Cleaning Agents Explained: What to Use Where

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:

Kitchen Counters

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 stainless steelKitchen Appliances

Clean kitchen appliances with glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, or specialty cleaner.

Kitchen Sinks

Clean kitchen sinks with multipurpose scrub, baking soda, or all-purpose cleaner.

Wood Furniture

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.

Toilets

Clean your toilets using bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner.

Floors

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

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.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon

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Cleaning Secrets: Details Matter

House cleaning is all about details. Lots of little details. Yes, you can do a quick cleaning job and it’ll be fine. Sometimes skimming off the top layer is all there’s time to do; it’s better than doing nothing at all. But a really detailed cleaning job shines bright.

Many little details comprise the finishing touches that transform your ordinary cleaning routine into one that makes your home the envy of the neighborhood. The following are some examples.

Get Rid of Cobwebs

Cobwebs hanging from your chandelier are unsightly and make your home look dirty. Look around for cobwebs on the ceiling, on light fixtures, in corners, and on the edges of furniture.

dustlight

Dust Baseboards

Take the time to use a dusting wand or your vacuum cleaner dusting tool to remove dust from baseboards, chair rails, window sills, window grates, and the ridges on louvered and paneled doors.

Spot Clean Doors and Walls

Use a damp cloth to eliminate fingerprints and smudges from door frames, doorknobs, walls, switch plates, and hand rails and banisters.

clean switchplate

Clean Entry Door Glass

Make an excellent first impression on visitors by having spotless glass on your entry doors. If this area looks clean, people will notice.

Fluff Throw Pillows

For optimal presentation, fluff and artfully arrange throw pillows and throws.

throw pillows

Vacuum Pet Hair from Furniture

Having pets means extra maintenance for you. Don’t allow hair to overrun your furniture. Use your vacuum upholstery tool to thoroughly remove hair from cushions, the backs that you lean against, arms, and any other areas to which you see hair clinging.

Spot Clean Cabinet Doors

Wipe away spills, spots, and fingerprints on cupboard doors in the kitchen, bathroom and anywhere else.

clean cupboard door

Clean Appliance Fronts

If you do nothing else, cleaning fingerprints and spills from the fronts of your microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, trash compactor, and stove give your kitchen a clean appearance.

Pick up Clutter

De-cluttering your space is one of the best ways to make it look clean. Surfaces that are covered in debris look messy and collect dust.

Eliminate Dust Bunnies

Be sure to clean up dust bunnies in corners. Noticeable globs of dust make your home look dirty, regardless of whether it actually is.

Spot Clean Insides of Windows

Clean any fingerprints and doggie nose prints on the insides of your windows. No one notices when they’re not there, but they do when they are.

clean a window

There are countless little details that can make or break your house cleaning efforts. For more ideas, see my post Don’t Forget to Clean Under the Kitchen Sink.

We often don’t notice things we see every day, so hone your skills of observation. Learning to clean is a hands-on endeavor and there’s always room for improvement. That’s what makes it interesting.

Whenever time permits, give the job the attention to detail that’ll make your home stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

Is It Possible To Clean Your Home Without Using Chemicals?

clean a keypadCan you actually keep your home clean without using any types of chemicals? That’s a tricky question. The health conscious among us are rightly concerned about the effects of chemicals on our planet and our bodies. But strictly speaking, there’s no way to eliminate dirt, grease, and germs without using any chemicals whatsoever. However, it is possible to minimize their use.

Let’s break it down. Look at dish washing. You can’t clean a greasy pot without using a de-greaser. Dish detergent is a chemical. What about laundry? It’s not possible to remove the typical dirt from laundry without using laundry detergent, which is a chemical. How about bathrooms? Again, you’ll need some kind of chemical to get rid of soap scum, mold, and mildew. Are you beginning to see a trend here?

The good news: it’s absolutely possible to minimize the use of chemicals for cleaning. Dialing it way back is easy with a few simple tricks:

  • Clean frequently.
  • Reduce the messes that require chemical intervention.
  • Use the right tools for cleaning.
  • Use chemical products sparingly.

Clean Frequently

Cleaning frequently is the best way to reduce the need for strong cleaning agents. By controlling the buildup of dirt and grime on hard surfaces, you eliminate the likelihood of having to break out tough degreasers or lime-scale removers and other noxious chemicals. Simply wiping up the kitchen after each use and regularly cleaning your stove, oven, microwave, and other kitchen appliances will keep the accumulation of grime to a practically non-existent level.

Tip: Keep a small spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol plus a few drops of dish soap by the kitchen sink. Mist surfaces with the mixture and wipe clean for quick and easy cleanup.

Reduce the Messes that Require Chemical Intervention

Spot-clean your bathroom every day or two to hold soap scum or mineral deposit buildups at bay. Keep a squeegee in your shower and pass it over the shower walls after every use. This will make bathroom cleanup much easier. Make your own daily shower mist spray by mixing a 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar.

In the kitchen, get into the habit of covering things that might splatter when they’re cooking and don’t let pots boil over. If you’re baking a casserole that might bubble over, place a cookie sheet underneath so you don’t end up with a mess on the oven floor.

Apply these principles throughout the house to prevent and reduce messes and thus avoid having to use chemical cleaning agents.

Use the Right Tools for Cleaning

There’s a vast arsenal of scrubbers and sponges and cloths at your disposal these days. Rather than resorting to using chemical cleaning agents on bathroom or kitchen surfaces, use a nylon scrubber sponge or a scrub brush to apply a home-brewed cleanser  mixed from baking soda and dish detergent to cut through soap scum or remove dried-on debris.

A scrub brush with a handle that you can grip firmly gives you added leverage for removal of really tough messes. Microfiber cloths are handy for eradicating a variety of messes from hard surfaces and are more effective than traditional rags because they’re more tightly woven. Just a little bit of elbow grease easily replaces chemicals if you use the right tools.

Use Chemical Products Sparingly

Finally, when you have to use chemical products, don’t use any more than is necessary. Plus, by cutting back on the application of cleaning agents to hard surfaces, you reduce the need to clean because cleaning agent residue that wasn’t thoroughly rinsed from any surface actually attracts dirt. So resist the urge to apply excessive amounts of any type of cleaner. Less is more.

Additionally, don’t use any products that are more powerful than what you need. Simple, basic products such as vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, and dish detergent can be used for cleaning 95% of the surfaces in your home.

You shouldn’t have to wear a gas mask when you’re doing routine cleaning chores. Keep it simple, clean often, use tools. These are the secrets to house cleaning using minimal chemicals.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips

The 7 Day Deep Clean Challenge: Bring Your Home Up to Par in a Week, 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.

To Begin

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.

vent fan

Dust

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

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

Clean the sink and vanity. If you’ve got 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 any kind of 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.

cleaning shower door

Clean the Shower

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

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!

Tomorrow: Family Room & Living Room

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

The 7 Day Deep Clean Challenge: Bring Your Home Up to Par in a Week, 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

To begin, temporarily remove any lightweight objects like lamps or knickknacks 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. Do this now if you’re electing to take this step.

 

Start from the Top Down

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 dust mop.

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.

Clean Woodwork

Spot clean walls, door frames, woodwork.

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 dust mop, broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

lamp shades

Dust

Dust or vacuum lampshades and window treatments.

Dust furniture and begin re-assembling your room, dusting objects before replacing them.

Vacuum

Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Vacuum your mattresses and flip them over.

Wash the floor, if necessary.

Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.

Smell the clean air. Good job!

Tomorrow: Bathrooms.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

The 7 Day Deep Clean Challenge: Bring Your Home Up to Par in a Week, Day 3 Washing Windows

No deep-clean project would be complete without a day devoted to windows. Cleaning windows isn’t a whole lot of fun, these tips make it easier.

Clean Your Windows at the Right Time of Day

The first thing to think about is what time of day is best to tackle your project because you want to avoid washing windows when the sun is shining directly on them. Sunlight dries your cleaning solution in its tracks, which makes window washing very challenging and causes streaks.

Use the Best Method

The second thing to think about is how dirty the windows are. This will determine what 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 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 dry. Switch off your drying/buffing cloth as it gets damp to avoid streaking.

Clean Outside From Inside (if you can)

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.

If You Have To Work Outside

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

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 should 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!

Tomorrow: Bedrooms Top to Bottom

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

The 7 Day Deep Clean Challenge: Bring Your Home Up to Par in a Week, Day 2 Closet Cleaning

vacuum ceiling fan

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 cleaning and re-organizing 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 game and split up the job. Whoever has the most well-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, it might take a while.

Either way, the basic steps are the same.

Clear a Workspace

First of all, 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.

Remove Stuff

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.

Clean the Closet

After you’ve got the closet cleared of its contents, dust all areas, remove cobwebs, and sweep or vacuum the floor.

Organize and Replace

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.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

The 7 Day Deep Clean Challenge: Bring Your Home Up to Par in a Week, Part 1 Decluttering

dust ceilngIt’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 routine. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and you 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 just seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging all of the unnecessary clutter that is eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you going in the right direction by taking a look inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will be devoted to bedrooms and bathrooms. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Day seven will wrap up with the kitchen.

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 One: Decluttering

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 this case, you might want to check out my blog post De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Days.

basket with papers

Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so your 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, leaving you with nowhere to eat breakfast.

Toss Out Trash

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.

Donate Stuff

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.

donations box

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.

Organize

If not, get busy. Find a logical place to store each object and put it there. It should be a place that makes sense 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.

See my Home Organizing Guide for tips if you want advice.

If you’re finding that you haven’t got space for your stuff, don’t worry, because tomorrow you’ll clean out some closets.

Tomorrow: Day Two, Closet Cleaning

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Days – Day 4: Give Stuff Away

free stuff box (2)

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 on day one of the items you no longer use that can be donated to charity or given to friends or family.

Give Stuff Away Online

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 Craigslist 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.

Give Stuff to Local Charities

Many local charities are looking for stuff in good condition. Some 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 veterans 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 for your donations, 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.

Giving Stuff Away is a Win-Win

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 day four, you have completed your purge. You should now have left only the possessions you want to keep. You’re getting closer to achieving your goals. Good work!

Next up, Day Five: Sort, Group, Organize, Plan.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips

De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Days – Day 3: Sell Stuff

Day 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. And, bonus! you get back a little bit of the money you laid out for the stuff initially.

“A little bit” are the key words in that sentence. As a rule, you won’t be able to sell your stuff for a ton of cash. Think ten cents on the dollar, at best. 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.

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, so you can 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. Never invite strangers inside your home, though.

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.

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 day 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!

Tomorrow, Day 4: Give Stuff Away

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips