Sure, we all want a tidy place to live, especially after the stigma of living in a ‘sty all through college, but not all of us have a week each spring to devote to this effort. At this stage of life we’re a bit more focused on our career, love life, friends, and mental and physical health, and the few hours leftover at the end of the day are already spoken for: prime time TV and vegging out.
Here are some tips to quickly organize the most chaotic areas of your place get your place so you can access your stuff quickly and prepare for a summer of hosting even the most judgmental visitors and friends:
Set some ground rules. If you just walk into your closet hoping to grab a pile of old clothes and head to Goodwill, it’s going to take hours. You’ll sit there debating over whether or not an ’80s-themed party could arise and you’ll wish you had those leg-warmers someday. The trick is to set a rule for yourself and stick to your guns. A lot of people have the 1-year rule: If you haven’t worn it or used in in the last year, toss it. I can be a bit of a hoarder, so I like to add exceptions to the rule – I say if you haven’t worn it in a year and it’s too frumpy or doesn’t fit well enough to be used on a special occasion, then toss it.
Don’t debate with yourself. None of that “Well, I might want this again if I lose a few pounds” unless you’re already well on your way to achieving that goal; it’ll just crowd your closet and depress you every year, plus if you actually lose a bunch of weight you’ll be excited to get some new sexy outfits!
Keep a storage bin handy. If you have some repurposeable items such as costume-worthy pieces or good fabric for sewing projects, collect them in a storage bin somewhere tucked away so your daily digs have some room to breathe.
Eat the clutter. No doubt you have stacks of cans, pasta, sauces…things you bought “just in case” you needed a nonperishable item someday, but someday just never came. The solution to cleaner cabinets? Commit to eating your way through your “just in case” stash. For a month, replace sauces and dressings you normally use from the fridge with pasta sauce, honey, etc. in the cabinet. Add canned veggies to casseroles and bring soup for lunch. Just make sure to continue eating fresh veggies, too or your health will suffer for your storage space.
Take an inventory. Do you really need 5 spatulas and 6 bottle openers? You may be surprised at the duplicates you’ve accumulated over the years, especially if you have roommates or recently combined housing with your significant other and never bothered to take inventory. Donate your duplicates or at least stash some away in storage until your favorite spatula meets its maker.
The Nooks and Crannies
Wipe ’em down. It’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to wipe down your base boards, fan blades, blinds and the corners of your ceilings at least once a year. Give ’em a swipe with a wet finger and find out why. No need to haul out your vacuum or buy fancy dusting spray, just grab a wet towel and wipe, rinse, repeat.
The Pet Stuff
Invest in dual-purpose items. Hosting company that doesn’t appreciate slobbery dog toys and stinky pet beds strewn throughout your house? Replace your couch side table and pet cage or bed with a fancy wooden pet crate so it blends in and saves space. If your pet has 300 toys, get a nice-looking basket to put them in when company comes over, preferrably a multi-compartment basket you can also store magazines in to make the gnarly toys less noticeable, and tuck it under a table or next to a piece of furniture. Get one with a lid if you don’t want Rover trailing them across your living room while your in-laws are in town.
Outsource your vacuum. You may have a hand vac at home, but the industrial coin-operated vacuums have intense suction and the urgency of a 3-minute time period to make things fast and thorough. Plus, if you have any serious stains, you can soak them in cleaning product then suck out the moisture quickly and easily for a fast steam cleaning without hurting your vacuum.
Scrub smart. Use a dryer sheet to scrub those springtime bugs off the grill. Something about the oils and the texture just really do the trick… a lot faster than elbow grease!
Any other handy tricks? Reply with your ideas!