When visiting my grandmother as a child, I frequently heard stories about how she cleaned her house every spring wearing her “old” high heels. Her home was located in a valley not far from a local steel mill, so this process mostly involved washing black soot from her walls, furniture, fabrics and floors. Needless to say, I will never achieve such a level of housekeeping perfection, but it has me wondering, “Should I be ‘Spring Cleaning?’” If so, in this day and age, what should that entail?
The truth is, many of us feel a need to refresh as the days lengthen and the air warms. We have a desire to shed the weight of winter, air out, and get things in order. If you are feeling this inclination, take advantage of it by tackling one or all of these projects to “lighten up” this spring.
1. Refresh your wardrobe
Many of us “switch out” our wardrobe when the weather changes. This is the perfect time to take a look at what you own and pass on those items that you no longer need or want. Don’t store items which are ripped, stained, or lack a mate (e.g., an unmatched glove). In addition, if you’ve been moving an item of clothing back and forth for a couple of seasons without wearing it, there is probably a reason. If it doesn’t fit, doesn’t flatter, you don’t love it, or it is out of style, donate it. If you are keeping it for sentimental reasons, move it to a “Memorabilia” box and get it out of your closet.
2. Work the weather-sensitive zones
Locations like garages, attics, sheds, and storage units frequently acquire a build-up of belongings during cold months. Because it is unpleasant to be in these intemperate locations, most of us simply “drop and dump” items inside. Spring provides ideal temperatures for entering these spaces and getting them back in order.
Walk around and return things to their proper locations, such as the correct shelf or the appropriate container. If you can, wipe off surfaces and sweep out these zones.
If you need help lifting, carrying, or reaching items, consider hiring assistance. This might be a college or high school student who can bring items down from a location such as a pull-down attic, or a professional organizer who can help you sort through accumulated belongings in the basement. You may also want to hire a junk hauler to finally cart away that unused treadmill or accumulated construction debris.
Have a look at everything you own. Purge items that are:
- Broken (which you realistically are not going to get fixed)
- Irrelevant to your current needs and lifestyle
- Damaged or decayed so as to no longer be useful
If you are holding onto an item “for the kids,” now is the time to text them some photos and ask them if they actually want it.
Set aside anything that requires specialized disposal, such as old paint, used motor oil, broken electronics, rechargeable batteries, etc. The next step will be to identify ways to dispose of them safely and appropriately. Many towns host a hazardous recycling day in the spring or summer, so find out when the nearest opportunity is and put the date on your calendar. Additionally, many municipalities offer recycling options year-round for specific items, so you may be able to shed them right away. Be aware that disposal of some items often requires a small fee, such as used tires, air conditioners, and old refrigerators.
If your space has never been organized, install some pegboard or other organizing product to keep things in order. Visit my Pinterest page for some ideas.
3. Lighten your load
Clear out your purse, backpack, or briefcase. Dump out the contents and shake the bag upside down over a trash can. Toss out any trash. Sort through loose paper and file what you need to keep. Return random items that have landed in your bag to their proper location. Look through your wallet and purge its contents as well.
For more tips on organizing your bag, click here.
4. Improve your view
We are generally better at adding to a bulletin board than we are at clearing it off. The start of a new season is a good time to take everything off and start over.
Get rid of old schedules, reminder notes, and anything out of date. Hang up new schedules, invitations, and reminder cards for spring & summer. If you’ve had the same photo(s) hanging up for awhile, consider putting up some new ones. Add a splash of your favorite color, a quote, a comic, or an image of a favorite getaway to inspire you.
A couple of tips for display boards:
- Always keep items within the “border” of the board, not hanging off the edges.
- Use two pins (one in each corner) so that objects hang straight and not at odd angles.
- Avoid overlapping pieces as this will make your board look cluttered and its contents hard to see.
5. Clear out your “scrambled” drawers.
Most people have a drawer or two where items go in but rarely come out. These quickly become jumbled, resulting in frustration it comes time to retrieve needed belongings.
Clearing drawers can be accomplished a little at a time, over the course of the spring season. Drawers make perfect little organizing tasks for rainy days and/or times when you don’t want to get involved in a big project.
Check out my video for how to organize a drawer for step-by-step tips on how to do this.
6. Freshen outdoor spaces
As summer approaches, you may find yourself wanting to spend more time outdoors. If you have outdoor spaces at your home, spring provides the perfect opportunity to get them ready for summer fun.
- Walk around your yard, patio, deck, porch, etc. and do a visual inspection. Note anything that is in need of special attention (e.g., broken, cracked, dirty, etc.) and make necessary repair plans.
- Clean areas that have been unused during winter (e.g., sweep, rake, wash, brush off, etc.)
- Inspect outdoor cooking equipment and refill seasonal supplies (e.g., propane for the grill, wood for the fire pit, etc.)
- Review summer recreational supplies to make sure they are in good shape and ready to use (e.g., swing sets, bicycles, toys, sand boxes, etc.) Discard any supplies that are no longer safe or usable. Donate any pieces that your family has outgrown or that you no longer wish to use.
- If you have a pool, schedule spring maintenance and water delivery.
- When the frost has passed (and maybe after the pollen is finished dropping yellow dust), bring out cushions, pillows, and decorative items.
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Spring is the season of new beginnings, the perfect time to start fresh with your space. Do you spring clean?