Just as soon as the winter weather breaks, the spring-cleaning-stress builds, doesn't it? Well, decluttering your home does not have to become a monkey on your back anymore. Just follow these ten tips.
Pare down collections of things you'll never use: plastic containers you've been saving all year; hangers with those easily-breakable paper tube cross-pieces; broken sunglasses; old prescription eyeglasses; old remote controls; rubber bands; miscellaneous plastic silverware; mismatched socks; charging cords from items you've long ago dumped; broken umbrellas. OK you get the idea on this one.
Give away appliances you haven't dusted off in two years: that bread-maker you thought you wanted; that pasta-maker you thought would be cool to own; that gift toaster you're saving as a back-up; that old iron, sandwich maker, hamburger griller, extra fondue pot. You'll love the extra space in your cupboards that this tip generates!
Toss items past their prime: sunscreen begins to degrade after a year; old makeup and skin creams get, well, too old to use; old packs of gum; packages of pasta, nuts and rice that are past their “best by” date; check your freezer, too – meat that's been there a long time develops an “off” flavor.
Make room for new games and puzzles: if you haven't played a game in three years, donate it to someone who would enjoy it; puzzles are fun, but do you want to tackle the same ones over and over? Ask for some new puzzles for your next birthday.
Cull your shoe collection: you really don't need shoes that no longer fit, always hurt your toes, never were comfortable and maybe were a mistake; clear out shoes that don't match your current fashion identity; toss all slippers that have worn or torn soles; throw away all those shoes you've been meaning to have re-soled but that will never happen.
Donate your old cell phones: the sooner you do this, the more useful they'll be to someone else. Clear out all those old chargers and cords while you're at it.
Clear out old socks and underwear: for some reason we all hang onto socks without partners and older worn socks when we buy new ones. Don't do it anymore. Replace the new with the old and don't look back; the same goes for underwear. The reason you bought new items was because the old ones just didn't work for you anymore. Ditch them and you'll feel much, much better.
Toss those old towels and sheets: the towels and linens you got when you were married were very nice then, but take a look at them now. They need to be gone from your life. They're hidden in the back of your laundry closet anyway – you might as well use that space for something else.
Do a medicine makeover: expired medicines don't work and may be dangerous to use. Trash (safely) the antibiotics you didn't take, the pain pills that helped you when you broke your wrist that healed about 5 years ago. Check out old bandaids – they lose their adhesive quality after a while. You don't want to take crumbling antacids when you really need something that will work right away. Half-bottles of this, hardened bottles of that. You don't want to trust your health to any of it.
Trash aging magazines, catalogs and newspapers: if you haven't read a magazine in three months, chances are it will never happen. If you're keeping that magazine for the recipes in it, cut them out, file them, and toss the remains of the magazine. Unless you're launching on a major renovation or considering gifts for the holidays and you need catalogs for inspiration, toss them in a week. Newspapers age quickly and should be thought of as recycles after a few days.
That was easy, wasn't it? If you've gone through this list and you've taken our advice to heart, you now have plenty of room to store the things you'll buy in that trip to the mall we know you're contemplating. Happy shopping!
Image via Oprah.com