The weather may still be warm(ish) but autumn is very nearly upon us, and a new season is a great opportunity to have a good clear out.
Tick some cleaning jobs off of your list now and you can cosy up in comfort once the colder weather kicks in, knowing everything is in order.
If you're not sure where to start, here's how to give your home an autumn cleaning blitz.
1. Clean the patio
After a summer of garden entertaining and BBQs, your patio could probably do with a clean-up. Now is the perfect time to get this done so you can avoid shivering as you try to get the decking clean in a couple of months.
Scrub decking and paving with a stiff brush (but not one with metal bristles) and a patio cleaner.
For stubborn stains - or if you're short on time - use a pressure washer.
Clean patio furniture before you put it away or cover it for winter.
Tackle cracks in paving. Winter's freeze and thaw cycles can turn tiny cracks into gigantic crevices. If you can't fix them yourself, call in the professionals.
2. Clean garden tools for winter
Ideally, we should all clean the lawn mower after each use. But even if you don't, this is one job that definitely needs doing before you put the mower away for winter.
Wearing heavy-duty gloves, brush grass from vents with a soft brush and thick cloth. If you mower doesn’t come with a tool to clean the undercarriage, use a plastic spatula. Never use water or polish on the machine.
Unplug or disconnect the spark plug and turn on its side (if the manufacturer’s guide allows for this). Check for cracks and damage. Let petrol mowers run dry before storing away.
Use a wire brush to brush off any hardened mud, dirt or rust from garden tools and wipe with an oily rag before storing. Sharpen blunt tools with a mill file. Store by hanging from the handles to protect any sharp edges.
3. Put summer clothes away
Those floaty blouses and summer dresses may have done sterling service over the warmer months, but there's no point them taking up valuable wardrobe space until the good weather returns next year.
Make sure your summer clothes are freshly laundered and completely dry before packing them away for the winter. To deter clothes moths, pack your garments into a vacuum storage bag and pop in a couple of cedar wood rings for good measure.
Autumn is also a great time to reorganise your wardrobe so you have optimum space for jumpers, coats and other bulkier items that you'll need in the coming months.
4. Deep clean the carpets
This job is well worth the effort as embedded dirt can damage the fibres and make your carpet look worn more quickly. You can hire a machine, such as a RugDoctor, for 48 hours from £29.99. Spot treat any stains with a branded stain remover, such as Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover.
If your carpets are really dirty it’s worth calling in a professional cleaner – choose one that’s a member of the National Carpet Cleaners Association.
5. Defrost the freezer
According to the charity WRAP, we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste in the UK a year. A great way to cut back on food waste is to freeze leftovers in the freezer to help them last longer. If yours is overflowing with mystery bags of food, it might be time for a clear out. Here's how:
Think ahead to this job and start planning meals around the contents of your freezer a few weeks before you want to defrost it.
When the freezer is empty, turn it off and leave the door open until any ice starts to melt.
Take out the freezer compartments and allow them to come to room temperature before cleaning them with bicarbonate of soda (15ml/1 tbsp to 1 litre/1 3/4 pints water) and a damp cloth.
Clean the inside of the freezer with your bicarb and water mixture.
Turn the freezer on and allow it to run for at least an hour before refilling it with food.
GHI Tip: Stand bowls of hot water on tea towels inside the freezer to speed up the defrosting process. But don't be tempted to use anything sharp to scrape at the ice: you run the risk of damaging the cooling elements.
6. Clear gutters
As leaves and debris begin to gather in autumn, it's time to clear the gutters. Or ask your window cleaner to do it for you (for a small extra fee - they have the ladders after all!).
When the gutters are clear, get Hedgehog Gutter Brushes to place inside your gutters. Water can still flow freely but it will stop leaves from getting stuck in your pipes and blocking them. So simple but so genius, and will save you having to do the job next year!
7. Wash the windows
Ideally, take down any curtains and blinds first, and then clean around the sill and frame (especially if you have patches of mould and mildew). We find HG Mould Remover Spray very effective.
Use a branded window cleaner or create your own with a solution of one part distilled white vinegar to nine parts water into an old spray bottle to clean your windows. For a sparkling finish, the GHI highly rates the e-cloth Window Pack, which is a microfibre cloth.
The golden rule is never clean windows on a sunny day as they’ll dry too quickly, and this will result in a streaky finish.
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