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cleaning hacks

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Spring cleaning really can be a fun refresh. Here's how.

If you’re itching to declutter around this time of year, you’re not alone. According to the American Cleaning Institute, 80% of Americans plan to spring clean this year, which is a more than a 10% increase from just 3 years ago. Guess all that working from home will do that to ya.

However, just because many of us are participating in spring cleaning, that doesn't mean we’ll be maximizing it. With the constant decision making, plus the emotional toll at letting go, it’s a daunting task that can leave folks feeling drained, rather than refreshed.

But with a few small tweaks, spring cleaning really can be the cathartic, freeing activity we long for it to be.

Sofia Vyshnevska, a housing expert and co-founder at NewHomesMate, shared her 5 ultimate life hacks for easy and hassle-free spring decluttering. Try one—or all—of these super simple strategies for a clean home and a clear mind.

The Reverse Hanger Trick

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

This is such a cool way of honing a personal style too.

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In a sea of wardrobe decluttering hacks, this one stands out for how it “effortlessly streamlines your wardrobe,” says Sofia.

Here’s how it works: turn all your closet hangers backwards at the start of spring and only turn back those you wear throughout the season. Once summer nears, go through your clothing and donate or sell any items that are still facing backwards. You can even rinse and repeat this throughout the year.

Considering that so many of us have way too many clothes that we don’t actually use, this trick could really come in handy for gleaning the pieces that actually suit our taste and lifestyle.

“If you’ve gone months without picking it out, chances are you never will.”

The Four-Box Method

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Because our brains can't do all the compartmentalizing.

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Ever gotten halfway through an organizing frenzy when that adrenaline suddenly wears off and you’re sitting in a pile of random stuff with no idea what to do? This is a great way to keep that compartmentalizing going even when the motivation disappears.

Sort everything you own into four boxes: keep, donate/sell, trash, and relocate.

Much like Marie Kondo, Sofia advises to “make quick decisions and don’t let sentimental value cloud your judgment” and you’ll have a clutter-free home in no time.

And if sentimentality is clouding your judgment and making parting with things difficult, read on…

The Rehoming Hack

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

“You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

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This is a great way to discover what really should be taking up space in your heart, and your home.

“Whenever you find an item you no longer love, but feel you should hold on to, place it in an empty box and, once full, put it away out of sight. Give it a few weeks, then go back and sort through them again,” Sofia suggests. “You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

And if there’s still some hesitation, you could also take a photo of these items and create an album which takes up a lot less space while still giving you all the joy the actual item previously did.

Tactical Tidying

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Instant gratification can be a great tool.

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It can be tempting to start our spring cleaning by delving into the messy pantry or tucked away storage areas, but with “tactical tidying,” you go for the most visible areas first. That way you’re “constantly reminded of the difference it makes, which will provide the motivation you need to get the job done,” instead of tired and deflated in a couple of hours.

Zone-Based Decluttering

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Don't try to do it all at once.

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Zone-based decluttering also helps us avoid the all-too-common “decluttering fatigue,” explains Sofia. Rather that trying to cram all the cleaning into a single weekend, spread out each room, or zone, throughout a couple of days.

Here’s an example of what zone-based decluttering might look like.

“Start by removing debris and organizing your patio furniture to get your outside space ready for the warmer weather. Tomorrow, get to work on the kitchen—clear the countertops, tidy your cabinets and clean out the refrigerator. Next week? Tackle the storage spaces, organize your electronics, and scrub your upholstery. Then on to your bedrooms, where you need to declutter your nightstand, change your bedding, and switch out your winter wardrobe.”

It’s easy to see how this helps us actually go through the clutter without subjecting ourselves to burnout. Cause at the end of the day, spring cleaning should be energizing, right?

As a bonus, Sofia added some thoughts on the four main types of clutter and how to remove them in a way that good for us and for the planet:

  • Clothing: You might not want it, but there’s likely someone who does. Don’t toss it in the trash until you’ve checked whether local charities, shelters, or thrift stores will take it off your hands.
  • Electronics: Don’t make your clutter the planet’s problem. Recycle any unwanted electronics through a certified e-waste recycling center to avoid causing environmental harm.
  • Furniture: if it’s in usable condition, sell it online or donate it to a charity, shelter, or community center. Otherwise, contact local waste management to find out how to dispose of or, better yet, recycle it.
  • Non-perishable food: Don’t do the easiest thing; do the right thing. Rather than throwing it away, food banks, shelters, and community organizations will happily take any food you don’t want.

Lastly, but very important in today's world—let’s talk about the importance of digital decluttering.

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

"Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

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Walter Gjergja, Shaolin Temple secular monk, mindfulness and well-being expert, and co-founder of the personal trainer app Zing Coach, wisely notes:

"Clutter doesn’t just invade our space; it invades our minds too.…those with cluttered lives tend to procrastinate on important tasks — and digital clutter is no exception. Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

To do this, Gjergja suggests deleting unimportant emails, organizing your files and uploading any you don’t frequently need to cloud storage, plus deleting any unused apps from your home screen.

“You’ll be surprised just how much decluttering your digital space can free up the mind."