Yup, it’s spring – that time of year when many of us feel compelled to throw open the windows, let in some extra light and a large dose of fresh air to clean the cobwebs from our heads as well as our houses.
Does anyone actually like spring cleaning? It certainly seems to be one of those deeply ingrained, yearly rituals that we automatically perform whether we like it or not. No matter how we feel about doing house cleaning, there really is no better time than spring to clean out the clutter, introduce some new tactics for home organization and implement new storage solutions.
You can’t effectively spring clean if there’s too much clutter in the way, so this post is geared towards helping you sort through the clutter before the cleaning can begin.
What's in this article...
- Kill the Clutter – Rules of Engagement
- Home Organization – Getting It Together
- Storage Solutions
1. If you don’t use it – lose it!
Before putting your winter items away until next year, get a grip on clutter control by going through them first.
Clothes – If you didn’t wear it this year, the chances of you wearing it next year are even more slim. Lose it before it becomes another year out of date.
Winter Outdoor Toys & Sports Equipment – Get rid of anything that is too small or no longer played with. Don’t take up valuable space by storing items that can no longer be used.
2. Out with the old – in with the new.
Drag all your spring and summer items out of their winter hiding places. Go through everything – clothing, outdoor patio furniture and accessories, gardening tools, outdoor toys. Make room for new acquisitions by clearing out all of your old, broken, or too small items.
3. The Unused & The Unloved
Remaining Household Items – You know where it is, lying on the table in the dining room and the counter in the kitchen, strewn across the floor in the basement and the garage, cluttering the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen and bathroom, blocking your access to closets. That’s right, the jumbled collection of unused and unloved ’stuff’ that accumulates as if by magic.
One day floors, counters, drawers and cabinets are clean, the next they are a complete mess. Gather it up and sort it out. Do the initial sort yourself, organizing items into piles for each member of the family, then assign responsibility for each pile to the person it belongs to.
Help your kids curb any pack rat tendencies they may have already inadvertently developed. Each person can then work through the next steps.
4. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Re-gift.
Reduce the clutter by recycling that stack of magazines that has been growing steadily over the winter. If you have time to go through and tear out articles of interest, go for it – otherwise, take the ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ approach and dump them in the blue box. If you don’t have the time or don’t take the time to actually read and make use of all those magazines, cancel your subscriptions. You’ll be greatly reducing the amount of unnecessary paper and clutter that comes into your home.
Did you receive any lovely Christmas presents this year that you have absolutely no use for? Don’t waste space by storing them, consider re-gifting to someone else.
After sifting through all the items that will be going into storage, those that have just come out of storage, and those you’ve found cluttering up other areas of your home, organize everything into five categories: Re-gift, Donate, Recycle, Trash and Keep. Make it easier on yourself by addressing one category each day for the next five days.
Day One – Re-gift any new, unused items.
Day Two – Donate clothing and any usable household items to Goodwill. Encourage your kids to donate as well. Let them know that there kids who don’t have as much as they do – kids who would be very grateful to receive the toys and books that your kids are too big or too old for. If you can’t think of someone who would like any of your gift items, donate those as well.
Day Three – Recycle as much as you can.
Day Four – Put out the trash. (hopefully the trash pile is considerably smaller than any of the others)
Day Five – Address your keep pile.
5. Sort It & Store It
Aaah, day five has finally arrived. Time to deal with your keep pile. Before you run out and purchase a bunch of bins and storage containers it’s important to look at what you need storage for and where you plan to store things. Do you need clothing storage, toy storage, tool storage? Where do you typically store out of season items – the attic, a closet, the garage? What about all those things you plan to use this spring and summer? Is your attic, closet or garage organization up to par?
This opens up a whole new can of worms! Watch for the next installment of Spring Clean Up to find home organization ideas and storage solutions.
Now let’s look at what you have left over (your keep pile) and cover some ideas on how to organize those items you’ve deemed as essential. And instead of just shoving everything to the back of a closet, under the stairs, or beneath the living room carpet, we’ll also look at some creative storage solutions.
Home Organization – Getting It Together
If you’re not organized, no amount of funky storage boxes will solve your home storage dilemmas. These are my 2 major rules for organizing items in and around the home:
1. Store Like With Like
Short and sweet and truly simple. To expand on this rule of home organization, what I mean is store all sports equipment together in one area, store all out of season clothes in one location, keep all garden tools together. See what I mean?
2. Store things as close as possible to where they will be used.
This is pretty self-explanatory too, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll elaborate. Sports equipment is most often used outside, so it’s only logical to store it in a location like a garage, shed or close to the back door where someone who is heading out the door can easily grab what he/she needs. Bed sheets, blankets and other linens are used mostly indoors and should be kept in a linen closet close to the bedrooms where these items are used. Isn’t this home organization thing easy?
Smart (and Safe) Storage Practices – Clear Storage Boxes
If you’d like to be able to quickly identify what items are stored in which storage container, clear or translucent storage bins are an excellent option.
Out of sight, out of mind isn’t always the best storage route to take. If you choose not to use clear bins, it’s a good idea to label your storage containers. It will make it much easier to find things especially if you’re in a hurry. In the past I’ve tried using adhesive labels, but they don’t always stay stuck on certain types of plastic bins. A sharpie is quite effective, but why not have some fun with it!
Use the Right Container for the Job
Don’t take chances with your prized possessions by keeping them in inappropriate containers or in poor locations. A cardboard box sitting on a damp basement floor is not a good place to storing anything. If you must store items in the basement, choose storage boxes that are water tight and if at all possible, keep them up off the floor.
Clothing Storage – Using products specifically designed for the safe storage of clothes means that when you take your out-of-season clothes out of storage, they’ll still be in the same condition as when you put them in storage.
Cedar is a natural deodorizer and will also help to discourage pests and mildew. Slip some cedar blocks or cedar balls in with the items you’re storing to keep them fresh and fragrant.
Storing Photographs / Memorabilia – Even though we’re smack dab in the middle of the age of digital photography, many of us still keep a collection of printed photographs and memorabilia from special events. Prevent your photographs and keepsakes from deteriorating by storing them in acid-free photo albums, scrapbooks or photo boxes.
If you have odd-shaped or large items to store, take some measurements to ensure that when you shop for storage solutions you buy boxes or bins that are big enough.
Now we can talk about some of those funky storage boxes!
Home organization has become a hugely popular topic and the selection of storage products and solutions has grown significantly over the past few years. You’ll find storage products that range from classic apothecary jars perfect for keeping track of a multitude of small items to large industrial-looking garage organization systems. There are products to meet every storage requirement in every price range. I’ll only highlight a few of the options in this post.
Funky Storage Boxes from See Jane Work.
There’s simply not enough space to show the many different storage options available. Watch for additional posts on products for home organization and storage solutions.
Don’t get too far away – there’s more Spring Clean Up to come.
(Photo titled ‘Funky Storage Boxes’ courtesy of Despacho on Flickr.)