5 things to declutter before fall for a smooth segue into 'hunker down' season

There's no better way to reset your life for the new season than dedicating a few hours to declutter

A living room with brown leather sofas
(Image credit: Design by A1000XBetter. Photo by Virtually Here Studios)

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are turning brown, and you can almost smell the pumpkin-spiced lattes in the air - that's right, fall is just around the corner. Before you get ready to hunker down inside your home and light those cinnamon-scented candles, however, you might want to think about having a good old declutter. 

This segue into the new season is the very best if you're a lover of all things coziness and comfort. But, before you bring out the chunky knit blankets and or introduce any new pumpkin-themed decor into your home, we can almost guarantee a purge of your spring/summer stuff is in order. There's no better way to reset your life for fall than by setting aside a few hours to declutter your home; 'out with the old, in with the new' as they say. 

Not that we're encouraging you to simply yet more stuff, but we're all guilty of it. Whether you're looking to lead a more minimalist lifestyle or you're simply looking to get rid of some junk ahead of these homey months spent inside, now is the perfect time for a good sort-out. Here are five items professional organizers recommend focusing on to get you started. 

1. Patio furniture and yard equipment 

grey ceramic tiles used as patio flooring with a white chair and urban planted garden

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

With summer nearing its end, it makes sense to turn to your backyard on your foray into fall decluttering. 'As the summer winds down, you spend less time outdoors, and less time tending to your yard,' explains Felicia Bechtel, founder of Spotless Organization. 'Clean your tools and store them for next year so they are ready when the season arrives. If there's any equipment that has not been used, donate it or give it away.'

It's a good idea to use this time to assess the health of your outdoor furniture, too. If your old patio chairs are looking a bit worse for wear, chuck them away and set aside some savings for a new set in spring. The same goes for any pool equipment or kids' toys. Store it away in a shed or garage until next year, and throw away anything broken, worn out, or unused. 

If you act quickly, you might be able to snap up some great deals before summer's out. 'Disposing of these items and repurchasing now while end-of-summer sales are in swing avoids scrambling in June when doing these tasks are the last things on your mind,' notes Jan Arkwright of Before & After Organizing by Jan. 

2. Garage or shed

A large garage with rails on the walls to hang cycles

(Image credit: IKEA)

Before you stash all that yard equipment and outdoor furniture inside your garage or shed, dedicate some time to decluttering that space, too. 'Our garage is the one area in our home that we tend to store things that we can’t seem to find a place for,' explains Felicia. 'Before you know it, there's a big mess and it’s likely you can’t find anything, so it's best to take time every fall to declutter.' 

Be vigilant about donating anything that's not been used all summer, and take time to sort through winter storage items like Christmas decorations, too. 'Doing a cleanout now will make it easier to see what you need to purchase for next season,' says Jan. 'And for those living in harsher climates, putting in the work now so a car can fit in the garage in bad weather is well worth it!'

While you're at it, set yourself the task of organizing your garage. Categorize items like-for-like in large storage bins like these ones, from Amazon - sports equipment in one, camping gear in another, and barbecue supplies in a third. Stack these on shelves and label them so you can find exactly what you need next time round. 

3. Pantry and seasonal food items

Freestanding grey pantry cupboard

(Image credit: The Cotswold Company)

In the same way that animals assess their food storage in the fall ahead of their hibernation, as should we, so take some time to look inside your pantry and throw out any food past its use-by date. 

'Pantries aren’t something that instantly comes to mind when you think of fall organizing, but a summer full of barbecues, picnics, and playdates creates an overstocked and overstuffed pantry,' says Jan. 'Discard almost empty bags, wash and refill any containers, and remember to shop for back-to-school snacks if you have little ones.'

'Our Summer diet usually differs from our diet during colder months, as well,' notes Di Ter Avest, professional organizer at Di is Organized. 'Take this time to purge summer items in the kitchen that don’t fit your current lifestyle or you don’t see the need to keep such as that ice cream maker, salad spinner, or those popsicle molds.' Not only will your beautifully organized pantry bring you peace of mind, but it will leave plenty of room for the cranberry sauce come Thanksgiving! 

4. Closet (and any spares!)

Closet with island

(Image credit: Julie Soefer)

A clear out of your closet will never go amiss, but a fresh season is a perfect time to purge your wardrobe. If you haven't worn that summer dress all season, now is the time to donate it. Don't forget to look ahead to winter too - if you have more Christmas jumpers than days of the holiday itself, you know what to do. 

'Even if you can’t bring yourself to go through your winter clothes at least take stock of your outerwear and gear,' encourages Jan. 'Chances are those coats and boots got tossed into a closet at the first sign of spring and haven’t been looked at since. See what condition these items are in and discard worn items - that lone glove, outgrown boots, and stained shirts beyond saving.'

If you've conquered your own closet, turn to the others in your home and knuckle down on some closet organization. 'Many of us use the spare bedroom closet to store extra supplies and out-of-season clothes,' says Di. 'Use this time to purge those items and make space for your holiday guests to store their belongings.'

5. Bathroom cosmetics

white attic bathroom with skylights

(Image credit: En Masse Design and Architecture)

Your bathroom might not be the first port of call when decluttering ahead of fall, but I can almost guarantee you have more cosmetics in there now than you did at the start of spring. 'There are probably plenty of things that have been beaten up and outlived their useful life by the end of summer,' notes Jan. 'Think about items such as empty sunscreen bottles, travel minis, and stained and worn-out beach towels.' 

If you've accidentally doubled up on any products, decant them into one container. Throw out worn-out towels, stained facecloths, and that tub of moisturizer that was opened years ago - no one will miss them. Whether these things were on display or not, you're bound to find that your bathroom looks and feels more airy and spacious afterward. Now you're all ready for a fresh start come fall!

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.