Declutter & Deep Clean for Fall (Recipe: All-Purpose Orange Cleaner)

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Get cleaned up for fall with a recipe for homemade cleaner. This post is sponsored by Casabella.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner - Use back-to-school time as an excuse to get the house clean and tidy.

My son’s new backpack sits in his closet, loaded up with brand-new supplies, each one marked with his name. I learned my lesson with giving in to a character backpack last year, and upgraded to a JanSport that should last for more than one year of toting homework folders and lunch boxes.

The old backpack sits among the pile of stuff we need to haul away, part of my ongoing project to reduce the amount of things we have in the house.

Back-to-school time is the ideal time to do a bout of heavy cleaning and decluttering. For those of us with kids, we’re already taking stock of outgrown clothes, replacing broken scissors, and realizing shoes have been run bare by summer’s escapades.

It’s time to throw stuff out, so why not expand your critical eye to the rest of the house? Getting the house ready for fall will help get the school year off on the right foot by setting a calmer atmosphere, and it will also help ease the transition into the holiday season. (Yeah, I said it. Winter is coming.)

There’s two methods for getting your house in shape:

  • Room by Room: Completely declutter and clean each room or area before moving on to the next. This is great if you have a large chunk of time to devote, and no small ones underfoot as you purge and clean. Also, much like the debt snowball, it gives a greater sense of satisfaction — particularly if you can shut the room off while you work on the next!
  • Grab and Toss: Move through the house putting things away and tossing trash, cleaning in wherever you end up. This works best if you have a bit of a scattered brain, are continually interrupted, or need to multitask while cleaning.

I like a combination of both, first making a pass through the house sorting and tossing, and then getting down and dirty in one room. While we always have a “donate” pile in the house, clutter always seems to sneak its way back in, and I love the fresh start a big clean gives me.

My checklist for fall cleaning:

  • Remove outgrown/unworn clothing
  • Organize summer treasures (shells, rocks, etc)
  • Discard broken toys
  • Clean blinds and HVAC vents
  • Wash refrigerator bins
  • Deep-clean oven
  • Scrub floors
  • Take stock of pantry items, removing expired items and refreshing ground spices
  • Take stock of bathroom cabinets, removing hotel shampoos, unused nail polishes, etc
  • Sweep out garage and store summer toys
  • Toss any plants that were killed by summer’s heat

These tasks are in addition to our regular cleaning of course, but are items that always need special attention after a season of lazy days. I confess that while I absolutely adore decluttering, I don’t get too excited about cleaning. Luckily I have a few tools to help make cleaning a cinch, created by the designers at Casabella.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner - Use back-to-school time as an excuse to get the house in order, and try a recipe for homemade all-purpose cleaner.

My most hated task is cleaning slat blinds — aside from taking them down and hosing them off in the driveway, they’re just awkward to clean. When I saw that Casabella created Window Blinds Gloves I knew they would make my life easier. I’m happy to report that they work even better than expected, because your hand can get in between each slat so much easier than a wand cleaner, and reusable microfiber means not wasting tons of cleaning wipes.

The Microfiber Vent Brush is also fantastic. I have two cats who shed like it’s their job, and the hair manages to get everywhere, including our HVAC vents. This thin tool gets between the grates so easily, and the length makes it a lot easier to reach our ceiling vents.

My other favorite new tool is the Quick Scrub Double Sided Spray Mop. We’ve used mops similar to this one, but the scrubbing power was lackluster, and I never quite felt like the floors got more than wet.

The head on this one is made of scrubby microfiber, not a spongy pad, and I can use whatever cleaner I want in the attached tank. It’s so easy to use, I’m thinking of making this my son’s new after-school chore. He can even mix the cleaner himself! All you need is vinegar, orange peels, a jar, and some patience.

Happy cleaning!

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner - Citrus

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DIY All-Purpose Orange Cleaner

Make a batch of this all-purpose orange cleaner for freshening up your home naturally.
Prep Time5 minutes
Resting Time14 days
Total Time14 days
Course: DIY
Servings: 1 quart
Author: Megan Myers


  • 1 quart jar
  • Orange peels
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Cloves optional
  • Water


  • Place orange peels and cloves (if using) in the mason jar, then fill with vinegar.
  • Let sit for 2 weeks, then strain into a clean jar.
  • To use, add mixture to a spray bottle and dilute with water. I like a 1:1 ratio, but your preference may differ depending on the strength of your cleaner.

Disclaimer: I received the products above for the purpose of review. I was not otherwise compensated, and of course, all opinions are my own.


About Megan

I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…

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  1. My biggest tip is that it is an ongoing process. I try to do a round through the house at least once a month because often I find that something I thought I couldn’t live without one month just seems like junk that is in my way the next. I also have made a concerted effort not to keep anything in my kitchen that only serves one purpose. I used to be a gadget collector but now I’d rather have the storage space and find work-arounds.

  2. Oh, what an ongoing process! Keeping toys in check is a big project. I just try to seasonally go through the clutter. I tend to find myself walking in circles while cleaning – picking up one area leads to the next and the next.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. I declutter when the kids aren’t around to ensure that the things I want to get rid of don’t make their way back into the house 🙂

  4. I keep containers of cleaning wipes all over the house so there’s no excuse not to tackle quick clean ups.