I have a couple of thoughts on this topic. I used to never clean beds off until spring. And everything did fine doing it that way. Now, spring is so busy for me that I clean off my beds in fall. Some things can be simply done with hand pruners or hedge trimmers.
Over the last few years, I've done it the lazy man's way. I put my mower on the highest setting and go over my perennial beds with it, cutting down the foliage with the mower. After, I do this with the mower, I put the bagger on it and go over the bed and suck up the dead foliage and leaves. I put all of this in my compost bin. If you want to try this lazy method only use it on herbaceous plants. Don't attempt this on woody plants.
Pruners are the best choice for woody plants. Loppers are good for bigger stems. I always wait to cut evergreens back until November or December as I use them to create wreaths, window boxes, and swags.
If you want you can mulch after the beds are cleaned off to get a jump on spring. Now you have got this done, you are now ready for a long winter's nap.