As fall fades into winter, you probably want to spend as much time as possible enjoying the weather. Winter cleaning will help you prepare for the holidays and keep seasonal allergies in check. Don't forget these six steps when you pull out the mop and broom this winter.

Change Your Wardrobe

Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Image via Flickr by Magnus D

It's time to tuck your shorts, tank tops, and T-shirts into storage containers and pull out the sweaters, jackets, scarves, and gloves. Use this time to separate your summer threads into three piles: keep, donate, and trash. If you haven't worn something since summer, it deserves a new home.

This process will also help you realize what you need to buy for the upcoming cold winter days. For instance, maybe your favorite pea coat has gotten a little worn. You can replace it before the first snow fall so you don't have to brave the cold without proper protection. If you're feeling inspired, start decluttering other areas of your home, too.

Clean Your Outdoor Furniture

Use warm, soapy water to clean all of your outdoor furniture so it's ready for winter storage. You should also clean off your patio or porch, since it likely collected dust and dirt all summer. If you're feeling particularly industrious, power-wash your home's exterior and inspect your flue and chimney for any soiling.

Add Weather-Stripping

During the summer, weather-stripping around doors, windows, and attic hatches can peel away, melt, or begin to disintegrate. Replace the weather-stripping with fresh material so cold air can't infiltrate your home as easily. If you find a large gap under an exterior door, consider investing in a door sweep.

Caulk Gaps and Cracks

If you're already cleaning your walls, baseboards, windowsills, and other areas of your home, use the time to check for cracks and gaps. If you see them, fill them with caulk or a similar material so cold air can't get inside. A caulk gun costs less than $20 at your local hardware store.

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Don't neglect your home's exterior when you're committing a weekend or two to winter cleaning. Gutters and downspouts fill up with leaves and other detritus all fall, and they can start to sag if they hold too much weight. Plus, if you live in an area that gets snow or ice, clogged gutters and downspouts can become a serious safety hazard because they're known to cause ice dams.

If you're not comfortable with the do-it-yourself approach, hire a professional for the job. You'll benefit from a safer home, but you won't have to brave a ladder.

Dust Ceiling Fans

You might already know that you should turn your ceiling fans so they spin clockwise instead of counterclockwise. Since you're already up there, dust the blades so they don't fling detritus all over your house. Consider using an old pillowcase. Just swipe the inside along each blade to contain the dust.

Winter cleaning isn't always fun, but it's a necessary chore. Follow the above steps to complete the process and get your home ready for winter.

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He's an avid gadget geek and spends most of his time reading or writing.

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He's an avid gadget geek and spends most of his time reading or writing.

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