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March 01, 2018

Tidy up

Spring brings house cleaning to the fore

Christina Loc

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Spring is in the air and as the sunshine beams through our winter-grimed windows, it is a reminder that now is a good time to tidy up, throw out the unneeded to make room for the new and welcome growth. Here are some suggestions to keep your home clean and organized, which in turn will help keep your thoughts clear, reduce stress and welcome positive energy.

Begin with a list of projects to stay focused. Taking things incrementally will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

With list in hand, be sure to have a bucket of cleaning supplies. For a greener method of cleaning, make your own all-purpose cleaner with one cup of water and one cup of vinegar inside a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil like lemon, orange or lavender for a nice scent. Castile soap is another great product to have in your cleaning bucket, along with a few other items including microfiber clothes and paper towels.

It’s now time to tackle that list! I hope the first thing on your list is to conquer those behind the door spaces that may be jam packed with so many odds and ends that the thought of opening the door is scary. Pick areas in the home where you are accumulating or stashing things away like the freezer, pantry, linen closet, other closets, drawers and under-the-sink cabinets.

Just because storage spaces may be enclosed, these spaces should still be just as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of your home.

To help you get your storage spaces organized, start by taking everything out. Go through every item and decide whether to keep, recycle, donate or discard. Give the shelves a good wipe before placing the items you keep back in. Categorize by type, colour and/or size. Throw out expired items in your pantry, freezer and medicine cabinet.

With smaller items or items that don’t sit so well, especially on typical builder’s grade wire shelving, invest in some storage containers. Purchasing containers should be done after you’ve categorized everything as this will determine what size and shape you will need.

I love Mason glass jars as they come in a variety of sizes, are see through, inexpensive, can easily be found at Canadian Tire or Superstore, and free of the controversial health concerns associated with plastic. They are great for the pantry as they are airtight and you can transfer everything that came in shapeless plastic bags in to them. Use Mason jars in other areas of the home for storing cotton balls and swabs, arts and crafts supplies, or nails and screws. You will be amazed what kind of accessories are available for Mason jars. For a more polished look, glass canisters are a great option too.

Baskets and storage bins are another must have. Use baskets in closets to store t-shirts, socks, undergarments, scarves and toys (for your kids’ rooms!). Store away winter clothes in storage bins. Categorize your clothes by type of garment, and then by colour to create a functional method of retrieving your items while making it pleasing to the eyes.

Under the bathroom sink, use different baskets to organize bath and body products. 

If you’re tight for space and the linen closet can’t be just a linen closet, create a utility basket to store the nails and screws you’ve already put in to mason jars along with small tools, measuring tape, light bulbs and batteries. Make use of the floor space by incorporating bigger baskets to store heavier and bulkier items. Roll up face clothes and place them inside a basket. Set aside a basket for mismatched socks that stray on laundry day and then some how magically reappear!

Another helpful tip to keeping your linen closet looking tidy is to store sheet sets inside its own pillow case. Fold the flat sheet, fitted sheet, and any extra pillow case, before storing it all inside the matching pillow case. This way, the whole set is always together. Place it directly on the shelf or file it away in to a basket with other sheet sets.

In the pantry, use baskets to store snacks and bulk foods. Keep all of your baking decorations together in a bin. Opaque bins are handy for a quick glance.

Labels are also convenient. Whether you use a labeler machine or go to the dollar store for hand written tags, they both do a great job. Have fun with labels. Get creative with descriptions and find pretty ribbon to hang your tags that compliment your newly polished storage space. For items that expire, put a purchase date on the label.

Once you have decluttered and organized your belongings, the scrubbing and dusting begins. Popular projects and items often overlooked include:

. dusting light fixtures, the top of windows and fridge

· sweeping under the fridge and stove

· dusting your blinds

· vacuuming your drapes and upholstery

· cleaning your area rugs and windows

With spring in the air, let your house smell fresh and odorless. Clean out the food trap in your dishwasher if it has one, and place one cup of vinegar on one of the racks and let it run for one cycle to remove accumulated odors.

If you own a microwave, place one cup of vinegar inside and heat it up for approximately two minutes. Wipe down the condensation created inside for a good clean.

Use vinegar and baking soda to deodorize and clean your drains. Pull out unwanted debris, like hair or stuck food. Pour down a kettle of hot water. Sprinkle a half cup of baking soda around and inside the drain. Slowly add half a cup of vinegar to the baking soda. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes and then rinse with boiling water again.

Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the above cleaning tips to create a beautiful scent that uplifts your mood.

It will feel utterly satisfying and cathartic once you check everything off your list. To maintain this feel throughout the year, create small and automatic habits that will save you time in the end. My mother always says, “Christina, if you just spend that extra 30 seconds hanging up your coat or putting your cereal bowl directly in to the dishwasher, things will not accumulate...” Why are mothers always right! Cleaning your space from top to bottom and decluttering will give you an extra spring in your step. Your mind and home deserves it. By getting organized this spring, next spring be a walk in the park, both literally and figuratively!

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