Jan22

Keeping it Clean (and Organized) in 2014

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.

 Nicola Ruiz

What are you keeping cleaner or better organized this year? How’s the resolution holding up?

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Nicola Ruiz

is a writer for Bed Bath & Beyond, and writes about fashion and style for various publications. She grew up in England and California but loves to call New York City home for one simple reason: shopping for all four seasons! That means she has learned to be a whiz when it comes to organizing her closet. When she’s not writing about style and decor (and organizing her stylish finds) you’ll find her hard at work on her novel or chasing after her busy four-year-old son and her four-pound Chihuahua Lola.

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Erika January 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

I have resolved to go through each and every area of my whole house and de-clutter and clean everything! So far it’s going good….I have great motivation though because we want to sell our home this year!

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Stephanie M January 28, 2014 at 5:55 am

A lot of very good rules to live by!! Another thing I do, to try and keep my purse, totes, bags, etc. clean is carry a travel size thing of Lysol Disinfectant Spray with me. It’s about the size of a Travel Size Bath and Body Works Body Mist Spray bottle. A lot of stores have wipes at their entrance but not all of them. That way you can have it ready, for the stores that don’t have wipes and you can disinfect with your spray. Works great whenever you just need a basket, too.

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Anne-Marie February 16, 2014 at 12:00 am

Paper clutter is one of our biggest problems – our New Year’s resolution is to only touch each piece of paper once if we can at all help it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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