Right now, it may seem like spring is a long way off. Rest assured, it isn’t! But in the meantime, you can get a jump start on your Spring Cleaning by starting to declutter now. It will make it so much easier to clean all the nooks and crannies of your home when you don’t have to fight through accumulated clutter!

Here are some tips to get you started, plus room-by-room ideas to tame the mess!

First things first

I’m a big proponent of writing down goals. Once you commit it to paper, it’s more likely to get done, right? Ok, ok…well maybe not. But, it’s a good idea to make a list of the areas of your home you want to tackle and prioritize them. Whether it’s making a crammed closet usable again, or reorganizing your entire kitchen, make a list and post it where you will see it often.

Next, decide what you are going to do with the things you decide not to keep. Obvious things like trash and recycling can go in the appropriate bins, but what about outdated or outgrown clothing? Knick-knacks and collectibles you no longer “love”? If you want to donate them, decide where first. Then commit to not letting donations sit overnight. The same day you box or bag them up, take them to the drop-off location. If you let things sit for too long, they become part of the scenery, and next year, you’ll be sorting through it again. Here’s a list of places you can donate unwanted items in the Northern Virginia/DC areas.

Ask a friend to help you. Sometimes an objective opinion is what is needed when emotional attachments prevent us from letting go of things that clutter our lives.  If you don’t “love it”, if you haven’t worn it or used it in over over year, make a commitment to find a new home for it.

Now…let’s go through the major rooms of your home.

The cluttered kitchen

Does your kitchen pantry (or cabinets) burst at the seams? Do you have trouble finding things, because sifting through the clutter is such a chore? Then it’s definitely time to attack the mess and relieve your stress in the kitchen.

Some people find it helpful to chunk the kitchen in to smaller pieces. Maybe you take 5 minutes and tackle one drawer at a time over a period of several days. Others find it cathartic to empty all the cabinets, drawers, and pantry shelves, and start from a clean slate. Whichever method works for you, have a strategy in mind on how you are going to address the decide what to keep and what to get rid of:

  • Throw away any food that is outdated. If you have food that is still good, but you don’t plan to use it within a couple of months, then consider donating it to a food pantry.
  • Dispose of outdated medicine. Call your local pharmacy to check on safe procedures. DO NOT throw away medicine. It’s harmful to the environment and wildlife.
  • If you have gadgets you haven’t used in over a year, like that bread maker taking up space in your pantry, then donate it!
  • Put all the recipes, business cards, menus, etc., that are stuck to your fridge with magnets in organized containers or binders.
  • Take all those plastic grocery bags to an appropriate recycling receptacle, and switch to reusable bags. You won’t believe what a difference this makes in kitchen clutter!
  • Don’t forget the freezer – discard any food that is past it’s date or has been in there for more than three months. Any longer, and the quality of meats and vegetables start to degrade.
  • When putting the things you are keeping back in your pantry or cabinets, group like things together, like baking mixes, light bulbs, canned soups, etc. If you wish, use baskets or storage cubes to store items that don’t stack or stand up well.

Littered living rooms

Living rooms are meant to be lived in. It’s ok if your living room does not look like a pristine magazine photo, but you also want it to be functional. Clutter adds stress, which reduces quality of life. So roll up your sleeves and tackle it!

  • Find new homes for the stacks of books you haven’t gotten to yet. And the ones you finished. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all of them (although Marie Kondo might disagree), but use bookcases to organize them, so they aren’t cluttering up table tops and walkways.
  • Consider getting digital copies of all your CDs and videos, so you can eliminate the hard copies. Services such as VUDU will allow you convert hard copies to digital copies for a low fee, which you can access through your internet-capable DVD player or through a FireStick.
  • Keep knick-knacks to a minimum. Other than attracting dust, knick-knacks make the space look cluttered. If you can’t bear to part with sentimental items, consider a keepsake box that can be kept in an organized cabinet or bookcase. Choose a few to display, then rotate them out periodically.
  • Resolve to keep some surfaces clear at all times, such as the dining room table or side tables.

Bedlam in the Bedroom

No one sees your bedroom, other than you, right? That mindset often is the cause bedrooms becoming a “catch-all” for the things we can’t find other appropriate homes for. But you will sleep so much better if your bedroom becomes a haven of serenity…which can’t happen with clutter in every corner!

  • Only keep in-season clothing in your closets. You can store out-of-season clothing in special under-bed storage totes, or designate the closet in an unused bedroom for out-of-season clothes. If you have a basement, you can use special garment racks that can be covered to protect your clothing.
  • Organize your shoes with shoe racks hidden away in the closet.
  • If it doesn’t fit, or you haven’t worn it in over a year, donate it!
  • Organize the top of your dressers with pretty storage boxes, jewelry storage, containers for pocket change,, etc. Everything should be put away in its place.
  • Find a new home for anything that doesn’t belong.

Keep the momentum going

Once you’ve decluttered to your satisfaction, it’s easy to go back to old habits, and you’ll find yourself in the same predicament next year. Celebrate your success, but have a plan for periodically tackling the clutter throughout the year, to keep it under control.

  • Schedule a time each day for a quick pick up. Don’t let stuff accumulate.
  • Be wary of “stock up sales” or clearance sales. If you don’t need it, don’t buy.
  • Designate a laundry basket as a “donation basket”.  As the kids outgrow their clothes (or you do!), toss it in the basket. When the basket is full, commit to hauling to your designated charity.
  • Every weekend, clear out the fridge and pantry of expired items. This will also help you get a clearer picture of what you have on hand and what you need to buy to prep for the next weeks’ meals.

There are some things you can do to help cut down on new clutter accumulation: switch your magazines and newspaper subscriptions to digital copies, and set your bank and brokerage statements, utility bills, and other monthly statements to “paperless”. You’d be surprised by how much this cuts down on your mail clutter. You can also put a cute basket by the door, so you can drop junk mail in it as soon as you bring it in from the mailbox. Then you can bundle it up for the shredder on a weekly or monthly basis.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northern Virginia, we are always here to help with all your real estate needs! If you are unsure of your home’s value or if you are thinking about buying or selling, contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.