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Credit: Flickr / iStock / RBOZUK

If you remove clutter from your home, it's easier to maintain an organized household

Spring's arrival signals a time for decluttering - here's how to tidy every room in your home

For the first time in what seems like weeks, the clouds have cleared and sun is streaming through the windows. Looking around my home, I thought, “Does anybody have the number for that Hoarders show?”

My husband and daughter must have seen my reaction to the buried table and books stacked 10 high. It’s not that bad, they tried to tell me.

“Please don’t make us spend the entire weekend cleaning,” my daughter begged. Typically I like to start on the mess and work until it’s done. But as I watched my daughter whimper and whine, I realized my method might have traumatized her.

Most of us have more stuff than we have space for, so this isn’t actually about shifting a few things around and dusting or running a vacuum. I don’t know about you, but I need to declutter, clean and then get rid of stuff. And this year it looks like that is going to be a multi-step process.

Starting the Decluttering Process

  1. Set a day and time to organize each room. We decided Saturday morning for two hours was going to be the day. So on April’s calendar we wrote out a different room/space for each week. Before starting, I gathered up garbage bags, boxes, labels and cleaning supplies.
  2. Stick with the area so you don’t try tackling everything at once. Running from room to room is not productive. In really confined spaces we break up the goal into a couple of different areas.
  3. Reward yourself after each job. I read you should get something new for the now-clean room or area, like curtains or a lamp, but only if you need something. The goal is to get rid of stuff, remember.
  4. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need, don’t just shift it elsewhere. When I actually reduce the number of items in a room, things stay tidy much longer.
  5. Clean. This is the scrubbing and vacuuming step. All those green cleaning products you’ve been longing to mix up and try? Now’s the time to give them a whirl and make things shine.

Bathrooms

  • We like the laundry basket method: empty the contents of all your drawers and cabinets into one big bin
  • Clean all the drawers and decide what you want in each one
  • Check your medications for the expiration date, but don’t just chuck old meds in the bin or flush them down the toilet. They can end up in the water and soil. Check for local disposal programs
  • Decide if you’ll use it: that soap giftset from your great aunt might not be the right scent for you, but someone else might get good use out of it. Toss the stuff that is crumbling or discoloured though
  • Remove the random cleaning items: old sponges, toxic cleaners, etc., and start with fresh ones

Clothes

  • Take everything out and sort into three piles: keep, donate and toss. Be ruthless!
  • Use the three Fs. Does it fit? Does it flatter? Is it fashionable? Don't keep clothes just because you think you (or your kids) will want them one day
  • Sort through the pile of items that aren't in good-enough condition to donate and see if they'd make good cleaning rags
  • Take your donations to the local charity before you get the urge to re-examine
  • Arrange what's left. Do you need new wire baskets or boxes? Even a few new coat hangers can make a difference
  • Decide how to organize your clothes. You can group items together by putting shirts, pants and skirts together, or separate them into casual, work and dressy
  • Store the things you wear regularly in the handiest locations
  • Make use of under-bed space for out-of-season clothes, bags or shoes. I like to store mine in unused suitcases rather than buying yet-another storage bin

Kitchens

  • Kitchens are a magnet for disorder, which can be expensive in the long run. If you don't know what you have, you end up buying more
  • Take everything out of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. Throw away things that are past the expiry date as well as those almost-empty items you'll never use. Combine things that are almost empty (eg. small amounts of pasta, different kinds of nuts and dried fruit)
  • Sort everything into categories that make sense to you. Pasta and rice, sauces and marinades, beans and legumes. Put opened items at the front to use first.