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The Essential Spring Cleaning Checklist

The Essential Spring Cleaning Checklist

The Essential Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is here, so it’s time for a clean slate. Boston-based professional organizer Elizabeth Goodsell from That’s Neat! Organizingshares six expert tips to make spring cleaning go smoothly.

Make a date

1. Make a date.

Instead of trying to chip away at your home piecemeal, schedule a spring cleaning day. Goodsell’s clients do this to great effect: Set aside one day per month for chores. “Then you don’t need to worry about having fun on the other three weekends,” she says. There’s no reason chore day can’t be fun. Crank up the music, give kids easy projects like sorting or matching items, and go out to lunch afterward.

Wipe your counters clean

2. Wipe your counters clean.

Declutter those kitchen counters — it’ll change your outlook. Excess junk has a way of accumulating there, and it’s a prime sticking point for Goodsell’s clients. Think about how much time we spend in the kitchen: That area should be clean and serene.

“Our counters contain about 50 percent of stuff we don’t use regularly,” Goodsell says. Pare down clutter by putting items you don’t need daily into drawers or cabinets, like specialized utensils or cooking tools. Donate things you never use, like that high-end espresso maker you haven’t turned on in years. Put extra spices, snacks and oils in the pantry. And give the outside of your fridge a clean sweep, too: So often, this is where we collect kids’ homework and art papers. Weed out old stuff, and store the rest in a folder or basket. Last but not least, unplug those phone chargers and give them their own home, like a basket underneath the television.

Digitize Your Clutter

3. Digitize your clutter.

Having a tough time parting with kids’ artwork or projects? Record each one digitally. Take a picture of the work (or have your kids pose with it), and then throw it away.

4. Organize your gear.

Switch up your closets with this handy trick: Invest in an over-the-door shoe cubby with pockets, which will make your go-to items visible but contained. Stash bug spray, sunglasses, sunscreen, sandals and other warm-weather essentials inside. Then put gloves, hats, and other cold-weather gear into a large plastic bin, clearly labeled, for next year — but not before tossing or donating stuff that no longer fits or that you have too many of (how many winter hats do you really need?).

Attack the corners

5. Attack the corners of rooms first.

Goodsell says that most winter clutter accumulates in the corners of rooms — stacks of books in the bedroom, papers in the office, magazines in the TV room.

“We put things we’re not sure about in corners,” she says, "hoping to deal with them later." Well, now’s the time: Work from the outside in, dumping excess paper into a recycling bin as you go. Books? Donate those you’ve read already. Old bills or bank statements? Unless you need them for some reason, shred them. And maximize overlooked areas for storage, like underneath beds or crawl spaces.

Make it easy for kids

6. Make it easy for kids to be neat.

Invest in open-topped hampers for each bedroom so kids can easily toss their clothes (hey, it’s just as easy as dropping them on the floor). Buy hooks for bedroom doors to hang backpacks or coats. Buy plastic bins for Legos and other small toys instead of relying on shelves or surfaces. Keep stuffed animals in mesh hampers instead of trying to arrange them on top of beds — this gets old, fast. When everything has a logical spot, it’s that much easier to stick to a routine.

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