Fall can be busy. First, back-to-school, then Halloween and Thanksgiving. It seems fall is the busiest time of the year for some—prepping for how you will approach new schedules, the holidays and daily life in between. To make your environment more conducive to calmness, don’t wait until spring to freshen your home, start now.
Focus on Saving (and Cleaning) Space
Storage space can be a make-or-break when it comes to organizing, so ensure that you have all the room you need. First, start by getting rid of clothing, shoes and accessories that aren’t needed, or simply things you never wear. Sort through your closets, including coat closets and the kids’ closets to clear out old or unworn items.
To maximize space—and save time!—only store in-season items in your closets. Store out-of-season goods in labeled bins, and pack them away until the next season rolls around. Bring out your sweaters, scarves, jackets and boots, focusing on vertical space to store larger items. Cascading hangers, folding methods and drawer dividers are additional space savers.
Saving kitchen space is every chef’s dream come true. Now is the time to sort through your pantry, cleaning supplies, food storage containers and more. Toss out expired foods, including spices, baking goods and canned or boxed items. Label containers of pasta, cereal, snack foods and canned goods. Sort through food storage containers, making sure each has a matching lid. If you have more than you need, toss or donate these items.
Prepare for the cold weather by cleaning out and organizing the garage—after all, you’ll need space for all the labeled bins, outdoor furniture and your car once the snow falls.
Get Ahead of the Holidays
It never hurts to get ahead of holiday stress. Begin sorting through holiday decorations, clearing out overused or broken décor, and move decorations to an accessible spot so there’s no scrambling to get everything up and out. Resist the urge to overspend on gifts and meals, and start looking ahead to holiday budgets and written goals. Begin sorting through children’s books and toys to make room for new ones.
If guest rooms are used as storage space, clear out any unnecessary items as early as possible. Not only will this be a lifesaver the weekend before your guests arrive, but you’ll be able to focus on pressing matters, such as setting out fresh linens, dusting and vacuuming. After clearing the clutter, ensure that all light bulbs (and night lights!) are in working order, make bathroom supplies (i.e. toilet paper) easy to find and make your spare room comfortable for guests.
Editor’s Tips and Tricks
To steam clean your microwave: Fill a microwave-safe bowl with one cup water, 2 Tbsp. white vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (or squeeze juice from lemon, lime or orange slices). Heat in the microwave (on high power) for five minutes, then let it sit inside for an additional five minutes before wiping the inside clean.
To clean tile grout: Mix 3/4 cup chlorine bleach with 1-gallon water. Wear rubber gloves and use a stiff brush to apply the solution. Let sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Be careful to not splatter. For a bleach-free cleaner, mix equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply to grout, let sit for several minutes, scrub and rinse.
Cleaning Tool Kit
Investing in all the right cleaning supplies can be challenging. Be sure you have everything on hand before cleaning day because even the smallest things can put a damper on productivity. Here are a few outside-the-box options:
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- White vinegar
- Essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender and tea tree are great for cleaning!)
- Microfiber cloths
- “Eraser” sponges
- Latex gloves
- Stiff/bristle brush