Spring is in the air, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining and… revealing all of the dust and dirt that our winter housecleaning didn’t quite clear away! While cleaning house isn’t everybody’s idea of a good time, there’s something about spring cleaning that makes a minimalist (or wannabe) feel renewed and happy. That’s why so many of us dedicate an entire April or May weekend to spring cleaning our homes.
This year, though, you can take your spring cleaning one step further. Instead of just cleaning what you have, make a point to eliminate some of the excess stuff that has cluttered your space all winter long. With the following five tips, you can make your space cleaner and clearer in one fell swoop. With less stuff surrounding you, you’ll be able to enjoy spring and the many seasons ahead.
1. Come up With a Plan
Spring cleaning can be a daunting task since there’s a lot to be done to get the house in tip-top shape. That’s why it’s imperative to come up with a checklist and arrange tasks like window-washing and carpet cleaning in order of importance. The same goes for your decluttering — map out where you’ll start based on which closets and storage areas need the most help.
Start by making space
Imagine how easy getting dressed would be if you only owned items you loved. Consign or donate anything you haven’t worn in the past year—there’s a reason you haven’t. Try turning all of your hangers backwards, then re-hang items as you wear them facing forward. At the end of the season, it will be clear which pieces aren’t getting used.
Group like items together. If you’re feeling inspired, arrange in color order: white / tan / gray / black / blue / purple / pink / red / orange / yellow / green. Seeing all tops / bottoms / outerwear / etc. grouped by type will not only help you find things, but it will show you where the redundancies (and gaps) are in your wardrobe.
Streamline your hangers. Removing the visual distraction of mismatched hangers will allow you to focus on the clothing itself and make finding what you want so much easier.
2. Get Everyone on Board
You’re likely not the only one in the house creating a mess, so you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning it up. In order to successfully spring clean, everyone needs to be on board. Work together to clean communal areas, such as the living room, bathroom and kitchen. Then, inspire your spouse or children to de-clutter their closets as you do the same. Otherwise, the clutter will stick around no matter how hard you’re trying to ditch unnecessary stuff.
3. Try a “Maybe” Box
We all have a hard time throwing things away — and it’s totally fine and normal to have an emotional attachment to our stuff. If you find yourself having a hard time letting a certain item go, think about putting it in its own box, keeping it separate from the “trash” and “donate.” Label this box of uncertainty with “maybe.”
Then, mark your calendar for the same day next year. It might seem like a long time to experiment, but it’s important to see whether or not you’re actually using something or if you’re keeping it for another reason. When next year rolls around, you can make a clear-headed decision as to whether or not to keep each item. And, because everything is stored in a single box, it’ll help de-clutter your main space.
Tip: Create a “time out” bin. Consolidate items you know you haven’t worn, but struggle to part with. Tuck the bin away for six months, then look at things again with fresh eyes. One of two things will happen with each piece—either you won’t have missed it at all, or it will be like shopping from home. Donate or consign the stuff you didn’t miss.
4. Find Ways to Maintain Year-Round
Once you’ve finished your main spring cleaning and decluttering marathon, it should be easier to maintain your space as you have it and like it. Unfortunately, the accrual of stuff is not as easy to control.
Some minimalists make it a point to treat their closets like an exclusive club, allowing one item in only if one item comes out. This might seem extreme at first, but it’s a great way to maintain your newly downsized wardrobe. The same goes for your kitchen, bathroom storage area, linen closet, etc. — don’t add if you aren’t taking away.
Alternatively, others living a simplistic lifestyle make it a point to shop only for the items they truly need. Rather than window shopping, head to the store with a list or an idea of, say, what you need to add to your wardrobe to be winter-ready. If you only need mittens and a hat, then leave the mall with only that. Anything else would end up being clutter you’ll eventually toss, anyway.
Tip: When wardrobe shopping, Look for versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Go for clean lines, minimal detailing, and a neutral palette. When pieces are simple, it’s less likely that they will clash with other items. Less detailing also keeps styles more timeless. Don’t be afraid to wear the same piece over and over, especially for staples like denim, shoes and jackets. You can use accessories to create different looks.
5. Don’t Do Too Much, Too Soon
Many spring cleaners and minimalist wannabes make the mistake of starting out too strong. They’ll take on an entire home or even an entire space rather than focusing on one area at a time. This often leads to many started projects and few finished ones.
Instead, make a point to take on one task at a time. Actually finish that task before moving on to something else. With this slow-but-steady pace, you’re sure to clean thoroughly and cut down on clutter without burning out.
With your goals achieved, you’ll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor: a clean house — both literally and aesthetically.