5 fast fall fixes: what to clean now

With the kids back in school, grills getting stowed away and summer beach time a fading memory, fall is just around the corner. As the days cool and leaves fall, it's a great time to get your home clean and ready for the new season.First things first.

Prep outdoor gear and clothes for storage so you'll be ready to go when sunny days return.1. Wash, rinse, don't repeat!

Deflate the pool, inflatable floats, blow-up balls and other outdoor knick-knacks and then spray with Windex Multi-Surface Antibacterial before wiping off. It's great for plastic, vinyl and more, and kills 99.9 percent of household bacteria*. Don't forget to squeeze out any water that may have seeped inside the inflatables. Once everything is completely dry, fold items and store in a cardboard box poked with a few holes to allow air circulation. 2. See ya next summer.

Survey the family's summer clothes and decide if any items need to be repaired, discarded or given away (are you sure about keeping those see-through pants?). Wash those you plan to store until next year, using a spritz of Shout Trigger Triple-Acting Formula to attack any stains on machine-washable garments, or send them to the dry cleaner.

Even if you can't see any obvious spills or spots, clothes headed for storage still should be cleaned to help prevent any bits of food or dirt from turning into hard-to-remove stains or attracting insects. Next up: tackle do-it-now tasks.

Take care of these to-dos now and you won't have to worry about them come holiday time.3. One call, that's all.

Make an appointment to get your carpets professionally shampooed. Professional services are efficient because their machines use hotter liquids, high-pressure steam and stronger cleaning chemicals than home versions, says Melissa Homer, who researches cleaning procedures and tools as Chief Cleaning Officer for residential cleaning company MaidPro. Open doors and windows to speed drying.4. Grout it out.

Bathroom grout packed with patches of black, green or other discoloration likely means you've got mold and mildew stains, Homer says. No worries, you can attack it quickly with a bleach-based bathroom cleaner such as Scrubbing Bubbles Foaming Bleach Bathroom Cleaner. Unlike plain bleach and water, a good bathroom cleaner also contains degreasers, surfactants and other elements that more thoroughly attack icky stuff like calcium deposits, dead skin cells and soap scum, Homer says.5. Sweet dreams ahead.

Your bedroom should be a comfy oasis on cold nights so make sure it's ready for snooze time. To extend the life of most mattresses, flip and rotate them (pillow-tops, of course, should not be flipped over but just rotated). Then clean dust ruffles, duvet covers, comforters, mattress pads and other bedding that doesn't get routine attention (like sheets and pillowcases do). Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum dust from valances, draperies and other window treatments, or if necessary, take them down and follow instructions for cleaning.

*When used as directed kills Klebsiella pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep).