Spring cleaning may get more of the hype, but I would argue that spring organizing is even more important. When your belongings are neat and tidy, your whole home feels cleaner and more inviting, and daily life is easier and more pleasant. If you’ve got the spring-cleaning bug, don’t stop there. Take advantage of your motivation and devote a weekend (or two) to clearing out clutter and getting organized all around the house.
- Clear out any lingering winter boots and mittens, unread stacks of mail and anything else that doesn’t belong.
- Add enough hooks, shelves and baskets to hold your belongings when you come in the door.
- If you have a drawer near your entrance, place a drawer organizer inside to keep small items neat, and be sure to have a recycling bin within reach for tossing junk mail.
- Move the hardest-working tools (wooden spoons, tongs) front and center, and get rid of seldom-used single-purpose tools.
- Reshuffle your cabinet contents to move less frequently used items and entertaining supplies to the highest shelves and least-accessible areas, and your everyday basics within easy reach.
- Find a casserole dish that belongs to a friend? Aunt Sally’s serving spoons? Make a pile of to-return items and bring it to your car.
Tip: Make a morning cupboard. If your mornings tend to be rushed, consider carving out a nook in a cupboard where you can keep all your morning necessities together. A shelf or two can hold coffee- and tea-making supplies and breakfast favorites, as well as lunch containers if you pack a lunch, for either yourself or your children.
- Recycle old, empty containers, and ditch any laundry products you don’t like, to make some space.
- Decanting laundry supplies into other containers is not necessary to create a lovely, organized space — just corral the assorted containers on a tray or in a bin. This serves the double purpose of looking nice and making it easier to move everything aside to clean.
- Add a triple-sorter laundry basket to help avoid the dreaded laundry-room-floor pileup.
- Give each family member an individual basket so you can keep clothes separated, making it easier to sort afterward.
- If you’ve been accumulating bedding and towels for years without getting rid of any old sets, chances are you have more than you need. Two or three sets of sheets per bed, and two sets of towels per person (more if you have avid swimmers in the house), plus an extra set for guests, are generally plenty.
- Choose the best and donate the rest — and if your old linens are in very bad shape, drop them in a textile recycling bin rather than the trash.
Tip: Keep piles of towels and sheets from toppling over by using a shelf divider and tucking each set of sheets inside a pillowcase. Store small items (like extra toiletries) inside labeled cloth-covered storage boxes.
- Your bedroom should be a peaceful haven devoted to rest. But often the bedroom ends up being a repository for piles of laundry and random clutter — not the makings of a good night’s sleep! Sort through your clothes, setting aside a pile to give away, and neatly fold and put away the rest.
- Remove old coffee cups and water glasses, papers and any other junk that doesn’t belong in your bedroom.
- Peek under the bed too. Neat underbed storage boxes can be helpful if they’re filled with things you honestly need, use or love. Just don’t let under your bed become a hiding spot for items you should really give away or sell.
- Much of the clutter in the bathroom comes from products tried and not liked. These unloved items end up getting shoved to the back of the cupboard, where they take up precious space and gather dust. Ruthlessly sort through your bath and beauty products. Toss out everything you do not use, and recycle the containers if possible.
- Once everything is cleared out, choose one or two baskets or trays to keep the products you use daily neatly contained.
- If you have been storing medications in the bathroom, move them to a different location — the humidity can be damaging. Choose a place that is cool, dry and out of reach of children.
- The first edit of your book collection should be books you bought (or were given) that you didn’t end up liking very much.
- Next, consider pulling out any books you enjoyed but realistically will not pick up again.
- If you have specific friends you think would love certain books, put these in a tote bag and put them in your car — better to actually pass them along than to just think about it!
- Donate unwanted books to a local library or Goodwill, or, if you want to make a little extra cash, bring them to a local used-book seller.
Papers and Printed Photos
- Walk through your house and gather up all of the random, unsorted piles of paper you can find, making one stack.
- Go through this stack with a recycling bin and shredder until it’s all gone.
- Put upcoming events on your calendar, file important records and pay bills as needed.
- To quickly handle a big pile of printed photos, sort them roughly by date and file them in photo boxes.
Tip: If traditional filing cabinets just aren’t working for you, consider switching to a more flexible (and portable) system consisting of small file boxes or expanding files. The beauty in using file boxes is that they take up only as much space as you need, and you can keep one small box near the entry for easily (and quickly) filing important papers.
Tech Devices and Digital Photos
- Erase your data from old devices, then drop them in a cell phone recycling bin or return them to your cell-service provider for a credit.
- Back up your current computer and other devices to an external hard drive, as well as a cloud-based service for extra security.
- Order a photo book or prints from last year’s digital photos, and create a simple plan for organizing digital photos in the future. Keep them in files labeled with the month, and tag your favorites so you can easily gather them into a book or an album when the time comes.
Tip: Whenever you get a promotional email you do not want to receive, scroll down to the bottom and click “unsubscribe” before deleting. Cutting back on unnecessary marketing emails will save you time in the long run — and might save you money as well, as you are not reminded of things to buy!
Garden Tools and Supplies
- Toss out worn-out gloves and long-expired seed packets, and recycle empty packaging.
- Use wall-mounted grips to store long-handled tools, and stash short-handled gardening tools point-down in a bucket of sand.
- Tools should be stored out of the elements, so if you don’t have a garage or storage shed, consider investing in a small outdoor storage cabinet where you can keep these items safely protected.