While writing for Bed Bath & Beyond over the last few months, I’ve learned some nifty tips for organizing and awesome shortcuts for cleaning (not to mention some rather yucky facts that inspire me to clean even better!).
So while the New Year will undoubtedly kick off with my usual resolutions-to-be-broken list–wine on weekends only, gym at least five days a week, cut out sugar–my real resolutions will focus on the health of my home.
So join me in cleaning up and getting organized in 2014….
Make it easy to work with the wardrobe you have
You probably have a ton of amazing gems in that closet of yours, but if you can’t get to them you’ll certainly never wear them–instead you’ll grab the same few outfits day in day out. This year, use skirt and pants hangers so you can actually see what your options are all at once.
Repurpose hangers with skirt clips to hang gloves and other cold weather accessories and don’t forget about those great clear vinyl shoe storage hangers that we all used in college–ideal for keeping your accessories or jewelry at hand. They work great inside a closet or on the back of a closet door to keep gloves, rolled scarves, and wool hats visible.
Remember that cleanliness starts from the floor up
Rugs take up a large portion of square footage in our living rooms and can be the focal point that pulls an entire room together. They also usually get some serious foot traffic, and that’s why it’s important to maintain a regular cleaning schedule for them so that they don’t become a source of dirt and dust buildup, which can lead to allergies.
So resolve to show those rugs or carpets how some love and respect with frequent vacuuming. Once every two weeks or so will do ninety percent of what’s needed for any rug. Immediately spot clean any spills, and remember your rug will fade with too much sunlight so rotate every six months or so. Once a year, treat your rug to a day at the spa with a deep steam cleaning to remove embedded dirt and dust build-up out and improve its overall appearance and longevity.
Make straightening a family affair
Kids love routine and clean up time can be just an extension of play. So, with the clean-up team in place buy some small to medium sized open bins or clear boxes to group similar toys together in your kids’ room such as arts and crafts projects, dolls, board games. Huge toy trunks or large bins are asking for mayhem – everything will get thrown in together and aside from looking messy the kids won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. Then keep an easy-to-carry container to go around the house and pick up toys from the day
Keep an eye out for hidden dirt & germs
Don’t get me started on the kinds of bacteria one scientist found lurking on the bottom of women’s handbags in a recent study!
I’m resolving to clean the bottom of handbags (the area that most come into contact with yucky germs and bacteria) at least once a week with an antibacterial wipe, or kid’s hand sanitizing wipes , which are less likely to contain harmful chemicals or alcohol. (Of course, as with any fabulous handbag or leather product use extreme caution and do a spot-test in an inconspicuous place to check that the product won’t damage the leather, and to be extra safe call the purse manufacturer to ask their recommendation for a cleaning product.)
Not ready to go that far? At the very least resolve never to put your handbag on the kitchen counter again!
Make your bed–cleaner
Did you know the average mattress has anywhere from 10,000 to 10,000,000 dust mites? The easiest thing to do to reduce this is to vacuum the mattress as often as you do your floors. The key, however, is to use a clean upholstery attachment for your vacuum, because vacuum attachments are used to clean up all kinds of dirt and grime from around the house. Clean attachments by washing with soapy water every four months or so.
You’ll sleep better knowing you have less company in your bed at night.
Lose (paper) Weight
Bills, mail, receipts, handouts from your kids school–they all get shoved in the same pile which soon becomes useless because you can’t see what’s in it. First off, go paperless wherever possible by signing up to get bills and receipts online. Invest in a receipt scanner to keep track of those “old-school” paper receipts and keep everything on the computer.
Then keep a stash of clear project folders (an improvement on the manila folder because you can see at a glance what’s in them), and begin organizing that way. One for invoices, one for receipts etc. Then I’ll organize these files into broader “macro” categories i.e. freelance work, home décor, kids homework. Keep these out on a desk in some sort of cool file holder. Try using things like a tall napkin holder as a file divider or a cool toothbrush holder for pens so your home office space doesn’t remind you of your 9-5.
What are you keeping cleaner or better organized this year? How’s the resolution holding up?