Ahhhhhhhhh, spring. The time for renewal. There is something about the warmth in the air and the sunshine illuminating every nook and cranny that just makes you want to CLEAN!!! Now I realize that the internet is full to the brim with organizing tips, magic cleaning tricks and a million and one special concoctions for every single thing that you may need to scrub. So I will skip telling you the same stuff for the hundredth time. What I am going to tell you is how I go about keeping things cleaned and organized and the plan of attack that works for me. Hopefully, you can get a few good ideas out of it, too.
If you were to walk into my house on any normal day, you may say to yourself, "Her house is pretty clean, but it's not like she's a clean freak or anything." And this would be true. I pretty much hate the mundane chores that have to be completed every other day in order to keep the home spic and span. However, if you were to open one of my closets, cabinets or drawers, you would probably say to yourself, "Holy sheesh, this girl is OCD." I am an organizer. Case in point; I ran into my aunt at the grocery store one day and she later told my mom that I even keep my shopping cart perfectly organized. So how do I go about it? Let's start with the issue of "stuff".
*If you are going to do spring cleaning (or fall or winter or whenever), you need to start by cleaning out. Always, always, always start with cleaning out. This means closets, drawers, cabinets, shelves and any other place that you may be storing "stuff". This is your foundation. You know that little adage about "a place for everything and everything in it's place"? Well, if you have too much "stuff", you won't have enough places to put it.
*It's best to go about this one room at a time. Finish one room completely before moving on to another. I know that can be tricky at times, but it truly helps. Want to start small? Go for the bathroom. Take everything out of hiding and set it all in the floor. Under the cabinet, in the drawers, baskets, bins, in the shower....everything. Bedroom? Closets, drawers, under the bed, on the dresser, the suitcase you never unpacked. Get the idea? EVERYTHING out in the open.
*Now to decide what goes and what stays. There are a million ways to do this. Normally, I go by the yearly rule. If I haven't used something in the past twelve months, it gets discarded. This works great for clothes and linens and such, but not so much for bathroom items. When it comes to toiletries, time is of the essence. A pile of samples in your makeup drawer? Lotion that you got tired of? Tweezers that you never use because you bought a new pair? Get rid of it. Bath items expire, people. Use common sense. Don't hold on to something just because you like the packaging or because you really wanted to try that new fad.
Same thing goes for the kitchen. Anything that is out of date, toss it. If it has been at the back of your cabinet for months, but you still don't want to part with it because you were going to make this great new recipe you saw online......give yourself a month. If you still haven't used it after a month, toss it. While we're in the kitchen, food is not the only thing to get rid of. Utensils, pots, pans, cake plates, dishes, table linens. If you don't use it or don't love it, get rid of it. And do I really have to tell you where you can get rid of all your lightly used "stuff"? Goodwill, consignment shops, and plenty of non-profit organizations would be thrilled to have your "still in good shape" items.
*Now that you have successfully purged your storage spaces, it's time to put them back together. Feel free to get all fancy with your baskets and boxes and labels and such. But keep in mind that all of that is not really necessary to be organized. All you really need is a system that works for you. Most used items should be the easiest to get to. Front and center. For instance, the makeup that I use every single day is at the front of my makeup drawer. Lesser used colors and products go to the back. My jeans are in the center of my closet, at eye level. Lesser used jackets and dresses are at the ends of the racks and seasonal items are in boxes on the shelf. Cleaners that I use every day are in the front of my cleaning cabinet. Sheets and blankets that are in regular rotation are in the top drawers of my linen dresser. You get the idea.
Since cleaning out is the foundation of any cleaning and organization job, and the first order of business on the spring cleaning list, I am going to give you a few extra quick tips that I find to work really well for me.
*While bringing everything out in the open seems like a bigger mess than it's worth, don't dismiss this step. It is much easier to re-organize things when you have all of your storage options empty and all of your "stuff" laying out in front of you.
*Never, ever, ever compromise a certain dreaded area. If you promise yourself that you will get to cleaning the bill drawer out later, later will probably never come. Schedule it and make it happen. No excuses.
*Sometimes it is easier to part with something you own if you know exactly where it's going to end up. Many items that I choose to get rid of get handed down to family and friends. Never push an item on someone. But if you have something that you think someone you know would like to have, simply ask them. No hard feelings. Just make it a simple offer. "I am doing some cleaning and was going to get rid of that lamp that you have always liked. I thought I would ask if you wanted it before taking it to the consignment shop."
*DO NOT, under any circumstances, go back through your "get rid of" pile!!! That second look may reel you back in. Once the decision is made, stick with it.
*Sentimental items should be kept in a special place. If it is something that you want to see every day, display it. Give it a stage. Otherwise, give it a special home. I have a box full of letters, notes, cards and drawings from loved ones that I keep. When I have a card that I want to keep, I know where it goes. It doesn't just float around the house until it gets lost.
And last, but definitely not least....
*Don't start cleaning if you are not in the mood. This is important. Cleaning out takes zeal. It takes desire and determination. If you are not in the mood for it, you will not do a sufficient job. You will hold on to everything and shortcut the big tasks. So don't play unless your head is in the game.
I hope you got a little bit of inspiration or useful advice from this post. This is a subject that I get really excited about. I know that's crazy. But it's true. And this is just Step 1!! I have even more advice to come. So stick with me and we will get things cleaned up!
*photos from here via here and here.