I am a self-diagnosed neat freak. I love to clean and I love to organize. (If I could have a container, holder and/or label for EVERYTHING, my life would be complete!) And this is my brand new blog for everything NEAT!
I have a toddler in perpetual motion, a packrat daughter, a dog and a disorganized husband... and I hope to share the challenges, trials, errors, rewards and insights of being a bit "too clean obsessive" in a family that's not so in love with neatness. And I am making a promise to clean, rearrange, organize and simplify my life... and help you along the way! SO stay tuned for my journey toward everything orderly and efficient!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 95: Get Neater on Women'

Need some tips to speed up your spring cleaning? Well, in case you missed it, this little ole' blog author was featured in a spring cleaning article, "8 Speedy Spring Cleaning Tips" -- on Women'! Just click HERE to read all about it!

And if you feel like reading more, here is the interview, in its entirety!


Room: Part they should clean to make the most difference?(Please also give tips for how they can do it.)
The living room: Windows? Media center? (Which one?)
The pets and the children in our household make cleaning the windows almost futile! Fingerprints and nose prints will magically reappear within a day! Plus, the pollen in our area of the country would coat the freshly cleaned glass with an icky, yellow film in just a matter of days – or hours. So, in the living room, I would definitely say, “Go for the media center!” And, to make this quick and easy, purchase some baskets or boxes in similar colors and styles… and different sizes. And think odd numbers – maybe 3 or 5! If you have clutter (i.e. stray magazines, books, video games, remote controls, etc.), give away the things you no longer use or need, and put the leftover, similar things together in containers to “hide” them from view. (For instance, a box of old DVD's is much neater than a random pile of them!) Once everything has a home, stack the boxes or arrange the baskets on different shelves, next to some greenery or books or frames. The new containers will add a fresh, decorative look to the media center along with a handy, new organizational “system!”

The bedroom: Closet?
I firmly believe that organizing your closet is an indirect way to organize your bedroom, because the items that have a specific place to “live” in your closet will not take up residence on your bed, somewhere on the floor or over the other furniture in the room! For example, if dirty clothes are a problem, add an inexpensive pop-up hamper to the closet, and dump the dirties in there! If shoes are multiplying, try shoe organizers, clear, plastic bins or boxes. If you can, designate a spot for hats, for jewelry, for accessories and for other clothes. Relegate out-of-season items to a storage container, and donate out-of-style or too-small items to a local charity. If you can keep your closet in line, your bedroom will reap the rewards!

The bathroom: Floors? Tub?
Hair. Toothpaste. Hairspray. Perfume. Dust. Makeup. All these things can gunk up a floor and make it look dingy and grimy. So, my advice is to concentrate on the bathroom floor. A clean tub is nice, but we don’t use the tub too often. However, I love having a fresh, clean bathroom floor! It feels good on bare feet; it looks nice to guests and family; and it smells wonderful! And a fresh-smelling bathroom makes a world of difference. If you also have bathroom rugs, this is a great time to shake them out and let them get some fresh air. Or, this might be an ideal time to replace them, for a clean, fresh look.

The kitchen: Floors? Refrigerator?
These are tall orders, but I would start with a clean, organized pantry and a clean, organized refrigerator. A disorganized pantry is a kitchen’s worst nightmare! And since the fridge is the hub of the kitchen – and sometimes the information center – it deserves some spring-cleaning attention! It’s too difficult to plan meals, serve snacks or whip up something when you have no idea what’s in the pantry or the fridge! (It’s also difficult when the ingredients are old, out of date, or, worse, growing things.) So, dedicate a little time to this project. Take everything out of the pantry and out of the fridge and give each space a good cleaning. Use antibacterial sprays or wipes to clean the fridge. Dust off shelves in the pantry. Vacuum up dust bunnies if they’ve set up residence! Then, discard the mystery foods and the expired items. Give yourself a completely clean slate. When restocking the pantry, try to keep “like” things together. Cereals can be stacked next to one another. Cans go together. Snacks can occupy one shelf. Make it make sense for you and for your family so when you take a peek inside before heading to the store, you know what things need to be replenished or replaced! For the fridge, use what you have! If there are special slots for milk, eggs and butter, use them for milk, eggs and butter! It’s much easier to find and use food items when they are stored in roughly the same spot each time!

The garage/basement: Clutter?
If you don’t have a lot of time (or motivation!), a few plastic crates can do a world of wonder for a garage or a basement. And it’s a simple fix, too. Just throw a bunch of crates on the floor, and begin to sort out the clutter. Put electrical cords and power strips in one bin. Sort out loose tools in another. Keep sporting gear separated in its own crates. You can even designate one for paint, brushes and other related items. Once this is done, you can stack the bins on the floor and/or on shelves.

The home-office:
If you have a paper pile-up in your home office, folders can be an easy trick to getting this clutter under control. Designate one for receipts, one for bills, one for school papers and announcements, etc. etc. You will feel empowered by your instant categorizing/filing skills! Get a pretty file holder, or just keep them neatly stacked on your desk. Just be sure to go through them to discard unwanted items so your folders don’t get too overloaded!

The foyer: Install shelving?
I have the smallest, most inefficient hall closet – ever! It may have been an afterthought… or a storage area for elves. There is just no room in there! So, I use creative, decorative storage. A trunk or chest – anything that closes – can be the best solution in these tight situations! Hide away umbrellas, shoes, hats or other outdoor wear. Or, store extra blankets and throws in a big basket. I avoid shelves in the foyer, since it’s the first impression guests have of my home. Instead, I suggest installing shelves in closets, laundry rooms, mud rooms and other spaces that are not as easily accessible – or viewable – to guests!

The patio: Sweep? Wipe down? Hose? Throw out yucky furniture? (Which one?)
Outdoor spaces can be a wonderful extension to your home. We have a screened-in patio, and it seems to function as a resort destination for all kinds of beetles, bees, spiders and moths. So, when the weather gets nice, I take a backpack blower and clear out the dust, debris and bugs in one fell swoop. I also get out the heavy-duty carpet or upholstery cleaner and scrub off the chair cushions, letting them dry in the sun. For glass tables, I clean them with water and window cleaner. For iron pieces, I wipe them off with a damp paper towel. And for wood furniture, I wipe it down with an old rag and furniture cleaner.

Can you recommend a heavy-duty upholstery cleaner?
I typically "borrow" my husband's automobile upholstery cleaner for cleaning my outdoor furniture. Turtle Wax's "Power Out" has been a great satin (and odor) remover in the past! It's a foamy cleaner, in a can, and it comes with a brush on the spray end, so it's convenient and easy to use, too! You don't need to scrub very hard, more like just let that foam permeate... and watch stains disappear.

The laundry room: System suggestion?
The biggest organizational problem in the laundry room is, well… the laundry. Typically it’s pretty easy to store detergent, fabric softener and other laundry needs in cabinets, on shelves or even neatly on the floor. But those darn clothes can take up so much space! To tackle this issue, I suggest getting a sorting hamper or at least several stackable laundry baskets. Train your family to use different sections or baskets for dirty clothes. And use other areas and designated baskets for clean clothes, so you can fold them and put them away when you find that “free” moment. This way, this space doesn’t become just a big mound of “things to do.” I also like to use over-the-door hooks and wall-mounted hooks. These are great places to dry delicate things or to hang up clean items.

Other questions: Am I missing a room? If they could clean just one room, which one should it be or which room’s cleanliness would make a difference throughout the whole house?
The bottom line is, give your home a little TLC (tender loving cleaning) this spring! And, if necessary, do it a little at a time. Tackle just one room or one project every day. Or spend 15-30 minutes in one area, and tackle whatever you can in that timeframe! Don’t let it overwhelm you, but don’t let it overtake you, either! A clean, organized home takes commitment and dedication. And it CAN be done!

Also, do you have any suggestions for a dining room?
Oh, you will hate me on this one! Every once in a while, I get out the hairdryer and blow off my hutch. Yes, dust and debris go all over the place. And, yes, you have to be very careful not to knock over grandma's crystal salt and pepper shakers! But, there are a lot of items on my hutch -- from serving bowls to decorative collectibles -- and I just don't have time to take everything off and dust. A hairdryer will do the trick, with a little patience and some good aim! Then, I swish over everything with a static duster or I wipe out bowls or vases that did not get clean enough. Afterward, I just go about the "normal" cleaning routine, whether that's vacuuming carpets and rugs or swiffering the hardwoods. I also make sure the table (the centerpiece of the dining room) is dust and finger-print free. Add a vase of fresh flowers, and I look like a cleaning and decorating whiz! ;)

Now, THAT's neat!

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