The Essential End of Summer Clean-Out Guide

The 12 things you should clean, vacuum, wash and toss before fall.


How and what to de-sand before summer’s up. | Shutterstock.

Though spring cleaning takes all the glory, the tail-end of summer — what the fashion world refers to as ‘pre-fall’ — calls for its own detox. Think about it: soggy swimwear, sandy beach bags, grimy flip-flops. And while tossing summer’s basics into the back of your closet or some forgotten corner of your garage for months doesn’t seem so bad now, finding a moldy beach cooler next May isn’t the most promising way to welcome back summer.

While I’m not conceding the end of summer yet (two more weeks!), I am advising you to start thinking, even just a tiny bit, about how you’ll clean out your summer gear for its long winter hibernation. For instance, don’t even think about piling your flip-flops in your closet before giving them a solid wipe-down. Brilliant tip: You can even run them through the dishwasher! Same goes for your cooler (wipe this down and make sure to completely dry it!) and your arsenal of swimwear, which calls for a serious soak after a season of use. 

This list helpfully details nine things to wipe down and wash before September — flip-flops, beach bags, coolers, pool gear, swimsuits, cover-ups, summer whites, car trunk and glove compartment — but I’ve got a few more to add to the list. (Sorry!) Here are a few more to add to the list:

  •  Straw hats. Give these a vigorous shake outside, along with any other bags you might have taken to the beach.
  •  The hinges of sunglasses. My trick for de-sanding tiny crevices, like the hinges of sunglasses and the edges of a Kindle? Use a hair dryer to blow sand out. Voilá! (Do this with beach chairs and umbrellas, too.)
  • Sunscreen bottles. There’s nothing worse than year-old sandy lotion caked on to the side of the sunscreen bottle. Wipe down sunscreen bottles and caps with a damp cloth to prevent future clogs and, while you’re at it, write the year in permanent market somewhere on the bottle. While sunscreen products have expiration dates printed on them, it’s helpful to have an in-your-face reminder to ditch old bottles. Rule of thumb: Anything older than three years should be tossed.

So bear with me. I know the end-of-season clean-up sounds painful, but I promise: Your 2016 summer self will thank you.