Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring (cleaning) is in the air

It’s invading suburbia -- an insidious ogre, creeping silently and often accompanied by the words “But that might come in handy one day.”

Its name is clutter and it may be caused by bad habits, a packrat attitude and/or chronic bargain shopping. Whatever the cause, clutter leads to lost time while you search for your keys or the bill that’s due tomorrow.

I spent my weekend cleaning our trailer at the campground and yesterday a veteran's group picked up three large bags of "stuff" that I'd cleaned out of our home -- my second such donation to them so far this year. I'm on a cleaning frenzy. When we moved into this new house two years ago I promised myself I'd do my best to keep the clutter to a minimum. Stay out of my way and no one will get hurt. *grin*

Most of us would de-clutter in a heartbeat if we only knew where to start. First, begin with yourself and set a good example. Next, schedule regular de-clutter sessions. Spend ten minutes a day cleaning up, or decide to remove a certain number of items each day. Don’t stop until they’re in a garbage bag and tossed.

Major clutter may call for a marathon session. Schedule this on your calendar since having adequate time increases the odds of success.

One method involves three boxes and a trash bag. In the clean-up area pick up each item and decide which place it goes.

Box #1 is the “put away” box. These items can be saved; they just need to be labeled and put in the proper place.

Box #2 is the “give away or sell” box. Store these items in the garage or trunk of your car til you take them to the thrift store or hold a garage sale to avoid incorporating them back into the household.

Box #3 is for “storage.” Designate a place for this after marking the contents on the outside.

The trash bag is self-explanatory.

Move from room to room until you’ve de-cluttered the whole house. Don’t forget the attic, home of hidden clutter. Several years ago we cleaned ours and discovered boxes for long-gone electronic equipment along with an orphaned ski pole.

After spending most of a Saturday hauling stuff to the curb, it was easy to keep the attic free of clutter; when I was tempted to stash something up there, I remembered how hot that attic gets during an Alabama August.

Getting rid of clutter doesn’t mean it won’t reappear. Sadly, it’s like a bad penny that keeps returning.

One solution uses that old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” As long as stuff has a “home” it won’t clutter the house.

Another solution is to establish routines. For example, always put your purse away when you return to the house. Put the newspaper in the recycling bin as soon as you finish reading it. Sort mail when you bring it inside. Toss the junk and file the rest in its “home.”

Adopt a “one in and one out” attitude. When you buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of a pair. Want that colorful vase on sale at the mall? What will you discard if you buy it? This method not only tackles clutter but can save dollars as well.

And last, but certainly not least, clean when you're spitting mad. I'd come close to throwing out my children if I was de-cluttering in a foul mood. That's when I tend to be less sentimental about stuff that really has no value and simply collects dust.

With some scheduling, the right tools and a few rules, you can drive the clutter monster from your home and keep him away.

Happy spring and happy cleaning.

Do you have any good spring de-cluttering tips?

Best tip of the day wins a book thong.


Jen said...

PG, I need for you to come to my house. It is like a reoccurring nightmare. I de-clutter and then... it's back!! Argh! Plus, I live with two packrats.

Smarty Pants said...

My tip for decluttering is to keep harassing DB until he finally does it. :)

Seriously, I'm a decluttering freak. In LV, people used to pay me to come to their house and organize their cabinets or their closets. I loved it. Of course I went out and coupled with a guy who has an attachment to every scrap of paper he's ever come across. Yay.

My mom always had a "six month rule" that applied to everything but seasonal items like decorations. If you haven't used it in six months, either trash it or donate it. It worked well, although we had to buy a melon baller several times because we used it so rarely but sometimes you just need it and she would've given it away - AGAIN.

I'm also a big believer in the "one in one out" rule. I try to get rid of a pair of shoes if I buy a new one, etc. Sadly, I only have so much room for shoes...I need a Maven closet. :)


Rhonda said...

If it doesn't have an immediate purpose, I trash it or give it away. I still have a single junk drawer in the kitchen that's a catch all, and one cabinet in the utility room for things that don't really seem to have a home, but otherwise I try to keep things in good shape.

My office, though, is a mess. :-)

Problem Child said...

If you want to keep clutter in your house down, don't organize your chapter's luncheon.

Five weeks... In five weeks I'll be able to move the boxes of stuff stuck in every corner of my house and garage out of here.

Playground Monitor said...

I've heard of the 12 month rule but Smarty Pants's mom takes it to a new level. I've been invoking that 12 month rule lately too.

I would think that small kitchen gadgets might be exempt from the 12 or 6 month rule though. Sure I only use that lemon zester once every 5 years, but when I need it, I need it right then and don't want to have to run to the store and buy a new one.

I just bought a pair of new summer shoes and desperately need to clean out my shoe rack (and the corner of the closet that holds the ones that won't fit on the rack).

See? I told you I was on a rampage.

Kathy said...

I need to add this to my to-do list. Along with the other spring cleaning needs that need to be taken care of.

Growing up in the Army and being an Army wife taught me very early on not to keep too much junk around. We had to stay on the ball always.

Now we're saving the kids toys for our grandkids. Who knew Ninja Turtles would be back so soon?


Smarty Pants said...

Heroes in a half-shell - TURTLE POWER!

I was singing that in Walmart last night and DB was none too pleased. 5th grade flashback, what can I say.

Our decluttering for home showing has happily evolved to decluttering and packing for the home inspection, etc...never ends.


Angel said...

I'm with Jen... The more I declutter, the more it seems to come back. And I have to admit that I contribute to the problem. I get so tired of picking up everyone else's stuff, that I just dump my own on the floor.

Anyone have any good tips for keeping a house decluttered with kids? Our house goes on the market next week and I'm already panicking.

Melinda said...

If you have old cell phones, you can donate them to some women's shelters. By law even a deactivated cell phone must be able to call 911, so they are good for women in abusive situations.

Also, the Lion's Club takes old eyeglasses and recycles them to needy folks. In my town you can also drop them off at Lenscrafters.


robynl said...

Since dh is retiring at the end of May it has helped us in our de-cluttering. All we have to do is think about the much smaller space we will be living in down the road as we plan to move to the city in app. 10 yrs. We will have to downsize immensely and now seemed like a good time so we aren't so sad at the many things we will have to give up for space limit.

We are going through our possessions and keeping just the most treasured items and I decided to get rid of a lot of dishes, etc. Who needs 5 platters, 11 or so bowls(not kidding)? So when we had some new families move to our town I gathered up many items that were extra(new and used) and offered them the bag of goodies. They were to take what they wanted or needed.

A Flea Market opened up with in the last year and has been a godsend for me; I put the items in the store at a very reasonable price, all the time thinking that I do not want to bring it back home(so price it very reasonable); I have sold many things that way.

We have made a couple of trips to the city with boxes/bags of items and donated them to the Salvation Army where many people can make use of things.

For paper clutter, I now have a paper shredder right under my desk and when I'm done I shred to my heart's content and what is to be kept goes a few feet away in the file cabinet.

I also ask my siblings if they are interested in any items that I have and pass them on to them.

Dh and I are the king and queen of plastic totes for those items that need to be kept.

Angel said...

I think I've decided I'm having a yard sale. The last time I did this, I simply moved what was left into the garage and scheduled a pickup from the local rescue mission. I don't have to unpack/pack it repeatedly that way. I figure if it doesn't sell, someone must need it.

Playground Monitor said...

Just price to sell. When we cleaned out my MIL's house after she moved into assisted living, the DH kept wanting to put big price tags on things at what I called the "garage sale from hell." I had to remind him that garage salers are bargain hunters and if it didn't sell he was going to have to spend extra time getting rid of it. We actually had very little left and took that to Goodwill in the back of his truck.

I've taken old eyeglasses to Lenscrafters. It's a great way to get rid of them and help someone else too. And it's tax deductible!


alissa said...

I clear out the garage every Spring but it seems to fill up again all over. Same for the household items. Garage sales are not the best since half the time no one wants the items. I schedule a pickup from several shelters and then it is the most efficient way to get rid of it all at once. COmputer monitors are picked up as well.

sharon said...

when we moved we had a once only garage sale which was good, but there were still tons of stuff left. I called The Salvation Army to pick up all the items and that was it. The best way is to avoid it by dumping as much as possible every few months. Accumulation is less and not as big a job to do and time spent slaving over the mess.