How to “Spring Clean” Like a Professional Organizer
I have a confession to make: my home does not always get the TLC it deserves. During the winter dust and stale energy collects. I always get so excited when that first 60-degree day hits and I can open my windows and let fresh area flow through my space.
Once the weather started to get warmer, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work giving my home the care and attention it needs.
Most of my springtime clients are looking to declutter, have their spaces flow more easily, and be able to live their lives with less frustration. I figured this would be the perfect time of year to share some of my strategies. With that said, here are 10 pointers on how to tackle spring cleaning like a pro!
#1 - Set realistic expectations.
It’s tempting to envision your home getting a full HG-TV makeover after just a few hours of work. But the reality is, if it took several months for the mess to accumulate, it’s going to take more than a day to make it look brand-new. And that’s okay! Remember to be patient with yourself as you press onward— any progress is good progress.
#2 - Don’t plan to do it all at once.
While you might be full of energy and gusto at the start, spring cleaning has a way of tiring you out very quickly. Break your project up into “shifts” with brief breaks so you can avoid getting overwhelmed. Personally, I aim to work for a couple of hours at a time, then I check in with myself before I keep going. Remember: you can always continue on another day if you’re getting tired or you have other responsibilities to get to.
#3 - Tackle one area at a time.
While you may feel compelled to tear through every closet and cabinet at once, that’s just a recipe for exhaustion and burnout. Focus on improving a single space at a time, and don’t move on to another one until it’s finished.
#3 - Clear large, flat surfaces first.
This includes tables, desks, and counters. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea: 1) they’re big pieces of furniture, so clearing them will instantly make the whole room look cleaner, and 2) having a flat surface available will make it easier to organize other areas of the room.
#4 - Take everything out and sort it in piles.
You can’t decide what you want to get rid of without seeing what you’re working with. So clear the space from front to back, and as you go, sort the items into piles with similar objects (i.e. books, wires/electronics, sentimental items, tools, writing materials, paperwork, and trash).
#5 - Clean as you go.
Chances are, your furniture could use a little TLC right now, too. So take the opportunity to clean it as you clear it: dust shelves, wipe down counters, and deodorize closets as you go.
#6 - Throw out all trash.
If you haven’t fixed that broken picture frame or mended that holey sweater by now, then it’s time to let it go. Seriously, it’s okay. Just throw it out.
#7 - Don’t keep everything.
Guaranteed there’s at least one item in any given area of your house that you can— and should— let go of. Sort through old toys, clothes, papers, and/or pantry items to see what you can let go of. (Some good questions to ask while purging are: Have I used this item in the past 6 months?, Do I have a similar item I like better?, and Will I miss this item if I let go of it?) If you cannot make a decision on certain items, put them in a box in your basement or storage area. If you have not gone to use it in 6 months, you probably do not need it.
#8 - Put things back in a place that makes sense.
You obviously don’t have to go crazy relocating everything in your house. But if it makes more sense for you to keep your hairbrush on the bathroom sink rather than your dresser, then do it! (PRO TIP: Ask yourself, If I couldn’t find this item, where would I look for it first? Then put it there!)
#9 - Donate unwanted items within 48 hours.
Once you’ve made a bag or box for donations, take it to your preferred charity spot as soon as possible. I give myself two days because it provides me with a “grace period” while also preventing me from driving a garbage bag of clothes around for three months.
#10 - Tend to the little things.
Top it all off by paying some special attention to the “accents”— for me, this includes light fixtures, electrical sockets, door knobs, space heaters, frames, mirrors, and sills.
Happy Spring Organizing + Cleaning!!