Wednesday, March 25, 2009

National Cleaning Week -- No kidding!

Angel blogged on Monday about clutter, though her's is good-for-a-cause clutter. And when I went looking for a blog topic for today I discovered that March 23-29 is National Cleaning Week. Honest. I have no clue what idiot came up with this but he was obviously scraping the bottom of the barrel for some activity to celebrate. And I say "he" with assuredness because no woman would declare a week for cleaning. Evah.

Because I'm scrapped for time (finished the first round of edits yesterday and have to enter them into the Word document as well as write one more scene for the end), I'm going to re-cycle an article I wrote for a newsletter a few years ago and hope it helps you in your spring cleaning.

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 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.

Most of us would de-clutter this minute 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 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.

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.

Share a tip with us today and you'll be entered to win a book from my stash and a dollar bill to buy a reusable shopping bag, because in addition to keeping our houses clean, we need to keep the planet clean and green. Reusable shopping bags are a great place to start.

P.S. Golden Heart and Rita nominations are being announced today. Judi Fennell will be posting finalists on her blog just as soon as she hears of them. If you or someone you know gets a call from RWA, please tell them to notify Judi. The full list will be posted on the RWA website as soon as all finalists have been notified, but it's fun to watch the results dribble in throughout the day.


Anonymous said...

recylce cans, newspaper
i give to goodwill and slavation army

congrats to kira on 4 1.2 stars from rt for blaze

PM's Mother said...

Dear PM,

It's in your genes! Remember how your grandmother saved things? Well, your mother is a pack rat also. Well, I might need it some day.

The best way to de-clutter is to move!

Word verification: asking -- as in I'm asking you to get rid of it.

Problem Child said...

Oh, I need a decluttering, but alas, I don't have the time right now. Darn.

I agree with PM's Mom-- moving is an excellent way to declutter, so I'll just wait until then!

Smarty Pants said...

I can't tell you from personal experience that waiting to declutter until you move will bite you in the butt. Moving is stressful enough and despite good intentions, you will still find yourself chucking things in boxes toward the end. Later, as you unpack a bare toilet paper roll, you'll wonder what the hell you were thinking.

My mom was a big supporter of the 6 month rule, although every year or so, she threw away, then bought, a new melon baller. I've learned my lesson and won't stress so much about kitchen gadgetry.

Just with I could get DB on the declutter bandwagon...

Smarty Pants said...

Sigh... I *can* tell you...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

As a military brat/spouse, I know a thing or two about clutter. I've always collected stuff, unwilling to get rid of it, until there was an impending move and it looked like we might go over our weight limit (not good, since the gov't would bill us for it). Then I would go into super purge mode. And I still regret some of the things I got rid of. Books, for instance.

And now, I don't care if it is National HC week. Not participating any more than necessary.

Laurie said...


DONATE! Especially the clothes you're saving for when you slim down or for when they come back in style. Give away some of your nonkeeper books to hospital's waiting rooms or nursing homes.

If you can't think of an immediate use for something... do not buy it even if it's on sale.

Anonymous said...

All great comments but I myself would not participate in National HC week. I do recycle cans, bags from the grocery stores - great for bathroom garbage cans and I use them daily to take out the trash (home is on the market & this helps with any lingering odors). What I recyle also is water. When I get ready to do dishes, I run the water in a pitcher until it gets hot. I use the water in the pitcher to water my plants so as not to waste it.

traveler said...

Every week I donate household articles, clothing and worn out items from my house. The various agencies pick up regularly so this is extremely helpful when my clutter gets out of hand. I also take glass bottles, plastic bottles and tin cans to the recycle bin as well as cardboard boxes.

Playground Monitor said...

Boy, we have a real recycling gang here.

Has anyone else ever used Freecycle? I've given some things away through that. They were still usable, not worth trying to sell but I didn't want them ending up in the landfill.

We're remodeling our bathroom and the old shower doors are still useful. We're going to donate them to Habitat for Humanity to use on one of their houses.

Angel said...

As my post from Monday will attest, I can always use this reminder. I have to admit, I used to be a packrat until I married my husband. He's also a pack rat and we couldn't afford 2 in the family. Although now my daughter is one too. Heaven help me!

But I've gotten pretty good at getting rid of things. Twice a year I go through the kids clothes/toys and prepare for a local kid's consignment sale, where I make pretty good money. I've also started throwing things away regularly, despite the whining that comes up. I keep a garbage bag in the garage for stuff I run across that could use donating, and take it to a nearby thrift store when it gets full.

Every little bit helps, I think.


Playground Monitor said...

I notice a lot of thrift store donating here. Be sure to keep a list of everything you donate and attach it to a receipt from the thrift store. You can deduct this on your taxes. And these days, every little bit helps.

Maureen said...

When the seasons change I go through my clothes and if I haven't worn in in the last year I give it away or use it for a rag or toss it out, depending on it's condition.

catslady said...

I'm such a pack rat (sigh). The only good thing I can say is that at least I try to reuse most things (such as junk mail for scrap paper) and I always recycle. If I can find a home for things (especially when it's not my home) I'm a happy camper - I just can't stand to throw away pefectly usable items.Think twice about buying anything (maybe only if you have cash) and check out the wrapper and packaging and don't buy it if it's excessive.

housemouse88 said...

I do major de-cluttering twice a year, spring and fall. When I'm bringing the winter clothes out or putting up them up. If we haven't worn something that year, it gets tossed or it goes to the goodwill.

Enjoyed all your tips. However, majority of them I already do. Thanks and have a great day.

Avi J said...

Every Quarter I do a major clean out of the house, re-organize everything and file or throw away old bills and invoices. What I do every year is go through my closet and take shoes and clothes to donate as I may put on or loose weight and it will be better utilized by some one else. But to tell the truth, my major weak area is the kitchen. I am a chef, and I have so many appliances and cooking and bake ware that, I know I should part with but I am reluctant, so what I do I leave the stuff I want in the cupboards and set all the other stuff out and call my Mom, aunts and sister to just take what they want or take for their friends. But this is like only every couple years or so.

amy*skf said...

I'm still laughing from the reality of such a thing as National cleaning week.

I love donating, I also buy lots of things 2nd hand (I try to do the one thing out/one thing out rule)

But my greatest lesson (hardest) was realizing I didn't have to keep every piece of paper the children brought home from school or created.

Plus I love our filing cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Hand in the soda cans, etc. You are helping the environment and getting back a little green.

Put the reusable bags on the seat next to you in the car, so you won't forget them when you go shopping.

Pat L.

Caffey said...

I put alot into Goodwill! Really goes a long way there! Red Cross too because they often help those from fires, and the like to re-start their homes. I hate doing them, but my daughter likes to do those garage sales by joining up with a couple of friends and having it at one place. The bigger it is, the more that stop there!