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The first day of Spring this year is March 20th, 2012, but usually I start to notice people wanting to de-clutter and get cleaned up prior to that time. De-cluttering is a major part of a Spring Cleaning and is the most difficult aspect if you have physical health challenges, mental health challenges, hoarding or collecting behaviors. You may have decreased motivation or desire to start lifting, pushing and pulling and that is realistic since it is hard work. Let’s face it, everything to do with de-cluttering and cleaning takes a lot of muscle and manual labor.
We, as humans, like animals, tend to want to hibernate in the Winter, staying inside to getting warm and cozy. We move less, have less sunshine, therefore feeling less motivated and somewhat lazy. Actually I think that is a good thing, considering that we go through a major hoopla holiday season from October – January, starting with Halloween and Thanksgiving and ending with Christmas and New Years. That’s enough energy spent to want to plop down, and get a good snooze, by February and March.
So most people by the end of February have rested up enough to see that dust and clutter have settled into their home, closets and garage. Many people start itching to get things in order and have a sense of command over their stuff.
If you do have medical and mental health challenges and cannot wrap your arms around de-cluttering, and you can afford to, have a professional organizer come in and assist you. If you have a friend that is willing have them over to help you out. If you think you can muster up the strength and energy, to de-clutter, clean and organize yourself, then the tips below will be very helpful.
The first place to start is your own closet. It is a good place to start, since it doesn’t take an enormous amount of energy. I highly recommend you having a friend come over, who has great style and keeps up with fashion. If you do it yourself, the common thing is that you will either throw out perfectly great clothing and or keep something that just does not do a thing for you. Have three piles, one for Donate, Give, and Keep. Clothing should never end up in the trash, since even torn, tattered or old clothing can be used as rags and will be taken in by charities to be recycled. Make sure to identify what colors make you “pop”. “Pop” in fashion means what makes you shine. Some colors may really wash you out, and you do not want those items. Then figure out what fits, what’s still in fashion, and what you actually wear. If you have not worn something in a year, you probably never will again. Go through your shoes, belts, scarves, purses and all accessories in the same way. PURGE means SPACE and, go figure, people tend to like organized order versus chaotic clutter.
Next go through all of your dresser drawers and do the same thing. Go through all of your socks, underwear, pajamas, t-shirts and PURGE by using the 3 pile method of sorting.
Then you will get to all the other closets and garage. Hall closets and storage closets are exactly the same method, but you will have more piles. Here you can have five piles, Donate, Give, Keep, Throw (if trash), and Not Sure. Donate are items that are still usable and in good shape but you don’t want it anymore, give are things that you can use as gifts, keep are the things that you will still use (even if it goes in the garage), Throw is trash (and trash is trash, not items that are appropriate to donate). A lot of people tend to start putting things in the trash that are perfectly good for charity. Trash is paper, bottles, really soiled items and everything that could never be sold at a charity store. The “I’m not sure pile” is for things you cannot decide on that are slowing down the process of purging, so you can keep going and decide later. Usually, by the time you are finished sorting through everything else, you know what to do with the items in “I’m not sure”.
The garage is the big job since that is where all the “I’m not sure” items have been stored all along. Just remember if you have not used something in the garage for an entire year, you are probably not going to start using it again, ever. Remember all that stuff in your garage is taking up space for items you will use, but not on a regular basis. Once you identify all the things in your home that are used rarely but regularly, those items can be taken out of your precious home space and instead kept in the garage. Remember everything you store, are items you are going to use and or look at once in a while. Too many people keep momentos, family heirlooms and sentimental items boxed away. The question is if they are so precious, why don’t you look at them? If you have something “special” tucked away in a box, that you never open, isn’t it time to set it free? If you are keeping it for family, give it to them now! I had a woman tell me, “well that china was my grandmothers” and when I asked her why she keeps it boxed up, she exclaimed “that’s not my taste!”. I asked her if she was NEVER going to use it why keep it, why not set it free and let someone enjoy it. She explained that just knowing it was there comforted her. Okay so if it comforts great, but if it annoys or takes up precious space, that would be useful for items you use regularly, let it fly.
The garage is sorted through in very much the same way as the closets. Five piles and really evaluating what is used, and what is not used. Don’t think in terms of needing something, rather ask yourself “have I used this in the past year, and what are the chances I will use it this year?” Quite frankly if you think you might use that really tall ladder once every 2-3 years, then you are better off getting your space back. If you were to require or need a really tall ladder on that rare of an occasion, you could either borrow one, or go find one at a thrift shop when need be. In the meantime it is taking up your space, it’s awkward to store and you are not using it enough. Same thing with bicycles, camping equipment etc…. If you use it every year and regularly, keep it, and if you don’t ride a bike and or camp anymore let it go to charity where many people can benefit from it, and, you, get your space back!
The next and last area I suggest de-cluttering is your kitchen. Go through your pantry first, and look at all the dates and get rid of anything that is expired. Next trash all the products with hydrogenated oils, white flour, corn syrup and high fructose. Also look for anything with really high amounts of sodium and or sugar and ask yourself if your body can tolerate it. Next make sure nothing has Monosodium Glutomate, which is really nasty. Organize the pantry by types of products, for instance all soups together, all pasta together, all condiments together, all beans, all juice, snacks etc… Pantries tend to get messed up pretty quickly, even if they are organized, so make sure you really stick your head in there, prior to grocery shopping, so you can see what you really have. It is not a good use of space if you have too many same items, and plus by the time you get to the fifth bottle of ketchup it may be expired. Make sure to wipe down all the shelves and the doors of your pantry.
Next go through your refrigerator and do the same thing as in the pantry, and then wipe down and disinfect the entire refrigerator. It is a good practice to do this every two and a half months.
Then last but not least, for de-cluttering, is that all the kitchen pots, pans, and kitchenware must be looked through, sorted and purged. You want to get rid of any cookware that has harmful coatings. Stainless steel is the safest cookware, without any coatings. Donate or give away any duplicates of kitchen tools, for instance you don’t require two ice cream scoops, or 18 knives. Pare down on your tools. One to two sets of dishes, 12 wine glasses and 12 regular glasses, and a few mixing bowls is usually good for the average household. If you are a huge entertainer and have large groups of guests over then you may keep more. I recently purged a kitchen and the client had 12 measuring cups, all the same size. When I asked her why, she had no answer. Even she was shocked.
Now you are ready for Spring Cleaning, which is a really thorough dusting, disinfecting, vacuuming, getting into the tiniest nook and cranny type of cleaning. If you do not know how to or don’t want to clean, hire someone or trade services with a friend. Also be sure to use “green” cleaning products, since they are the least harmful to breathe and use. But cleaning is cleaning is cleaning and when your home is de-cluttered and clean it will put a spring in your step for Spring.
write by Jarintzy Cardenas