5 Things to Declutter Before Fall

Streamline your space before things get busy for the holiday season.

Decluttering your home can help alleviate stress, boost productivity, and promote organization. But trying to do one annual spring organizing session can be overwhelming. Instead, biannual or quarterly decluttering, where you focus on particular seasonal tasks, can make things more manageable.

Consider these five things to declutter before fall, so you’re ready to reset and embrace the cozy season before school starts and the hectic holiday season arrives.

<p>Jason Donnelly</p>

Jason Donnelly

1. Do a Back-to-School Sweep

Start the school year smoothly by decluttering old supplies and seeing what needs to be replaced. Get rid of uniforms or sports attire that don’t fit or are damaged beyond repair. Involve the kids by going through their stationery and craft supplies. Dump pens that have run out of ink, glue sticks that are dried out, and binders that have seen better days.

While you might want to keep prized paintings or workbooks that the kids will refer to again this year, you can probably throw a load of paperwork into the recycling. And consider streamlining that pile of old backpacks and lunch boxes down to one favorite choice per child.

It might also be time to organize your mudroom or entryway so kids' school stuff doesn’t end up in a messy pile on the floor. Clear out drawers, make space on hooks and shoe racks, and label baskets.

2. Fix Up Your Freezer and Pantry

Before holiday entertaining begins, organize your kitchen pantry and make space in your chest freezer.

Start by disposing of any expired items before sorting out the rest. Put the items with the shortest expiration date at the front of the shelves, organize your pantry by zones to make it easier to find things, and make use of handy pantry storage containers.

You’ll want space for frozen veggies and Thanksgiving turkey, so be ruthless with clearing old items out of your freezer. It also pays to sort things into zones, using containers and labels when appropriate.

3. Toss Toiletries

Once summer is over, it’s a good time to clean out your vanity drawers and tidy things up. That way, you can make space for soothing winter lip balms, hydrating moisturizers, and petroleum jelly for cold weather dry skin.

Do you have any expired bug sprays or sunscreens? Maybe you’ve got a bunch of products sitting at the back of your vanity or medicine cabinet that haven’t seen the light of day in years. And are you really going to use that ever-growing pile of mini toiletries you’ve collected from hotels?

It’s not just organizing bathroom cabinets you have to consider. Decluttering and organizing bathroom counters makes your space more spa-like—perfect for those chilly fall days when you want to relax with a long, soothing soak in the tub.

4. Declutter Closets

Now is the time to rid your clothes closet of those summer dresses, swimwear, and sandals you didn’t use this year—or for a few summers prior. Recycle the ones that have seen better days, and consider donating those that just don’t fit or aren’t your style anymore. It’s also time to organize your winter gear by bringing chunky sweaters, rain jackets, and long pants to the front of shelves in preparation for fall walks.

Maximize your closet space by folding clothes carefully, using hangers on the back of your door, and utilizing under-the-bed containers for summer items you won’t need until next year.

And, if you have time, organize your linen closet, too. Get rid of sun-stained, threadbare towels—your local animal shelter will appreciate these—or move them to your mudroom to clean up drips from wet boots or soggy doggies. If you have space, transfer the rest to your garage or basement for storage until next spring—or consider space-saving, vacuum-sealing bags, which provide more shelf room for those thick winter duvets and cozy blankets.

Related: How to Transition Your Closet by Season

5. Brush Up Your Backyard

It’s not just your house that needs a fall declutter. Tidying up your yard benefits your lawn, protects tools and furniture from winter freezes, and means, come spring, you’ll be ready to take immediate advantage of the better weather.

Raking up leaf litter protects your lawn, reduces wet weather slip hazards, and removes winter hiding spots for unwanted critters. You’ll also want to store or cover outdoor furniture, toys, and other yard accessories to reduce the risk of weather damage. For wonky furniture that’s seen better days, take the time to repair, re-stain, or recycle it.

Now's the time for the annual gutter declutter, too. Leaving debris and soggy leaves in them when winter weather arrives increases the chance of blocked drains, gutters coming away from your home, and other damage.

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