It’s spring 2020 and most of the world is practicing social distancing, which means we are forced to face our home’s clutter. Fortunately there’s a solution for the messiness and disorder of your home and your pent-up cabin fever. “Organizing is the perfect outlet for extra energy and something that definitely makes us feel better and more in control,” says Design Consultant Lana Reed of California Closets Nashville. “And while you are taking on a specific cleaning or organizational task, remain focused on that area and don’t start doing a little in each room of your home. That’s a sure-fire way to get overwhelmed — if every room in your house is turned upside down!”
We talked to four organization experts to get the best spring cleaning tips. Lisa Ruff of NEAT Method says, “Set aside a few hours and don’t expect to finish it all in one day. Give yourself time so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up.”
Brooke Levy and Katie Savage, owners of Blue Pencil Home, agree. “Take everything one space at a time. Pick a space and focus on that until you’re completely done and then move on,” says Katie. Brooke adds, “We suggest tackling the one that stresses you out the most first, in order to get it out of the way.”
Broken down by room, here are spring cleaning tips from organization experts.
Your Room-by-Room Guide to Spring Cleaning
“We always suggest starting small like the universal ‘all-purpose’ drawer (aka junk drawer). That drawer is usually pretty frustrating for most, but it’s a smaller space so you can quickly conquer it,” says Lisa Ruff of NEAT Method. After defeating the disarray of your most disorderly kitchen space, your brain’s neural reward system will light up with feelings of positivity, motivating you to tackle another kitchen corner. Lisa recommends a space you access most frequently, then working your way from there.
“Toss or compost anything that’s expired,” says Lisa. “Donate everyday items that you don’t use every day — like that novelty can opener or fifth spatula. They are taking up precious space in a high-traffic area.” And making it look pretty with coordinating bins or baskets makes all the difference. “If the space is pretty, you’re more likely to keep it up,” Lisa continues. “If you eat cereal, consider decanting all your cereal into dispensers like OXOs. Not only will it look more cohesive, but you will always know when you’re running low, which makes creating a grocery shopping list so much faster.”
Wine Storage & Wet Bars
The best spring cleaning tip for your wine storage is to remove the bottles, and dust and clean the storage areas thoroughly. For wet bars, remove all bottles and bar equipment and thoroughly clean them and the bar cart or wet bar surfaces. “Then, begin reorganizing by color — red and white wines — and type if you want to organize more thoroughly,” says Lana of California Closets. “Since we aren’t all wine collectors or aficionados, consider sorting and placing them into ‘everyday’ and ‘special occasion’ areas. This will help prevent a mistake like grabbing a collector’s bottle for Wednesday night’s lasagna dinner.” Similarly organize liquors by type — you wouldn’t want to accidentally use a valuable Pappy Van Winkle in cocktails with the girls.
First, take everything out and sort into categories. “Use clear drawer dividers to keep all of your categories separated so everything isn’t dumped into the drawer where you can never find it,” says Brooke Levy of Blue Pencil Home. Katie Savage adds, “Next, designate a space for everyday items to make them easier to find during the morning rush. Items like your toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts and contact solution should be easily accessible.” For smaller items that you don’t use very often (think: travel supplies or overstock of other items like beauty products, cotton swabs, etc.), Brooke and Katie recommend storing in clear, stackable drawers so it’s easy to find them.
As you go through everything, check expiration dates! “You’d be surprised how many times we find expired medicine or beauty products that have been forgotten in a drawer,” says Brooke. Err on the side of truly removing nonessentials. “If you don’t use it, don’t need it, or don’t like it, throw it away,” says Katie. Brooke shares another pro-tip, saying, “Use a divided lazy Susan under the bathroom counter to hold taller items — that way you don’t have to spend time searching for items in the back of the cabinet. You can just spin the lazy Susan around and easily access what you need.” Their number one tip — and the quickest way to achieve an organized look: Keep counters clear of clutter! Any space looks more polished and organized when counters are clear.
The main source of disorderliness in the bedroom almost always stems from the wardrobe. So, the first — and in some cases, only — step is to clean out your closet.
“Start with your hanging garments, and move to your drawers. Then, finish with shoes and accessories,” advises Lisa of NEAT Method. Lana Reed of California Closets adds, “Take everything out. Surprisingly, if you don’t take everything out, you don’t really go through it all. Pick up each item and determine how often you wore it – recently, past season or two seasons? For ladies, if not a classic item like a white Oxford cloth shirt, and you have five, choose one or two.”
Lisa says, “If you feel overwhelmed about editing, ask a friend to come over to make the process more fun.” A close friend will always be honest with you about what flatters you. Bottom line: If you’re not 100 percent excited about putting it on, it doesn’t fit properly or it still has tags, donate it. You can recycle worn-out undergarments, tees and workout gear — no matter how beaten up. Look into Blue Jeans Go Green and Remake to familiarize yourself with this movement.
Lana of California Closets adds, “Once you’ve gone through each item, return them to your closet. If you are unsure of an item’s status, hang it on the rod backward.” If you don’t take it out for a while, the hanger will remain backward, and you’ll know that you truly aren’t using it. She continues, saying, “The best way to organize your closet is to color-code everything and put things together by length of sleeve. For me, I put all my work clothes together and then all my non-work clothes. Dresses have their own area.”
And to make things not only highly functional but pretty and pleasing to the eye, Lisa says, “Matching hangers make all the difference in closets. And consider only buying one type, like suit hangers. Suit-style hangers are great because they can be used for shirts and pants. You won’t have to go digging for a certain type of hanger next time you do laundry.”
Linen Closet & Laundry Room
In the linen closet, start with the piles of sheets. “Answer these questions,” says Lisa. “Do you have the full set? How many sets do you truly need for each bed? Usually, it’s two. One is in the laundry, and one is on the bed.” Once you’ve edited down the linens, determine how you want to organize them: by room or by size. Then sort! “And consider implementing labeled baskets to contain them,” adds Lisa. Then donate any extra sets of sheets that are in good repair and recycle stained or torn linens.
In laundry rooms, the clutter is usually created by random items that have crept in but don’t belong. “You will want to create a system for items found in pockets to ensure they don’t forever languish in the laundry room,” says Lisa. Responsibly toss any cleaners you purchased but decided you don’t like. And as you organize what’s left, Lisa recommends decanting your detergent. “If you use liquid detergent, find a stand-up dispenser. If you use pods, implement a transparent jar,” she says. “This will make the space prettier and dispensing easier, and it won’t be a surprise when you’re running low.”
Kids’ Rooms & Playrooms
“Start the decluttering process by pulling absolutely everything out and separating the toys into categories,” says Brooke of Blue Pencil Home. “Be sure that you keep like items together — for instance, all dolls and their clothes are stored together, Nerf guns and their bullets, Lego sets, etc.” As you sort through the items, ask yourself: Does your child still play with this? Does it still work? Are any of the pieces missing or broken, and do they need batteries? This will help you determine what to keep and what to toss.
One of the most important spring cleaning tips to remember while organizing kids’ spaces is to have a designated place for everything. “As much as we may be overwhelmed with the mess and chaos of a child’s room, so are our little ones, but providing a specific place for each item helps a lot. When toys have a ‘home,’ children know where they belong and tend to put them there,” says Katie. Brooke adds, “Label, label, label … Labeling each container or bin you use for storage also helps kids. And if you have a child who is too little to read, you can take pictures of the items and use them as the labels.”
Cheers to staying busy during this time — and to a bright, clean and well-organized home!
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