NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Spring Cleaning & Clutter

Spring Cleaning & Clutter

Warmer weather and the desire to clean and organize our surroundings seem to go hand in hand.  After a long winter, spring cleaning might sound like more of an opportunity than a chore.

            During this challenging winter, many of us were snowed in with our pets whose dander is one of the most common triggers. Compound that with a few months of everyday dust and it’s time to have an allergen control plan. Clean one room at a time, starting with where an asthma or allergy sufferer sleeps. Wash their bedding and curtains in a hot water as possible.  Dust surfaces and vacuum the carpet, clean window sills, frames and mopboards.

            You’ve heard the phrase that clutter takes on a life of its own?  Spring cleaning can be the time for drastic measures before clutter takes over your home.  One often used plan for dealing with clutter is called the “four-box system”. Take four boxes; label them Trash, Give Away/Sell; Storage and Put Away. Next begin assigning each piece of clutter to one of the categories.

            Trash- This should include any item that you do not need or want, but that is not worthy of being donated or sellable. Damaged and broken items should be included in the trash if they are not worth someone buying it and repairing it.

            Give Away/Sell- Be generous. Think about the uses someone else might get out of the items vs. the use it gets in your home buried in cabinets or closets. Consider the financial benefits of selling your stuff at a garage sale.

            Storage- Put items in here that you cannot part with but do not need on a regular basis. Make an inventory of the items as you box them. For ease of finding them later, group similar items together. Remember one good way to clean out closets is to store out of season clothing.

            Put Away- This should be your smallest category. These are items that need to be out on a regular basis. Monitor yourself by determining if you have a place for each item. If the items in this box will not fit into your home without cluttering an area up, try to reassess if you really need them. If you do need these “essentials”, try to come up with a storage solution that fits into your home.  Place items inside drawers, closets, covered boxes or plastic containers so dust can’t collect on them.

            Work on one room at a time to provide yourself with an easy stopping point for interruptions. When you come to a stopping point, be sure to throw out the trash immediately.  If you allow yourself to contemplate the decisions you’ve made too much, your brain can trick you into rescuing the clutter.

            While sorting and evaluating all those precious treasure, remember –

-  Items are not the same as the memories of the person who gave them to you. Pruning items with an emotional attachment can be very difficult. Consider carefully if you need the item to have the memory or emotionally attachment. If you’re not sure, consider storing items on a trial basis, or giving them to another family member for safekeeping. Think about taking photos of the item that will store more readily, but give you tangible proof of the memory. If you really feel the need to keep items of this nature, don’t fight it. Instead try to incorporate these memories into decorative displays or organized storage.


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