A House of Order: Spring Cleaning and Organizing Tips

h3. Look for Immediate Results Begin cleaning with projects where you'll see immediate results. This way, you will find more motivation to keep at it. If you pick a project that is too big, it may be overwhelming, so start with the basics: deep clean the windows, dust the furniture and decor, vacuum the carpet or mop hardwood floors--whatever gives you great visual results, do it first. h3. Don't Room Hop Pick one room or project at a time and work until you finish it. This helps you avoid starting a project, finding something else you need to clean, and leaving the room a mess half way through the de-junking process. h3. Contain the Clutter Use uniform containers to hold shampoo, conditioner, and body wash for example; it will be more aesthetically pleasing and calming, and give an orderly feel to any room. The same effect goes for larger containers in rooms such as the living room. Put magazines in baskets with lids so they can hide disarray and double as an ottoman. In less obvious places, containing the clutter may be as easy as using trays with compartments. This is particularly useful in drawers in an office or bathroom, where there are numerous small objects that can easily get lost or mixed together. h3. Commit to Keep up One of the biggest tricks to keeping your home clean and keeping it from cluttering is to keep up the work one little bit at a time. If you are consistent in de-cluttering, throwing away what you neither need nor want, and applying your organization system, then your home will stay comfortable and clean. With those cleaning tips in mind, here are specifics to the most clutter-prone sections of the house: the kitchen and the bedrooms. h3. In Your Kitchen The kitchen is one of the busiest and most often seen parts of your home. This is the reason you must find an organization system that works for you and implement it. *On the counters* Use containers to contain the mess. Simple containers, such as empty jars, can keep clutter from collecting on your counter tops. Put all of your change, writing utensils, and office supplies that you might use regularly in jars close to the phone. Keep the papers, receipts, and coupons from piling up on your counter by implementing a filing system. It may be as simple as buying an accordion file folder to keep on the countertop. This way it is easily accessible and small enough to keep you periodically tossing junk papers and expired coupons in the trash. Another help is to use a corkboard, whiteboard, or chalkboard on a bare wall to pin up important coupons, notes, messages, or reminders. If you add hooks, you can also use the board as a key holder. *In drawers and cupboards* Drawers and cupboards are usually the nightmare of every kitchen because contents are out of sight, out of mind. Start by completely emptying all drawers, cabinets, and the refrigerator--one at a time. Use cleaning wipes or spray to wipe down surfaces, and begin to separate items into like-item piles. Once again, do not be afraid to part with items such as expired spices or mismatched plates. Now that your items are sorted, put all like-items in the same cupboard, or same area of the kitchen. Also, locate them in the general area where they will be used. In the kitchen, remember that although you are trying to simplify, adding can sometimes revolutionize your organization process. These additions come in the form of plastic shelving to cupboards to help with hard-to-reach items, compartmentalized trays for crowded drawers, or a CD rack for those awkward and bulky plastic containers. A CD rack helps organize lids and keep them separated, easier to find, and thus easier to use. h3. Bedrooms The bedroom is your own personal living space, where you utilize the most space and products for your personal care. So, making your bedroom comfortable and custom-organized will make your life exponentially easier. *In your closet* One of the biggest bedroom cleaning projects is your closet. The best way to go at a closet is to have boxes or bags labeled "throw away," "give away," "keep," and "store." As you dig through old clothes and shoes, be willing to part with items that you know you haven't worn in the last year or two. If you are too attached to something to throw it away, toss it in the "store" box. Always keep in mind how much storage space you have, because that will largely determine how much you can keep. A tip for organizing your closet is to invest in uniform hangers. As simple as this seems, uniform hangers help your clothes stay more evenly spaced and keeps hangers from tangling. Wooden hangers are ideal because they are the strongest, most durable, and most shaped hangers. You also might consider using multiple baskets to sort your laundry; it keeps the pile from teetering too tall, and makes laundry easier to do. *In the room* Minimize furniture, if at all possible, to open space in the room and optimize the space you have. This usually means using vertical space. Often bedrooms are a minefield of random objects on the floor. Try as best you can to eliminate floor storage, and use a book shelf or an old ladder or coat rack to hang things on and add decoration, while freeing up floor space and keeping your room looking tidier. The one place that is optimal for floor storage is under your bed. And the new way of storing things under the bed is not like you used the space as a child--where you simply swept everything on the floor under the cover of your bed just to pass off chores. Now, you can purchase shallow rolling totes to hold clothes, toys, or books in an orderly fashion.
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