With summer behind us, now is the time for a thorough pre-holiday cleaning. But instead of using harsh chemicals to cut through dirt and grime, there are many natural products that can get your house shiny clean, without harming the environment.

If you prefer not to spend the money on all-natural cleaners, you can also concoct your own using simple ingredients including baking soda and vinegar. The advantages of these products are that they are less expensive, are not toxic to pets or people, and they work really well. And, they’re made of ingredients that most of us have in our pantries and laundry rooms.

Researchers have also determined that natural cleaning products can be beneficial to people with allergies. Some of the chemicals used in store-bought products can cause allergic reactions, such as running nose, watery eyes, and skin rashes. If you don’t have the time or chemical inclination to create your own cleaning products, natural, eco-friendly cleaning products are now widely available, and can be found in most supermarkets and big box stores.

If you live in an area that uses septic tanks, natural cleaners do not harm the tank’s bacteria and help keep the system in good running order, extending the life of the tank. Similarly, using natural products reduces exposure to chemicals, which can have long-term health benefits by not exposing our bodies to toxins.

On the maintenance side, make sure to properly store any pool toys so that they don’t attract mosquitoes or other pests. Keep leaves and debris away from the house and weather strip windows and doors. Clean out those rain gutters, too. Leaves, dirt and animal nesting materials left in the gutters can clog the drains, causing water to back up against your roof and causing damage or leaks. Double-check the drains of the rain gutters as well, making sure that the water spouts are running water well away from the foundation of your home.

Also take the time to have your chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned and inspected, which will ensure that harmful smoke and gases from your autumn fires are being vented properly. Inside, clean vents and air ducts and replace the filter on your heater, both of which will improve the air quality in your house and help minimize allergies.

Finally, don’t forget that part of autumn cleaning involves getting your landscaping ready for the coming autumn and winter weather. Take time to assess your yard, and perform tasks like mowing, fertilizing, trimming and mulching. A little time spent putting your garden to rest can help your landscape look even better when spring comes around next year.