Geralin Thomas

Article Summary:

A thorough spring cleaning guide.

How to Do a Thorough Spring Cleaning

Like the popular organizing shows on TV, this article will take the guesswork out of organizing your spring cleaning. If you fail to plan you have planned to fail, but success is achievable with proper planning. Transforming your home from winter woeful to springtime spectacular is easiest during seasonal changes. After all, you don't want to be in the attic in August when its 100 degrees nor in January when temperatures are freezing.

Most lifestyle changes are known to create stress and in the world of professional organizing there is usually a strong correlation between stress and mess. During periods of transition, creating a serene environment--one that is orderly, neat, and clean is a way to transform chaos into clarity.

Unlike lifestyle changes which are sometimes unpredictable, seasonal changes are predictable. The word "spring" is capable of making us feel lighter, brighter, and more energetic. When the word "cleaning" follows the word "spring" it becomes a phrase that conjures up lists of dreadfully boring chores.

Being the mother of two elementary aged boys and the wife of a husband who, shall we say, is my "organizational opposite," I am no stranger to school projects on tables, dog toys under sofa cushions, bulky sporting equipment in closets, and newspapers on the coffee table. In my very own home, these ordinary objects represent the 'fabric of our lives'. The tricky part is being able to locate things quickly when needed (vaccination forms, etc.)

It is crucial to note that cleaning and organizing does not mean minimalism is a must. It means that when things get hectic - and they will - life goes on. Spring cleaning rituals, like organizing solutions, are not one size fits all. For some, it may mean it is time to pare away excess accumulated during the holiday season and cold weather. For others, it means deep down cleaning.

As a professional organizing consultant I am regularly given permission to analyze the contents of closets & drawers, areas under sinks & beds, and the crevices between books & files. I have an intimate knowledge of a wide range of homes and have seen what works and what doesn't. Anyone can incorporate the tips found below and bring a breath of fresh air in any room you spring clean.

Spring showers. Take advantage of the spring showers--on the next rainy day plan to spring clean a room or two.

Hibernating objects. I'll bet you are familiar with the phrase, "If you haven't used it in a year get rid of it." If you hire a professional organizer who believes this, shame on you! The truth is there are exceptions to every rule and this is one of them. It is perfectly ok to put certain things in 'hibernation' for a year--or more. For example, I do not suggest getting rid of things like a snow shovel or a flashlight because you haven't used it in a year.

Create and separate. Create separate piles for: donations, trash, and items to be repaired or relocated to another room in the house. Remove all those items from the room and continue to follow the steps below.

Remove and replace. Remove all bedding and machine-wash (or dry-clean) bedspread, pillow shams, blankets, sheets, stuffed animals, and area rugs. Replace pillows and mattress pads (do this every 5 years.) This is easy to remember if done on years that end in 5 and 0 such as 2005, 2010, 2015) Microscopic dust mites live off skin cells that we shed while sleeping. Inhaling them contributes to sinus, allergy, and asthma problems.

Vacuum

  • Window treatments
  • Mattress and box springs; turn mattress over somersault-style. This prolongs the life of your mattress and prevents a "valley" from forming in the middle.
  • Lamp shades
  • Baseboards (note we are working from the top of the room to the bottom)

Clean windows. Clean windows inside and out with a solution of ammonia and water or white vinegar and water. Dry with a squeegee followed by a rag. Again, start at the top of the window.

Wash and wipe! Wash and wax floors if applicable. Wash all vents, grates, coils, fan blades, and ceiling-mounted light fixtures. Take a clean cotton pad, soaked in alcohol, and wipe the phone, door handles, light switches, and keyboard. This kills germs and removes dirt.

Change! Change batteries in smoke detectors, carbon-monoxide detectors, and flashlights.

Get in all the cracks. For really small cracks and crevices use a can of cleaning duster (available at office supply stores--it is a pressurized air duster used to clean keyboards)

Let a professional do it. Have carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned.

Purge. Empty all drawers and closets and get rid of:

  • hangers from the dry cleaner
  • out-of-date or worn-out clothing and handbags
  • shoes that hurt your feet
  • sweaters and knits with fuzz balls
  • 'tired' lingerie, Pj's, and swimwear
  • broken or never-worn costume jewelry
  • empty boxes and bags

Color code. I suggest everyone color code their closets using the old school adage, ROY G BIV. Begin by painting your closet a clean, white color (like Benjamin Moore's Ice Mist #OC67). Next, starting at the upper left side of your closet group all your Red garments together, then Orange, Yellow, Green, and continue with Blue, Indigo, and Violet. End by grouping whites, grays, blacks, and browns together. This is the time to note missing colors; more importantly, pay attention to colors you have lots of. Finally, separate your clothes into bottoms and tops: skirts, pants, capris, shirts, jackets, vests, and blouses.

MIAs. When putting clothes back into your closet remove all MIAS (items needing Mending, Ironing, Alterations, and Stain removal) and think of ROY G. BIV

Keys to success

  • No interruptions for a minimum of 3 hours; no phone calls, no visitors, no exceptions
  • Have cleaning supplies ready
  • Remember the goal is 'subtraction and addition'. Reduce what you need to store and you will find ways to add storage space
  • Have a plan for the items you discard (donate, sell, consign, repair, trash)
  • Work the room systematically. It really doesn't matter which room you clean first, but each room should be cleaned from top to bottom and from side to side.

Enjoy! Once the interior of your home is cleaned you can take time to enjoy the beauty of mother nature, through sparkling clean windows, before springing into action and organizing a plan for your outdoor chores.

Geralin Thomas of METROPOLITAN Organizing is experienced in both residential and home office organizing. She always considers the lifestyle, budget, and personality of each client. Geralin works with homeowners, designers, builders, architects, and businesses creating organized environments and enhancing client's lives. Metropolitan Organizing is located in Cary, NC and can be reached at (919) 380-7718 or via website at: Metropolitan Organizing.com.

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