5 Spring Cleaning Tips

What do I love about the start of Spring? Being able to run outdoors in New York, taking a break from winter's wardrobe of chunky sweaters and boots, and eating the plethora of local and seasonal fruits are just a few of the simple pleasures. Spring cleaning? While it's probably not first on my list (or yours), the start of spring is a great opportunity to live a little lighter and create a more harmonious and efficient home.

Most of us have opportunities to de-clutter our homes in varying degrees. Maybe you are in need of some light de-cluttering so that your wardrobe fits into your closet space? Perhaps you need to carve out some time to organize your financial documents after the close of this year's visit with Uncle Sam? More extreme cases exist as well. Popular TV shows such as Hoarders on A&E and TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive delve into the psychology behind the compulsion to accumulate. Whether your home is needing a light de-clutter or an extreme clutter make-over, these tips will help kick-start the process. Ultimately, we can all strive to buy and consume less in our lives, but these tips will help sort through what we already own.

1. Make spring cleaning a fun date. Treat your spring cleaning like an important house meeting and put it on the calendar. Whether your dorm/apartment/condominium/house uses Google Calendar or post-it notes on the fridge to communicate, assign the cleaning a date and time to make sure it happens. Listen to your favorite up-beat play list, so that you can have fun as you conquer your clutter!

2. Create a vision. Visualization is a key part of achieving any goal. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and envision what you want your house, room, closet, or desk to look like after the cleaning.

3. Ask yourself the tough questions. Emotions and memories can become entangled with our possessions which can make parting with our 6th grade yearbook, polka dot poodle skirt, or family vacation souvenir difficult to do. Feng shui expert Jayme Barrett recommends asking ourselves the following questions in her book Feng Shui Your Life: "Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I need it? Does it evoke a positive feeling and make me smile?"

4. Think about potential beneficiaries. Gifting some of your gently-used clothing and possessions can not only make parting with them easier, but it's also the green thing to do.

Consider organizations such as Out of the Closet, which accepts tax-deductible donations of your clothing, furniture and more in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Proceeds from Out of the Closet support the AIDS Health care Foundation.

If most of the de-cluttering opportunity is in your closet, consider making a trip to the Buffalo Exchange. Operating thrift stores in 14 states, Buffalo Exchange is known for its edgy, current fashion at killer prices. You can sell your clothes for either cash or store credit.

Check out the local thrift stores in your area for the right fit for your donation. You will likely stumble upon one that supports an organization you are passionate about.

5. Spend some time in the bathroom. Are your bathroom drawers an accumulation of ten year-old products or hotel sample size products that you are likely never to use? It's likely time to get rid of them, so that you can easily find the few products that are staples of your beauty and grooming routine. This question is for the ladies: Do you still have the cobalt blue eye shadow from high-school? Do you still have several tubes of mascara? Beauty experts recommend ditching mascara after 6 months since the eye area is extremely sensitive and you want to minimize any potential risk to airborne bacteria.

image via Homes & Gardens

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