When that gorgeous spring reaches higher into the sky, it tends to shine a great big spotlight on areas of your home that have been living in shadows for the last few months. And that means you’re seeing more junk, clutter, dirt and dust. Time to draft a solid spring cleaning plan! Here’s how to tackle the top 10 areas that need serious attention after a long, dark winter.
Clutter accumulates despite your best efforts
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by the things you’ve bought, inherited or gathered over time, and also strangely attached to those very things. But if you’re really trying to clean out your space, “you’ve got to be ready to sever the emotional ties you’ve made to the stuff you own and let it,” advises professional organizer Quincilla Siah. “Keeping less clutter around can bring lots of benefits … [like] mental clarity, better focus and less stress, not to mention less time cleaning.”
“Most of us keep way too much stuff in our homes without even thinking about it.”
– Quincilla Siah, SOSMySpace
Sourcing a good spring cleaning plan is the first step. Once you get rolling, it becomes easier to keep the process going strong. But where do you even start?
“Decide what zone is a priority for you and start on that. I suggest starting with a small zone first, like the junk drawer! Once you succeed, move to the next zone,” Siah recommends.
Start with these “zones” for max impact. Don’t forget to recycle what you can (think paper, plastics and electronics) and upcycle or give away things that are still in good shape but just not “you” anymore!
1. Make space in your bedroom closets
That pair of jeans circa 2015 that you love but can’t fit into anymore. That Shien purchase you bought in every colour because the price was right but reality didn’t quite match the vision. That 3-year-old sweater with the tags still on. It’s hard, but those items that are clogging up your closet space will be a perfect fit for someone else. If it’s not a regular go-to, seriously consider donating it. And if you haven’t seen it in a year or more, it’s definitely a donation.
2. Thin out your file cabinet
Everything is digital these days, with instant access to previous account statements. Begin a new habit of downloading your statements to an electronic folder so you can ditch the paper copies of paid bills and bank statements. Shred any paperwork with personal information on it and pop those strips straight into the recycling bin.
3. Tackle your home office
Go through your desk drawers and toss out any dried-out White Out and pens, highlighters and dry erase markers that no longer work. If you haven’t used an office supply item since this time last year, throw it out. If you can amalgamate files and reduce the number of file folders to manage, go for it.
4. Source out old electronics
Hunt around for dead smartphones that are too old to get any kind of purchase credit, old tablets and even ancient computer towers you have no intention of booting up ever again. Even electric kitchen gadgets that you’ve upgraded to newer models or have that you never used are all great candidates for electronic recycling. Also take a peek around for extra unneeded cords and chargers!
5. Reject singletons in your cupboards
Pots without lids. Mismatched sheet sets you don’t use. Tupperware or glass storage containers without lids (or vice versa). Socks without partners. All of these mismatched items can be recycled, donated or thrown out to save space and make room for new pairs.
6. Purge the pantry and deep freeze
Go shelf by shelf, checking expiration or best before dates and chuck anything that’s too far gone. FYI: Ground spices can last up to two years in the cupboard, while whole spices and seeds can last up to four years. Flour and cake mixes do expire, so if you store your flour in a canister, make note of the date on the jar. This is also a great time to defrost your freezer or deep freeze, and toss anything with serious freezer burn or ice formation.
7. Battle the bathroom build-up
You’ll be shocked at how much old make-up and junk piles up in your bathroom. All that stuff ends up cluttering up under your sink and creating mess that you just don’t need – and some of it shouldn’t be used because of expiry dates anyway. Mascara has a shelf life of three months, while most moisturizers and creams should be thrown out six months after purchase. Use it or lose it!
8. Be ruthless with kids’ stuff
Here’s where emotions run super-high! But now you have a plan: Go through all the saved artwork and crafts from different ages and phases and pick out the cream of the crop. Throw out or recycle all the rest, as hard and cold as that may feel. Because your kids are going to keep producing, you want to keep the pieces they are most proud of and you want to have enough room for those special items. Go through their book library and donate books they’ve outgrown so others can love them as much as your kids did. And finally, pick through their toys and, with their permission, find a few to donate with love.
9. Pare down your own book collection
Free up some new space on your bookshelves so you can achieve that two-thirds-one-third aesthetic. Keep books you absolutely love and find yourself loaning out to others. The ones that you barely made it, or didn’t even finish, are perfect candidates for donation. Also great giveaways? That stuff you’ve been holding onto since your college or university days, like your random Shakespeare collection or that American Literature anthology.
10. Clear out the garage and/or crawl space/attic
The garage or crawl space/attic is also known as the last and final resting place of crap you just don’t know what to do with. It’s a huge job, so clear a weekend and build it into your spring cleaning plan. If you haven’t used it or even thought about using it in the last year, make it gone. If it’s a nice weekend, try putting some of it out on the curb for Spring Cleaning cruisers – it’s the fastest, cheapest way to get rid of stuff you no longer need that other people might find useful.
Extend your spring cleaning plan and keep the clean going all year long!
You’ve just cleared your physical and mental space and burned a ton of calories at the same time, so give yourself a treat of some kind. And then commit to keeping the clutter at bay because you don’t want this hard work to go to waste.
The best way to set yourself up for success keeping up with home organization is to hire a regular house cleaning service to come in every one or two weeks – this way, you’ll force yourself to do a quick sweep of the clutter so your cleaner can get into all the nooks and crannies. You’ll collect less over the course of the year, and your place will be spotlessly clean with way less personal time investment.
Come home to a clean, clutter-free house … doesn’t that sound amazing?