We all have that one kitchen drawer crammed with warranty papers and old remote controls, right? How many years have you been vowing to clean out that drawer? This spring, commit to making it happen. After all, there are few things more satisfying than successfully completing a huge spring cleaning campaign.
We talked to organizing pros about what to keep, what to toss and what to clean – and how to make the process as painless as possible.
Make a Game Plan
A successful spring cleaning and organizing spree starts with a clear and manageable plan, says Janet Bernstein, a certified professional organizer and the owner of The Organizing Professionals, based in Philadelphia.
“Start by making a list of areas in need of organizing,” she says. “And don’t tackle a whole room at once: Breaking the job into small pieces makes it seem more manageable. Now that you have your list, you need to schedule your organizing sessions. You’re more likely to accomplish a task and feel accountable if you write it on your calendar.”
Plan out which areas you’ll clean/organize on which days. Bernstein suggests starting small: “for example, the messy drawer (or drawers) in your kitchen or a bathroom cabinet,” she says. “This will give you a feeling of accomplishment and encourage you to continue.”
Make Tough Cuts
As you move from area to area, sort every item into one of three categories: keep, donate, toss. “If you don’t love it, need it or use it, then let it go,” Bernstein suggests. “Repeat this to yourself frequently if you have a difficult time parting with possessions.
It might be tempting to stuff all your winter clothes back into storage, but spring is actually the perfect time to sort through your cold-weather gear. If you didn’t wear something this past winter, you probably won’t wear it next winter – so put it into the donate pile.
Once you’ve sorted all your clothing, be strategic about how you put things away. “Try to gradually form this habit of sorting: Store your most worn items at eye level, less worn pieces below that and items you use only on special occasions up high,” says Harriet Jones, a cleaning and maintenance expert for Go Cleaners London. This system makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and helps you keep your closets organized.
Create New Storage
Even after purging unneeded items, you might still find yourself with more stuff than places to put it. Now’s the perfect time to carve out some new storage spaces, says Jones.
“Maximize the storing abilities of your space by using every possible option – insert drawers underneath your bed and furnishings, use the inside of ottomans, place baskets over the kitchen cabinets,” she says. “Also, see if the inside of your wardrobe door can take some items and utilize that space.” You might be able to hang pocket organizers to hold small items like socks, jewelry and toiletries.
Look for ways to use vertical space, too, suggests Jones. “Use your walls to hang shelves, and store your books there. Mount a bulletin or magnetic board to display reminders, shopping lists, etc. If possible, insert a pantry shelf near the refrigerator.”
Creating enough storage to hold all your stuff is important because it prevents clutter from building up again. “Once everything has its place, the kitchen countertops and other surfaces will be free, and the visual clutter will be dramatically reduced,” Jones says. When everything’s put away, your space will look – and feel – bigger and cleaner.
Do a Deep Clean
No matter how organized your home is, you won’t feel truly comfortable until it’s also clean. All that sorting and organizing action kicks up a lot of dust and uncovers hidden dirt, so save your deep-cleaning efforts until after you’ve finished purging and replacing everything.
Each home has different requirements, but a general spring cleaning should include some of the same basic steps:
- Clean the inside and outside of the refrigerator and microwave.
- Wash the interior and exterior of windows.
- Use a rug cleaner to clean carpets and upholstered furniture.
- Clean air vents and filters.
- Dust baseboards, light fixtures and ceiling fans.
- Clean scuffs off of walls.
- Clean and disinfect all bathroom surfaces, doorknobs and light switch plates.
- Wash outdoor furniture.
- Flip (or rotate) your mattresses.
- Wax wooden floors and furniture.
- Clean bedspreads, mattress pads and curtains.
- Dust all shelves and other horizontal surfaces.
- Clean shower and countertop grout.
Simplify Your Life
Spring is a time of new beginnings, so use this opportunity to change some of the patterns that create stress and clutter in your life. Unsubscribe from magazines that you don’t read, cancel memberships that you don’t use and deal with any legal or financial worries that you’ve been putting off, like creating a will or inspecting your credit report.
Expand your spring cleaning efforts to include your electronics, says Dana Claudat, Feng Shui master and founder of The Tao of Dana. “Remember that your digital life can also be cluttered, and when it’s cleaned out and organized (unsubscribing, deleting, filing), it becomes a fresher space as well!”
Enjoy the Process
Spring cleaning is a way of improving your life, so try to see it as a positive thing. “It’s easier to clean when it ceases to be a burden and it becomes more enjoyable,” says Claudat. “Turning on music or a fun podcast, lighting a candle or some incense, opening windows to get the energy flow going are all simple ways to start associating ‘cleaning’ with ‘transformation’ in a bigger way.”
Do you have tips to de-clutter or de-stress your home? Share them in our comment section.
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