THE BLOG
10/10/2014 03:00 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2014

Fall Cleaning: What You Need to Do Now to be Ready for Winter

Now that kids are back in school and your relaxed summer schedule is back to a regular routine, you may not be thinking about doing any major home cleaning. After all, isn't that what spring is for? I believe fall is actually a great time to dig deep and clean green for it helps you better prepare your home--and keep you and your family healthy--during the long winter months that lie ahead.

At my company, GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, we work hard to create healthy environments for our clients. Toward that goal, here are the 5 things we think you should do this fall in order to have a healthy (and warm) winter:

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

As things cool off outside they tend to heat up inside which makes it absolutely necessary for you to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors prior to the months where you will be using space heaters and other gas or oil-based appliances. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway of your home sleeping areas. Test them both monthly, keep them free from dust and replace the battery at least once a year.

Clean Your Fireplace and Furnace

Speaking of things heating up, fall is the perfect time to have both your fireplace (including chimney) and your furnace inspected and cleaned. Not only will this ensure you stay warm during those cold winter months, but having a professional check your heating systems reduces the chance of exposing yourself--and your family--to carbon monoxide. Use a shop vac to clean out ash and debris from the fireplace and replace your furnace filter (this should be done every three months) to help decrease the amount of dust that will begin to accumulate once the natural air from open windows is no longer available.

Deep Clean Carpets

As the weather gets colder we will soon find ourselves spending more and more time inside--a place where the quality of air is worse than outdoors and our exposure to allergens may actually be heightened during the winter months. Increase the quality of your inside air by giving your carpets a good, deep clean. While you may want to hire a professional cleaner (I suggest one that uses all-natural products), ApartmentTherapy.com has a recipe for making your own green cleaning solution with a mixture of salt, borax and white vinegar. The mixture can be placed on deep carpet stains and vacuumed when dry. You can also rent a steam cleaner, but skip the carpet shampoo. In most cases the hot water will clean the dirt from your carpet.

Do Your Laundry

Before you replace the crisp cotton sheets of summer with the soft flannel sheets of winter, toss all your linens in the wash including your pillows and mattress pads. If you have purchased new linens for the new season, give them a quick "safe wash" (a combination of baking soda and white vinegar) to get rid of any soap and/or chemicals that may have been used by the manufacturer. While your beds are bare, flip and rotate your mattress to extend the life of your bedding and minimize body impressions. You can also toss any machine washable window treatments in the washer as well--be sure to check the label for proper washing instructions. Take advantage of the cool fall days and use a clothesline or drying rack to give your linens that last smell of outdoor fresh (and you will save energy by not using your dryer).

Hit the Refrigerator

During the summer months, your refrigerator probably got quite the workout and while the leftover pieces of watermelon with green fur could possibly be used for a school science project, now is the time to get your fridge back in order. Working one shelf at a time, check all products for expiration dates and discard anything that has overstayed its welcome. Use a combination of baking soda and vinegar to wipe down each shelf--scrubbing stubborn stains with toothpaste (yes, toothpaste)--and place a fresh box of baking soda near the back to combat any unwanted smells. Once the inside is clean, start working on the outside by removing the grille and vacuuming any visible lint or dust on coils and hoses. Also, if you have filters, vacuum those as well--during the summer months, dust tends to collect in refrigerator filters. According to the American Cleaning Institute, dust and lint buildup can reduce the cooling performance of your refrigerator--something you do not want to happen should you have a brief power outage during a winter storm.

Talk to us: What projects do you tackle during fall that help get your home ready for winter?