Cleaning agents are substances that assist in removing dirt, grime, odors, and germs. When used correctly, they can make house cleaning easier. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Here are some pointers:
The easiest way to clean most kitchen counters is to wipe with a damp cloth or a cloth dipped in dish detergent and hot water. Alternatively, use multipurpose cleaner or sudsy disinfectant spray cleaner.
Remove countertop stains by applying a thick paste of baking soda and water and covering with plastic wrap overnight so it remains damp. The paste will draw the stain out of your countertop. The next morning, wipe the paste clean. If any staining remains, repeat the process.
Clean kitchen appliances with glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, or specialty cleaner.
Clean kitchen sinks with multipurpose scrub, baking soda, or all-purpose cleaner.
Wood furniture can be dusted with a slightly damped cloth, a specialty tool that grabs dust, beeswax, or furniture polish.
Showers and Tubs
Most showers and tubs, unless especially dirty, can be cleaned using any of the following: tub and tile cleaner, sudsy multipurpose disinfectant cleaner, multipurpose scrub, beeswax or shower wax, or with (daily) use of a squeegee and/or daily shower spray.
To eliminate a buildup of soap scum from bathroom fixtures use a tub and tile cleaner specifically labeled as soap scum remover. Alternatively, use multipurpose scrub made with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and dish detergent or castile soap and scrub with a nylon scrubber. Rinse and repeat until all film has been eradicated.
To remove mineral deposits or stains from bathroom fixtures, use a specialty product targeting the specific type of mineral deposit type, or try an application of straight vinegar. On hard surfaces that won’t scratch, a pumice stone might also remove stains.
To most easily remove mold or mildew stains, spray with all-purpose cleaner containing chlorine bleach, allow the solution to work for a couple minutes, then rinse. Alternatively, spray with hydrogen peroxide, allow the peroxide to work for twenty minutes or more, then scrub with a toothbrush or stiff brush.
Granite showers or other natural stone should be cleaned with a specialty cleaner or multipurpose scrub.
Clean glass shower doors or walls with glass cleaner, beeswax or shower wax, or use bathroom cleaner and rinse well, then buff dry.
Clean your toilets using bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner.
Clean vinyl floors with a little bit of all-purpose cleaner or vinegar in water.
Wood floors can be cleaned with a mop very lightly dampened in plain water or a mild vinegar and water solution, or a specialty floor cleaner for wood floors.
Marble or tile floors should be cleaned with plain water or a small amount of ammonia in water.
Windows can be cleaned by spraying with glass cleaner and wiping clean with rags or paper towels. Alternatively, mix a little bit of dish detergent or vinegar or ammonia into a couple gallons of warm water and use a squeegee, or wash with a rag or sponge and buff dry. If windows are especially dirty, use the second method for best results.
Maximizing the helpfulness of cleaning agents is all about knowing when and how to use them. The wrong detergent or cleanser can slow down your cleaning efforts or even damage a surface. Using the right cleaner at the right time on the right surface speeds up cleaning and maximizes efficiency. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Knowledge is power.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning a house. Everyone’s home is different. Everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s standards are different. There are, however, some basic steps anyone can take to simplify house cleaning.
Organize Your Possessions
Keeping your stuff organized is well worth the effort. Piles of clutter collect dust and waste time. Would you rather spend your time looking for lost items or doing things you enjoy? Establishing a system to keep stuff organized improves the quality of your life.
Organizing is Simple
Every object you posses gets assigned a specific place to live. Objects that are not in use live in their designated spots, so when you need them you know where to look to find them. When you’re done using them, they get returned to their designated spots. Taking thirty second to put the scissors back in their drawer, the hammer back in the toolbox, the keys on their hook, saves countless lost minutes trying to locate said objects.
No Clutter Makes Cleaning Easy
Cleaning a house is easier if there’s no clutter. Dusting and vacuuming go more quickly without having to work around a bunch of stuff. And the less clutter you have, the less dust.
The same goes for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. Any surface that can potentially accumulate clutter should be kept as clear as possible. It’s easier to clean counters that have minimal objects on their surfaces.
Clean As You Go
Another method of simplifying your house cleaning routine is cleaning up as you go along. Spending a little time cleaning every day saves your weekends and keeps your home in tip-top shape every day of the week.
Clean as you go is a method that chunks up cleaning chores into smallish tasks that can be accomplished every day. It ensures that housework never gets so out of control crazy that you would rather burn the house down than have to clean it.
Plus, the more frequently you clean, the less time it takes because less grime accumulates. Taking a minute to wipe up messes as they occur prevents them from becoming hardened, congealed blobs of immovable goo.
A prime example is the microwave: cleaning up spills as they occur prevents them from turning into cement-like masses that require a chisel to remove later on. This same principle can be applied throughout the house, from messy footprints on floors to soap scum in the bathroom and everything in between.
Use the Right Equipment
House cleaning is easier when the equipment you’re using is suitable for the task at hand. Using the appropriate vacuum cleaner, dusting tool, mop, and cleaning cloths can significantly speed up the cleaning process.
While an upright vacuum cleaner is great on carpeting, a canister vacuum with a floor brush attachment will more quickly clean bare floors, spaces with combinations of bare floors and area rugs, and stairs. A canister is also the tool of choice for removing pet hair from furniture and cleaning underneath beds.
Once floors are vacuumed free of loose debris, an appropriate mop makes the removal of remaining grime easier. Often, a simple microfiber string mop and bucket of water is the quickest means of eliminating dirt. Wood floors that aren’t especially dirty can quickly and effectively be cleaned with a soft, flat-head spray mop. Likewise, any floors that are only lightly soiled can be quickly mopped up with a damp flat-head microfiber mop.
Along similar lines, using a good dusting tool, rather than a cloth, makes dusting simpler. Use a tool that will reach ceiling fans, baseboards and all areas in between. A versatile wand with a telescoping handle allows you to flow easily through dusting your home.
The right cleaning cloth, sponge, or scrub brush in the kitchen and bathroom makes cleaning countertops and bathtubs easier. Densely woven microfiber cloths are excellent for loosening dried-on spills in the kitchen as well as removing soap scum in the bathroom. Nylon scrubber sponges or scrub brushes are handy items for removing hardened, congealed messes, cleaning grout, and other tough jobs.
It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re cleaning your house. Do whatever you have to do to stay on track so that you’re able to accomplish whatever needs to be done today. There will always be more to do than there’s time for, and the dust bunnies will still be under the bed next week. Prioritize, put on blinders, shut off your phone; do whatever it takes to complete the job.
If you’re prone to noticing side jobs and getting distracted, keep a pad of paper in your pocket and make a list as you work. If you need to take a break, time it, then get right back to work. If you’re easily derailed, establish regular routines to keep on track.
Cleaning isn’t a whole lot of fun, but it can be made easier. Whether your home is a cottage, a mansion, or something in between, the simple steps outlined above can minimize the effort you’ll have to put into cleaning and leave you with time to do the things you’d rather be doing.
Getting your home organized might seem like a monumental task. Most of us have lots of stuff, and it piles up quickly. Once the closets are full and the basement is overflowing, our possessions start to take possession of countertops and corners. And it’s a proven fact that clutter of any type, left unchecked, multiplies on its own.
Designate a Spot for All Objects
Having a designated spot for all objects makes it easy to store and retrieve stuff. If you know where it goes, you know where to put it. If you know where it is, you know where to look when you need it.
Organizing, like so many things in life, becomes easier with practice. Yes, some people are just better at it. But anyone can learn.
Utilize Storage Spaces
We have closets and cupboards for a reason. These are spaces specifically designed for organizing things. So you’ve already got the framework you need to get started (assuming you have closets and cupboards). If your closets are jam-packed with stuff you’re not using, this is the root of your problem. You’re using your storage space inefficiently.
The same goes for dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets and shelves in the garage or basement. We actually use a finite number of items in our day-to-day lives. Don’t hang onto things that are no longer useful to you. These things are serving no purpose in your life other than to weigh you down.
Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need
If your countertops and corners are harboring piles of stuff that belongs in closets, cupboards and drawers, you must make room for these objects by purging unnecessary stuff.
Any organizing project begins with the elimination of unnecessary objects. After this step has been completed, whatever you’re left with is then sorted into groups of related items. At this point, you can see what you’ve got to work with. From here, all that’s left to do is figure out logical places to keep things.
For example, if you’re a quilter, all of your quilting supplies should be stored in the same area so you’ll know where they go and where to get them when you want them again. All your home office supplies should be stored in the same space. Tools belong in the garage. Coats and shoes belong in the coat closet, mud room, or in individual closets.
Arrange Things Logically
Think of it like this: you don’t store baking dishes in the bathtub. Likewise, don’t store your nail polish in the den. It’s ok to take it there, but put it back where it belongs when you’re done using it.
As you arrange objects, make good use of shelves, totes, baskets, bins, caddies, boxes, and racks. Label boxes with lists of the contents. Keep in mind that your goal is to easily find items when you need them again. This is not an out-of-sight-out-of-mind endeavor.
Arrange objects on shelves so that taller items are in back so you can quickly visually scan the area to find what you need. Don’t overcrowd objects. Don’t pile things up so you can’t easily access stuff on the bottom of the pile, and don’t create hazards.
Leave Room for Growth
Also leave room for growth unless you plan to never bring another object home again. Or establish a new policy: for each new item introduced into your space, another item must go.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you get the hang of it, organizing is easy. The hard part is keeping possessions to a minimum. Think about what you bring into your living space before you bring it in. Consider if you have the space, where you will put it, and if you really need it at all. Don’t clutter up your space (and your life) with junk that you don’t need.
Staying organized is a continuous process. Put things away when you’re done using them. Find a spot for new things immediately. If you notice piles starting to accumulate, get rid of them.
Designate a basket for each household member and deposit any stray items into the appropriate basket. If the household member doesn’t deal with their basket in a timely manner, hold it for ransom.
Do you want to know the secret to keeping your home so clean that all the neighbors are envious? It’s quite simple: consistency. Keeping the cleanest possible home isn’t accomplished by spending an entire day cleaning every week. The surprising secret is that the easiest means of achieving cleaning excellence is putting in a little time each and every day.
There are several reasons for this. First of all, it’s easier to clean a clutter-free home. Next, cleanups are quicker when there’s less to clean up. Third, spills and grime are more easily removed before they’ve gotten the chance to dry or soak in. Fourth, regular routines become easier each time they are practiced. Finally, routines are habit-forming. Plus, cleaning a little bit every day ensures that your home will be in tip-top shape every day of the week.
It’s Easier to Clean an Already Clean Home
A house that’s free of clutter is a whole lot easier to clean than one that harbors piles of this and that along with a mishmash of assorted items here, there, and everywhere. Keeping things picked up and put away makes dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning kitchen counters a breeze. Besides, a clutter-free space looks cleaner, giving the impression of excellent housekeeping and attention to detail regardless of the status quo of your cobwebs.
Cleanups are Quicker When There’s Less to Clean Up
It’s a lot easier to clean up a little bit of dirt than it is to clean up a lot of dirt. Wiping down kitchen counters, sprucing up bathrooms, and quickly sweeping the floor each day only takes a few minutes. Dirt that has been allowed to build up can take hours to eradicate.
A home that’s regularly maintained is easier to keep clean. Why? Removing grime from surfaces prevents erosion and/or deterioration, protecting the ability of the surface to repel dirt. So a regularly cleaned home actually stays cleaner because dirt is less likely to stick.
It’s also easier to spot dirt and disarray in a clean environment. Fingerprints on a glass surface already peppered with fingerprints blend in but stand right out on a surface that’s clean.
Spills Clean Up Easily When Tackled Immediately
Cleaning up spills, drips, and similar messes as they happen is quicker than leaving them for later, after substances have congealed, hardened, or soaked in. A few minutes spent wiping off kitchen surfaces after meal prep saves time in the long run. Immediately blotting spills on carpeting or upholstery prevents stains and other permanent damage. Mopping up spilled milk right away prevents an ugly mess later on.
Practice Makes Perfect
Performing the same task over and over again leads you to become better at it. Each time you clean inside the microwave, vacuum the foyer, or clean the bathroom, you gain proficiency. Repetition enables you to learn the best means of achieving desired results. Over time, you’ll become a master cleaner.
Cleaning Becomes Habit-Forming
After a while, cleaning every day will become a habit. You’ll feel uncomfortable if you haven’t wiped up kitchen surfaces after dinner or spot-cleaned the bathroom in the morning. At this point, cleaning will no longer feel like a chore. It will simply be another part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. These types of habits are formed through consistency.
By consistently working at keeping your home clean each day, you will have the cleanest house on the block and be the envy of the neighborhood. Best of all, your home will always be in its best possible shape so you’ll always be glad to walk in the door at the end of a long day, soak in the clean, and feel like your home is truly your sanctuary.
Has the art of keeping house truly been lost, or has it simply evolved to meet the demands of modern-day life? Those who keep house in our day and age have the same goals as homemakers of yesteryear: providing a safe and clean environment in which to live, raise families, and entertain.
The Modern World
These days, machines make house cleaning easier than ever before. The variety of available cleaning products is staggering. Appliances clean themselves. Surfaces resist stains and repel pollutants. Fabrics are wrinkle-free, food comes ready to cook, gadgets and gizmos galore assist in all phases of running a household.
The Modern Family
The modern homemaker is an entirely different animal than the homemaker of the past. The traditional male/female head-of-household pair consisting of a beleaguered female pulling double shifts every day while her wayward spouse spends his time on the golf course or in a barroom has evolved into something quite different.
Modern households are made up of diverse family units, many headed up by non-traditional couples whose genders may be registered on a spectrum rather than defined by fixed labels. This blurring of gender lines makes for a variety of interesting differences between the homemakers of today and the career women of the eighties who did double-duty as the family housekeeper or the stay-at-home housewives of the fifties.
Manager versus Laborer
Today’s household members increasingly share the burden of keeping house or simply bring in outside help. The modern homemaker is often more of a manager than an actual laborer. Machines must be operated, programmed, maintained, and replaced when necessary. Hired help has to be given instructions and feedback. When homemaking is a group endeavor, someone has to set goals, make a plan, and generally lead the group.
Challenges Have Changed
The challenges faced by today’s homemaker differ vastly from those of the past. Today’s family manager has to, first and foremost, be concerned with the security of family members. The world seems much more dangerous than it used to be and is certainly more sophisticated, often in undesirable ways. Children can’t be simply sent off to walk to school on their own or left to their own devices in the afternoon. There are far too many perils and pitfalls.
House Cleaning is Still Important
House cleaning isn’t the top priority for today’s homemaker, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. No one wants to live in a dirty house. People are busier than ever before living their best possible lives, trying to reach their full potential, and generally trying to accomplish everything on their bucket lists. Toilet cleaning comes in slightly lower priority-wise than soccer practice and rock climbing.
House Cleaning Is More Hit-and-Miss
House cleaning today is much more chaotic than in days of yore. It’s more hit-and-miss, with less concern about cobwebs and dust bunnies. The good-enough approach is the rule of the day. This world has so much to offer that there’s little time left to worry about whether or not there’s dust under the bed.
Homemakers Have More Choices
Modern homemakers face myriad choices with regard to products and methodology. Use-this-don’t-use-that alarmists and here-today-gone-tomorrow trends, as well as a dizzying array of products, pull consumers in all directions.
No one has to do it the way their mother did; there are so many choices and YouTube videos that any chore can be performed fifteen different ways. Cleaning a bathroom shower can be approached from so many angles that it becomes almost impossible to hone the process down to the one, perfect method that will get the job done quickly and effectively every time. There are just too many choices and it’s too tempting to keep searching for the easiest method rather than settling on one that’s good enough. It always seems like there’s a better way.
Silly Details Matter Less
Modern homemakers don’t concern themselves overly much with silly little details that no one cares about. They don’t waste hours upon hours dismantling things in order to clean them, or color-coding the linen closet, or researching new ways to clean grout. Our disposable world makes it easy to throw it out and buy a new one rather than try to get it clean, whatever it may be. Whether this is right or wrong isn’t the point; it’s just how our modern world is.
The Modern Homemaker
The homemaker of the past is, indeed, dead and buried. But the role has been replaced with a much more interesting, well-rounded, satisfied homemaker whose job involves less drudgery and more spice. Housekeeping, while still important, plays a less important role in modern families. Sure, the toilet still gets cleaned, but not in a “Saturday is cleaning day above all else” kind of way.
Today’s homemaker is fluid; the role constantly evolving along with the technology in our world and the availability of better and more advanced gadgets and gizmos to make housework less work-y.
Housekeeping as an art form is alive and well. It’s just different than it used to be. And so are today’s homemakers.
Everyone wants a clean house, but who has time to do the job? Getting your home clean without spending a lot of time isn’t difficult; it just takes a little dedication. This guide will explain how to keep a clean house when your time is limited.
Keep It Picked Up
When your home is free of unnecessary clutter, cleaning is ten times easier. Clutter makes a space look messy, breeds dust, and impedes the cleaning process.
Assign every object in your home a space to call its own.
Make it a habit to put things away. When you’re done using the scissors, put them away. When you bring groceries home, put them away. When you get undressed, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. In no time at all, you’ll be putting things away without giving it a second thought.
Make each household member take responsibility for their own stuff. Assign each person a basket and place stray items into the basket. If baskets are overflowing, hold the contents for ransom until the errant party agrees to deal with their mess.
Purge unnecessary items on a regular basis. Keep a donation box in a prominent spot and make use of it.
Use baskets, bins, totes, shelves, or whatever tickles your fancy to keep your stuff organized and put away.
Kitchen cleanup: as soon as food preparation is done, areas that were used should be wiped clean. Constantly be alert to the state of your kitchen appliances. If the stove top is dirty, wipe it clean. If the inside of the microwave has food splatters, wipe it clean. When you begin to notice fingerprints on keypads or handles, it’s time to clean them. None of these tasks, taken individually, requires much time. Spending ten or fifteen minutes each day sprucing up the kitchen means you’ll never have to spend an hour or more at one time cleaning everything.
Bathroom patrol: clean bathroom sinks, vanities, and the toilet when you notice that it needs to be done. If there’s toothpaste on the mirror, take a minute to wipe it clean. Squeegee shower walls clean every day so that soap scum doesn’t get the opportunity to build up. Keep rags, sponges, paper towels, and bathroom cleaner under the sink and make use of them as necessary so the bathroom never really gets dirty.
Do laundry as often a necessary to avoid a huge accumulation.
Sweep or vacuum entryways as soon as dirt is tracked inside. This prevents dirt from getting tracked further into the house.
Clean pet areas often. Mats under water dishes, pet beds, and other pet-related paraphernalia should be cleaned whenever you notice they’re dirty.
Spot clean floors as needed. If something gets spilled, clean it up before it gets tracked anywhere else.
Commit to a Regimen
On a regular basis, preferably weekly or every other week, make a point of completing whatever housekeeping chores need doing. When the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and pet areas are kept clean on a daily basis, there’s not much left to do. Change bedding, dust, vacuum or sweep, and mop (if necessary). Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty. An hour or two at most, and your home will be spic-and-span.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Tried-and-true cleaning methods and tips are everywhere. The internet and magazines are loaded with cleaning advice. Put it to good use. House cleaning has been around for a long time. Cash in on the experience of others to save yourself time and trouble. A clean house doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, don’t turn it into one.
Having a clean home isn’t a luxury limited only to people who leap out of bed every morning brimming with energy. House cleaning can be accomplished by just about anyone, even people whose energy levels drag along on the ground behind them like dead weight.
Know in advance that there’s no way to clean a house with no effort at all. But there are lots of tips and shortcuts that can greatly reduce the amount of work involved in home cleaning. This guide will give you some ideas.
Minimize the Need to Clean
A little preventative maintenance minimizes the need to clean. For example, don’t be a slob. This means using care when pouring juice so it doesn’t spill and covering your frying pan so that nothing splatters onto the stove when you cook.
Pick up dirty dishes and put them into the dishwasher after you are done with them and before any remaining food debris gets the chance to harden or congeal. Don’t make work for yourself; make the effort now to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do later.
Throw garbage into the trash can, not onto the floor. Place trash containers strategically so that no one has an excuse for not depositing garbage into the appropriate place.
Don’t allow old magazines and newspapers and junk mail to pile up. Recycle recyclables. Keep a donation box on standby and toss in any items you don’t use in order to avoid ending up with accumulations of clutter or unnecessary possessions that complicate your house cleaning endeavors.
Take measures to prevent dirt and grime from tracking or building up. Place door mats at each entrance to contain mud or other debris on footwear. Ask family member to remove their shoes at the door. Use an old towel to wipe the dog’s paws when he comes in from a walk on rainy days.
In the bathroom, use a squeegee on shower walls after each use so soap scum doesn’t get the chance to build up. Clean other areas of the bathroom often so that grime, toothpaste, and other materials never get the chance to complicate your cleaning day regimen.
Bear in mind that it only takes a minute or two to wipe up a little bit of mess, but if it’s left to build up into a monumental mess the job becomes monumental. Apply these principles throughout the house to reduce the need to clean.
Spread it Out Over Time
Clean a little bit here and a little bit there rather than all at once. For example, clean the kitchen on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, shared living spaces on Wednesday, bedrooms on Thursday, and whatever’s left on Friday.
Do laundry a little bit at a time instead of all at once. Pre-treat stains immediately to avoid having to spend a lot of time fussing over them later on. Fold or hang clothes as soon as the dryer cycle is complete so clothes are wrinkle-free and wear-ready.
Sweep or vacuum entry ways every few days; it’ll only take a couple of minutes and will also reduce the tracking of dirt further into the house.
A big job broken down into smaller jobs is a great way for anyone with low energy to net the same results as people who have the stamina to whip through the whole job at once.
Lower Your Standards
If you’re not especially energetic, it might not be realistic to expect that you’ll be able to keep your home so clean that you could eat off the floors. A few dust bunnies in the corners or cobwebs on the chandelier never killed anyone.
Save your energy for areas that matter. A clean kitchen is more important than a clean dining room, because food is stored and prepared in the kitchen.
A clean dryer vent can potentially prevent your house from burning down. Dust under your bed doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
While there are lots of advantages to having a spotless home, it’s not necessary to set yourself up to feel like a failure if you’re never going to be able to get there. Give yourself a break, clean the important things, and let the rest slide.
Share tasks with roommates, kids, or any willing helpers. Make a list or chart and assign chores. It may turn out that your progeny are more domestically inclined, and more energetic, than you are.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help; housework should never be the sole responsibility for any one member of the household. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so cut yourself some slack.
Brains Over Brawn
When you clean, make the most of every movement. Carefully plan out the job so that it can be accomplished as quickly and easily as possible. Clean from one end of the house to the other or from top to bottom so you don’t retrace your steps.
Keep cleaning supplies in the same spot so they’re ready and waiting when you need them. Twenty minutes spent searching for the mop is a waste of time and your precious energy.
Wear an apron with lots of pockets so you can keep cleaning supplies with you as you work. Develop a cleaning routine that you follow each time you clean; practice increases speed and efficiency, and saves energy.
Think smart, work less; make the best use of your brain power to reduce the need for man power.
If you’ve got a friend who hates to cook but loves to clean, and you love to cook but hate to clean, turn the situation into a win-win for both of you by trading off tasks. This may seem like an unconventional approach, but if it nets all concerned parties the results they need, why not?
Finally, there are people ready and willing to do the heavy lifting if you’re willing to pay them for their time and trouble. Hiring a house cleaner saves your back and requires much less energy expenditure on your end. You’ll still have to keep the house picked up and load the dishwasher, but a house cleaner will do jobs like dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the kitchen, and scrubbing bathrooms.
There’s a solution to every problem, so don’t allow low energy to deter you from living in a clean home. The kitchen and bathroom are rooms that must be cleaned no matter what in order to maintain good hygiene. Floors also are non-negotiable if any amount of dirt gets tracked in from outside; failing to keep them clean will lead to deterioration over time. Dusting should take place at least occasionally in order to ensure good air quality.
You don’t have to be a cleaning ninja to keep your home clean. Anyone can keep a clean home using the simple tips outlined above, even those who aren’t super energetic.
It’s spring cleaning time! This is the time of year when dedicated homemakers dive in and do a thorough home cleaning, tackling jobs that aren’t part of their regular cleaning routing. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and want to whip your home into shape.
Either way, this seven-day plan will arm you with all the information you need to deep clean your home in seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging of all the unnecessary clutter eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you organized by taking deep dive inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will bring bedrooms and bathrooms up to code. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Finally, on day seven the kitchen will be targeted.
Once you’ve gotten your home into shape, keeping it that way will be easy if you establish a regular cleaning routine. Even if your housekeeping hasn’t been so great up ‘til now, this is your fresh start, a new beginning. And isn’t that what spring is all about?
Day 1: De-cluttering
The first step to house cleaning of any type is de-cluttering and organizing. It’s just plain easier to clean spaces that are free of unnecessary objects. De-cluttering isn’t difficult unless you have years of clutter to clear out. In the event that this is your situation, this step may take longer than one day.
Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so the task won’t be that big of a deal. It’s a simple process: throw things away, give things away, and put things away.
The key principle of organizing is that all items have a permanent spot where they live when they’re at rest. This allows you to put things away when you’re not using them and readily recover them when you need them again. The end result: everything you own doesn’t end up on the island in the middle of the kitchen and you have nowhere to eat breakfast.
The first step to de-cluttering is tossing out anything that’s just plain trash. Take a good look around, and I mean really look around. Often we overlook stuff that’s right in front of us because we’re so used to seeing it. Piles of old newspapers or magazines or Amazon shipping boxes that you think you’ll use sometime are trash. Toss ‘em (or recycle ‘em).
Get real, be honest, and if it’s something that you might use but probably won’t, don’t let it keep taking up valuable space that you could be using for the things that are of value to you. Be ruthless.
Once you’ve got the outright trash out of the way, take another look around for stuff that’s not trash, but that you’re not using. These are things that have value, and that someone else could use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you’re never going to use it, isn’t it better to pass it along to someone who will?
Put together a donation box and pat yourself on the back for doing your part to help others while also doing yourself the favor of eliminating stuff you don’t need. Win-win.
At this point, whatever clutter you’ve got left is the stuff that you want to keep, so put it away somewhere. If you’ve already got a great system for organizing your stuff, this step should be easy.
If not, get busy. Find a logical place to store each object and put it there. Your storage spaces should be places that make sense to you and that you will remember so you know where to look when you want to retrieve the object for later use. Do this over and over again until everything is put away. It’s very easy once you get the hang of it.
If you’re finding that you haven’t got space for your stuff, don’t worry, because tomorrow you’ll clean out some closets. Set it aside for now and keep in mind how much room you’ll need.
Day 2: Clean Closets
Closets are often the spots where we hide things. All kinds of things. Stuff we don’t know what else to do with, stuff that we no longer want, stuff that we tell ourselves we’re going to use some day. Getting into your closets from time to time to take a good look at what you’ve got is a great way to free up space. Without fail, there’s some stuff in there that can be gotten rid of.
Your day two deep-clean challenge is to clean and re-organize closets. Bedroom closets, linen closets, entry hall closets, laundry room closets, the closet in the family room with all the board games. Make it a fun family day activity and split up the job. Whoever has the best organized closet at the end of the day wins!
Closet cleaning can be a simple process or it can be quite involved. If your closets are small and there’s not a lot of stuff inside, it shouldn’t take long. If your closets are walk-ins packed full of stuff, the job may take a while.
Either way, the basic steps are the same.
First, clear some space for a work area. If you are cleaning a bedroom closet, lay an old sheet over the bed so you can use the space to temporarily place things. Next, pull everything out of the closet. As you remove items, quickly decide whether each object is worth keeping. Have a box ready for things that you will be giving away, or designate a separate area if you are getting rid of a lot of things.
After you’ve got the closet cleared of its contents, dust all areas, remove cobwebs, and sweep or vacuum the floor.
Next, replace the things you’re keeping, reorganizing and cleaning as you go. Dust off any boxes or other containers before replacing them in the closet. Introduce new boxes, bins, baskets or whatever storage containers will help you store things so that you can easily find them again. Label boxes, make lists of contents and tape them to the outside, or use clear storage containers. Don’t waste any space. Arrange articles so that taller things are behind shorter things.
This is a great time to bring in new organizational systems. There are all kinds of shelving and racks to help you create your dream closet, so get creative. Have fun with it. You’re aiming to create well-organized spaces that will make your life easier by helping you keep track of your stuff.
At the end of your day two challenge, your closets should have nothing to hide. You will be able to immediately lay your hands on whatever you’re looking for because your closets will be free of unnecessary stuff and well organized. Pat yourself on the back and get some rest. Tomorrow will be window washing day.
Day 3: Washing Windows
No deep-cleaning project would be complete without a day devoted to windows. It’s best to avoid washing windows when the sun is shining directly on them, so the first thing to think about is what time of day is the best to tackle your project. Observe the sun’s position to make this determination.
The second thing to consider is whether your windows are really dirty or just a little dirty. This will determine what cleaning method is most appropriate in your situation.
If your windows are only slightly dirty, a spray bottle of glass cleaning solution will be the quickest way to go. Use commercial glass cleaner or mix your own using equal parts vinegar and water or three parts water to one part rubbing alcohol.
Spray the cleaner on the glass and then use dry cloths to wipe the glass clean. If you see streaks when you’re finished, repeat the process using a fresh cloth. Sometimes you can buff away streaks with a dry cloth without having to re-apply glass cleaner. If you’re doing a lot of windows, have a lot of cloths on hand because the key to avoiding leaving lint and streaks on your windows is using fresh, dry cloths for buffing.
If your windows are really dirty, the above method will take forever. Instead, mix a window washing solution in a bucket. A simple, effective window washing mixture can be made using a few drops of dish detergent in a gallon of warm water. Alternatively, use a cup of of ammonia or vinegar in the water.
Using a cloth or a sponge, wash the window with your solution, rinsing your cloth as often as needed, until all the dirt has been removed. Then buff the window dry. Switch off your drying/buffing cloth as it gets damp to avoid streaking.
Depending on the type of windows, you may be able to clean them on both sides (inside and outside) without setting foot outside your house. Tip-in windows can easily be cleaned on both sides from inside the house. That’s a no-brainer.
To clean the exterior surfaces of windows that slide or crank open, open the window and see if you can reach your arm around to the exterior side far enough to wipe the area clean. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. This method might be your only option for cleaning upstairs windows, and in this case you’ll have to do the best you can.
Cleaning window exteriors outdoors is sometimes challenging, and sometimes impossible, depending on the nature of your landscaping. Steep grades or dense foliage are typically deal breakers.
If it’s a question of distance, for example awkwardly placed windows or windows that are just beyond reach and impractical to get at with a ladder, a squeegee with a long or telescoping handle comes in handy. Use a squeegee with an attached sponge on one side. Apply your cleaning solution to the window with the sponge side and then pull the squeegee back and forth across the window surface horizontally working from the top down.
Window screens should be removed and cleaned at the same time you clean your windows. They can be vacuumed or wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Window sills and tracks can also be cleaned while you’re at it. If they’re really dirty, first vacuum up loose debris, then wash with a cloth or sponge dipped into a solution of water and all-purpose cleaner, or use your window cleaning solution. Use a toothbrush to get into the edges.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules about window cleaning, so improvise as necessary. When you’re done, take satisfaction in how nice your windows look. Window washing is hard work. Job well done!
Day 4: Bedrooms from Top to Bottom
Deep cleaning your bedrooms is a great opportunity to target accumulated dust under beds and on window treatments, as well as behind furniture.
To begin, temporarily remove any lightweight objects like lamps or knick-knacks to make it easier to move furniture around without fear of breaking anything.
Any small area rugs should be removed and washed or shaken outside and left to air.
This is a good time to wash or air textiles like bed skirts, duvet covers, bedspreads, decorative pillow shams, etc.
Start cleaning from the ceiling down, dusting away cobwebs and dust on ceiling fans, ceilings, light fixtures, and walls. Use a dusting tool or a dustmop.
Pictures, wall art, wall hangings, or anything else on the walls should be cleaned or dusted.
Vacuum or dust louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters. Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails, baseboards, and baseboard heaters. Vacuum or dust air vent covers.
Move furniture around as necessary and if possible, to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted.
Take the opportunity to vacuum or clean areas of floors which are normally underneath furniture and not easily accessible. If furniture can’t be moved, try to get under and behind it as much as possible using a dustmop, broom, or your vacuum cleaner.
Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Vacuum your mattresses and flip them over.
Dust or vacuum lampshades and window treatments.
Dust furniture and begin re-assembling your room, dusting objects before replacing them.
Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.
Smell the clean air. Good job!
Day 5: Bathrooms
Deep cleaning bathrooms might take some time, depending on the state your bathrooms are in to start. If you’ve neglected them, this is a great opportunity to bring them up to snuff.
First pick up any area rugs and mats. Wash them, if you’d like. Also take down shower curtains and wash, if necessary.
This is a good time to go through the medicine cabinet and other cupboards. Move everything so that you can wipe off shelves and dust. Get rid of outdated medicine, toiletries, etc. Replace everything in an orderly fashion.
Dust ceilings, walls, baseboards, wall hangings, any furniture or shelves, and whatever else might need dusting. Clear any dust or cobwebs from your vent fan cover if you have one.
Clean woodwork, cupboard doors, sides of vanities. Wash walls if you’re so inclined. Wash any tile on walls and buff dry for a nice shine.
Clean the sink and vanity. If there’s any type of buildup, use all-purpose scrub and rinse thoroughly. Otherwise, clean with all-purpose cleaner or tub and tile spray cleaner. To clean discoloration or gunk from around drain, faucets or other areas, use all-purpose scrub cleanser and a toothbrush or other small scrubbing brush. Remove mineral deposits with vinegar, or use a specialty cleaner.
Clean the mirror, top to bottom. If your mirror has a film or residue that won’t come off, clean with straight vinegar and buff well. Dab rubbing alcohol onto stubborn spots, such as hair-spray overspray.
Clean tub/shower using tub and tile cleaner, all-purpose cleaner or scrub, or the appropriate cleaner if it’s a surface that calls for special care, such as granite.
To eliminate mildew or dark-colored discoloration on your shower walls or tub, use an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach. Be sure to follow safety instructions: never mix chlorine bleach with other products, use proper ventilation, wear gloves, rinse thoroughly.
To eliminate heavy-duty soap scum buildup in your shower, spray your cleaning agent on the shower surfaces liberally up to an hour prior to cleaning the area so it has time to break down the grime. Then use your cloth or a nylon scrubber to remove the buildup.
Using a good commercial tub and tile cleaner specifically formulated to break down soap scum is the quickest way to eliminate heavy buildups. Likewise, for any type of mineral deposits or stains, a product targeting the specific type of stain will be the quickest way to get rid of it.
Don’t forget to run your bathroom vent fan or open a window if you’re using cleaning products that produce fumes.
If you have any type of buildup or mildew but you’re averse to using strong chemicals, here are some ideas for more natural cleaning agents:
~Use an equal mixture of baking soda and Castile soap. Scrub with a nylon cleaning pad to remove soap scum buildup. Re-apply and rinse until you are satisfied with the results.
~To remove mildew from grout, spray liberally with hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then scrub grout with a toothbrush or scrub brush and rinse. Re-apply peroxide to areas that don’t come totally clean and repeat the process.
~Try straight vinegar on areas with mineral stains or deposits. Spray on, allow it to sit for an hour or more, and then scrub the area with a stiff brush or nylon scrubber. Rinse, and repeat the process, if necessary.
Clean the toilet. To remove toilet stains, try using two or three cups of straight vinegar; pour in and let it sit for a while.
Clean the floor. This is the time to really clean areas behind the toilet and in corners.
Reassemble your room. Take satisfaction in knowing that the toughest cleaning job in the whole house is now over and done. Excellent work!
Day 6: Living Areas
Today your deep cleaning challenge is your family room, living room, and other common areas. Because these are the spaces where we usually entertain company, they tend to be kept in pretty good shape. Your prime objective is getting to areas that aren’t usually in the line of fire when you clean, like under and behind furniture.
Start out by setting aside any objects-de-art or other bric-a-brac so they don’t get broken in the throes of your cleaning frenzy.
Remove small area rugs to wash or shake outside and left to air.
This is a good time to wash textiles like throws that you snuggle under in cold weather.
Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, ceiling and walls. Clean or dust wall sconces, pictures, wall art, wall hangings.
Dust or vacuum louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters.
Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails and baseboards.
If you have baseboard heaters, don’t forget to clean ridges and spaces underneath, not just the top edge.
Vacuum air vent covers with a dusting brush or use your dusting tool.
Dust or wash woodwork. Spot clean walls, switch plates, door frames.
Move furniture around to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted and washed. Be careful not to scratch the floor when moving furniture. If you can lift a piece of furniture enough to slide soft cloths under the legs, then you can shove it around on a bare floor.
Thoroughly dust any built-in shelves. Either remove objects completely or shift them so you can dust behind and under them. Dust other areas that you don’t normally clean, like inside of china closets, if necessary. If it’s not dusty inside, don’t bother. Free-standing bookshelves or other shelves that hold objects-de-art should be thoroughly dusted or vacuumed. It’s sometimes easier to vacuum the top side of books with a dusting brush attachment. If there’s a space behind books, pull them out and dust back there.
Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. If cushions are removable, turn them over. You can use upholstery cleaner if you feel the need. Test the upholstery cleaner on your fabric first. Spray on, then blot with a clean, damp cloth. Keep rinsing the cloth in clear water and blotting at the upholstery until it’s clean.
Vacuum lampshades carefully, if they’re dusty. Or use a clean, damp cloth to dust them off.
Vacuum window treatments.
Clean the floor.
Reassemble your room. Replace objects that you removed earlier. Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.
Smell the clean air. Admire your handiwork. Well done!
Day 7: The Kitchen
This is it, day seven of your seven-day challenge. This is the home stretch. The kitchen is the one room in the house that most people tend to keep pretty clean. If this is the case in your home, deep cleaning your kitchen shouldn’t be too difficult.
Start out by getting rid of stuff that’s been sitting around for a while. Clean out closets, cupboards, and drawers. Then reorganize. This is a good time to rearrange those plastic storage containers that you can never find the lids for or to rearrange your pots and pans.
Clean out food cupboards. Take stuff out or shift it around so you can see what you have and get rid of anything with expired dates or that is obviously no good. Don’t forget cupboards up high that you never use.
If you have a drawer under your oven, clean and reorganize that too.
After all your closets, cupboards and drawers are in good shape it’s time to clean.
Temporarily remove knickknacks while you clean. If you have a collection of plates hanging on the walls or salt and pepper shakers on a shelf, this is the time to wash them.
Remove any throw rugs and wash or shake outside and leave them to air. Remove window treatments, if you are washing or airing them.
Eliminate cobwebs and dust from the ceiling, ceiling fans, light fixtures, walls, wall hangings, tops of cupboards.
Dust any furniture. Thoroughly wipe down kitchen table and chairs and any kitchen stools.
Wash or spot clean woodwork, doors, doorknobs. Kitchen doors and doorways attract dirty fingerprints, so pay special attention to these areas.
Clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.
Clean the stove vent fan cover.
Clean appliance fronts and inside the microwave.
Clean inside the refrigerator thoroughly: wipe down walls, shelves, remove drawers, clean inside the door.
Clean under the refrigerator. If your fridge is on wheels, pull it out to clean the floor underneath, and clean any dust or cobwebs from the back of the fridge and the wall behind it.
Clean the stove top: remove drip pans, if applicable, and scrub. Clean the oven, too, if necessary.
Clean countertops, backsplash, and countertop appliances. If they haven’t been done in a while, take your time and get into all the corners.
Clean garbage container.
Clean the floor.
Reassemble the room: replace curtains, blinds, rugs, knick-knacks, etc.
That’s it! You’ve completed your seven-day deep-cleaning challenge. Your home is now clean from top to bottom and well-organized to boot. It will stay that way if you stick to a regular cleaning routine from here on out. Since you’ve gone to the trouble of whipping your home into shape, why not give it a try? Keeping a clean home is all about maintenance. Set up a regular schedule to routinely clean your home and then stick to it. Once you get going, you’ll see how easy it is.
For today, pat yourself on the back because you’ve done a lot of work and a really great job. Congratulations!
Do you have a clutter problem? Do you consistently have trouble finding things around your house? Do you feel overwhelmed by your stuff? If so, you’re not alone. If there’s anything we have a lot of, it’s stuff.
The good news is that taking control isn’t difficult. This easy-to-follow program will guide you through the steps of de-cluttering and organizing all the stuff in your home. Once you get rolling, your initial successes will motivate you to keep going.
Seven steps to an organized home can take as much or as little time as you need. Every situation is unique. Making this system work for you is a simple matter of following the steps, one after the other, until you’ve reached the end result of a clutter-free, well-organized home in which you can find what you need when you need it.
What Causes Disorder in a Home?
To begin, consider the arch-enemies of an organized state: clutter and poor use of space. What is clutter? Clutter is stuff that is superfluous, misplaced, or just plain trash. Clutter can be anything, but the key element is that clutter is a disorderly mess of stuff taking up space that could otherwise be put to good use.
When the clutter in your life overwhelms your living space it becomes impossible to keep your possessions organized. The important things become overshadowed by the clutter and next thing you know, you’ve lost hours of your life searching for misplaced paperwork.
The other issue that significantly impairs an organized state is poor use of space. This often accompanies clutter; however, it can exist independently as well. Examples of poor use of space: piles of sweaters on top of an empty dresser, file cabinets filled with 15-year-old paperwork that needs to be discarded while current paperwork has no place to go, or having objects crammed into a closet to the point that you don’t have any idea what all is in there.
When your possessions are well-organized, you know where everything you own is or you know how to locate it. You do not have objects in your home that you don’t need. Being well-organized makes it easy to quickly eliminate anything that’s unnecessary because said objects stick out rather than blending into and becoming part of the mess.
Organization is very simply having a place for everything. This means that whenever you’re not using it, an item is returned to its home, and when you need it again, you know where to look.
Seven Steps to an Organized Home
This seven-step plan may go quickly for you, or it might take some time. This depends on how much stuff you have to organize and how quickly you work. The steps are summarized below:
Step One: Make an overall plan and set goals.
Step Two: Throw away trash.
Step Three: Sell stuff.
Step Four: Give stuff away.
Step five: Plan how to organize the stuff you have left.
Step six: Set up a system to organize your stuff.
Step seven: Organize your stuff.
This simple, easy-to-follow plan will set you free. Like any other skill, organizing becomes easier with practice. Take it one step at a time, see the process through to completion, repeat as necessary. Taking the time to de-clutter spaces and thoughtfully arrange objects is an investment in your future leisure time and peace of mind.
Step 1: Make a Plan
A plan will keep you on track as you move through the process of de-cluttering and organizing. Your plan will help you figure out what you don’t need, what you want to keep, and will help you identify your problem areas when it comes to keeping your possessions organized. Finally, a plan affords you the opportunity to devise a structure for storing the possessions you value in such a way that you’ll know where to put them when you’re not using them and where to look when you need them.
Your plan involves three steps:
Assess your situation.
Set goals for organizing based on your specific needs as defined by your assessment.
Tentatively decide how and where you will re-arrange your valuable and needed possessions.
Begin with step one: assess your situation. Figure out where you are. Take an honest look around your home. What do you see?
Do you see a lot of stuff in disarray? Are you looking at things that ought to be thrown away, moved into another area within your space, or given to charity? This is the time to realistically assess what you have, what you can get rid of, and what you actually need.
Start making lists or get some color-coded dot stickers and put them to use labeling stuff. Look around your living space and decide:
What can you throw away because it’s of no value or use to you or anyone else?
What items that you’re not using have potential sales value?
What can you give away to friends or charity?
What items are valuable and necessary but in a state of disorder? These are the things that you want to keep that are in need of reassignment to a permanent spot within your home.
This is the time for you to get real about your stuff. If you’ve got lots of things that you never use that are eating up valuable space, these objects are weighing you down. You have to let them go.
This is just an assessment, so don’t become overwhelmed. You only have to look around your space with a critical eye at this point. Don’t do anything more than that.
After you’ve honestly assessed what you have and what can be removed from your space, it’s time to move on to step two: setting goals. This is when you narrow your focus. What specific areas do you need to work on. For example, is paperwork a problem for you? Do you have trouble keeping your personal items in order?
Look at the last category of items from your assessment: which of your necessary and valuable possessions are in a disorderly state? These objects will be the focus of your goal setting exercise.
As an example, your goals may look like this:
Organize craft supplies.
Keep better track of important papers.
Re-arrange kids’ toys so they’re more orderly.
Create a better system for storing the boots and shoes that are presently scattered all over the house.
After setting goals, move on to step three: making a tentative plan about how to arrange the things that need to be organized.
Working from the hypothetical goals listed above:
Think about what area in your home would be best suited for storing the craft supplies that are currently scattered throughout your home in a disorganized fashion.
To keep better track of paperwork, you might want to turn a spare bedroom into a home office.
Start to consider the best centralized area to store the kids’ toys instead of where they are now, which is all over the place and always underfoot.
Give thought to whether you can carve out some space near the front door for cubbies or a rack to store the shoes that are scattered about everywhere.
You’re thinking about where and how you will store the things that you want to keep which are currently suffering from a clutter situation in your environment. This is just the beginning.
By figuring out what you can trash, what you can sell or give away, and what you want to keep, you’ve set the stage to reach your goals. You will purge unnecessary items to make room for the proper storage and organization of the items you value. As you work through the next steps, ridding yourself of dead weight, keep in mind what space you’ll need for the things you plan to keep and aim to specifically target the elimination of clutter in those areas.
Now congratulate yourself because you’re on your way to taking control!
Step 2: Throw Away Trash
The first step to eliminating clutter from your space is to throw away trash. Refer to the list you made on day one and get busy. Be realistic about what is useful and what isn’t. Move beyond the obvious and purge trash from closets, cupboards, dressers. Remember to pay special attention to the areas you’ve tentatively selected as permanent storage spots for the things you set goals to organize.
There’s probably a lot of hidden trash in your home that you don’t think about.
Paperwork is a prime culprit. Sort through warranties, user’s manuals, old credit card bills, bank statements, etc. Get rid of anything that’s not current. Don’t store boxes of papers that are taking up space you could be using to store things you actually want and use, like your hypothetical craft supplies.
Don’t keep old magazines or newspapers. They’re junk.
Sort clothing. Get rid of shirts that are missing buttons, hopelessly wrinkled pants that you mean to iron some day but never will, old socks with holes taking up space in dresser drawers, and smelly old shoes that were once your favorites but which you haven’t worn in six years.
Toiletries and medications that are expired or no good have to go.
Get rid of expired foods in the pantry.
Old electronics have no value.
Broken vacuum cleaners or blenders or toasters are things you’ll never get fixed. Toss ‘em.
Be ruthless. Dive into closets and corners. Refer back to the goals you set and think about the space you will need to free up to make them happen. When you eliminate space wasters you make room for the things you want to keep.
Look for trash that’s right in front of you. Objects that are too worn to donate or give away are trash. Don’t hang onto things for sentimental reasons. If it’s not useful, it’s dead weight.
Don’t keep meaningless knick-knacks or things someone gave you years ago just because you’ve had them for a long time. If the item has no purpose, no value to you, and you don’t have the space, get rid of it.
Don’t keep two dozen plastic food storage containers that you don’t use because they might come in handy some day. They won’t. Recycle them.
Sort through hobby supplies and discard things that you will not realistically use.
Look in the basement, attic, and garage for anything that can be tossed. You need the space. Keep repeating this phrase.
By the end of this step, you should have nothing left in your home that is trash. You should have freed up some space and eliminated some clutter.
You should feel proud of yourself and a little bit freer and lighter. You’ve eliminated some dead weight. Good job!
Step 3: Sell Stuff
Odds are you’ve got some stuff that has value but that you don’t use any more. There’s a good chance you have a lot of this type of stuff. Selling this stuff is a great way to get rid of it without having to haul it all to Goodwill. Plus, you can spend the cash you make on supplies to organize the stuff you want to keep.
As a rule, you won’t be able to sell your stuff for a ton of cash. That being said, if you want to get rid the stuff (which you do), selling it moves it out the door. This is your prime objective. So don’t waste a lot of emotion on the fact that you’re practically giving the stuff away. At least someone else will be able to use it and you eliminate more dead weight.
How do you go about selling your stuff? Well, you can always have a traditional garage sale. If you’re an outgoing person, you might even have a good time with it.
Host a Garage Sale
A garage sale is pretty straightforward. Take the stuff you don’t want and put it all in the garage or in your driveway on whatever portable tables you might have around or can rig up. Your setup doesn’t have to be fancy; you just want a space to display your wares without merely tossing everything on the ground. Put prices on the stuff. Advertise your sale on Craigslist or Facebook or your local classifieds. At the end of the day, place a “free stuff” listing on Craigslist to get rid of whatever’s left. If no one wants it for free, it’s trash.
If you’d rather not have a garage sale, you can sell your stuff on Craigslist, Facebook, or local classified ads. Many areas have garage sale groups on Facebook; list on both the Facebook marketplace and your local garage sale groups. The online listing process is pretty straightforward. Take a couple pictures of the stuff you’re selling, put up some ads, check your e-mail, answer questions from potential buyers, sell your stuff.
Vintage and collectible stuff can be sold on Etsy or eBay. This is a little more involved because the things you sell have to be shipped to whoever buys it. Either site requires that sellers create an account, and each charges fees for selling.
Take Things to a Consignment Shop
Clothes that are current and in excellent condition can go to a local consignment shop. Generally these shops accept only a set number of items per day and the things you bring in have to be seasonally appropriate. Many of these shops also take household goods, some take toys and electronics. They usually split the selling price with consignors 50/50. It’s best to call ahead before taking things in to make sure they’re currently accepting consignments.
Don’t forget word of mouth as a great way to sell your unwanted stuff. What you don’t need may be exactly what your cousin Doug is looking for. Of course, you may decide to just give it to him because he’s such a pal.
By the end of step three you should be seeing real progress in the elimination of unwanted possessions from your home. Hopefully you’ve also got some extra cash in your pocket. Most importantly, you should be starting to feel like you’re taking control over your possessions rather than the reverse.
You are moving steadily toward your goals. You are creating the space you need to properly organize and store the stuff that you really want to keep. Kudos!
Step 4: Give Stuff Away
You’re now in the home stretch of your purge. This is when you get to have a little fun by giving stuff away. Refer to the list you made at step one of the items you no longer use that can be donated to charity or given to friends or family.
How to go about this day of giving? One option: take pictures of your stuff and post them to your friends on Facebook with the caption “Free Stuff!” Or place an ad on Craiglist if you don’t care where the stuff goes. If you have particular friends or family in mind for specific objects, hand deliver the goods and have a nice visit while you’re there.
Many local charities are looking for stuff in good condition. Many of these groups don’t exactly put up billboards soliciting donations, but if you ask around you’ll find some very worthy causes that can put your old things to good use. Some ideas:
Churches and other non-profit groups often operate thrift stores or distribute used clothing and household goods to families in need.
Local veteran’s assistance centers sometimes look for household goods.
Animal shelters sometimes need old towels, bedding, and dishes.
Homeless shelters almost always need household items and clothing.
Many areas have one or more community action groups that specifically take donations of clothing and household goods to pass along to those who need a helping hand.
To take a charitable tax deduction, write up a list of the items you’re donating along with their estimated value, and your charity will stamp or sign it as a receipt.
Some charitable groups will come and collect donations from you but most of the time you’ll have to take the stuff to a donation center during certain hours. Check ahead of time to be sure someone will be there to take your stuff. You don’t want to show up with a van load of donations only to find the doors locked.
It’s fun to give stuff away if you think about what a win-win deal it is. You get to free up your valuable space and someone else gets some things they want or need. Sometimes you’re helping people more than you could imagine. And sometimes you can pass things on to friends or relatives, and then every time they use whatever you gave them they’ll think of what a great person you are.
At the end of step four, you have completed your purge. You should now have left only the possessions you want to keep. Next up: sort, group, organize, plan. You’re getting closer to achieving your goals. Good work!
Step 5: Sort, Group, Organize, Plan
At this point you should have no extraneous possessions in your home. You should have created extra space by eliminating all the dead weight around the house. All remaining objects should be things of importance to you. With the clutter gone, you can actually see what you have left to organize. This is the time to make a solid plan about storing these things.
Think carefully about what will work best for you. At step one you made a tentative plan about how and where to organize your things. Today you will fine-tune your plan with an emphasis on the actual design. Your system should be one that will be easy for you to use consistently. If you don’t follow through with using the system you set up, you’ll end up with another cluttered, disorganized mess. This is why planning is so important.
Planning will be a three-step process:
Sort and group your stuff.
Figure out what kind of storage space you need for each group.
Plan specifically how to organize each group.
So, you will sort your stuff, grouping items into your goal categories (for example, the hypothetical craft supplies, paperwork, toys, and shoes from day one). Once you’ve got things sorted out, you’ll have a good idea about the actual space you will need for storing each group. Then you can make a plan about how to actually organize the objects in each group.
Organizing generally involves arranging things in cupboards or containers of some type, on shelves, storing in boxes, setting up a filing system, or otherwise settling stuff for easy retrieval.
There’s a staggering array of storage supplies available. If you’re not sure exactly what you need as you make your plan, here are some ideas:
Lots of very small, loose objects are best stored in compartmentalized trays or boxes or in jars.
Things that stack easily can go into cabinets or on shelves.
Baskets organized on shelves are great for storing all types of loose objects of varying sizes.
Papers get stored in labeled folders in file drawers for a reason: it’s the best way to easily store and retrieve them.
Bottles and jars can be grouped and stored in shallow drawers, bins, or tubs, or in shallow cabinets or cubbies.
Medium size to large objects can go into storage tubs or chests.
Toys can be stored on shelves, in bins, in bins on shelves, or in whatever way makes it easy to get at what you want without having to move a lot of other things to get to it. The traditional toy box isn’t the most practical means of storing toys because things end up strewn all over in the quest for that one object at the bottom of the box.
Hooks are handy for things that can be hung on walls or doors or on the sides of furniture.
Hooks are great for hanging clothing, hats, jewelry.
Hooks can expand your storage space.
Hooks fit into pegboard for extra storage space.
Racks, hangers, and shoe organizers are handy for storing all kinds of things.
Don’t overlook the potential storage capacity of dressers and chests.
And here are some storage tips:
Labels are an excellent visual tool to help you remember what’s in a box or tote or other container.
Tape a list of the contents on the outside of boxes.
Using clear totes or containers allows you to see what’s inside.
Stack-able totes are handy, but don’t stack more than two or three high. Having to constantly shift totes to access what you need leads to frustration. You want to love everything about your organizational system.
Color coding is an excellent organizing tool.
For example, when setting up a filing system for papers, place all personal papers into blue folders, all work-related papers into green folders, all child-school related papers into red folders, all bills into purple folders, and all household/warranty type papers into brown folders.
Place red-colored dots on all boxes that hold card-making craft supplies, blue dots on all boxes that contain scrapbooking craft supplies, and green dots on all boxes containing knitting craft supplies.
If you’ve got multiple boxes containing closely-related items, a master list can save time searching for individual items.
Label your boxes A, B, C, D, etc.
Section your list into subsections for boxes A, B, C, D, etc. with the list of contents following each letter.
Alternatively, list all the contents of the boxes and place the corresponding box letter next to each item on the list.
Use shelf risers to add storage space and easily access items in back.
Use small bins in drawers to help organize small objects.
Use wire racks, tension rods, pegboard, and magnetic strips creatively.
You may have stuff around the house you can use for storing and organizing. Think about how you might use trays or bins or anything you have on hand that might be useful.
To get a clearer picture of your objectives, let’s go back to the hypothetical goals from step one and look at how grouping and planning plays out. As a reminder, your hypothetical goals were:
Organize craft supplies.
Keep better track of paperwork.
Re-arrange kids’ toys.
Create a better system for storing boots and shoes near the door.
So the first thing you’d do at this point would be to gather your craft supplies into one area to see exactly what you’ve got. At step one, you (hypothetically) selected a storage area for your craft supplies. This might be a corner in the family room, a nook in your bedroom, or a cubby in the kitchen. Now you would consider whether the supplies will actually fit into the area you’ve chosen. If not, rethink your plan.
Once you’re sure you’ve got enough space to store all your craft supplies in the same area, it’s time to plot out storage strategies for them. Is there anything around the house that you can use? Do you have containers, baskets, tubs, bins, shelves or other storage containers that are appropriately sized for your needs, and, if so, can you move them to your selected craft supply area? If you don’t have anything on hand, figure out what you’ll need. At step six you’ll go shopping for whatever supplies you can’t rustle up around the house.
Continuing with the hypothetical goals example, to keep better track of paperwork you thought you might turn a spare bedroom into an office. At steps two, three, and four you cleared clutter from the spare bedroom so it is now free of excess stuff. Today, gather up all your papers and other office supplies and figure out what you’ll need to turn the room into a space you can use for your intended purpose. Repeat the steps above: do you have things around the house you can put to use? If not, what do you need to buy? Writing out a list will be helpful later on.
Moving on, you also (hypothetically) wanted to re-arrange the kids’ toys. Again, gather the remaining toys (hopefully you got rid of some while de-cluttering) together to see what you’ve got. Think about where you want to keep them and whether there is ready-made storage space in the area? If not, do you have something you can use? If not, what do you need to buy? If you’re planning to do a lot of re-arranging in order to use things you already have around the house, writing out a list of what’s going to be moved where will be helpful later on when you rearrange things and set up your storage space.
Finally, the last goal on our hypothetical list was to create a better system for storing boots and shoes. Gather up whatever loose footwear you see and think about a logical storage solution that everyone in the house will use. Maybe you need to set up shoe racks in individual closets. Maybe you need cubbies or shelves or a small dresser in your entryway. Then follow the same process as in the previous examples.
By now you should be getting the hang of the planning process. Just take stock of what you have, figure out a place to put it, then plot how to organize it so you can easily store and retrieve it.
Next, you’ll rearrange, get whatever supplies you need to complete your project, set up a storage system, and then you’ll organize your stuff. Almost home!
Step 6: Prepare Your Spaces
At step six you will set up the framework for organizing your stuff. Your objective is to get your storage system in place so that at step seven you can arrange the things that have to be stored in the areas you’ve selected to store them.
If you have the necessary supplies around the house, this is the time to rearrange things so that you end up with whatever you need in the places you want it.
If you don’t have what you need on hand, it’s time to take a field trip to the home improvement or furniture store. If you need to go shopping, you should have a good grasp on what you have to get. You’ll be purchasing whatever supplies you don’t have on hand.
As you plotted out your storage needs, you made a list or two. Refer to your list(s) as you go along. If you’re rearranging furniture or other stuff around the house, your list will help you keep track of what’s going where. If things get confusing or if you have multiple sets of helping hands, a master control list will be a very handy reference tool.
If you’re shopping, a list will help you to make sure you get everything in one trip. If you’re still trying to figure out exactly what you need, take a picture or make a list of the things that you have to organize so you have a handy reference in the store.
Make Sure Your Storage System Will Work for You
Whether your organizational system is comprised of things you already have or new items that you purchase, keep in mind that storage methods are highly individual. The system that works for you may totally baffle your neighbor.
Some people like to have everything in plain sight. Some people like drawers, or shelves, or cabinets, or plastic tubs, or racks, or baskets.
The most important thing is that your system of organization makes sense to you and works for you. Your system needs to one that you will use consistently so that you don’t end up with a clutter problem all over again.
Back to Hypothetical Goals
At the end of step six you should have your storage framework fully designed and installed. So, going back to our hypothetical goals, this is what it would look like:
Your crafty corner storage system is all set up and ready for you to arrange your crafting supplies. You elected to re-purpose a set of shelves and a cabinet that were in the spare bedroom that’s being converted into a home office. You also bought some storage trays with dividers to help keep track of small items and some baskets for larger things.
Your home office is assembled and ready. You were able to give new life to a nice old wooden desk that had been buried in junk, and therefore unusable, until your de-cluttering project. You purchased a filing cabinet and some file folders and at step seven, when you organize, you’re going to put them to use.
You set up an area for the kids’ toys with brand new, still-in-the-package shelving units you forgot you had, which you unearthed from behind a pile of clutter during your purge, and some shallow bins that you bought at the home improvement store. The bins will fit onto the shelves and will make storing and retrieving toys quick and easy.
Your shoe storage issue required multiple storage solutions. You picked up shoe racks for each family member to keep in their closets to eliminate some of the shoe clutter throughout the house. Additionally, your purge cleared out space in the coat closet by the door so you were able to set up a newly-purchased shoe-storage caddy in the closet for additional storage.
Are you excited yet? You should be because you’re almost done with your project. You ought to be able to visualize the results at this point. Step seven is right around the corner. Finally you’ll be organized!
Step 7: Organize Your Stuff
It’s finally here, the step you’ve been working toward, it’s time to organize your stuff.
If all has gone as planned, your stuff, which was previously known as clutter, is now sorted into groups. You have a storage system set up and ready to go. All that’s left to do is arrange the objects into the system you’ve designed.
Take care at this stage. You’ve come this far, so take it home with the same thoughtfulness that you’ve put in all along your journey. Take your time and think about what you’re doing.
Arrange things logically and in a way that will ensure you are able to find what you need quickly and easily. Don’t pack things in too tightly. Don’t place tall objects in front of short ones. Utilize your storage space efficiently. If necessary, leave room for growth if new items will potentially be introduced in the future.
If you get everything situated and don’t like the setup, change it. Rearrange. Make it work for you. You are now in control of this stuff that was previously controlling you.
Remember that organization is very simply finding a place for everything. Organization means that every single item in your environment has a designated spot to live so that whenever you’re not using it, each item is returned to its home, and when you need it, you know where to look.
Hypothetical Goals Accomplished
Once again we’re back to our hypothetical goals. Today, at their conclusion, they look like this:
Your craft supplies are neatly organized in your craft corner. All your supplies are at your fingertips.
Your new home office is already keeping your paperwork straight and true. You set up a color-coded filing system for bills, personal papers, etc. and your paperwork has been filed into the appropriate folders.
The kids’ toys are neatly arranged, for now. The beauty of your new multiple-bin storage system is that it’s unlikely all the toys will ever again end up strewn throughout the house. Toys will come out of one bit at a time, and be replaced before getting into another. That’s the plan anyway…
All shoes and boots have been neatly stored away. There will no more tripping over sneakers left in the middle of the family room.
At this point, there’s no longer a clutter problem in your home. Counter tops and other flat surfaces are not buried in stuff. Corners are filled with nothing but open space. Your closets are tidy and so is your mind. You’ve made a very wise investment in your future free time and peace of mind. No more wasted hours searching for things you know you have. No more buying stuff you’ve already got because you can’t find the original. You’re free of the clutter monster.
All that’s left to do now is maintenance. Plan to periodically sort things and get rid of anything that’s dead weight. Don’t let it get the better of you again
Staying organized is all about maintenance. Getting your clutter under control is liberating. You probably feel lighter, freer, and more in control of your stuff and life in general. It’s empowering to finally accomplish a goal that you’ve been putting off.
Staying organized is equally empowering. The trick to it is establishing good habits. This means doing whatever you need to do to make sure clutter doesn’t again begin accumulating.
For example, if you find that mail is piling up, get yourself a small basket and put your pending mail-to-be-sorted in the basket. Deal with it as soon as possible, and if your basket gets full your deadline has been reached. Deal with it immediately.
If other people in your household aren’t pulling their weight, get them their own baskets. Put their things into their baskets and give them a deadline to deal with it. If they don’t take care of their things, the basket disappears for a set period of time. That’s the penalty for non-compliance.
Make written schedules with hard deadlines for periodically sorting areas like the kitchen pantry or bathroom cupboards or any other areas that tend to accumulate outdated stuff.
As you notice that clothing, shoes, or other possessions are becoming too worn out to use, throw them away.
Place a donation box in a designated area, and if clothing doesn’t fit correctly or you find that you just don’t like it, put it in your box. When the box is full, take it to your local church thrift.
If you notice that your drawers or cabinets or closets are getting full, take the time to sort and purge. Write in on your calendar, if necessary, to force yourself to make it happen.
Every mountain of clutter begins with a single object. One becomes two, two becomes four, and so on. Piles spread like a disease. So keep it in check and never let it get out of control again. You are in control now! Congratulations!
The holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train. If your home is not quite ready for the time of year when people show up at your door and expect to be invited inside, now’s the time to get busy. This holiday-readiness action plan breaks down home holiday preparation into a simple five-week plan that’ll have your house in tip-top shape by Thanksgiving Day.
Week One: Cut Down on Clutter in Common Areas
Phase one calls for clearing out unnecessary stuff that collects dust and complicates cleaning in common areas like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and family room. The goal is uncluttered surfaces throughout: countertops, shelves, tables, and wherever else stuff has accumulated.
File or toss out stacks of bills. Recycle magazines that you’ll never read. Donate the box of baking pans that have been sitting in the corner since your mother-in-law gave them to you after she cleaned out her kitchen cupboards (and which don’t fit into yours either).
Look around your space with a critical eye and be merciless. If it’s not useful to you, get rid of it. Things that you don’t need can be used and appreciated by someone else if you donate them to a local community action center or church.
This de-cluttering phase is a fresh start. When it’s complete you’ll be able to clearly spot, and access, the dust on flat surfaces, cobwebs in corners, and dirt everywhere else. It’s infinitely easier to clean and maintain spaces that have minimal clutter, so this first step ensures that your subsequent cleaning endeavors will be successful.
Week Two: Tackle Dust and Cobwebs in Common Areas
Phase two is the time to clean up accumulated dust and cobwebs that are clearly visible and accessible now that the clutter has gone away. Get out your long-handled, telescoping duster to first tackle cobwebs and dust up high. If you don’t have one, secure an old towel over the business end of a broom. Areas where dust settles and cobwebs form: valances and window treatments, ceiling fans, the top of wardrobes and cupboards, recessed lighting fixtures, and corners where walls meet up.
After all the dust up high has been removed, move on to areas at eye level and below. Target chair rails, lampshades and finials, picture frames and wall hangings, window sills, shelves, door ridges and louvered doors, air exchange grates and covers, baseboards and baseboard heaters.
Dust also accumulates at floor level under appliances like the refrigerator and stove, under beds and couches, and in the corners behind furniture and in closets. Tackle these areas with crevice tools, a dust mop, a broom, or your vacuum cleaner.
Remove as much dust as you can from these typically overlooked areas. Eliminating dust from your ceiling fan and on top of the fridge reduces the overall amount of dust that can be stirred up and re-distributed later on. Once the lion’s share of dust is gone, a little bit of upkeep between now and Christmas Eve will guarantee a dust-free family bash, so Aunt Gertrude will have no cause to cast a critical eye at dust bunnies in corners.
Week Three: Deep Clean Guest Rooms
If you’re expecting out-of-town guests for the holidays, phase three of your pre-holiday cleanup involves getting guests rooms ready for occupancy. The nature and amount of work involved in this step depends on the state of the rooms: if they’ve become household catchall spaces, the task will be more complicated than if they simply need sprucing up.
Do whatever needs to be done to make them habitable. De-clutter, if necessary, dust and vacuum, freshen bed linens and window treatments. When this phase is completed, your guest rooms will be ready and waiting when Santa Clause and his compadres come to town and you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to unearth the beds.
Week Four: Thoroughly Clean the Kitchen
The kitchen typically sees a lot of action during the holiday season. For this reason, giving the kitchen a good cleanup is the goal of phase four of your holiday action plan.
This is the time to tackle tasks that don’t get done regularly: purge the pantry, re-arrange and re-organize cupboards, clean the oven and the fridge. Really take time to get into corners and underneath furniture.
When you’re done, the kitchen will be in prime condition for holiday baking as well as entertaining visitors. No cringing when Cousin Celia opens your oven door to pop in her green-bean casserole!
Week Five: Give the Whole House a Quick Cleanup
Phase five is the time to whip through the whole house: dust, vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, and generally tidy up. Pay particular attention to the areas that will be visible to visitors. Since you’ve already de-cluttered, eliminated cobwebs and dust, plus cleaned guest rooms and the kitchen, this phase of the operation should be quick and easy.
Breaking down a big job into manageable segments is the key to successfully achieving any goal. This five-week action plan gets your home into shape just in time for the holiday season kickoff: Thanksgiving. So get busy, stay on track, and allow yourself the luxury of less stress at game time by implementing this preparation plan over the next five weeks.