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Fall is a great time for cleaning chores

By By CAROLYN BIVINS Extension agent
It's officially Fall. Pumpkins glow in golden fields while shorter days and cool, crisp mornings signal winter's approach.
Fall is the time for spring cleaning. Use these breezy Fall days to conquer deep cleaning chores for a clean and comfortable winter home.
Follow these tips to help you organize your fall cleaning:
Tips for the exterior:
Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas and children's summer toys.
Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint -- prime bare wood first.
Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
Inspect external doors and garage doors -- do they close tight? Install weather stripping, door thresholds if needed.
Wash exterior windows.
Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.
Tips for the interior:
Focus on public rooms -- living room, family room, guest bath, and entryway.
Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards and corners.
Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have it professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
Wash interior windows.
Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
Launder or clean all bedding -- mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets and comforters.
Schedule professional carpet cleaning.
Prepare the kitchen for cooking during the holidays. Clean and organize kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner and provide more space.
Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long and narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
Check dryer exhaust tubes and vents for built-up lint, debris and birds' nests. Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
Schedule fall furnace inspection.
Buy a winter's supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort.
Drain sediment from hot water heaters.
Adapted from the Organized Home Hotline.