Written by Grove Collaborative

Fall cleaning checklist: Don't forget to clean these places!

Last Updated: August 26, 2021


Fall cleaning may not be as well-known as spring cleaning, but these oft-neglected spots are a favorite haunt for microbial dirt and grime. Break out the fall cleaning checklist to address some of the most terrifying tales about the most morbid messes hidden in your house just in time for the holidays.

Fall is the perfect time to turn your attention to the scariest (and ignored) places in your home. We've already supplied your spring cleaning checklist, but now it's time to refocus and clean some more this fall in preparation for the holiday season.


Grab a cup of coffee or tea, buckle up, and have fun reading about the 5 most important places you should be cleaning this fall.

1. The dreaded drains

Why should you clean your drains?

Deep inside your damp, dark drains lurk microscopic monsters, including molds, fungi, and brutal bacteria like Salmonella. These unhygienic germs cling to the walls of your pipes, coating them in a terrifying black biofilm that traps and feasts on dead skin cells, hair shavings, soap scum, and toothpaste spit.

As these bacteria and molds grow, it slows down drainage and can eventually cause clogs. The stench alone is enough to make this the number one spot on our fall cleaning checklist (and maybe even inspire weekly drain cleanings).

How to clean your drains

Treat it

Pour a half cup each of baking soda, salt, and vinegar — in that order — into the drain to break down and loosen the grime.

Wait

Let that mixture sit in the drain for a half hour — or an hour, if your drain is slow. While you wait, put a big pot of water on the stove to boil.

Rinse the drain

Slowly pour the boiling water down the drain to rinse away the debris.

Keep the kitchen drain clog-free

If you pour oil down the kitchen drain, run the hot water for a few seconds to help it move through faster and easier.


You can also install strainers in your sinks to catch food and other particles that can cause a clog — even if you run the disposal.


Bonus: Spring for a weekly enzyme treatment that breaks down organic matter in the drain naturally to keep it moving through the pipes.

GROVE TIP

RIP chemical drain cleaners

Don't use store-bought, chemical drain cleaners to clean or unclog a drain. These noxious brews can seriously damage your pipes, and they poison the water supply with caustic soda and lye — usually all for nothing, since they rarely work.


When your drain is clogged, clean it using the steps above, find a natural drain cleaner to buy, or learn more about homemade drain recipes in this article. If the clog persists, call a plumber — or snake it yourself.

Find natural drain cleaning supplies at Grove

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2. The fiendish fridge coils

Why should you clean refrigerator coils?

The space between your refrigerator and the wall is unnerving. Even if you’re able to wrangle a duster back there regularly, the coils behind the fridge eventually get covered in a suffocating layer of filth.


This dirt film acts as insulation and reduces the cooling power of your very expensive appliance — and it can even lead your fridge to an early grave.


Clean your coils once a year to extend the life of your fridge and escape the gruesome consequences of inadequately cooled food.

How to clean refrigerator coils

Step 1: Unplug your refrigerator to prevent electrical shock

Don’t worry about the food spoiling — this will be pretty fast. But put on a dust mask — it’s gonna get dirty.



Step 2: Pull the refrigerator out from the wall so you can access the back

You may need some help moving the beast.



Step 3: Locate the condenser coils

These are the cold, metal tubes arranged in a repeating S pattern. The coils will either be in back of the refrigerator or behind the toe plate in front.



Step 4: Vacuum up loose dust and debris

Vacuum the coils, the back of the fridge, and the surrounding floor.



Step 5: Use a toothbrush to dislodge buildup

Find an old toothbrush to use it to scrub the stubborn buildup on and around the coils. As you brush, vacuum up the loosened grime.



Step 6: Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the coils

Use the cloth to wipe down the places you just scrubbed for a final shine.

To keep your coils cleaner longer ...

Dust and vacuum around the fridge regularly to prevent the dust from the floor from attaching to the coils.


Turn on the exhaust vent while you’re cooking too to keep grimy grease particles out of the air and prevent them from settling on the coils.


Learn more tips for cleaning the whole refrigerator naturally here.

Grove Tip

Finish cleaning up by getting the floor and wall

Since you’re back there anyway, now is a good time to thoroughly clean the back of the refrigerator, the bottom, the floor, and the wall.


Vacuum all of the surfaces, including the floor.


Use a natural, all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth to remove grease and grime from the wall.


If you didn’t already, remove the toe plate from the front of the unit and vacuum up the dust that has accumulated underneath. Mop the floor before you return the fridge to its spot.

Find fridge cleaning supplies at Grove

3. The macabre mattress

Why should you clean your mattress?

You spend roughly one-third of your life in bed, drooling, sweating, and shedding dirt and dead skin cells. It’s no wonder that your mattress can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria — and that’s the pleasant news.


Invisible to the naked eye are millions of dust mites taking up residence in your mattress — tiny, gluttonous arachnids who feast on your dead flesh and excrete highly allergenic droppings. The corpses of their departed are strewn across your bed, a grisly graveyard of allergenic body parts that can turn a good night’s sleep into a congested, coughing nightmare.


Clean your mattress two to four times a year to keep these bugs — and other offenders — under control.

How to clean your mattress

Step 1: Strip the bed

Wash your sheets and pillowcases in hot water. If your pillows are machine washable, throw those in, too.



Step 2: Vacuum your mattress

Vacuum the top and sides using the upholstery attachment. Use the crevice attachment on the seams and piping.



Step 3: Spot-clean stains on the mattress

Spray an enzyme cleaner onto a clean cloth, and gently blot the stained area. Soak another clean cloth in water, wring it out, and blot the stain until it lifts.



Step 4: Sprinkle the mattress with baking soda

Sprinkle every inch of your mattress with baking soda, and let it sit for a few hours — the longer, the better — to break down acids, absorb moisture, and banish odors.



Step 5: Vacuum the mattress again

Remove all traces of the baking soda.



Step 6: Flip and rotate your mattress and mattress pad

Some mattresses don’t need flipping, but they should all be rotated every three months or so.



Step 7: Replace your bedding

Resist the urge to take a nap in your clean, refreshed bed — or don’t.


Find even more tips to throughly clean a mattress (naturally, of course) here!

Invest in a mattress cover

A mattress cover keeps your mattress cleaner longer, and it’s a must-have for those with allergies.


Mattress covers are thin and waterproof, and they prevent dust mites from weaseling their way into your mattress. High quality mattress covers are worth the extra expense, since they’re breathable and wick away heat and moisture from your body — welcome relief for those who sweat a lot at night.


A quality mattress cover won’t change the way the mattress feels. Avoid cheap mattress covers that feel like plastic, since they’re less breathable, less durable, and less comfortable.

Grove Tip

What's the average lifespan of a mattress?

The Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your mattress every six to eight years.


Signs you need a new mattress include worsening sleep quality, an increase in allergies, waking up stiff and achy, and the appearance of sagging or other damage on the mattress.

Find more natural mattress cleaning supplies

4. The abominable air

Why should you purify the air in your home?

The air in your home is fraught with frightening pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stresses that most homes have many sources of indoor pollution, and the cumulative effects can pose serious health risks.


Skulking around in your air are teeny particles like bacteria, viruses, pesticides, mold, pollen, dander, and cooking grease. Conventional body care and cleaning products can add toxic substances into your air too, according to the EPA.


Cleaning your air isn’t a one-trick pony — there is no step-by-step guide to bring it miraculously from dirty to clean in one to-do. Rather, it’s an ongoing, three-prong effort, says the EPA — one that will reap big rewards for your health and wellbeing, especially if you suffer from allergies or other respiratory conditions.

How to clean your air

Ventilate

Send indoor air out and bring outdoor air in.



  • Turn on the stove exhaust when you’re cooking to send moisture, grease, and combustion fumes outside.
  • Turn on the bathroom exhaust while you shower or when use conventional body care products.
  • Open the doors and windows in your home whenever you can to exchange the air in your rooms.

Control the source

Keep pollutants out of your home.

  • Use natural household cleaners and body care products to keep toxic pollutants out.
  • Remove your shoes at the door — the soles are rife with pesticides, oil, bacteria, and pollen.
  • Keep your home’s humidity level in the neighborhood of 35–50 percent to discourage the growth of mold and mildew and the proliferation of dust mites, bacteria, and viruses.

Clean the air

Forcibly remove pollutants from your home.



  • Vacuum and dust frequently — turn on your HVAC fan while you do it, and leave it on for 15 minutes afterwards to circulate and filter the air.
  • Choose a high-quality HVAC filter, and replace it when it’s dirty — around every 3 months.
  • Install portable air purifiers to remove unwanted particles from your air.

Replace carpeting to remove more toxins

If you have carpeting, consider replacing it with hard flooring that’s easier to keep clean.


Carpeting collects and traps contaminants that come in on your shoes and fall from the air. Carpets are a breeding ground for mold, fungi, and bacteria, which dramatically reduce your air quality.


If you can’t replace your carpet, vacuum it every other day, try a carpet refresher powder, and invest in a steam cleaner for regular deep cleanings.

Find natural air purifiers at Grove

5. The woeful washing machine

Why should you clean your washing machine?

You’d think a machine that cleans things would ... stay clean. Not so when it comes to the washing machine, which can harbor a horror show of mold, bacteria, and other mysterious microbes in its dark, damp crevices.


Over time, the chilling effects of not cleaning your washing machine become clear as a strange black film scums its way across the inside of the lid and grows along the rim of the tub. Frankensteined together from dirt, detergent, mold, and laundry fuzz, this scuz is not only foul-smelling, but it can stain your clothes and make them smell like you dug them out of the creepy crawl space in the basement.


Give your washing machine a solid once-over each month to keep foul odors and menacing microbes at bay.

How to clean your washing machine

Step 1: Run an empty hot-water cycle

Add two cups of white vinegar to the water via the detergent dispenser.



Step 2: Let the vinegar sit

Let the washer agitate for about a minute, then pause the cycle for an hour to give the vinegar time to scare away mold and mildew, loosen debris, reduce bacteria, and deodorize the tub.



Step 3: Scrub

While the washer is paused, scrub down the inside of the lid and the outer rim with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar. Use an old toothbrush to loosen gunk in hard-to-reach places, and use cotton swabs to reach inside the dispensers.



Step 4: Restart the washer, and let it cycle through

Meanwhile, have a go at the exterior — including the dials — with a natural, all-purpose cleaner.



Step 5: Run one more empty hot-water cycle to rinse

Add a half-cup of baking soda to the water to scrub away debris loosened by the vinegar.



Learn even more washing machine cleaning tips and tricks here!

Prevent odors, mold, and mildew in your washing machine

Protect against odors, mold, and mildew in the first place by moving clothes to the dryer right away when the wash cycle is finished.


Leave the lid or door of the washing machine open after each load to allow the inside to air-dry.


Reduce the amount of detergent you use, and wipe away detergent dribbles right away.

Grove Tip

Don’t fear the front loader

The door gasket on a front-loading machine collects and obscures a large amount of gross germs in a sludgy buildup.


Spray the gasket on the inside of the door with vinegar or a natural, all-purpose cleaner (or washing machine cleaner). Pull the gasket aside, and spray more cleaner in the crevices.


Let the cleaner or vinegar work for a few minutes, then wipe the gasket and the rest of the door clean with a damp microfiber cloth, rinsing frequently in hot water.

Find more natural washing machine cleaners

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