It’s officially spring again, and everybody and their great aunt Erma are abuzz with cleaning and organizing advice. I figured it was important to throw my voice into the ether, just in case you needed a different perspective. After all, I’m a little less Good Housekeeping and a little more Family Handyman.
The Three Vital Goals of a Spring Cleaning
Before we get into the tips, it’s a good idea to set some goals for your spring cleaning. A lot of people get into trouble because they fail to actually establish what it is that they hope to accomplish with their cleaning efforts. They aren’t going to be able to clean their home top to bottom over the course of the next month, contrary to the claims of some magazine.
What ends up happening is that one room gets really clean, the next one is pretty clean, and diminishing returns follow until they give up and take a nap. Establishing goals gives you a way to know you’ve achieved something and those goals can tell you pretty precisely how much further you have to go.
Your vital goals may be slightly different, but odds are that these are in the ballpark:
- Increase the feeling of openness in your home.
- Make it easier to find things that disappeared last year.
- Declutter. All. The. Things.
Before we proceed with these three goals, please understand that nothing in this article is meant as a judgement on you or anyone else. Everybody has their challenges and blind spots. Maybe you’re not very good at organizing, but you’re great at chess. We can’t all be great chess players.
Attacking Your Vital Spring Cleaning Goals
Whether you’re going to sort of just jump in the middle of your goals and attack them from all angles or you want a more organized approach, you need a plan of action that works for you. Don’t even start without one. If you have something working well for you, go with it, but if not, we’ve got a short attack plan for each goal above down below.
Keep in mind that some of these lists can be done simultaneously if you really want to be efficient. If not, that’s ok, too. This is your spring cleaning. Own it.
Goal: Increasing the Feeling of Openness In Your Home
Increasing the feeling of openness in your home comes down to one thing: light. The more light in your home, the bigger and more open it feels. Achieving this seemingly impossible goal is actually really easy and you can do it without replacing a single window or tearing down walls. See, it’s all about that glass. It’s about the paint on your walls, too, but for the amended spring cleaning, focus on the glass. That includes:
- Windows. Scrub these things like they’ve never been washed. They probably haven’t. Wash the insides and then go outside and wash the outside. Just washing the windows will brighten up your space enough that you may end up stopping at this point.
- Mirrors. Those mirrors are bouncing light around the room. Just because your windows are letting more light in doesn’t mean that it’s going to survive long once it hits that dirty mirror. Clean, clean away.
- Light fixtures. By light fixtures, we mean those light kits on your ceiling fan, the bulb enclosures on chandeliers and the shades on ceiling huggers. Anything glass, take it down and clean it. Most of these items can go into the dishwasher, but put anything thin or fragile in the top rack.
- Light bulbs. Oh, the lowly lightbulb. How we forget you all the time when doing almost anything. You’re just a magic tube that gives us light… unfortunately, bulbs also get dirty, so grab your Swiffer duster and give all your bulbs a good once-over.
Goal: Make It Easier to Find Things
This one has a single, simple solution: The Container Store. Or any other sort of place where you can get every kind of organizer you could dream up. The reason homes get cluttered too often is because there’s simply not any kind of proper storage to begin with. Of course you’re going to struggle to find things when those things don’t have a permanent home!
You really don’t even need a list here. It’s all in the organization. Go room by room and take stock of what lays out a lot of the day. Do the kids throw their coats on the couch and wander off? Coat rack by the door should fix that. Does your closet look like it exploded? Check out some of the super impressive closet systems they make these days.
Sure, it’s going to take a little bit of an investment to make this goal manageable, but ultimately you’ll find that it’s worth it when you don’t end up buying three of the same top because you couldn’t find the one you needed the day you were going to give that big presentation.
You can and should probably work on this while you’re working on organizing stuff. Decluttering has become a meme, you know what it’s all about. You take all the stuff that you own and then you subject it to your hardest judgement. Will you use that spork set again? Is that pair of duck shoes really necessary in the desert? So many questions and decisions to make.
Getting stuck trying to decide what gets to go? Ask these questions:
- Am I using it regularly?
- When I am using it, do I enjoy using it?
- Have I effectively replaced this item and simply keep it around for nostalgia?
- Am I really going to “fit back into these jeans?” Be honest. Cake is delicious.
- Do I really want to finish this project?
- Do I have too many of this item? (belts, shoes, microwave bacon cookers)
- Am I keeping this item out of some sense of guilt? (gifts, mainly)
Once you’ve done this, grab the boxes and bags. Sort the items you don’t need into “useable and worth donating” and “garbage, only good for trashing.” If any of the trash is recyclable, you know, a third recycle bin is probably warranted
Achieve Your Spring Cleaning Goals This Year or Go Down Fighting!
With defined goals and plans in place to tackle each one, spring cleaning should be so much easier this year than it was in the past. My husband has a great rule we’ve kept since we first got married…If we move it three times and haven’t used it, then it’s time to get rid of it.
Doing some regular cleaning might not be a bad idea, either, but you can always leave the basic stuff like doing the floors and washing the walls to the home pros. People who make it their business to clean and organize your stuff are among the elite ranks of home pros in my network, so if you need a referral just let me know.
Renee E. Ledbetter, Realtor®