Now that the new year is in full swing, how are your resolutions holding up? Well, if you are like 90% of the U.S. population, there was at least one that you didn’t stick to. Breaking New Year’s resolutions is almost as universal as making them. We’ve put together 5 tips, plus one bonus tip, to help inspire you to keep a very common resolution vital to you and your family’s overall health and well-being…keeping your home neat and tidy.
1. Have a Place for Everything
The French have coined a cooking system for keeping kitchens organized. It’s called, “mise en place,” or roughly speaking, “everything in its place.” Many people are adopting this “philosophy” to general cleaning. Merci! One of the hardest parts of cleaning up a mess is knowing where everything goes. If you have a pre-determined spot for everything, not only does it make it easier to clean, but it makes it much easier to find when you need it. If you come across an item that you’re unsure where it goes, ask yourself, if I was looking for this, where would be the first place I would look? Usually, that’s the best spot. However, everyone thinks differently, so it helps to get everyone in the household on board—especially in the kitchen, which is usually the hardest area in the home to keep clean.
2. Start Small in the Most Used Areas
Keep it simple. Start with clearing the flat surfaces—tables, shelves, kitchen counters—and clear off everything and get rid of the non-essential items. Clean the surface and go through each piece to determine whether or not it belongs. If you have a food processor on your counter that you haven’t used since you made guacamole for that summer party, it may be time to put that in storage or donate it to a friend. For the items, you want (or need) to keep, wipe them down and place them back neatly.
3. Create Two “Inboxes” for Snail Mail (and other papers)
Incoming mail and other paper documents contribute to a lot of clutter. This is because we put them in different spots — on the kitchen counter, a desk, the dining room table, in a random drawer, or even in the car. It’s no wonder we can’t find anything! Get two bins and place them in a convenient spot. Designate one container for items that require immediate attention (e.g., bills or offers with deadlines), and the other for things that don’t require a response but you need to keep and file for future access (medical documents, school letters, etc.) When you bring in your mail, go through each item immediately and place into the correct bin. If it doesn’t belong in either bin, chances are, it’s garbage.
4. Eliminate the Dreaded “Clutter Corners”
You may have an area (or two) in your home that you, or someone you live with, like to place items for quick access instead of putting them away, because…well…it’s too much effort. Ideally, you will develop habits that will eliminate clutter corners before they start (see Bonus tip #6). Depending on how long you’ve been adding to the clutter, you may consider clearing a day in your schedule to work your way through the mess. If you think it will take you more than a day, move on to tip #5.
5. Divide and Conquer the Big Messes
If you happen to have some “pack-rat” tendencies and you’ve lived in your home for more a few years, your clutter corner may have developed into a cluttered room—a basement, a spare room, or a 3-car garage that is now a 1-car garage. This is the collection of “stuff” that you believe you “may need someday.” It might seem daunting, but it’s not so bad if you start right. First, decide the amount of time you have to devote. You would be surprised at how much you can get through in just a few hours—as long as you don’t stop to see how young everyone looked at the wedding from 1993. Get yourself a few boxes or bins and separate the items into these four groups:
• Keep: Do you need it and use it frequently? Designate a convenient place where it can be easily accessed, then keep it there when not in use.
• Store: Do you love it, or does it have sentimental value? If you haven’t used it in more than a year or two, maybe you don’t like it as much as you thought. Make sure you know what’s here. Many people will store things then forget they have them. So they waste money buying new.
• Donate: You don’t love it (anymore), but someone else might.
• Trash: It has no value to anyone.
6. BONUS TIP: Develop the everyday habits that will save you tons of cleaning time
Be kind to your future self. Take ten minutes at the end of the night to do a quick tidy up. Hang up the clean clothes, put the dirty ones in the hamper, clear the days’ mess from the countertops. Be prepared to add a little time for every child in the house. If your kids are old enough, have them help. It will be hard at first, but it’s a great way to teach them good cleaning habits. To keep your shower fresh and clean. Keep a bottle of CLR® Bath & Kitchen Cleaner handy. Spray a few times in the corners after you take a shower. When you’re finished drying off, do a quick rinse…cleaning will be a breeze.
We hope you enjoyed these tips. Have a safe and happy new year!