Are you ready for another fresh start? There is something quite appealing about the spring season and the first day of spring that compels and motivates us to clear and clean our way into this blossoming time of the year. Maybe that’s it! Taking our lead from mother nature, we inherently look to clear out the dormancy of winter and create spaces for new and fresh things to grow and blossom. A sense of renewal comes from the purging of the unwanted, the stale and stagnant.

Where to begin? A spring cleaning, while sounds appealing on the surface, in reality can feel like a daunting task to undertake. So if we may, there is a great line from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, that we’d like to share, where Frances Mayes says, “Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house.” While her task was a bit more than a spring cleaning, this is such great advice! Pick one task or one room at a time, make a list and go slowly, knowing that all of your hard work will result in feeling lighter and brighter in the dawn of spring. And if you still don’t know how or where to begin, invoking something like the “12-Month Rule” (any  item which has not been used in 12 months, and is not a special occasion piece, should be donated or discarded) will prove to be of great use. Let’s get started!

1. THE CLOSET

This is a hard one. How many times have you attempted the clearing of your clothes only to discover something that, not only have you not worn during the past 12 months but never have? In fact…it still has the price tag dangling. This is a great place to start. You may even need to apply the rule of only handling something only once. This will take some discipline in order for it not to recycle its way back onto the hanger and into your closet. Unless its a special occasion piece, if you haven’t worn something in the past 12 months, consider this a good time to donate to charity or gift to a friend who will find some enjoyment in receiving.

2. KITCHEN SPICES

We don’t think too often about the collection of spices in our pantries and honestly anything that is older than 12 months should probably be replaced. Here you can use a few of your senses to make those decisions or what should go and what can stay. Paprika and cayenne should be bright red, green herbs should be an appetizing green color. Herbs with an aroma like mint should smack you with fragrance when you open the lid, and spices like ginger and cinnamon should still taste sweet and spicy. If you are hitting a wall of waste not, want not, consider placing them in a compost or sprinkling them in your garden. And don’t forget to recycle the glass jars!

3. GARAGE

Any hazardous materials such as solvents, pesticides and paints that have not been used in the last 12 months should be rounded up and taken to your local waste disposal site. Please be mindful not to place these items directly into your home’s waste bins. Most cities have a separate division to handle these things for the sake, safety and health of our environment. If you are hesitant to ditch the old paint cans because you might need them for future touch up purposes, chances are they have either acquired mold or dried up. Make a note of the color formula on the paint can and store that instead of the paint!

4. THE LINEN CLOSET

An often overlooked area of accumulation. When was the last time you used that set of red cloth napkins? You know the ones you bought for a one-time special occasion and haven’t used since. Or the round tablecloth that went with that “other” table you no longer own. Once again applying the “12 Month Rule,” open those closet doors, handle it one time and ship it off to your nearest local and favorite charity.

5. KITCHEN

Now let’s talk gadgets, widgets, and blenders that are taking up permanent residency in your cabinets. When was the last time you actually sliced, diced, kneaded or blended anything? Using the “12 Month Rule,” we’re guessing there might be a few things here that could be purged. Kitchen purging could be the impetus for a neighborhood garage or yard sale. Those are fun. Meeting the new neighbors, renewing friendships with the existing ones and watching who takes what home with them. Always an entertaining day! But wait…be sure nothing comes back in the house, arrange for a charity to come by and scoop up the remaining inventory.

6. PAPER WORK—ORGANIZE & DE-CLUTTER

Memorabilia and photographs (if you still print those) that you have not viewed during the past 12 months should be stored in acid free boxes or storage for preservation and future reminiscing. And with the extra space in your linen closet, clothes closets and garage, you will find a way to neatly stack, store and retrieve in short order. The same goes for your regular monthly paperwork. Sort and store in accordion files or other appropriate storage and consider purging items 12 months old, on a rotating basis. Don’t forget to shred anything that you don’t want out in public!

Can you already feel the lightening of the load now that you have an idea of how and where to start? Happy spring cleaning!

Photo Credit: Lori Brookes