Now that it's spring, it’s a good time to freshen up our homes by, yes, spring cleaning. A clutter-free space has health benefits and can help build calm and a stronger sense of well-being. Here are a few tips to jump-start your spring cleaning.
Set clear goals
When starting a project, we often overestimate what we can do. You may want to tackle your entire space. But you’ll run out of steam or feel frustrated that you can’t get it all done. Then you’ll be left with unfinished projects and clutter — which can cause stress and negatively impact your mood.1
Instead of trying to do it all, start with one room or section, like the bathroom or pantry. Set a specific goal, like organizing a hall closet. Once you tackle the first job, cross it off your list and move on to the next one.
Go over, under, and in
To really get a deep clean, focus on areas that are often overlooked, such as the top of the fridge, under the bed, and inside the coffee machine. Schedule time to wash curtains and pillows — you only need to clean these items a few times a year. It’s especially important to keep your space dust-free if you’re prone to allergies. So consider investing in a vacuum or air cleaner with a HEPA filter, which traps dust mites, animal dander, and pollen — it can help keep your allergies at bay.
To clean frequently used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and countertops, you can use a solution of soap and water. To disinfect these areas, use a household disinfectant or make a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (one-third cup) bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.2 It’s a good idea to make sure you’re in a well-ventilated room when mixing and using a bleach solution.
Cut out clutter
It happens to everyone — a stack of mail piled on the kitchen table, shoes littering the hall, and empty bottles of ketchup in the fridge. Clutter takes up space and can create unnecessary stress. And it can negatively impact your sense of well-being.3 To combat clutter, create designated spaces — a bin or closet for shoes, a rack for magazines, or a hook for keys. If you have a stack of art from your kids, gather it in a large portfolio binder or something similar. Store the pieces that have meaning and recycle the rest.
Another tip: Set aside 5 to 10 minutes each day for decluttering. For example, go through the mail and keep, recycle, or throw away each item. You can get the whole family involved in helping to declutter — that way it’s a team effort.
Look at labels
To clear cabinet space, get rid of expired items. Start by removing all dry goods, oils, and spices from your drawers and cupboards. Place any items with past "best by" dates in a pile. Do the same with your fridge, then discard them. While expired spices aren’t necessarily harmful, they do lose flavor over time. You’ll also want to rid your medicine cabinet of expired prescriptions, or ones you no longer use. Not sure what to do with them? Check out our online resource center for tips on how to safely throw away or flush certain medications.
Find a routine
After a major cleaning or organizing session, set a schedule for upkeep. It will take less time and make it easier to do a quick pickup. That way you’re spending a few minutes each day tidying up, instead of an entire day. So, whether it’s cleaning out the fridge every Sunday or loading the dishwasher each night, find a routine that works for you.
You can also create a less stressful environment by making, and sticking with, a routine in your everyday life. For example, you can make your bedroom a sanctuary — and sleep better — by removing electronic devices and going to bed at the same time each night. Organizing your home can be the first step in organizing other parts of your life.
Most importantly, having a clean, clutter-free environment can help you reduce stress, improve your mood, and better manage your allergies. So, find a way to tidy up that works best for you — and you’ll be on your way to a healthy home.