Now is a great time of year for decluttering and organising your home. The longer hours of daylight are great motivators to clean and tidy - there’s more time to be active, yes, but moreover dust and chaos are very visible in the sunshine!
Traditionally, spring cleaning was done to clear away all the soot and dust that had accumulated over winter inside a home with an open fireplace. It’s a tradition that’s lasted for centuries, but nowadays it’s more about freeing up space in our homes and making the most of the space available over the long days of summer. Once everything’s organised, you can give everything a good clean and have a sparkling house you can enjoy all summer long!
To help you to get organised, here’s our step-by-step guide to decluttering your home for summer.
Step 1: Get everybody on board.
If you live with others, there is no point in trying to declutter and clean your house without their active involvement. For a start, every time you clear a room, someone else will fill it again. Resentment will build up and you’ll find yourself walking around the house picking things off the floor and muttering curses under your breath all day, every day, until you snap. Nobody wants that!
Up to a certain age, children are really keen to help others. They want approval and praise, and if you ask them to do something in a way they understand and accept, they’ll be willing to help.
If you have teenagers … maybe just close their door and don’t deal with that part of the house. If they’re particularly reasonable teenagers, you could ask them to bring down the crockery and dirty clothes in some kind of amnesty arrangement, no questions asked.
Step 2: Start at the top.
Not quite the top: now is not the time to start decluttering the loft. Your living space is the priority and if you get embroiled with organising the loft and years’ worth of clutter, you’ll never get round to tidying the living room.
Instead, start with the bedrooms, one at a time. In each room:
- take out the clothes from each wardrobe and separate them into summer and winter piles. British weather dictates that it would be folly to put all your warm clothes into storage and not expect to use them until October.
- Most chunky jumpers and winter coats could, though, be put into vacuum bags and shrunk down to take up very little space.
- Keep the bags under your bed or at the bottom of your wardrobe, or wherever you have room.
With each item you plan to store, think carefully about whether you’ll use it again next winter:
- Does it still fit?
- When did you last wear it?
- Do you like it?
- Does it need mending?
Unless you’re certain you’ll wear it again, give it to charity or pop it in a charity clothing recycle bin at your local supermarket.
Return everything you’ll wear over summer into the wardrobe and admire all that extra space! Do the same with your chest of drawers and repeat for each room.
In the bathroom, go through all the bottles and packets that have accumulated along the side of the bath or in the shower caddy. In the spirit of frugality, tip the last inch of every nearly-empty bottle of shampoo into one bottle and recycle the empties.
Step 3: Swap out your duvets and blankets
If, like most of Britain, you’ve steadfastly refused to turn the heating on more than you absolutely have to to avoid frostbite, you probably have a few blankets on each bed. In a few weeks’ time, you’ll be boiling at night and only want a thin sheet. If you own duvets of different togs, consider popping the thick tog duvets away now. Turn the mattress at the same time!
Step 4: Tackle the kitchen
Have a look in the cupboards and check the dates on things you can’t remember buying. Just because something’s past its use-by-date doesn’t mean it’s unusable, but if that packet of oregano is dated 2012 you’re probably safe to get rid of it.
Have you accumulated a lot of pans, tins and trays over the years? Could they be sold, given to charity or recycled if you don’t use them? Those teenagers upstairs might go to university or leave to set up their own home at some point - could you pop the extra equipment into the loft/garage/shed/storage unit until they need them?
Step 5: Dig out your summer gear
Chances are, you’ll have things like garden furniture cushions, garden toys and gardening gear tucked away in cupboards in your home. As part of reviving your garden ready for summer, you can get those items out of storage and replace them with whatever you need to clear from your living room (such as cosy blankets).
Step 6: Consider a storage unit
If you’re renting a storage
unit for the summer, you could store your winter clothes in there, along with anything else you’ve got stashed in your wardrobes or spare rooms - Christmas decorations, winter sport equipment, things like that.
Keeping that clutter out of your home altogether, rather than knowing it’s crammed into every available nook and cranny, will make your house feel so much tidier and fresher. You’ll be able to open cupboards without fear of things falling on you; you’ll have room to store things you use regularly and be able to take them out easily!
Decluttering isn’t the most fun you can have, but it will feel great when it’s done - enjoy your lovely new home!