Spring might be the traditional time to deep-clean your home, but that doesn’t mean a late autumn clean isn’t just as beneficial.
Now that the days are getting colder and shorter, you might be tempted to hole up for winter already. But it can be helpful to get a few key tasks out of the way in preparation for colder temperatures.
While cleaning the gutters probably isn’t anybody’s idea of fun, it’s much more manageable on a crisp autumn day than a frosty mid-January day – and will also help to keep your home in the best working condition.
So, to keep the next few months as cosy and stress-free as possible, here are eight things to clean before the winter hits.
Dirt, dust, and pet hair can get stuck in the crevices of radiators, so it’s good to have a proper clean at least once a year – and ideally before you turn the heating on for winter!
The area behind radiators tends to get very dusty and is also susceptible to mould which thrives off humidity. The mould may not be visible, but the microscopic pores can circulate in the air via heat transmission, which can place vulnerable people at risk.
To clean debris between your radiator rungs, you can use the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner and then wipe the rungs down with a microfibre cloth.
To clean in between your radiator vents and behind radiators, you can also use a radiator cleaning brush – though you might want to put a towel down beforehand to protect your floor. You’ll probably need to give your skirting boards underneath a wipe afterwards too.
Finally, to get rid of the smallest pieces of dust and dirt that can get stuck on the fixings, try using a hairdryer on a cold setting to blow them out.
It’s also a good idea to bleed your radiators before the winter to get rid of any cold air pockets and make sure that your heating system is working efficiently to avoid higher bills. To learn how to bleed your radiators, check out this guide from OVO Energy.
If you find that your radiator still has cold spots after you’ve bled it – especially at the bottom – there’s a chance it may be full of sludge. In this case, the system will likely need flushing out so it’s best to call a plumber or let your landlord know.
Note: Remember to turn off your radiators before you clean and bleed them, as this is safer and will prevent them from drawing up more dust while you clean.
One of the most common household problems in winter revolves around drainage – or a lack thereof. During the autumn months, it’s normal for gutters to become clogged with leaves and twigs, and this means they can’t function properly.
All of the accumulated debris can also cause water to back up or freeze, which can lead to ice dams, structural damage, and leaks.
Cleaning out your gutters is pretty easy to do – some rubber gloves and a bin bag are likely to be the only tools you need. If there’s any lodged-in debris, you can use small tools, like a hand scraper, to remove them. Once the gutters are clean, give them a rinse with a hose and check for any leaks and cracks.
It’s also worth checking whether your gutters are securely attached along the whole length of your roof. You can even install guards and screens onto your gutters to stop leaves from entering, which can save you a job next year.
Have a watch of the video below to find out more about how to clean your gutters.
If you’re lucky enough to have a working fireplace, you’re probably already looking forward to the cosy ambience of a crackling fire. However, before you light it, it’s important to get it cleaned and inspected.
A professional chimney sweep will be able to clean out soot and remove creosote build-up, which can lead to chimney fires and excess smoke if left untreated. They can also clean out any leaves and twigs that might be in there – and make sure that there aren’t any birds nesting in your chimney before you get a fire going!
Plus, if you have an old fireplace, you may want to ask your chimney sweep about a fireplace insert that can improve heating efficiency.
To maintain your fireplace after a clean, it’s best to burn dry wood only, and stack small logs above large logs to create less smoke.
Washing windows might seem like a chore for a warm day, but taking the time to give them a good clean before winter hits is more important than you might think.
Dirty windows can limit the amount of light that enters your home by 40% – and when the days are getting increasingly short and dark, we need every last little bit of sunlight we can get.
To clean windows above ground level, you might want to invest in a long-handled cleaning tool. Alternatively, you could consider hiring a window cleaner.
If you decide to clean your windows yourself, there are many glass cleaners you can buy in the shops, but why not save money and make your own? One of the best window cleaning solutions is made from just water, vinegar, and a tiny amount of washing-up liquid to cut through the grime. If you want your windows to smell as clean as they look, you can add a few drops of essential oil to the mix too.
5. Winter coats
Whether you’re yet to don your winter coat or are already living in it, there’s a chance it may need some love.
Outdoor wear like coats are among the most neglected items of clothing when it comes to cleaning, often because they’re labelled ‘dry clean only’ – but winter coats do need to be cleaned. Ideally, it’s best to clean your winter coats before you store them for summer. Though if you didn’t do that, it’s not too late to give them a clean now.
While it’s easy enough to drop your coat off at the dry cleaners, it’s often not necessary. Materials like wool, down, and leather might be more intimidating than cotton, but with the exception of natural fur, they can all be washed at home – saving you a few pennies in the process.
Different materials do, however, require different washing techniques, so it’s important to take time to familiarise yourself with the right method for your coat.
To find out how to clean and care for nine different types of coat – from fleece to wool to faux fur – check out this article by The Spruce.
6. Outdoor furniture and patios
Most outdoor furniture is designed to stay outside in all weathers. However, to keep your furniture in tip-top condition, it’s a good idea to give it a clean before the cold weather hits, and take steps to winterise different items.
Outdoor furniture isn’t cheap, so to avoid the risk of having to fork out for replacements, it’s worth putting a bit of time in now. You could also consider sweeping and pressure washing the patio itself, filling in cracks with sand or mortar, and coating it in a protective sealant. You can look into using an awning to prevent debris and moss from building up.
If you’re covering your furniture with a waterproof cover, it can be worthwhile giving each piece a good wipe down first, so stains don’t have months to set in.
However, freezing temperatures, snow, and rain can affect outdoor furniture even if it’s covered, so you might want to think about applying protective sealants to your furniture after you’ve cleaned it too.
The right way to clean and protect outdoor furniture will depend on what it’s made from. Check out this guide from The Cover Store to find out more.
7. Car or van
It’s always a good idea to give your car (or van) a proper wash and clean before winter.
Washing your car in the coldest months is never fun – locks can freeze and doors can freeze shut – and that’s without factoring in how unpleasant it is to spray water, lug a vacuum cleaner outside, or carry heavy buckets of water around when the weather is glacial.
In winter, salt and grit are often used on roads to keep them ice-free, but these can be corrosive to vehicles. The best way to prepare your car for winter is to give it a good wax after you’ve cleaned it. This will act as a protective barrier for your paintwork and reduce damage.
It’s also important to make sure the base of the windscreen is clean, as this is where leaves and other debris tend to accumulate. If they’re not collected, they can block drain holes and even cause leaks inside the car – not what you want when it’s freezing outside!
Lastly, it’s worth taking a moment to check you’re stocked up on the most important winter tools, which includes ice scrapers, de-icers, and gloves. And if you’d like even more peace of mind about the condition of your vehicle before the winter months, you could consider booking a free five-point car check with Halfords.
Having a garage to store your car in during the winter months is a real convenience, and it’s important to make sure your space is ready for the potentially snowy, icy months ahead.
The first step is to give the garage a good clean, check for any cracks or holes in the roof or walls, and go through your things. Many people are in the habit of parking their car outside even if they have a garage – and one reason for this is that garages are often full of clutter.
While decluttering your garage may take time, it’s definitely a worthy task. Being able to park your vehicle in the garage over winter means it’ll warm up faster and you’ll save yourself the time and hassle of clearing ice and snow off your car.
While you’re organising, it can be useful to make sure your winter tools are in good condition – you don’t want to wait until the first snow to discover your shovels are cracked or rusty, or that you don’t have any salt or sand left to use as grit.
While these chores might not be the most exciting, they’re all an important part of winter planning.
The cold, dark days can be difficult for many of us, and the last thing we need to worry about on a damp, icy day is the roof leaking! Jobs, like cleaning your winter coat and outdoor furniture, will also make life much easier for you later in the year.
Finally, spending a few hours cleaning your radiators or decluttering your garage won’t only give you reassurance, but it’ll also keep you active. And settling down on your sofa in the evening after a good day’s work will feel even more rewarding!
For more cleaning and organising tips, head over to the home and garden section of our website.
Are you prepared for winter? Have you got any other winter cleaning tips and tricks that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.