Spring Cleaning Tips From a Hoarders Expert
It’s never too early to start talking about spring cleaning tips—especially since those cold winter months are when clutter starts building up. And while, in a perfect world, we’d just hire a professional to clean our house, we know that spring cleaning will be a lot more manageable if we resolve to de-clutter now, instead of waiting for warmer weather.
But just where do you even start when it seems like you own more junk mail and cat toys than actual pieces of furniture? We decided if we were going to put together a master list of spring cleaning tips that we should call in the big guns for some actual helpful advice.
Meet The Expert
Even if you’ve been living under piles of old magazines and holiday decor, you might recognize Jane Carroo. The certified professional organizer, move manager, and founder of Chicago-based Organizing Coach Company has been featured on national television programs such as The Early Show on CBS and Hoarders.
Carroo’s background is in life coaching, and it goes hand-in-hand with her organizing biz. She recognizes that purging possessions from your home can be a very stressful, personal experience. “[The process] is mostly based on the person and what works for them. It’s not a one-answer-fits-all,” she says.
So, how does she approach a task as intimidating as spring cleaning without hard-and-fast rules? The key is building motivation. Here are Carroo’s seven top house cleaning tips for anyone dreading the process:
1. Plan a Party (Yes, Really)
“Coming off a really rough and challenging winter, [...] we’re all anxious to get into spring mode. Anyone who’s overwhelmed…should approach this project with joy,” Carroo says. But just how do you get excited about cleaning your house?
Try to embrace the prospect of a clean home, instead of dreading the act of cleaning. Think about the parties you can throw when the space is free from clutter. “A lot of people approach [cleaning] like drudgery, but we have to do it at some point, and we feel so much better when we get it done.”
2. Make a List
This one may sound like a no brainer, but it really is essential. “Take a notepad, walk around your home, and make a list of the things that need to be done,” Carroo suggests. “Whatever needs attention, [whether] it’s washing the windows or putting away the holiday decor.” You’re basically organizing your organizing plan, which splits it into steps and makes it seem less huge. Creating a list encourages a feeling of control.
And don’t stop making lists once your spring cleaning is done! “I like to review everything I own yearly” says Carroo. “When I review items, I can decide if that item no longer suits my needs, or that I don’t like it anymore.”
3. Put It On Your GCal
“If you don’t put it on the calendar and plan for it, it’s not gonna get done,” Carroo warns. “Break [your list] down timewise so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by it.” For instance, block out half of a Saturday to work on particular tasks, and sprinkle other chores over the rest of the week. But try to keep the scheduling specific, so you always know what you’re tackling that day.
4. Start Small
Carroo says that completing a small task often has a snowballing effect: you feel inspired by your success to clean more and more. “Many times when people are stuck, I tell them to start with the junk drawer. Just tackle your junk drawer. They get energy from it. They don’t want to do it, but it’ll only take 15 minutes or a half an hour, and then they feel like they’ve really accomplished something.”
5. Ask for Help
Working with others—friends, family members, or a professional such as Carroo—lightens your load, but it also forces you to articulate out loud what your attachment (or lack thereof) to a certain item might be. By offering “an objective, fresh perspective,” Carroo says, your cleaning buddies can help you let go of the items you don’t truly need.
6. Do it For Charity (Or the Planet)
Before you start tossing things to the proverbial wind, decide what you’ll do with your discarded items. “I’m a really big advocate of recycling and donating,” Carroo says. “Consider adopting a favorite charity and donating on a regular basis, or recycle stuff that isn’t easily used by someone else.”
7. Make it a Monthly Thing
After all that work, the last thing you want is to do it over again next year. Get the calendar back out, and set up monthly or seasonal tasks for yourself. “That’s going to allow [you] to touch every little thing throughout the year, instead of taking it all on at once,” Carroo says. When next spring rolls around, spring cleaning will be like any other monthly spruce-up.
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