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From scheduling to setting a rule-of-thumb: The best spring cleaning methods that prevent stress

Every March, the time I like to call “the dull interlude before spring”, I’m always overtaken by a burning desire to strip my home of all signs of my winter hibernation. Like clockwork, my eyes pick up on the cocoon of clutter that I’ve lived in from November through February, and I get the itch to clear it out and clean it all up.

From the stacks of sweaters, strewn about shoes, and stuffed suitcases storing the summer wardrobe that had no place in my closet, you’d think I’d barricaded myself inside, afraid to face the cold. The overflow of glassware and half-empty multiples of the same toiletries become overbearing to look at, and the makeshift organisation that seemed to work for the time being starts to disappoint me. Don’t even get me started on the tote bag full of clothes I never got tailored, unopened mail, wheels of ribbon, and unknown cords.

As the weather permits, spring is the time to shed the layers we’ve accumulated – clothing and chaos-wise. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sudden change in temperature that’s forced you to look at your living space in a new light. We always want to free ourselves of the mess all at once, spending hours on end tidying up the disarray in front of us so we can settle the muddle in our minds too. But, despite the intrusive thoughts convincing us we need to finish our spring cleaning immediately, polish every corner and crevasse, toss the needless items, and replace the used-up with new ones, there are ways to productively handle it all free of pressure.

Here are a few ways to navigate spring cleaning so you don’t get stressed.

Form a schedule

To prevent further disarray, it’s always better to map out a plan before you start scatter tidying. It’s easy to get distracted by one mess or think of a spot you haven’t cleaned in a while when you’re in the middle of another. So, to avoid a disorderly spring cleaning, section off the areas you want to cover and then list little spaces under those larger operations. If the room is bigger than the others, ensure you cover the entire ground by taking your time and planning which parts you’re going to take care of each day.

Remember, rushing won’t properly take care of the process where you feel good about the job afterward. There’s no shame in spreading the job out over the course of a couple of weeks, so long as the finished product is to your satisfaction.

Start with common spaces

My home always feels less crowded and sloppy when I take care of my common spaces – living room, kitchen, bathroom, hallways, etc. Because I’m the only person privy to my bedroom, I don’t feel as pressured to tidy it right away. However, even if it’s not much, I see the disorder in the shared areas of my home more so and feel more uneasy, especially because they’re larger spaces.

Start with the rooms that your roommates, family, or guests are more likely to enter first and then take care of your personal area. Clean the surfaces and then move onto the smaller, shielded details. If you start small, it’ll feel like the space has worsened because you’ve had to empty the throwaways, food, and decor out in the open to clean them up. But if you work your way down, at least you know the bigger task is already taken care of and anyone who wants to enjoy the neat area can do so sooner rather than later.

Refresh the bathroom

A necessary room to clean is the one in which you clean yourself. How can you feel fresh if the space you’re freshening up in is dirty and unorganised? If you’re contemplating which room to prioritise, you can’t go wrong with the bathroom. Mildew and mould can easily build up when you take a shower and can be underestimated until it’s very visible. Though you may spray the sink and scrub the toilet, have you washed the shower walls and bleached the floor? When was the last time you wiped the shower shelves or washed the bathmats? Sanitising the entire bathroom will leave you feeling cleaner than anytime you’ve gotten out of the shower before.

Set a rule-of-thumb

For those struggling to decide which pantry items, extra kitchenware, toiletries, or miscellaneous accessories to get rid of, devise a rule-of-thumb. Come up with an indicator that will help you make the hard decision of what to keep and what to chuck. I usually hold myself accountable under a strict four-month rule. If I haven’t used a product or item for the last four months and I don’t see myself using it in the next four, I toss it. Obviously, if it’s something that may come in handy unexpectedly, like fabric scissors or a mini sewing kit, I’ll keep it. However, the plastic plates I’ve held on to since college but haven’t used since I bought glass ones have no business taking up space in my cabinets any longer.

Take inventory

The rule-of-thumb method goes along with the necessity of taking inventory. When you’re looking through your drawers and storage bins, make sure to take careful note of what you have, what you’re throwing away, and what you’re missing. There’s no point in spending loads on new appliances, products, or a new organisation system before you’ve had a chance to see everything you own. You don’t want to start buying bins and racks to put away your belongings when you don’t know how much you have or how much you’ll need after you throw things away.

Finish with the closet

Contrary to what many believe, decluttering and switching your seasonal closet should be the last task on your spring-cleaning checklist. Starting the season swamp by putting away your chunky knits and overbearing coats first may be premature. Those looking to spring clean in mid-March, depending on where you live, may be shocked by the number of times you have to pull out the outer layers again if you switch your closet over from winter right away. Instead, wait until the beginning of April before you completely store your winter wardrobe and hang up the tiny tops.