Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Cleaning for Good

Bluebells blooming along Luray Avenue

Spring always brings to mind a new beginning.  The weather turns from cold and unforgiving to warm and welcoming.  The grass grows lush and green and trees and plants start blooming.  The days get longer and everyone from the bugs and birds to children and adults enjoy it.  People get out their bikes and start riding.  Gardeners get their hands in the dirt and start making magic happen.  We will soon see the reopening of farmer's markets and the grills will start up for the season.  Spring also brings to mind some not so pleasant things.  While I have no cure for your allergies:  Spring cleaning can be made a little more – well – clean. 

First step is always de-cluttering.  I love to get rid of things.  But I have a hard time getting rid of the kids' stuff.  Something about taking their toys or books and getting rid of them makes my stomach ache.  What if they want to play with it again?  It’s easier around Christmas and the birthdays to start purging because I know more will come in.  But toys multiply faster than rabbits and it’s easier to say goodbye to items when you know they will be doing more good outside of your home than in.  Our MOMS Club of Front Royal does a SWAP table at our monthly meetings.  Everything from clothes (both MOMS and kids) to toys, dishes and books find their way to the table. Anything a member doesn’t want to take home gets donated.  

Decluttering for Spring by Kevin Sharkey
We donate clothes to C-CAP and toys and household items go to Second Chance Thrift Store.  There are a lot of thrift stores in our area but Second Chance benefits Harmony Place Women’s Shelter and so that is usually our pick.   Books can go to any number of places:  Check your local library (I donate my books to Samuels Public Library).  Also check doctor’s offices and hospitals and your local schools.  A great place to donate blankets and towels is your local Humane Society.  They even take washers and driers!  Here is a great article about other places to donate used items to help those outside your community:  Milkshake Spring Cleaning with a Purpose.  

Before just piling stuff in your trunk and hauling it to a thrift store – you should call ahead if you have any large items and also inventory all items for tax purposes.  My receipts totaled around $600 last year from all our donations.  And I didn’t inventory well!  Now I make notes and then staple it to the receipt and file it in our tax folder.  It should save me and our wonderful tax people at MRS Tax Services time this year.  They even let us send in receipts before our appointment to take less time while we are actually in the office.  

Check online for places to recycle items you would normally throw away.  I check sites such as Earth911 to find out what we can recycle, where and how.  Some items, such as the microwave that shoots sparks, tend to stump me.  I can’t donate it because it isn’t safe but I would hate for it to just end up in a landfill.  Other items such as the computer that died can be taken to Goodwill and will be recycled.  It takes a little GoodSearching but in the end it feels better to know that your items are not going to be harming the planet or cluttering your home. 

Are you feeling up to a little cleaning?  If you aren’t on Pinterest (seriously – you aren’t?) then there are plenty of places to find recipes for natural cleaners.  One of my favorites is Vinegar and I use it on everything from glass to the drain to the microwave to the coffee pot.  I even poured vinegar in a carpet cleaning machine rather than super strong chemicals.  Some other items you can use to clean are lemon juice, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  Here are some links to check out:

If you aren't up for making cleaners there are two green cleaning lines I love:  method and seventh generation.   

And remember the essentials!  Two items out for every one in (fight clutter before it starts!).  Take your shoes off at the door.  And make sure that everything has a place!  Baskets are a common find in thrift stores and can help corral everything in your home.  Another big clutter item is paper and if you follow the "one touch" rule you will find that paperwork is more manageable.  Once a paper comes into your home - whether mail, school papers, medical documents - handle it immediately.   You should decide to recycle, shred, file, or take action on it as soon as you touch it.  I tend to print on the back of any one-sided school paper that comes home.  

Now that I have finished this post - I guess I should get started on my own spring cleaning.  But first . . . another cup of coffee.

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