Nothing beats a clean house that is free from clutter, organized and pleasant smelling. But for many people, keeping a home fresh and clean is a constant battle.
All types of things have a way of creeping into our homes and finding a place there. Here are tips to get rid of the items that are taking over your home and creating clutter. Remember to take tasks one at a time, and don't expect to get it all done in a single weekend — set a day aside for each task, and before you know it, you'll have a clean, organized house.
Purge the paper
Subject every piece of mail that comes into your home to a “tough love” test. Ask yourself, “Am I going to order from this magazine within the next 24 hours?” If not, toss it. Remember that paper is inanimate. It has no feelings, no thoughts. It could not care less that you are tearing it up and throwing it out. Get rid of it.
Next, toss out old subscription magazines. Once you have read them, why hold on to them? They will simply add clutter to your life. Put them in the recycle bin.
Let it go
You also need to tackle your closet. If you haven't worn it in the past two years, chances are you will never will.
Pull out every outfit that you sincerely know in your heart you will never wear and take them to a consignment shop, Goodwill or to the Salvation Army. There is someone out there who could really use those items and if they are just sitting in your closet, they are going to waste. Items that are stained or in bad shape should go in the trash.
The same goes for shoes you never wear — battered, worn-out shoes should go in the trash, and the rest should be given away.
Create a schedule — say, once every six months — and go through your closets and drawers and purge items you don't need. Once you get in the habit of tossing things you don't need, you won't feel the need to hang on to clutter.
File away memories
Sentimental items, such as old holiday and birthday cards, tend to accumulate. Invest in a file cabinet and some folders. File away the cards or put them in a labeled box and store them in a designated storage area, such as an attic. For things like kids' artwork, photos or other memorabilia, consider digitizing your collection. Scan items into your computer, where you can keep them without adding to the clutter.
Think outside the box
Yes, I know you believe that someday you’ll need those old boxes for something. The problem is they are taking away from the beauty of your lovely home and they are taking up space. Boxes are easy to come by. Take them out to the recycling, and when you actually do need boxes, purchase some — they're inexpensive.
Pare down your library
Books are a tough one. Keep the classics. Keep the ones that really touched your heart. But those fluff books and the books you know you will never read need to be either given away or put in the recycling bin.
A library adds a touch of sophistication to your home, especially when the shelves aren't overflowing.
Eliminate outdated technology
Let’s face it. You will never need that obsolete computer or TV, and you will never find use for those cords and wires. They are just creating clutter. Many towns offer electronics recycling for old TVs, VCRs, computer monitors and other outdated electronics.
Part with your art
Do you have old pictures and wall hangings that don’t go with your present design scheme for your home? Take that stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Someone can use it!
Rid of old furniture
Do you have old tables and chairs out in your garage or in your basement or attic? Sell, donate or throw them out. Chances are you will never have old furniture repaired, and it will continue to act as clutter around your home.
Use storage containers to stow things you plan to keep, and be sure to choose appropriate containers that are the right size for the items. Storing your belongings vertically — standing up, rather than lying flat — is also a great way to create space.
Put everything in its place
Create a "home" for every item you decide to keep, and put similar items together.
Place items where you're likely to use them. Put your filing system near the incoming mail bin, school supplies near your kids' homework area, spices near the stove, and so on.
You’ll find that once the clutter is gone, you won’t miss it and you won’t even recall most of what you tossed. Today is the best day to get started. Give away, toss out and enjoy your organized, fresh, clean home.