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As the first days of spring creep up upon us, many of us emerge from our winter hiding places, take a good look around us, and decide that it’s time we knuckled down to the obligatory Big Spring Clean. We find shelves of unread books, wardrobes crammed with unworn clothes and lives generally swarming with clutter, and we decide things just have to go.
Yet, when it comes down to actually getting rid of stuff, some of us have the hardest time throwing away things we haven’t even looked at in ages.
Why we can’t let go
The reasons why we treasure and hoard all this stuff aren’t too hard to figure out: as we go through life, working hard, progressing from one thing to the next, the things we acquire en route serve as our trophies and token reminders; the things that tell us we’ve made it, that we’re doing okay, that we can afford to buy stuff and keep it in our nice house.
That said, the very fact that you’re reading this article suggests you know something else about the actualities of owning lots of things, which is this:
It can be a really big pain.
“The things you own end up owning you” – Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club
The more things you own, the harder it is to keep them all organised and tidy; the less organised and tidy you are, the more you’re likely to to feel as though your life is less organised and tidy; and the less organised you feel in life, the more stress you’re likely to endure.
But what if, despite knowing this, we still struggle to get rid of the things that are bogging us down? Thankfully, there are three simple steps to letting go of our old possessions for a better spring clean.
1. Be honest
More often than not, the one thing stopping us from getting rid of something is that we lie to ourselves about how much we really need it.
We convince ourselves that 10 pairs of shoes is an entirely necessary amount, and that our lives would somehow be incomplete without that box full of old books stored in the closet. To better let go of our possessions, it therefore pays to be entirely honest with ourselves and ask:
- Do we really need it?
- Will we ever actually wear/use/read/watch it?
- Will our life be worse in any way without it?
Answer these questions honestly and you should have an easier time of eliminating the excess from your life.
Another key problem for chronic hoarders is the emotional attachments we form with the most random of objects.
Of course, nobody would suggest you sever all emotional ties to your family heirlooms or photo albums, but there are certain things which, in the grand scheme of things, probably mean much less to us but to which we can’t help but become attached to anyway.
Using our first step and getting really honest with ourselves, ask what it is about a particular object that makes us so compelled to keep it. Is there another way we can get the same feeling or memory that this thing gives us without cluttering our house?
3 Help others
One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to spring clean involves giving things away to people who need them more than we do.
We could donate our books to the library, or our old clothes to the Salvation Army store. By doing so, we’ll be doing something good for others, which in turn will make us feel really good.
Surely we’re all prepared to sacrifice a few things for the sake of feeling better about ourselves and the space around us, which is, of course, the real reason we started this Big Spring Clean in the first place.
It’s hard to argue that most of us have a little too much stuff lying around, but getting rid of your stuff can be difficult. Maybe you’ve formed a personal attachment to certain items or you truly believe you’ll have a practical use for it someday. Most of the time, though, “personal value” means “guilt” and “someday” never comes.
We’re not talking about going ultra-minimalist here, but rather making an effort to only keep the things in your life that you use and actually matter to you. To do it, you’ll need to know how to identify the crap in your home, how to get rid of it (so you’re not just sending it to a landfill), and, most importantly, how to keep unwanted crap from coming back.
Step 1: Identify the trash
Some crap is actually just trash, like a corporate T-shirt from five jobs ago or a birthday card from 1994 you’re afraid your grandmother will ask about at her next visit. If you still have any of this kind of stuff, stop reading this post and dispose of it immediately: Recycle the cards (or file them away for safekeeping), tear the shirts up for rags, and generally do what you need to do to get the trash taken care of first.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of your easily identifiable crap, we can start working on the rest—deciding what can stay and what can go.
Step 2: Cut down on excess
First, narrow your focus by sorting your clutter into categories. These categories should include things like books, clothing, cables, and gadgets, as well as any hobby-specific clutter you might have a lot of. With each category, sort every item into one of three piles: Stuff to keep, stuff to toss, and undecided. Be ruthless: When’s the last time you used that bulky electric juicer? Will you actually start using it in the future? If the answer is “probably not,” you should probably get rid of it.
When you’re done sorting, go through the pile of items you’re not sure about and get rid of as much as you can. If you have duplicates (or triplicates), choose the thing you like best and get rid of the rest.
Step 3: Put it all back
Now that you’ve made a mess of your home by tossing your stuff into piles on the floor, it’s time to put it all away. To start, put the stuff you’re getting rid of in a cardboard box, trash bag, or whatever you prefer—so long as it’s clearly moving on to its next life. Next, put all the stuff you’re keeping back where it belongs (and admire all the storage space you’ve created). Last, grab the things you’re not sure about and put them somewhere separate, like one side of your closet or a separate drawer. Over the next month, keep track of how often you use the “undecided” stuff: If you barely touch it, it’s time to let it go.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3
No, not right away—you’ve just had to part with a bunch of things you care about, so you may not be emotionally ready for another breakup with your possessions. Wait 30 days, then repeat the process. After a month, when things have settled, you’ll find it much easier to let go of even more things you don’t need. You might even like it.
Step 5: Tackle the one-offs
By now, you’ve probably gotten rid of most of your unnecessary crap, leaving behind things you don’t have a lot of but still take up unnecessary space in your home. Do you have an electric guitar you never play, or an elliptical machine that you mostly use as a clothes rack? They’ve got to go.
Step 6: Get unwanted stuff out of your house
When the time comes to actually get rid of all that crap, you’ve got three basic options: Donate, sell, or trade. (Technically, “the dump” is the fourth option, but hopefully you’ve gotten rid of your literal trash by now.)
Always make sure any potential donations are clean and in good working order before you try to get rid of them. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are fine, but your old stuff is way more likely to get used if you keep it local. Many homeless shelters and other outreach organizations list their most-needed donations on their website; check to see if any of your stuff qualifies, then bring it over. Your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook and the Craigslist free section will take care of almost everything else.
Selling or trading higher-ticket items via Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or and/or eBay can help you make some money back, but it takes some work—so save it for stuff that’s worth the effort. If you have outdated electronics that aren’t selling, check to see if the manufacturer or retailer has a trade-in or recycling program. Amazon , Samsung , and Apple all do, to name a few.
Step 7: Digitize, if possible
You can also clear up some space by streamlining your physical records. Paper files, photographs, bills, bank statements, and other documents can take up a lot of room; digitize what you can , back it all up, and toss any physical copies that aren’t special or valuable to you. Going paperless is a bit of a process , but it’s more than worth the effort.
Step 8: Keep it up
De-crapifying your entire home is an enormous effort, but all that effort is wasted if you can’t maintain it. For that, you need some rules, policies, and tricks to ward off the excess stuff that once plagued your life.
You may have heard that you should toss it if you haven’t used it in the last year. This works great—for people who don’t have a tendency to hang on to stuff they don’t need. If you have that tendency, your guidelines should be a little stricter:
- Institute a one-in, one-out policy: If you want something new, you have to get rid of something old. It doesn’t have to be the same type of item, but it should take up approximately the same amount of space (or more).
- Set expiration dates for rarely-used stuff: Give yourself a certain amount of time to use an item, then set a calendar reminder. If the date comes and goes and you haven’t touched it, say goodbye.
- Sleep on it—twice: Don’t buy new stuff until you’ve considered it for 48 hours (or more). If you still think it’s a good purchase, go for it.
- Put your stuff where you can see it:The “FIFO” principle isn’t just for kitchens . Organizing your belongings so you can see what you have will help you actually use them.
The decluttering process isn’t exactly fun, but chances are that you’ll come to love the extra space way more than whatever was there before. Hopefully this guide will help you get your crap under control and out of your home.
This article was originally published in May 2011 and was updated on May 18, 2021 with new information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.
Find out whether spring cleaning is for you and then do it like a pro with these ingenious spring cleaning ideas.
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If there’s one thing that brings germaphobes, home decorators, clean freaks, and thrifters together, it’s spring cleaning. It’s a time to start anew, to cleanse your home of everything from dust to bad vibes to even worse fashion. Spring cleaning gives everyone the chance to reinvent their living space and, in turn, themselves. It’s is just like New Years, except the resolution actually sticks.
As Shakespeare said, “To clean, or not to clean: that is the question.”
Fact: Spring cleaning isn’t for everyone. While many have been shamed for their decision to opt out of this tradition, they may have been onto something. Find out shocking reasons why you may want to keep the dustpan in the closet this year with this list of spring cleaning pros and cons.
However, if you do decide that spring cleaning is for you, then there’s only one way to do it: the right way. Here at CheapThriftyLiving.com, we know how to make your home pristine without also cleaning out your bank account. Learn how to spring clean on a budget with these must-have tips and tricks, and you’ll cut your cleaning costs in half!
Pros and Cons of Spring Cleaning
- You can skip the gym when you put your cleaning gloves on. According to Shape.com, you can burn over 150 calories in half an hour doing most cleaning activities, like washing floors, scrubbing the tub, and vacuuming. That’s nearly as effective as running.
- The best part about warm-weather cleaning is that you can finally clear out the stuffy, stale air that’s been trapped inside since November. Cleaning your house gives you a chance to throw open your windows, air out the house, and help remove any wintertime dust.
- Who doesn’t like a fresh start? Cleaning out your home, from closets to kitchens, means that you’ll have extra space to rearrange your furniture. Bring good vibes, better health, and a sense of fulfillment to your living spaces by adding some zen feng shui aesthetics.
- Why not start your spring off on a healthy foot? If you don’t like getting sick, then disinfecting the grittier parts of your home is just what you need. Spring cleaning gives you the chance to eliminate illness-causing bacteria, dust mites, and germs from your home.
- Sure, the holiday season may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop treating yourself! When you clear out your home of the old, it’s time to ring in the new. Spring cleaning lets you fill recently emptied spaces with new decor, furniture, and clothes.
- Indoor pollution is a serious reason to opt out of spring cleaning. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, indoor pollution, like the fumes that come from cleaning chemicals, can cause discomfort, respiratory diseases, or even cancer in the long run.
- When you’re inside cleaning, you can’t be outside playing. While spring cleaning can make your house come to life, being stuck inside makes you miss out on everyone’s favorite outdoor weather. Why forego your favorite blooms to scrub a toilet?
- If you thrive on the holiday spirit, then spring cleaning is the worst time of the year. It’s the official sign that the time of Christmas carols, hot cocoa, and snowtime frolicking is over. Keep your wintertime joy for a few more weeks by keeping spring cleaning at bay.
- Nobody likes to say goodbye. The emotional strain of clearing out your home of once-loved but no-longer-used items can turn off potential spring cleaners. Save your tears by keeping childhood mementos, beloved ensembles, and antiques close to your heart.
- The biggest reason not to spring clean? The cost of it all! Using up your valuable time to buy expensive cleaning equipment doesn’t seem like a good financial plan. Lucky for you, though, we’ve collected the best ways to spring clean on the budget so you can clear out your home without breaking the bank.
We’ve busted spring cleaning, but what about Black Friday? Learn all the ways this time-honored tradition may actually be the worst with these 7 Reasons Black Friday Sucks
How to Spring Clean on a Budget
- Opt for DIY household cleaners instead of name-brand solutions. Most of these easy mixtures are made from common household items, like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon, and they work just as well as name-brand chemicals. Not only are these homemade cleaners super cheap to make, but they’re also eco-friendly.
- If you don’t want to buy cleaners in bulk, buying non-name-brand cleaning solutions is the next best thing. Just like medicines, generic store brands often work just as well as their name-brand counterparts at a fraction of the cost.
- Make dust rags out of old t-shirts or dryer sheets so that you don’t have to keep buying paper towels. Dryer sheets are especially handy for cleaning TV and computer screens, blinds, and shining stainless steel. Their anti-static properties also repel dust in the long-run and leave behind a linen-fresh scent.
- Use old toothbrushes to scrub between floor tiles. You don’t need to invest in a specialized scrubber when you have this inexpensive hack at your fingertips. By opting for this household item, you can get the same scrubbing power at half the price.
- When you go through your closet, make your fashion faux pas work for you. Sell clothes you no longer want, from shoulder-padded blazers to bell-bottom jeans, for a profit at used clothing stores like Plato’s Closet, ThredUp.com, or even eBay.com.
- What people don’t often realize is that when you buy cleaning solutions, you’re largely paying for the bottle. Buy cleaning solutions in bulk in their concentrate form to cut the cost of the packaging. Just add the right amount of water, and you’re good to go!
- Use newspapers instead of paper towels or cloths to wipe down your windows. Newspaper fibers don’t cause lint or scratches like other materials do. You’ll love watching your spring garden grow through your streak-free windows.
- Unleash your upcycling guru when you go through your old stuff. Whether you use tackle boxes to hold your jewelry or old mason jars to hold bathroom toiletries, creatively reusing things you already have will save a pretty penny this spring.
You’ve cleaned out your entire house, so why not make it look brand new? Transform your kitchen into every chef’s dream with these 10 Affordable Kitchen Remodel Ideas
Spring is the perfect season for refreshing your lifestyle, and what better way to begin simplifying than to remove unnecessary items from your home? In pursuit of a more polished abode (and the peace of mind that comes with it), we’ve partnered with eBay to bring you the best seasonal cleaning tips under the sun. Here to help guide us is Bonnie Joy Dewkett, founder of The Joyful Organizer, who shares her methods for spotting nonessential household paraphernalia to tidy up this spring.
1. Gift Items That Are Rarely Used Image: Polka Dot Images via Getty Images
It is the thought behind any present that counts, but some gifts aren’t a perfect fit for your home and lifestyle, and therefore are rarely used. If a gift is in good condition and may be of use to someone else, consider selling the present or donating it to charity. Simply because a close friend or family member raves about a novelty egg separator doesn’t mean it has a place in your life — and that fact is perfectly acceptable justification for finding the item a new owner who will put it to good use, Dewkett contends.
2. Paperwork You Won’t Need Again Image: BLOOM Image via Getty Images
“Everything in your home should be beautiful or useful,” Dewkett says. “While some things never will [be both], like a first aid kit for example, it’s all about finding balance”. Papers including paid-off bills and school assignments are neither beautiful nor useful, and therefore should not occupy precious space in your home. “Things should work for you, not make you work for them.”
3. Inherited Items That Aren’t Functional Or Sentimental Image: Tetra Images via Getty Images
Inheritance is an admittedly delicate topic for those seeking to refine their lives, as we occasionally form an emotional attachment to objects solely based on their association with a loved one. However, if great-grandma’s vintage furniture isn’t practical or exceptionally sentimental, remove it. “So often, we hold onto things because they once served us and we think we should keep them for that reason,” Dewkett explains. “Fill your home with items that are useful to you right now.”
4. Clothing You Rarely Wear Image: Luminastock via Getty Images
Lots of trends are cyclical, but vintage clothing that doesn’t align with your personal style can be be retired. Paisley capris from the ’90s, we’re looking at you. Furthermore, ill-fitting items can be sold or donated to someone who will put the attire to good use. When determining whether to sell or keep an item of clothing, “Be ruthless,” Dewkett advises. “Ask yourself if you would pay to store [it] … if not, don’t keep it. If you don’t love it or use it … get rid of it.”
5. Kitchen Wares You Use Less Than Once A Month Image: didecs via Getty Images
Your home’s “work areas,” such as the kitchen, are especially important to keep organized. “A chaotic home makes everyday tasks more difficult,” Dewkett warns homeowners and renters. “Making meals isn’t easy if the kitchen is a mess. If you cannot cook dinner… you need to remedy the situation right away.” She suggests ridding the kitchen of any culinary gadgets not used at least once a month. “Everything becomes easier and quicker when your home is in order.”
6. Holiday Decor That Is Impossible To Display Image: Images Etc Ltd via Getty Images
A jolly yard display of inflatable reindeer, icicle lights and Stars of David add festive warmth to winter’s chill. However, there is nothing to cheer about when complex holiday decorations dominate your basement space. Give away ornamentation that is difficult to display, Dewkett advises, and use the hours you would have spent wrestling the decor into place to indulge in beloved seasonal activities. We suggest eating cookies.
7. Stuff You’ve Outgrown Image: Gladiathor via Getty Images
“Something that a recent college grad will find useful is very different than a new parent,” Dewkett says. For example, a prized collection of university tees and souvenir shot glasses may be indispensable to a coed, while new parents might say the same of diaper bags and bottles. Embrace the next chapter of your life by removing items that no longer fit your new-and-improved, streamlined self.
If it no longer fits into your life, it’s time to let it go. Whether you never got to use it (and have the tags to prove it!) or it’s been too long since you’ve last needed it, your untouched merchandise can find a new home when you sell through eBay. Earn some extra cash by letting go of your untouched things and making room for new ones.
Busy lifestyles can lead to cutting corners and getting into bad routines. Here’s how to make cleaning easy…
While housework is a chore, we all want to get it out of the way as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, if you’re spending more time at home, what better time than any to pop on those gloves and give your home a good clean! After all, the time for a big spring clean is upon us, don’t jump in at the deep end – there are some essential things to know which can make the task a breeze.
We’ve rounded up our top tips for easy spring cleaning.
1. First things first, be realistic
The idea of cleaning the whole house is a daunting task for anyone. So don’t try to tackle the entire thing in a day, or you’ll end up feeling defeated.
Choose a room and stick to it. Complete this room before moving onto another; this’ll give you a greater sense of achievement compared to flitting from one room to the next. As an example, over a weekend, you could clean the living room and a bedroom. Don’t worry about telling yourself you need to have the room cleaned by a certain time, take as long as you need.
Most importantly, make it fun! Pop the radio on or even your favourite podcast, and lean into it. If you work like this, over the month you’ll have rid the whole house of clutter and stains!
2. Be prepared
Just like a chef will gather all their ingredients, tools, and gadgets before they start cooking, you should do the same before you start cleaning. This will save time, as you won’t be running back and forth to the cupboard under the kitchen sink looking for cleaning products or other useful things.
If you have the space, separate your cleaning products by room, e.g. bathroom cleaning products, kitchen cleaning products, and living room/bedroom/hallway products. Gather your cleaning army for the task or room ahead.
The GHI’s essentials include:
- Rubber gloves – we love the Spontex Soft Hands gloves.
- A cleaning cloth.
- Multi-surface polish.
- Multi-surface cleaning spray – OceanSaver requires only one bottle making it an eco-friendly option.
- Glass spray.
- Old toothbrush.
- Floor cleaner.
- Mop and bucket. We rate the Addis Superdry Plus Mop . For a deeper clean, opt for the Karcher SC5 EasyFix Premium.
3. Keep it green
Want a cheaper or greener alternative? Save time weighing up which surface cleaner is best by using store cupboard items.
- Vinegar is ideal for removing limescale build-up on taps (though not gold plated ones) and shower screens too. It’s also great when it comes to cleaning windows.
- Mix half bicarbonate of soda and half water to make a scouring paste. It’s brilliant at removing stains from worktops, sinks, cookers, oven doors, and saucepans.
- Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent. Use it to remove stains from chopping boards by rubbing with fresh lemon (or the bottled stuff) and leave overnight. It’s also effective at removing rust stains. Also, add half a capful into your wash-load to brighten whites.
Erin Rooney Doland, a reformed hoarder, offers her best cures for clutter.
1. Tear down the museum. In my youth, I was fearless. I forged strong friendships and created a history for myself that seemed worth remembering. So I held on to every trinket from my past. But I kept so many of these historical artifacts (see Hair, Matt’s) that I didn’t have any room for the present. I wanted to throw parties and have friends to visit in a home where they could actually sit down. So I photographed those hold things, then cleared them out to make space for the next chapters of my life.
2. Assess true value. A hefty chuck of what I moved into our home was obsolete computer equipment. When I looked at it, I saw dollar signs. Then my economist friend, Stephen, reminded me of the fallacy of sunk costs. I was sizing up those old computers based on what I had spent rather than their present value: close to zero. I sold the lot to a used-electronics store for $60 (not bad, considering) and got a much needed haircut with the cash.
3. Know thyself. I liked to think of myself as someone who exercised every day by running on a giant motorized treadmill, read all the literary classics, and baked cookies for every special occasion. The reality? I am not a runner, I like to read pop fiction, and cookies aren’t really my thing. The treadmill, the boxes of books, and some kitchen gadgets all found new homes.
4. Trust me: You won’t fix it. Most of the broken things I had brought with me were shoes. Heels or straps had come off, and I was convinced I would someday have them repaired. My husband held the shoes up in front of me, pair by pair, and asked two questions: “If you saw these shoes in a store today, would you buy them?” and “If you say yes, how much would you pay for them?” In all but one case, I admitted that I wouldn’t buy the shoes again. And those red kitten heels with the broken sole? The amount I was wiling to pay was less than the cost of having them fixed.
5. Do look a gift horse in the mouth. My decorating tastes may change over time, but I am fairly certain I will never enjoy a home filled with a series of rhinestone-accented paintings of scary clowns. Yet I had hoarded these and other unattractive presents because I thought that was the decent thing to do. I also wasn’t sure what I would say if someone noticed his gift missing and asked why. Well, you know what? No one has. Not even the bestower of scary clowns.
6. Adapt to your surroundings. I had a used Volvo 740 GLE that was the first car I had purchased after college. Before I moved Washington, I lived in the Midwest, where it was tough to get around without a car. In D.C., however, we lived next to a metro station, and there was a grocery store two blocks away. The price of parking―$150 a month―sealed it: The GLE was G-O-N-E.
7. Just admit that you don’t like it. As I sorted through my stuff, I became aware of the fact that I didn’t even want some of it. There were things I didn’t exactly like but didn’t exactly hate―and so lived with them out of pure apathy. This was the easiest clutter to set free. All it took was a little motivation to pack up a few boxes and drop them off at a local charity.
8. Know what you really need. Often what we need is only related to the thing we have. For instance, I had a huge popcorn maker but could easily pop the modest amount of corn we consumed in a small pot on the stove. Out it went. I also had thousands of documents in bulky filing cabinets. But I needed the information on the pages, not the paper itself. I kept just the documents I had to have in their original form, scanned and saved others as digital files, and tossed the rest-eliminating 300 pounds of paper.
9. Let go of the guilt. When my grandparents passed away, I inherited a collection of 27 rusty knives, a warped cookie sheet, and a copper bracelet my grandmother had loved to wear. I kept all these items for more than a decade. Eventually I realized that if my grandparents were alive, they would have replaced the cookie sheet and knife set (and been mortified that my aunts had passed on such dangerous accoutrements). I recycled the kitchen implements, but I kept the bracelet, which I wear and enjoy as much as my grandmother did.
10. Face it: “One day” almost never comes. I justified keeping half my wardrobe on the basis that I would use it one day. The hot pink bridesmaid dress from my cousin’s first wedding took up space in my closet for four times the length of her marriage. I hate throwing out potentially useful things. But we couldn’t afford a larger apartment; storing all those “one day” items would cost more than they were worth; and, an even simpler truth, I have yet to be invited to an event at which a fuchsia dress with taffeta bows might seem appropriate.
How to treat four common stains: red wine, oil, blood and ink
This story is adapted from Life Kit’s weekly newsletter, which arrives in inboxes each Friday. Subscribe here.
The long winter is over. As spring settles in and longer days commence, Life Kit has some ideas to help you nurture that seed of “fresh start” energy that starts to sprout this time of year.
First things first, it’s OK to start small. Taryn Williford, a lifestyle editor at Apartment Therapy, suggests giving yourself a “bite-sized task” to begin. “We might kick off an entire whole home decluttering project by just cleaning out one drawer,” she says.
It’s physics! Remember Newton’s first law: An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Once you get going, it might be hard to stop. Now, onward to spring cleaning, organizing, decluttering and letting go of whatever might be weighing you down.
Clean out the fridge
This . can be scary. Especially behind the Tupperware containers of three-week old beef stew. Did that used to be an avocado? But guess what: A lot of what you might think is wasted can actually be salvaged. Wilted greens, for instance, can be sautéed with your favorite spices. And if it really is too far gone, consider composting.
Explore Life Kit
This story comes from Life Kit, NPR’s family of podcasts to help make life better — covering everything from exercise to raising kids to making friends. For more, sign up for the newsletter and follow @NPRLifeKit on Twitter.
Organize your kitchen cabinets
If you spend more time looking at #kitchengoals on Instagram than you do in your own kitchen, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and make friends with your cabinets. Deb Perelman of the blog Smitten Kitchen shares her tips for kitchen organization, especially in small spaces.
Burnout Isn’t Just Exhaustion. Here’s How To Deal With It
Declutter pre-move or just to lighten your load
Millions of Americans moved last year, and even more are thinking about relocating during 2021. If that was you, we hope you’ve nested. If you’re still thinking about it, may we suggest a little decluttering first. The lighter your load, the better off you’ll be. Even if you’re staying put, here’s an idea for a fun downsizing activity: moving expert Ali Wenzke suggests “shopping” among things you already own to pick out what you really want to keep.
Say goodbye to older garments
It can feel good to whittle down your closet. Consider one of these routes to finding a new home for your old clothes: organize a clothing swap with friends or sell your unneeded items on resale sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, Depop or The Real Real. Here’s more advice on cultivating a sustainable closet and mindfully parting with what you no longer need.
Tackle tricky stains
The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothes a year. This episode has super simple tricks to treat stains and prolong the life of your clothes. A sneak peek: rubbing alcohol gets ink out, dish detergent works for oil, and try white vinegar for stains like grass or mustard. (Make sure to watch the video at the top of the page for a trick to treat red wine stains. It also makes a great party trick.)
Deep clean your space
Maybe you’ve been putting off a big clean during quarantine. After all, if there are no guests around to notice dust bunnies, do they really exist?! They do. And besides, you deserve to enjoy a clean home as much as any visitor. So, throw open a window, put on a playlist, and gather your supplies. This list should get you started: an all-purpose cleaner, a disinfectant, a window cleaner, microfiber cloths, a scrub brush, a duster, a mop and a vacuum or broom. Here’s how to clean any space.
Clean up your camera roll
Feeling overwhelmed by thousands of photos? Your dog/baby/fiddle-leaf fig is pretty cute. Here’s how to organize your deluge of images — from tagging them to backing them up. We’ve got tips from tech experts.
How Filing Taxes Will Be Different Because Of The Coronavirus
Get your finances in order
There’s no better time than tax season to take stock of your spending. Keeping tabs on where your money goes is a good first step to cutting back on spending and saving more. If you want to tap into the empowering — yes, empowering! — possibilities of budgeting, this episode is for you.
(Family Features) Spring cleaning isn’t just about purging dirt and grime. It’s also the perfect opportunity to take inventory of items around your home. As you tackle this season’s cleaning, look for ways to improve your overall living space, from getting rid of things you no longer need to adding items that can work harder for you.
Consider these five ways to tackle your home inside and out this spring.
Make organizing easier. As you clean each space, look for easy ways to reduce unsightly messes and improve organization. If your entryway always becomes a jumbled pile of shoes and coats, consider adding a storage bench and hooks to bring some order to the area. If the kids’ toys always accumulate in the living room, add a storage chest or large baskets to store them when not in use. If tools and equipment make the garage unusable, install shelving units to keep everything in place.
Eliminate the excess. Spring cleaning is also an opportunity to declutter and make way for something new, either by donating or selling unused things. Whether it’s last season’s fashion and accessories or unused tech and fitness gear, that item you never used – or haven’t used in a while – may be exactly what someone else is looking for. Online platforms can make the process easy and be a way to earn extra cash or help fund other home upgrades. Look for marketplaces that help you maximize your return; eBay, for example, is giving sellers 200 free listings every month, meaning you only pay after your items sell.
Reimagine your living space. If one area is becoming too crowded or doesn’t serve your family’s needs, consider items you can repurpose for another part of the home. For example, move an unused chair in your living room into a bedroom to create a reading nook. Keep your focus on function as you make changes that accommodate your lifestyle.
Make smart additions. Once you’ve cleared your space, and sold things you no longer need, you can convert that extra cash into reliable home appliances and tech. For example, purchase or upgrade items like vacuums, lawn mowers, power washers, drills and more to help take your spring cleaning to the next level. You can make your money go further by choosing certified refurbished products; some marketplaces like eBay offer inventory that has been professionally inspected by the manufacturer, or a manufacturer-approved vendor, to look, feel and work like new.
Commit to revisiting regularly. It’s easy to let clutter and disorganization slide when you get busy with life’s demands. Once your spring cleaning and reorganizing is complete, commit to reassessing your home on a monthly or quarterly basis so you can make small adjustments along the way, rather than face a major project every year.
Considering refurbished products for your shopping list can expand your options and make it easier to purchase top-of-the-line brands without going over budget. From tech and small kitchen appliances to outdoor power equipment, you can discover a breadth of items often in like-new condition.
Shop for Multi-Purpose Items: When upgrading your arsenal of gadgets, tools and small appliances, look for items that can serve multiple purposes. For example, many vacuums can transform into steamers or include mop attachments and some pressure cookers can also be used as air fryers.
Feel Confident in Your Purchase: Sometimes upgrading means investing in a premium product you can count on to last longer than entry-level models. With eBay’s Certified Refurbished program, you can find popular, professionally inspected name brands at up to 50% off, all of which are backed by industry-leading two-year warranties for peace of mind.
Keep Sustainability in Mind: Keeping functionality in mind and buying like-new items not only saves you money now and in the future but can also help protect the planet by extending the life of products and reducing unnecessary waste.
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As professional cleaners, we understand cleaning can be a daunting task, so here are some spring cleaning tips and encouragement:
- Decluttering your home can boost your overall productivity by helping you stay organized.
- Spring cleaning helps reduce allergy symptoms due to irritants like hair, dander, dust, and of course, springtime pollen.
- It’s a mood booster! Once you’ve spruced up the outside of your home, cleared the dust out of those nooks and crannies, decluttered the closets, and deep cleaned the flooring, you’ll be hard pressed notto feel refreshed.
Ready to go? Great! Take a look at our top spring cleaning tips to get started.
Take out the trash.
Grab three trash bags and do a sweep through the house. Place trash in one bag, recyclables in the second, and items you know you want to donate or sell in the third.
The decluttering process can quickly get overwhelming and messy. By removing the items that no longer have a place in your home, you’ll be able to more efficiently organize your remaining belongings.
Decluttering is de-stressing.
Sure, it can be distressing, but let’s focus on de-stressing.
Say goodbye to living in fear of the avalanche of coats, umbrellas, toys, camping gear, and luggage that’s threatening to break loose from the hallway closet any day now.
• IF YOU HAVEN’T USED IT OR WORN IT IN 12 MONTHS, YOU DON’T NEED IT AND YOU WON’T MISS IT.
Think about the shoes you’ve worn once–maybe twice–since you bought them, old clothing, the books and magazines you’ve already read, and other items without a practical purpose in your home. Whether you choose to donate, sell, or discard them, you’ll instantly notice the extra breathing room in your home once these items are out of your way.
• MAKE A GAME PLAN
Avoid spring cleaning burnout by sticking to a strategy.
- If you have a multi-story home, work your way up (or down) by floor.
- Clean by category: Tidy up all of the bathrooms before tackling the closets. Once the closets are cleared out, move on to the bedrooms, then the living room, kitchen, pantry, and so on until you’ve worked through the whole house.
- Start with the smallest room and work your way up to the biggest. Or, if you’d rather get it out of the way, start with the largest, most cluttered room in your home and work your way down to the smallest.
Choose a system that works for you! Whatever your game plan, stay focused on the end goal: a happier, healthier home!
The Final Touch: Floors
Allergens like dust, hair, dirt, and the thrills and spills of everyday life wreak havoc on your floors and your allergies. Spring cleaning the floors is a must for fighting allergies.
Give us a call at 336-745-7675 or send us a message at [email protected] to chat about how we can help with your spring cleaning needs! Deep cleaning the floors will freshen and brighten your home while removing harmful allergens, so you can breathe easy and enjoy your newly organized home.
While you’re at it, you can spring clean your home from top to bottom with a roof cleaning as well! Learn how you can get rid of those black streaks on your roof and extend its lifespan by hiring the professionals to clean your roof.
Are you holding on to gifts or family heirlooms out of guilt? Learn from one family’s struggle to let go of extra stuff.
by Ruth Soukup
Excerpted from Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul by Ruth Soukup.
Every time I write or speak about clutter and the process of getting rid of it, without fail, the most common question I get, and the most common complaint, is “What do I do with all the other people’s stuff in my life? How do I get rid of that?” Through the years, I have discovered, both in my own life and through countless conversations with others, that the hardest things to get rid of are the things that come from other people—the gifts, the heirlooms, and the piles left behind when someone dies. Other people’s stuff, it seems, comes attached to a whole lot of guilt.
We were faced with a death in the family when my sister-in-law Linda succumbed to a long battle with cancer. It was a devastating loss. With no children of her own, she left everything to my husband and our daughters. While she had been careful to set her financial affairs in order before she died, we were once again faced with the task of sorting through someone’s entire life to decide what to keep and what to leave behind.
The guilt was terrible.
You see, Linda was a shopper, and she loved to collect nice things. Her home was beautiful and filled to the brim with her various collections—expensive paintings, Longaberger baskets, Lladró figurines, Halloween decorations, hundreds of pigs in all shapes and sizes, and even a whole dresser full of Silpada jewelry. These collections represented everything she had lived for, and yet they weren’t our collections or our passions. We had no need for them. Our own home was already too full. Even so, it felt like we were literally throwing her life away, and again, we kept far more than we actually wanted.
We returned [home] to Florida with boxes and boxes full of stuff. We got an even bigger storage unit.
And it wasn’t just the stuff from Linda’s own house that we had to contend with; it was all the gifts she had given us over the years. For years, she had showered our girls with elaborate presents—beautiful dresses, customized handmade teepees with matching sleeping bags, a dollhouse, stuffed animals, toys, games and so many things it was almost impossible to keep track of them all. She sent care packages for every minor holiday and hauled suitcases full of gifts to give in person for the major holidays. She truly loved my girls, and her way of showing it was with stuff.
Her death hit us hard.
Not surprisingly, my two daughters, who had absolutely adored their auntie, immediately started connecting all the things Linda had given them to still being connected with her. Linda and all the stuff she gave them over the years became one and the same. Whenever we wanted to weed out a too-small dress, a no-longer-played-with toy, or a set of ripped pajamas, we were greeted with a flood of tears and shrieks of, “But you can’t throw that away! Auntie Linda gave it to us!”
We realized that our girls were simply doing the same thing we had done, first after my mother-in-law’s death and then after Linda’s death as well. We were assuming that throwing away someone else’s stuff meant we were throwing away their memory. And we couldn’t bear the thought of throwing away someone we loved.
We struggled with this dilemma for a long time until one day, it finally occurred to us that stuff and memories are not the same thing. If everything is special, then nothing is. The only way we would ever really become unstuffed is to finally give up the guilt.
Separating the Memories from the Stuff
In my own family, eventually all four of us had to come to grips with the fact that hanging on to the piles of stuff Linda had given us—every single fancy silk dress, special toy, blanket, basket, figurine, card, piece of jewelry, and funny singing Hallmark stuffed animal—would not bring her back. Even more importantly, we had to come to accept the hard truth that by equating the person she had been with the stuff she had given us, we were only diminishing and cheapening her memory, not retaining it. Not everything can be special.
The reality was that Linda was so much more than all the silly stuff she left us with! If we really wanted to honor her memory, we needed to do so by remembering the person she had been, the love she had shown, and the impact she had made, not just as an auntie and sister, but as a school principal and community leader, as a daughter and cousin and friend. If we wanted to honor her memory, we could talk about our favorite funny stories, the laughs we shared, the tears we cried, even the fights and frustrations.
Actually letting go of all the stuff has been an ongoing process, one we’ve had to tackle a little at a time. We still have a storage unit we would like to be rid of completely someday. For now, we are content to tackle it in small bites.
I don’t think my family is alone in this struggle to separate the people we love from the stuff they leave behind or to separate a favorite memory from the stuff that gets attached to the memory. And as we just saw, this guilt doesn’t just happen in death either, though death can certainly amplify the guilt.
The only real solution is to learn how to make a clear distinction between our memories and our stuff. In order to give up the guilt that causes us to hold on tight to other people’s stuff, we have to first reset our thinking. We have to accept, at our core, the fundamental truth that people and things are not one and the same.
Memories take up space in our hearts; stuff takes up space in our homes.
Memories last forever; stuff breaks, gets lost, and fades away.
Memories bring joy; stuff brings stress.
Memories are honoring; stuff is diminishing.
Memories bring peace; stuff brings chaos.
Memories actually matter; stuff really doesn’t matter at all.
The sooner we can make this mind-set shift and stop equating other people’s memories with the stuff they leave behind, the sooner we can give ourselves permission to stop clinging to the things we don’t need or even really want, simply because we feel that without them, we are losing the person we loved. That’s no small feat.
Chances are that this mind-set shift won’t happen overnight either, especially for those of us who have held on to this guilt for a very long time. It’s not always easy to accept the thought that just because we might be letting go of their stuff, we are not actually letting go of that person. But the simple fact we must continue to remind ourselves of, especially when the guilt starts to creep in, is that memories and stuff are not the same.
Memories and stuff are not the same.