Spring cleaning seems to get most of the attention, but fall is also a good time to get your house in order. Check out these fall-cleaning tips for the interior of your home and your yard and garden and those that follow.
Clean drapes, upholstery, carpeting, and floors. A canister vacuum is better equipped to clean drapes and upholstery, while an upright is better for deep-cleaning carpets. For your carpeting, use a carpet cleaner or schedule a professional cleaning. If your wood floors have taken a beating over the summer, see "Can This Flooring Be Saved?" to deal with worn finishes or damage.
Be a greener cleaner. Try these alternatives to store-bought cleaners. The video here shows more ways that everyday products cleaners can substitute for specialized cleaners.
Dispose of old paint and other hazardous products. Don't dispose of old paint, cleaners, solvents, pesticides, or other potentially dangerous products with the trash. Read our advice for proper disposal of paints and finishes and common household items.
Also check with your municipality for collection dates for hazardous household materials. A feature on Earth911.com lets you search by location for dates. As a colleague recently discovered, you can save a ton of money carting refuse to a certified facility rather using a professional waste-disposal service.
Be wary of airborne and other problems. If your home has never been tested for radon or lead, read our report on home-use test kits to find those that work best. We've also found mold kits to be ineffective; use a professional if you see these telltale signs of mold.
There's also little evidence that air purifiers can help people who suffer from asthma and allergies. If you want to use an air purifier, use whole-house and portable models that rely on filters and that produce no ozone. (Ratings of air purifiers are available to subscribers.) Look for our report on carbon-monoxide and smoke alarms in the November 2009 issue of Consumer Reports, online and on newsstands in early October.—Gian Trotta | e-mail | Twitter | Forums | Facebook
Essential information: If you or another member are prone to accidents, watch this video on the best ways to handle spills from wine and soda. Before the start of heating season, get your heating system tuned up. And to save money on your utility bills, install a programmable thermostat, read our buyer's guides to furnaces (more details here), solar water heaters, and pellet stoves, and follow our overall experts tips for cutting your energy costs.