Want to avoid colds and flu? Regular autumn cleaning will help – and is more important than spring cleaning

Yes, you should do an autumn clean, and more than once, to make sure your home is clean and healthy during winter

autumn cleaning
(Image credit: South_agency/Getty)

Yes you heard it right: autumn cleaning is as important, if not more important, than a big spring clean. It's true that cleaning isn't something that springs to mind for the majority of us when we think about autumn (warm socks and steaming tea are more likely associations). But, actually, there are lots of reasons why you should give your house a deep clean in the months leading up to winter. 

The most important reason is that making your home more hygienic will make you less vulnerable to colds and flu. There is nothing like an overheated, stuffy, and dusty home for allowing harmful bacteria to flourish. Think about it: in spring, windows are more likely to be open and we're all less likely to catch a cold or a virus.

Secondly, for many people, autumn means welcoming guests in their homes (think dinner parties, Hallowe'en parties, and so on). And, finally, all those blankets, carpets, and cosy armchairs are just so much more enjoyable to use when they are clean. So, without further ado, these are the cleaning jobs you should be doing in autumn to help yourself stay healthy over cold and flu season – and how often to do them.

Visit our cleaning hub page for more cleaning hacks. 

1. Damp clean all radiators and vents

This can't be emphasised enough: dusty radiators exacerbate health problems such as allergies and asthma, as well as contributing to colds (because overly warm and humid air can be as bad for you as cold air). Always wipe your radiators with a damp cloth, never just dust with a duster, which won't catch the dust like a damp cloth will. 

How often? You should do this before turning on your radiators for the first time in the autumn, and then again before Christmas.

2. Wash windows and curtains

A dirty window that's going to start collecting condensation when it gets colder is a very hospitable place for mould. Wash all your windows with window cleaner or vinegar before you start turning on central heating. The same goes for washing your curtains, which will have got dusty and dirty over the summer. 

How often? Repeat the curtain washing at least twice throughout the autumn and winter months. 

Top tip: try to open windows once in a while to air your rooms, even when it's cold. The more air is circulated in your living space, the healthier it is.

Find out how reduce condensation in our guide.

3. Deep clean carpets

This is one of the most important autumn cleaning jobs there is: during the summer, your carpet would've absorbed a lot of dust and dirt. Got pets? It's very likely you have a fair few fleas lurking in there, too, ready to hibernate in your carpet over the winter. 

How often? A good shampoo, vacuum, (with one of the best vacuum cleaners) or specialist carpet treatment now will ensure your carpet is hygienic during the colder months. Repeat in February/March. Use our guide to how to clean a carpet to find out how. 

4. Clean high traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens

The hallway needs extra attention in autumn: not only does it get muddier because of wet shoes, but it's also the last place where you touch everything with unwashed hands. So, wipe all door knobs, vacuum or mop the floors and stairs, coat hooks, and even the places where you regularly drop your keys. 

How often? Repeat this weekly. 

5. Wash all bedding, including pillows and toppers

Over the summer, your bedding would've absorbed a lot of sweat and dead skin cells. Sounds gross, but it's true, and if you don't wash your bedding in the lead up to winter, you are inviting dust mites to breed in your bedding in their millions. 

The result? Skin rashes and allergies, nasal congestion, and poor quality sleep. So, pop your bedding in a warm or hot wash. If your washing machine is not big enough, do it at the launderette. 

How often? Repeat in January and March/April. And always wash all the summer bedding before storing it away for the winter. And if someone has flu or a cold, it's really worth doubling your efforts. Find out how to wash pillows in our guide.

6. Wash everything in your wardrobe

This may sound like hassle, but the clothes that have been hanging in your wardrobe have been collecting dust, and the summer items you're no longer planning to wear until next year will get eaten by moths if you don't wash them (we can absolutely promise you that, especially if your garments are made from natural materials such as silk). When you've washed everything, give the wardrobe itself a good wipe clean or steam clean with a steam cleaner. Hang anti-moth sachets or cedar blocks.

Find out how to get rid of moths and how to do laundry in our guides. 

How often? Do this twice a year; now and in spring.

7. Clean toilets and sinks regularly

This goes for any time of year, really: toilets need a weekly deep clean with a specialist toilet cleaner, while the sink needs a good manual scrub, preferably after each use.

How often? Weekly, at least.

8. Clean the oven

No one likes to clean the oven, but it'll make a huge difference to your enjoyment of your kitchen during the winter months, with no heavy smells of burnt-on fats. Besides, while you're cleaning the oven, you'll be able to determine whether there are any mice in your property. Mice often leave droppings inside ovens and grills, which in itself is highly unhygienic. If you find any droppings, read our guide on how to get rid of mice.

Discover how to clean an oven in our guide.

How often? Once before the festive season and afterwards will see you through to mid-to-late spring when you'll need to do it again.

9. Wash all pet bedding

Your pets will be spending more time indoors now it's colder, and while animals tend to shed less hair in winter, they'll still be shedding dander, which some people are allergic to, or at least irritated by. So, keep these side effects of having a pet to a minimum by regularly washing their bedding. Pet beds will need to be washed about every couples of months, so think now and once again around Christmas. Find more tips on cleaning up after dogs in our guide.

10. Clean items you use with your hands, all the time

This includes items such as the TV remote, light switches, door handles, your mobile phone, keyboard, and the desk in your home office, all which are dirtier than your toilet seat (we didn't just make this up, honest). These items are also fuller of harmful bacteria than your outerwear such as coats and gloves (which, contrary to popular belief, are not that dirty and don't need frequent cleaning). The reason? Phone and remotes come in regular contact with people's hands, which you should also wash all the time, with soap, especially if someone in the house has a cold. 

How often? Every week. 

Find more places that never get cleaned but should in our guide.