottles with a small amount of product left, put them in your eye-line ready to be used up first.'
2. Expired food in the pantry
It's a good idea to organize the pantry as we transition from the hot summer months to cooler and crisper weather so that we always have the supplies that we need on hand when cooking up winter warmers.
'One thing that most people don't think about when transitioning from summer to fall is the change in food!' agrees home improvement expert Joshua Bartlett. 'Run through your pantry and throw out any expired food items to get ready for all of the ingredients you'll need for apple pie, chili, and soups!'
The same goes for your refrigerator and freezer.
Joshua Bartlett has been responsible for the upkeep of several homes, apartments, and rentals. He created I’ll Just Fix It Myself to help others learn alongside him, sharing what he has learned through his decades of successes – and failures – to tackle home improvement.
3. Mess in the backyard and shed
Decluttering the backyard or shed is only going to become less and less appealing as the days get shorter and the temperature drops, so spend whatever time you have now editing down outdoor tools, barbecue utensils, furniture, and gardening accessories. Getting rid of anything that is broken or moldy is one of the maintenance tasks to tick off to prepare your home for fall.
Comb through all of the items in the backyard and think about what you have made use of, and whether there is anything you don't think you'll want to use by next summer.'"Future you" will thank yourself for tackling the garden and shed mess at the end of the summer season, rather than leaving it to gather dust and face the elements until next spring,' says Vicky Silverthorn.
'First, throw out or recycle anything that’s broken beyond repair. Next, declutter the dupes. Got three pairs of BBQ tongs? Four garden shovels? Donating, selling, or throwing (if old and rusty) these away is an easy way to free up valuable space in your shed,' she adds.
Next, it's time to have an honest look at our closets and declutter items we haven't worn in a long time. Consider donating or discarding summer clothes, swimwear, and footwear that haven't seen the light of day this year, because the chances are you aren't going to fall in love with them next summer. Equally, you should donate any well-loved sandals that are beyond saving and clothing that children have outgrown or worn out to free up valuable closet space.
Joshua Bartlett recommends thinking about how to store clothes long-term once you have cleared everything out. 'You might need to purchase some extra storage bins ahead of time to make this process easier,' he says. 'Consider big vacuum-sealed bags for your summer clothes if you are limited on space – these can be used with any standard vacuum cleaner!'
A ruthless clear-out before adding anything new to our wardrobes will certainly make organizing a small closet with lots of clothes easier. Moth-repelling sachets, at Amazon, are helpful to have on hand whether storing items away or getting heavier winter coats out of storage and into your closet.
5. Seasonal decor
'Think ahead for the holidays!' encourages Joshua Bartlett, who says now is the opportune moment for going through your Christmas decorations and getting rid of anything that you no longer love.
'Bring any holiday decorations out of storage and put them in a staging area that is convenient for you but also out of the way of guests,' he suggests. 'Throughout the season, you can bring out seasonal decorations, Halloween decorations, and Thanksgiving decorations and put them back as needed.'
What are the benefits of decluttering?
Keeping your home organized and limiting clutter can reduce mental clutter and ease anxiety, as well as help us to sleep better. All homes can end up feeling cluttered at certain times of the year, often with a sense of things boiling over, but organizing cabinets and home storage spaces will make for a home that feels calmer and is easier to clean.
Decluttering can feel like a mission, so think about fall plans while you work – you may want to organize your fall reading list, think about Halloween decorating ideas, or make a fall 'bucket list' of activities to make the most of the season.
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Millie Hurst is the Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. She has six years of experience in digital journalism, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York. She then gained experience writing for women's magazines before joining Future PLC in January 2021. Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home before taking on the position of Section Editor with Homes & Gardens. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.
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