Address the clutter in your home BEFORE you tackle spring cleaning. Here’s how to launch your clutter-free start to spring cleaning!
By Hilary, Contributing Writer
By this time of the winter each year, I’m looking forward to spring. By looking forward, I mean I am ready and waiting for it to start – even if I know I should expect at least another month of snow.
Because of my anticipation for warmer weather, I start planning my spring cleaning early – as in the beginning of March, way before temperatures warm up in my part of the Midwest. There’s just something satisfying about scrubbing down all the surfaces in my home and opening all the windows to air my house out.
But before I can start my scrubbing, I like to get rid of anything unnecessary first. It seems pretty ridiculous to deep clean if there’s a bunch of stuff around.
That means decluttering.
The burden of clutter
While decluttering is absolutely necessary when it comes to cleaning, I don’t always enjoy it. In fact, it’s safe to say I rarely enjoy it.
I think decluttering seems like such a burden to me because clutter is such a burden. And even though I try to simplify my home, it’s really hard to do with a family. It’s not impossible – just difficult.
Here’s the good news, though. If decluttering seems like a tough job for you, once you’re done with it, it’s on to easier tasks.
How to get started
If decluttering is the first step in spring cleaning, how do you start doing it?
I suggest creating a spring cleaning plan before you do anything else. Know what rooms you want to clean, what needs to be cleaned in them, and when you’d like to clean them.
Now that you know what room you’d like to start in, pick out the one area of the room and dig in. (Turn on some of your favorite music … it will make the time go faster!)
Start small – if there’s a pile of clutter on the floor or on a countertop, work your way through the pile.
Be sure to stick to one small area at a time. If you know your kitchen needs to be decluttered or purged, stick to one drawer or cupboard at a time. Only when that one space is finished can you move on to the next. For a whole-house decluttering plan, pick up a copy of Your Simple Home Handbook, which divides your home into 30 individual projects.
If time’s an issue, set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and do as much as you can. The timer is your friend. Once the timer goes off, stop your work – and get back to it when you have 10 or 15 more minutes.
Depending on your time or your mess, this could take a long time. It’s OK. Give yourself grace and celebrate the small improvements you notice.
When one pile of clutter has been sorted, move on to the next. It may take you days or weeks to finish a room – and your spring cleaning may spread into the summer – but at least you know you’re doing a good, thorough job.
What to do with your stuff
When decluttering, sort your things into three piles:
- What you’d like to save,
- What needs to be pitched in the trash, and
- What you’d like to give away or sell.
Throw the trash out right away.
Then think about what you’d like to do with the donated pile. Are you planning to pass it along to a friend? Or Goodwill? Can you sell some of the clothing on ThredUP or at a garage sale or children’s consignment sale?
Whatever you intend to do with it, do it. Make the trip to drop off your donations. Make sure it gets out of your house.
(In my home, though, I put it in bags in my garage so that my donations accumulate while I’m decluttering. That way I don’t have to go out of my way to make 20 different trips to the consignment shop to drop off little loads. But I make sure to follow through and get it out.)
Now that everything is out of your house, you can see what you’ve saved and find good spaces for it. Think about how you use each item and where you use each item – then get ready for your spring cleaning.
Before you start putting the things away where you need them the most, you can deep clean where you’ve just decluttered. This way, you’ll have a freshly cleaned area to work with – and a clutter-free start to spring cleaning!
What is your typical spring cleaning routine? How do you take control of clutter in your home? Do you try to make sure you have a clutter-free start to spring cleaning?
Step-by-Step Decluttering by Sarah Mueller – This eBook helps you develop a decluttering mindset and includes 7 worksheets to walk you through your own decluttering tasks.
Your Simple Home Handbook by Elsie Callender – This highly practical book covers the decluttering process for 30 different areas of your home–some large, some small (but all important!).