Taming the Beast
Nothing’s ever going to make spring cleaning enjoyable. But it’s a lot less daunting when it doesn’t loom over you like one giant, weekend-sucking chore.
By Laurie Palau
Spring. (Yay!) Cleaning. (Ugh.)
The weather outside is so inviting. Yet, standing at that window, I’m filled with dread, because I know what awaits me when I turn around. The remnants of our months-long hibernation. It’s gotta be dealt with, no way around it. After all, the only thing worse than spring cleaning is summer cleaning.
My game plan is to break the house down into four zones—the kitchen, the closets, the bathrooms and the garage—and to deal with each one a weekend at a time. What?! you’re probably thinking. It’s bad enough losing one weekend to this, and now you want me to turn over a month’s worth? We’re looking at a couple of hours, tops, over each one of those weekends. Isn’t that more digestible than a 48-hour cleaning slog? And let’s be honest; most of that time was going to be spent procrastinating.
What follows is a checklist for each zone. Efficiency, baby!
Weekend No. 1 The Kitchen
Clean out the pantry and fridge. Dispose of the expired food, along with the questionable stuff. Spices, too. They’re only good for a year. Wipe down every surface, and don’t forget the crisper.
Sort through the Tupperware. Winter is prime time for collecting takeout containers. Toss any bottom that doesn’t have a matching top.
Streamline the gadget drawer. Anything that hasn’t been used in the last six months, donate. And pare down multiples (spatulas, wooden spoons, peelers) to no more than three.
And the junk drawer, while you’re at it. Everything that’s broken (dried-out pens) or serves no obvious purpose (random keys, a four-month-old receipt from Whole Foods), toss. Then group the remaining items together by like.
Weekend No. 2 The Closets
Ditch the dry cleaning bags and hang those clothes on regular hangers already. Those bags can suffocate a closet. Not to mention, they retain harsh chemicals.
Sort through all your clothing and accessories, including every last pair of shoes. This is no time to get sentimental. If it hasn’t been worn in the last six months, donate or consign it. Unless it’s torn or stained or stanky. Trash that stuff, obviously. Then organize your new pared-down wardrobe by type—casual, athletic, office-wear, formal—and color. It may seem a bit OCD, but it’ll make getting dressed so much easier.
Weekend No. 3 The Bathrooms
Streamline your medicine cabinet and under the sink. Toss all the expired medications, along with every piece of makeup and hair and cleaning product that’s over a year old.
Give your sheets and towels the same treatment you did your Tupperware. Whittle your stockpile down to two (complete) sets of cotton sheets and one flannel set and two sets of towels for each full bathroom. Donate all the loose ends and overly worn pieces. (Animal shelters are always in need of towels and blankets.)
Weekend No. 4 The Garage
Purge everything that’s expired, damaged or hasn’t been touched in over a year. (Your teenage son’s never gonna ride that scooter again.) The garage can become a dumping ground in the winter. If yours is serving as an extension of the kitchen pantry, move that stuff to your actual pantry. There should be plenty of room now.
Then, organize everything that’s left by like—yard supplies, sports gear, household tools—and arrange it by zones so that it stays organized beyond this weekend.
Consider yourself free to enjoy the great outdoors. And by that, I mean, of course, the lawn needs cutting and the flower beds are begging to be weeded.
Laurie Palau is the owner of the New Hope-based simply B organized, a home and life organization service.