Last Updated on 05/05/2022
If you’re anything like me, the onset of spring causes an acute sensation of trepidation. Not that I don’t appreciate the longer days and sunnier weather. I do. It’s just that with said climatic improvements, I start noticing everything in the flat that’s bugging me. And it can feel overwhelming. So much to clean. So much to sort out after the long winter. Alas. Time for the annual spring clearing.
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Once I get started though, I know that clearing stuff out, letting things go and schlepping old items to the local charity or recycling centre really make me feel relieved. It’s not like you have to get the painters in or do any big renovations—spring clearing is aimed at getting things clean, sorted, and tidy. Ridding yourself of the excess to live lighter, in calmer surroundings.
Where should you begin when everything feels like a mess after the winter? This post has some starting points for your own spring clearing. Eight areas in which less is more. Let’s get to it!
Split Up Your Cleaning and Clearing Tasks
When you’ve set aside some time, or perhaps a whole weekend, to get your place shipshape for springtime, you might suddenly feel overwhelmed when you realise how much you actually need to do.
Different folks take different approaches. Some like to tackle an entire room top to bottom, doing cleaning in parallel to sorting and organising. Some prefer to separate different task areas. And others might not really know where to start at all.
I find it easier to start my clearing with a clean slate, and that means I generally won’t begin decluttering until I’ve cleaned my place first, or at least done a good 30-minute speed cleaning. I like having basic cleaning out of the way before I start sorting stuff out on the floor, for example. To me it just feels less chaotic and more tidy.
Once I’ve cleaned, I will start clearing things out and re-organising everything. There is still a little bit of cleaning involved at this stage (wiping out drawers, for example, which you just sorted through), but it feels less overwhelming.
After decluttering, I like to turn my attention to random springtime tasks. Things like washing the drapes and windows, or doing a heavy-duty floor polishing with a buffing machine. So I kind of come full circle, starting with basic cleaning, moving on to clearing and organising, and then tackling any special cleaning tasks on another day or the next weekend.
Effective Spring Clearing: Less Is More
Having less stuff to clean and maintain means less mental baggage. Do you find it difficult to part with things though? Take an honest survey of your surroundings. How often do you use most of the things your home is filled with? How often do you wear everything in your closet? One rule of thumb might be to part with things you haven’t worn, read, played with or used in over two years.
Let’s look at some different areas in which you can aim for less.
TVs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, magazines, books, games, handhelds. Media and gadgets tend to wind up not just in the sitting room, but in the bedroom where they can disrupt a good night’s sleep.
- Declutter electronic devices in the bedroom and avoid bringing them in there whenever you can. You’ll honestly sleep better, and that in turn means you’ll feel less stressed overall.
- Sort out any tattered or stained bedding. Opt for monotone colours and natural materials if you replace anything. I love plain white sheets. They have a really crisp and clean hotel look.
- Weed out the clutter in your nightstand.
Better already, right?
Less Decorative Stimuli = Less Dusting
Candles, vases, newspaper racks, incense holders, ceramics, potted plants, side tables, floor lamps, picture frames, paintings, porcelain figurines, art objects, wall sculptures… You gotta love dusting it all if you have it.
We tend to fill our homes with countless things either bought for decorative purposes out of boredom, or snagged as souvenirs on holiday. You don’t have to part with it all right away, but you might want to go for a more curated selection and clear out some of the other clutter.
Some questions to help you examine what you really enjoy and want to have in your space:
- Which items evoke a personal memory or story?
- What holds special value, was a big financial investment, or is an heirloom or collector’s item?
- Which home decor items were you gifted, and only keep for that very reason?
- What makes your home yours, and what doesn’t actually express your style? Let go of the latter.
If you surround yourself with the stuff that has meaning to you and ditch the rest, you’ll have a lot less to upkeep. And I bet you’ll feel more comfortable at home.
Curate Your Bath, Beauty & Cleaning Products
How many makeup, hygiene and cleaning products do you have in your bathroom right now? It might surprise you upon closer inspection! Do you really use it all? Is it even still good?
Most of the products in your bath actually have an expiry date—even ones you never would have suspected.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when decluttering and spring clearing in the bath:
- Which cosmetic products do I really need, which ones do I absolutely love and would buy again?
- What products don’t do anything for me?
- Which ones do I never reach for, or stopped using months ago?
- Has anything expired, taken on a funky smell, or dried up?
- Which cleaning products are duplicates and which ones have expired?
Discard all the expired and bad products and then organise the bath and beauty products you love and use. To keep things from piling up again, try to buy only your favourite items or replenishments, and resist impulse purchases of junk you’ve seen on your socials. Side effect: your skin will look better when it’s not constantly irritated by new ingredients.
Big Clutter: Accessory Furniture
Side tables, stools, stepladders, chests of drawers, poufs: how many times have you honestly knocked your knee or stubbed your toe against these pieces? Or worse: tripped over them? When you’re going through your spring clearing checklist, take a hard look at your furniture, too:
- Which pieces are you really attached to?
- Which piece of furniture have you been schlepping around for your past three house moves, even though you don’t like it?
- How many broken items of furniture do you have on your patio, balcony or terrace? Or in your cellar or attic?
You might not be quite ready to clear out any big ticket furniture items yet. Perhaps they’d need an expensive replacement. Or maybe you know you have another move coming up next year and you just can’t make the call on it yet. You can still make a note of the item (start a home furnishings folder in your Evernote) and start thinking about alternative pieces or gathering ideas.
Once you’re ready to clear out any old furniture items, you can list them in your local classifieds, on Facebook Marketplace, or donate to a local charity.
Feeling Ambitious? Declutter Wall Decor
Sometimes the abundance of wall decor can get overwhelming. Curtains, pictures, paintings, framed photos, funky wall colours and wallpaper… there are numerous ways to decorate your walls. If you’ve been living in your place for years though, it can all become unbalanced and stifling. Why not take your next spring clearing as a chance to pare things back and reclaim your walls? You might just want to unhang a picture or two, or perhaps take everything down and paint everything white again and start afresh.
Here again, there are some questions to ask yourself:
- Which wall decor items do you love seeing everyday? Keep them, and stow or get rid of the rest.
- How does the wall colour make you feel? Could you imagine a different colour? Would a different colour look better with your furnishings?
Killing Kitchen Clutter
Probably the most important room in your home, the kitchen tends to be where we store a very motley crew of items and products, from food stocks to batteries and tools. For that reason, a lot of clutter can get lost in here. Plus, the countertops just seem to magically attract heaps of mail, papers, and random junk. Time to do some spring clearing in here, right?!
- What kitchen appliances and utensils do you need every day? Keep them! Sell or donate the stuff you don’t use.
- Which seasonal or specialty kitchen utensils look fancy but you only need once a year? Can they be moved to the back of cupboards and cabinets to free up countertop space?
- Which food items have expired? Bin them.
- Do you need everything currently in your junk drawer?
Sort out any expired or broken items. Kitchen gadgets you no longer use can go to a new home via your classifieds or local marketplace. Wipe down the top of your upper cabinets whilst you’re at it. Doesn’t everything look much better now? ☺️
Less Clothing, But Better Clothing
When it comes to the closet, many find it hard to let things go, including me. Lots of home organisers advise getting rid of things you haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Yet fashion always comes back again and again, and I find the older I get, the less applicable that rule is. It’s not uncommon for me at all to not wear something for a decade and then fall in love with it again and wear it to death one season long.
Just yesterday I was furious with myself for having gotten rid of an oversized Marithé et François Girbaud cotton sweater I once scored at Marshall’s in 1986. I had completely forgotten I had given it to charity back in 2014. It would have been right on trend this spring/summer.
So how does one find a healthy middle ground in closet inventory? I’m still honestly trying to figure it out myself. Here are the questions I’m going to use as a framework this season to do my spring clearing in the closet and avoid any major regrets:
- Which clothes and accessories have you never worn, and why? Do they still fit well, and can you see yourself wearing them soon? If not, sell them online.
- Ditto for anything that makes you feel frumpy or off: If you don’t feel good in it, or it no longer fits well, donate or sell it.
- Which shoes are uncomfortable and cause blisters or sores every time you wear them? Donate them if they’re in good condition, and list any designer footwear for re-sale.
- Weed out any outdated or battered handbags that are hogging up space in your closet.
- Discard any stained, torn, ripped or otherwise unwearable garments, socks and underwear.
One alternative to selling your stuff is to host a clothing swap with friends. Serve up some mimosas and you can make a fun afternoon of it! For some ideas on how to organise a swap, check out this article from KW Professional Organizers or this post over at Eco Age.
Scaling Back Collectibles
Do you collect anything? Cookbooks, figurines, vinyl records, niche magazines, antique china, vintage transistor radios? Humans are hunter-gatherers by nature, and it can be super fun hunting down stuff.
Whatever your foible may be, there comes a point when collections reach a scope that demands a heck of a lot of space. When shelves and drawers start overflowing, it might be time to re-assess your collectibles.
- What are your future plans for this collection, do you foresee continuing it or have you lost interest in it?
- How much space will you need if you keep adding to your collection?
- Do you have any duplicates you could clear out and sell?
- Is the collection valuable? Is it something you are going to leave to someone in your will, or could you envision auctioning it off and enjoying the money instead?
- Are you able to keep up with taking care of your collectibles? Stuff on display needs to be dusted, for example. Electronic items needs to be kept dry and batteries have to be checked to avoid leakage.
Asking yourself questions like this each year when you’re doing your spring clearing can help keep your collections from taking over your space.
I hope you found these spring clearing ideas helpful! If you’re loving how fresh and tidy everything looks and you’d like to keep it that way, then check out my post on how to create a simple daily cleaning schedule. It’s geared to busy people and highlights ways you can keep everything spic and span all throughout the week.