Fall is finally here. The weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to turn and — watch out — holiday guests are closer than they may appear.

It’s the time of year when plenty of residents in the Dakotas and Minnesota start to think about cleaning house — literally. Most checklists include a huge range of things to do. There are easy steps, like tucking away outdoor furniture before the snows set in or freshening the upholstery in the living room; and there are harder ones, like cleaning HVAC systems and gutters and the insides of chimneys.

Leaders at a handful of Grand Forks cleaning businesses say that’s where they come in. Marcus Benoit, general manager and owner of Steamatic, said now is right when calls start for air duct cleaning.

“A lot of our clients this time of year call to schedule carpet cleanings, too,” he said. “They’ve looked at a lot of stains and different things, throughout the course of the summer and into the fall. They might have company coming, (or they’re) preparing for a holiday.”

It’s a similar story for Clean Tech, which offers similar services, such as mitigation for mold and water damage, carpet cleaning, furnace inspection and service, said Gabe Gourneau, operations manager for Clean Tech in Grand Forks.

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"Especially during the fall time, people are obviously trying to get the leaves in the yard cleaned up,” Gourneau said, pointing out that Clean Tech can lend a hand with the cleaning process.

In the meantime, there are plenty of small things homeowners can do to get ready for the winter. The New York Times, in its own comprehensive list, suggests starting with a list of what you’ll need: a mop, a vacuum, something to wipe and dust with, and some kind of cleaning fluid (you can even make it at home, the Times notes, with water, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and just a small bit of dish soap).

The Washington Post helpfully adds touching up paint and and replacing weatherstripping — part of a never-ending list of things to do for most homeowners that can go as far as window wells and cleaning yard equipment and other pre-winter necessities. And by the time winter gets here, Benoit points out, the calls start coming in for broken pipes and the like.

What if there’s no time for any of that? Benoit is also a local partner with Merry Maids. The group offers regular “top-to-bottom” cleaning services, Benoit said, including countertops, bathrooms, ceilings, walls and appliances.

“People are worn out and spent after a week of work, and the last thing they want to do on a Saturday is get down on their knees and scrub a toilet,” Benoit said. “(Calling his service) saves a lot of fights and marriages — happy wife, happy life.”