Spring cleanup

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Ten decluttering tips for your home
By Julie Ulmer

With today’s busy schedules and our stuff-centric society, our homes can frequently overwhelm us, causing us to throw up our hands in defeat and turn a blind eye, having no idea where to start. Having a sense of organization and order can help keep our homes from becoming a clogged and confusing deposit zone of disarray. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Don’t run out and try to buy all sorts of organizing supplies that you think will help you during your project. Chances are excellent that you will end up with a variety of empty containers and gadgets after a purge and sort.
2. Go for low hanging fruit first. Look around a room and pretend you have guests who have just called and are coming over in 10 minutes. What do you grab first? Is it worth stashing or trashing? If it went away, would you be truly sorry to see it go? If you put it in a cupboard or drawer, would you remember where it is in a month’s time?
3. Include the kids in the decluttering process. Some children have trouble throwing away their toys, even if they are broken or unusable. Encourage your child to give the toy a little memorial as he/she places the loved one in the trash. “Thanks for sharing so many fun baths with me. I know you’re moldy and unsafe now but I’ll remember you as a great toy.” Take a picture of your child with the toy before the send off that will supply them with a forever memory.
4. Sentimental papers, memorabilia and photos take the most amount of editing energy. Start with old magazines, clothes that don’t fit, the overwhelming amount of plastic leftover containers of which you probably only need half the amount. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s easier to tackle the hard stuff like old love letters, greeting cards and that jumble of loose pictures.
5. Try to make decisions the first time you touch an object. It’s easy to get caught up in churning your belongings instead of deciding if the items rate high enough to stay with you or be donated or recycled.
6. Always try to build in wiggle room. Drawers, cupboards and shelves that are overstuffed make it hard to take anything out and certainly make it harder to put anything away. Have you ever tried putting something back on a fully packed clothing rack?
7. Stay focused on one space. Keep an empty box, bin, or basket for relocating belongings that don’t live in that space while you sort clutter. Disperse the contents of boxes to their rightful homes at the end of your session.
8. Don’t expect to declutter everything in just a few swipes. If excess stuff has crept into your life and claimed space in your home, it probably did it over a period of time. It took time to accumulate; it will take time to decimate.
9. To get other household members on board, label, label, label. No need to buy a label maker, just use painter’s tape or sticky notes until everyone learns what lives where.
10. Avoid the perfection trap. Define organized for your reality and stop comparing your space to magazine perfect pictures or post remodeling reveals.
Julie Ulmer is a professional organizer who founded Minding Your Manor in 2003. Julie is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. She assists those needing help with decluttering, downsizing, organizing, moving/relocating, and productivity. Please visit her website: www.mindingyourmanor.com or call 821.4682.


Six tidying tips to put a spring in your cleaning style!
Spring brings with it a sense of renewal, so there is no better time to tackle the piles of junk that have been amassing in your home or your business. A clean space means more room for you to use, helps you focus, makes you more productive, and benefits your mental and physical health.
However, this doesn’t mean getting a start on spring cleaning isn’t daunting for some. The benefits are obvious, but motivating yourself to start sorting and scrubbing can be hard, even if the task isn’t as overwhelming as it looks. Here are six tips to help you get a handle on your clutter, so you can spend less time cleaning and more time relaxing.
● Book yourself in beforehand: Be it one day, or a few hours a day over a couple of weeks, book your spring cleaning time in advance, keep yourself on schedule, and avoid pushing the task endlessly back.
● Follow the old “one year” rule: If it’s something that you haven’t used in more than a year, then do you really need or want it? This is the perfect starting point for those who hesitate about what to throw out and what to keep.
● Have a sorting system in place: Mark boxes, bags or piles with “keep,” “recycle,” “donate,” and “trash” and sort your clutter into the relevant category. Having a sorting system worked out is the perfect way to get a visual on your clutter and compare what’s going where (and consider if you really need to keep as much as you’ve planned).
● Put everything in its place: Don’t start to declutter if all you are going to do is move piles of junk from one place to another. Have your filing cabinets, bookshelves, closets, and dressers all ready to house the items you are keeping, so they end up in their rightful place.
● Mark your progress one room at a time: To help make it seem more manageable, make a plan of attack for which rooms you’ll clean first. Mark them off as you go along, to see your progress. You can even reward yourself as each room is cleared.
● Choose a charity to receive goods: Pick a charity to receive the gently-used items that you won’t be keeping. Knowing that others will benefit from that stuff is a great way to motivate you to clear the clutter and not hold onto items unnecessarily. Why keep them if others need them more? Make sure to research what items a charity will accept, and clean them before donating.
Looking for further inspiration? You can also download the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? spring cleaning checklist from the blog hblog.1800gotjunk.com/2014/04/30/spring-cleaning-checklist.
Hopefully these tips will help change your spring cleaning outlook and guide you from cloudy clutter to bright, clear space!


Naturally clean for spring
A surprising way to make spring cleaning simple

Wiping away the grime of winter doesn’t have to mean launching an attack with dangerous chemicals. As you tackle this year’s spring cleaning chores, take a note from Mother Nature and rely on the cleaning power of a surprisingly effective natural product: vinegar.
During the last century, vinegar has become increasingly recognized as a low-cost and eco-friendly household product. From cooking and canning, to cleaning items indoors and out, homeowners are discovering that this eco-friendly, acetic liquid is as versatile as it is useful.
“Cleaning with vinegar has always been an effective way to banish dirt and grime in kitchens, bathrooms, the garage and the outdoors,” said Mike Smith, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Mizkan Americas, the makers of Four Monks Cleaning Vinegar.
Despite its strong cleaning power, vinegar does have one downfall: its distinctive odor. You can experiment with dozens of DIY recipes online to overcome this dilemma, or you can rely on a store-bought non-toxic cleaning vinegar such as Four Monks, which is made from a proprietary process that reduces the strong aroma and leaves a clean, crisp scent. Learn how vinegar can make it easier to tackle common tasks around the house with these hacks and discover more uses for cleaning with vinegar at www.VinegarTips.com.

In the kitchen 
Clean off the blades of a well-worn can opener with an old toothbrush soaked with vinegar to help remove dirt and grease. Clean your ice/water dispenser by running vinegar through the system. Flush the vinegar out by running water through the system for 30-60 seconds. Rid your dishwasher of mineral buildup by pouring half a cup of vinegar into the reservoir and running an empty cycle. You can also use vinegar in the dishwasher instead of another glass cleaner to keep your glassware sparkling.
Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add one-fourth cup of vinegar and let them soak overnight.
Remove dark stains on an aluminum pot by boiling two cups of vinegar. For stained and smelly plastic food containers and lunchboxes, wipe them with a cloth dampened with vinegar. To clean a grease-splattered oven door window, saturate it with vinegar. Keep the door open for 10-15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.
Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar. Let sit for five minutes then run hot water down the disposal.
Avoid using toxic chemicals where you store food; wipe up spills in the fridge with vinegar.

In the bathroom
Rid a faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing one-third to one-half cup of vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. Wipe down with a sponge and scrub any remaining deposits with an old toothbrush. The same approach can be used to remove buildup on a showerhead.
The fizzing combo of vinegar and baking soda can unclog and remove odor from a tub drain. Pour half a cup of baking soda in the drain, then follow with two cups of hot vinegar. Immediately plug the drain with a rag to keep the bubbles contained for 10 minutes. Rinse by pouring a kettle of boiling hot water down the drain.
Spray shower doors with vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass – or before you turn on the water – to help release hard water deposits.
Clean shower door tracks by filling them with vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into the tracks and scrub away any remaining film with a toothbrush.
To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of vinegar and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush. Remove old bathtub decals with vinegar heated in the microwave.

In the laundry room
Remove coffee and tea stains by flushing the area with vinegar, rinsing and repeating. For wine stains, saturate the spot with vinegar and allow it to stand for several minutes. Then, wash as normal. Tip: For more delicate fabrics or precaution, test on an inconspicuous part of the garment first.
Restore yellowed clothing by soaking garments overnight in a solution of 12 parts warm water and one part vinegar. Wash them the following morning.
Soak new garments in a few cups of vinegar for 10-15 minutes before washing to stop dyes from running in the wash.
If frequent ironing has left your iron plate dirty, make a paste from one part vinegar and one part salt to scrub it clean.
Remove scorch marks from an iron by rubbing it with a warm solution of equal parts vinegar and salt. If that doesn’t work, use a cloth dampened with vinegar.
Forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy? Pour a few cups of vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent to rinse the clothes.
Prevent lint from clinging to clothes by adding half a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle.

What is vinegar?
Vinegar is the acetic liquid that results when a product containing sugar is allowed to ferment. Vinegar can be created from nearly any product containing sugar; fruit and grains, such as barley and corn, are common sources of vinegar.

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