It’s that time of year again … time for some serious spring cleaning.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you kept your house spotless and clutter-free all year round. That’s why we have a few life hacks for you to help you keep your home cleaner than you ever have before.
1. Leave a room the way you found it: clean
Every once in awhile, you’ll walk into a room and wonder how it got so messy. Didn’t you just clean it the other day? That’s what happens when you leave a room without tidying up afterwards. Messes pile up, and you lose track of time.
If your house is not clean right now, take some time this week and clean it. That means everything: vacuuming the stairs; underneath the couch instead of just vacuuming around it. Straighten all the pillows. Scrub the bathroom tiles.
Once you’ve done that, make it a point to keep every room you walk into as clean as it was before you entered it. So if you sit down on the couch and mess up all the pillows, or grab a blanket from the closet while watching a movie, before you turn off the lights and head up to bed, straighten the pillows and fold up and put away the blanket.
Taking care of even the small messes you make right away means you’re a lot less likely to leave them sitting there for days, maybe even weeks at a time.
2. Once a month, go on a house-wide “stuff” purge
It’s often hard to recognize when your house is starting to fill up with clutter. The mistake we often make, when we own a lot of random items, is that the key to keeping our spaces clean is to organize and re-organize everything we have.
In reality, organizing your possessions in this way is literally just taking clutter from one place in your house and moving it to another place. If you go long periods of time buying more “stuff” without getting rid of anything, you’re going to end up feeling like your house is never truly clean.
Solve this problem by going through everything in your house once a month, room by room, and getting rid of the things you have not used the entire month since you last cleaned everything out. Those jeans you haven’t worn, you don’t really need to keep. Do you really need three sets of matching dishes? Probably not.
Here are a few more tips for living clutter-free and why it is sometimes hard, but worth it, to get rid of things you don’t always realize you don’t need.
3. Store items in your fridge and pantry using the FIFO method
Probably one of the most unpleasant messes in your house also happens to be a potentially dangerous one. Keeping food in your refrigerator for too long, without realizing it, is messy for both your health and the environment.
Have you ever cleaned out your fridge one day and found something that expired six months ago? You might have been able to avoid accidentally forgetting about that, if you had been using the FIFO storage method.
The First In, First Out (FIFO) food storage method is pretty simple. It just means you keep the oldest food items in the front of your fridge or pantry and keep the newest items in the back. That way you don’t end up using new food before finishing the old, or continue to take up space with items that are already spoiled or otherwise no longer edible.
Let’s say you buy a container of spinach on Friday and slide it to the very back of your fridge, then stack a few other items on top of it. On Tuesday, you can’t remember if you bought spinach or not to use for your next recipe, so you buy another container and put it right in front when you get home. Instinctively, you grab the newer container and use it, completely forgetting about the one already wilting in the back.
Use FIFO to keep your fridge clean and the food in it safe for eating.
4. Don’t hoard junk mail … or any paper, for that matter
Grabbing the mail on your way into the house is just one of those habits we don’t usually think twice about. Even worse, you probably have a specific counter or table where all your mail sits untouched for weeks, especially the envelopes that don’t require your immediate attention.
The same goes for magazines, catalogs, journals and newsletters. You get them sent to your mailbox monthly, sometimes more frequently, and let’s be honest: you probably haven’t actually sat down and read through any of them in awhile, have you?
Paper takes up a lot of space, and it just isn’t necessary. Unsubscribe to those catalogs: you don’t need them. Most subscriptions you either don’t need or can come to you virtually in your email inbox. You’re either going to let that paper pile up or throw it right out, so there’s really no need to keep it sitting around your house.
5. Establish a set of routines
The kind of cleaning we all dread, which you might refer to as “deep cleaning” in your household, involves a lot of scrubbing and vacuuming. You can make this process a lot easier on yourself if you don’t wait until you’re having people over to hose everything down.
You will have much more to clean if you only do it every once in a while. Instead, make it a point to clean every space in your home weekly, if not daily.
Give every larger task an assigned day, so that it becomes part of your routine. For example, you could “schedule” time on Saturdays to clean the bathroom and declare Monday as Laundry Day. For smaller tasks, like dishes, wiping down counters and vacuuming, choose a time of day, such as morning, after lunch or before dinner.
Here is a list of random household items you should probably clean more often in general, especially during cold and flu season and/or if you live with other people.
Make cleaning part of your routine. Keep it consistent and try to keep things clutter-free. That way, every time you have to clean won’t feel like such a chore.