You’ve hopefully had a glorious summer with plenty of vacations and day trips to parks and beaches. But fall is just around the corner and it’s time to get ready for the change. Here are 10 cleanup tips to help preserve your outdoor spaces through the winter so they will be ready to go when the warm weather returns.
1. Clean and Protect Wood Decking
September is a great time to clean your outdoor wood decking before bad weather hits. First, remove all the furniture from the area and use a leaf blower to remove all large dirt and debris. Then, fill up a large bucket with warm water and just a few drops of gentle dish detergent. Using a scrubbing brush or a brush attached to a long wand, scrub the deck. Rinse with a hose and let the deck completely dry. Finally, most wood decks require a coat of wood sealer every other year to protect it from water damage and the sun — so your deck might be due for a coat.
2. Store Outdoor Rugs
Don’t plan on leaving your outdoor rugs outside for the winter season. After you’ve removed them to clean the deck, roll them up and put them in storage for the colder months. This will protect them from the weather and also protect your deck from being damaged by the extra moisture that may build up underneath the rug.
3. Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture Cushions
At the end of the summer, the fabric covers on your outdoor furniture should be washed, dried and stored in a protected storage unit, such as a shed, basement or garage.
You should wash removable outdoor furniture fabric in a washing machine on cold-water setting. Add a small amount of detergent and use the permanent-press setting on your washer if you have it. Once washed, let the covers air dry to avoid shrinkage.
4. Remove and Store Outdoor Lighting
Don’t make the mistake of leaving your outdoor string lights up all winter. The odds are great that the bulbs and wiring will get damaged by wind, ice and snow. Take the time to wrap them up and store them until next spring.
5. Clean and Maintain Gas Grills
Plan to give your grill a thorough cleaning at the end of the summer. Remove all the pieces that could be contaminated with food and grease and empty and clean the drip tray. Once the grill is clean, check to make sure your grill cover is free of holes and rips. Cover the grill and tie down the base so the cover isn’t damaged by the wind and weather. Make sure the propane tank is in the “off” position and the supply line is disconnected from the grill.
6. Clean Outdoor Showers
If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor shower, it likely got a lot of use during the summer but was rarely cleaned. Take the time to clean every inch of the shower with a large bucket of warm water and just a few drops of gentle dish detergent.
Friendly reminder: If you live in a climate where temperatures drop below freezing, remember to schedule the water to your outdoor shower to be turned off in October. You don’t want to deal with frozen pipes this upcoming winter.
7. Hot Tub Maintenance
If you’re also lucky enough to have a hot tub, it’s important that you keep it clean and the chlorine level balanced on a regular basis. But making sure the water is clean and disinfected is only half the battle. You should also use a Mr. Clean magic eraser to remove the film and rings above the interior wall’s waterline so you don’t contaminate the water with dirt and excess cleaning chemicals.
. Clean the Garage
September is the best time to get your garage ready for the colder winter months. While the weather is still nice, empty the entire garage and sweep it out completely. It’s a good time to check the floors for oil and gas spills and use a specialized cleaner to get those spots removed.
9. Front Walkway Upkeep
If you were busy traveling or hitting the beach all summer, you may have neglected your front walkway. Spend a few minutes giving it a cleaning. Start by removing everything from the front stoop and give it a good sweeping. Make sure to check for cobwebs around light fixtures.
Crabgrass loves this time of year, so it might be a good idea to do some weeding. Take a few minutes with a bucket and your gardening gloves to pull out the weeds and grass that have sprung up on your walkway. Those few minutes will make your walkway look more welcoming to guests.
10. Think Spring and Plan Ahead
If you have a few minutes, purchase some bulbs to add some extra color to your front walkway or garden. Now is the time to get them in the ground so you can enjoy their colorful blooms next spring.