5 Ways to Speed Through Fall Cleanup


It’s easy to get your outdoor essentials gleaming and stored in a flash. You sure will thank yourself next summer!

Lift grill grime fast with a lemon rub.

Removing stuck-on remnants from your barbecue before storing it for the season doesn’t have to be hard work! All it takes is sprinkling salt on the juicy side of half a lemon and heating the grill for a “cleaning cookout.”

Simply spear the backside of the salted lemon with a long fork and wipe the heated grill grates with it — it’ll be sparkling in less than a minute. “Lemon acids eat away at the grease,” explains Kathy Borie, owner of the nontoxic cleaning service Crunchy Cleaning by Kathy. “And salt acts like an ‘exfoliator,’ brushing away any remaining gunk and grime.”

Freshen your umbrella with a simple spritz.

Tip an open umbrella on its side and use a broom to sweep away debris, says Noemi Varga, host of the YouTube channel “Simple Living with Scandish Home.” “To remove what’s left, spray on a mix of 1⁄2 tsp. of dish soap and 1 1⁄2 cups of water, then wipe with a wet sponge and air-dry.”

For tough stains like bird droppings, apply a mix of 1 part vinegar to 1 part dish soap. “Its honey-like consistency helps it stay put while it soaks in, so grime sponges right off.”

Rust-proof garden tools with a quick coconut rub.

“To ensure your trowels, pruning shears, and other favorite garden tools are ready to use once spring rolls around, rub on a thin layer of coconut oil, then wipe off any excess,” advises Varga. Coconut oil prevents wooden handles from getting brittle and warping and helps metal resist rust.

Brighten alfresco furniture with a peppermint solution.

“To quickly rid outdoor cushion covers of stubborn dust and grime, simply spray a solution of 2 Tbs. of Castile soap, 1⁄3 cup of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, 10 drops of peppermint essential oil and 3 cups of warm water onto the fabric, brush gently, then air-dry,” recommends Borie. The soap loosens even the most ground-in dirt while the alcohol and peppermint disinfect and neutralize musty odors.

Polish a patio in seconds with a hassle-free hose-down.

No need to wrangle a power washer to get your deck or patio glistening. Just sprinkle on a mix of 1 cup of baking soda and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and let sit 20 minutes, suggests Varga. “Use your garden hose to rinse it off, and the dirt will wash away.” The mild grittiness of baking soda acts like the scrubby side of a sponge, while the tea tree oil kills mold and mildew.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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