Organization Tip No. 24: the Secret to a Clean House

• 13 June 2011

























There is nothing like the impending arrival of a houseguest to motivate me to whittle down my to-do list and whip my home into shape. I'm not complaining though, I secretly like the added encouragement! So, this weekend, as I sorted and cleaned out closets, drawers and more closets and drawers, I had an epiphany. The secret to an easily-maintained clean living space is simply having less stuff to clean up. You would think it's some kind of organization system, right? But truly, when it comes down to it, the issue is just keeping tabs on how much we are accumulating in our living spaces because having lots of "stuff" = having to always be cleaning up that "stuff".

Before we moved to Seattle, we hosted a large garage sale and pared down quite a bit. And since moving here we continue to be concerted about what things we are holding on to--it's truly a constant process and not just a one time effort (although I wish it weren't so). In fact, I find myself purging things from our home on a fairly continuing basis--about once a month in fact. While it is a bit of a pain to sort, sell, donate, schlep, etc. the end result is pure satisfaction...and liberation...and clarity of thought. As crazy as it may sound, the less "stuff" we have, the more interesting our lives become. Meaning, instead of being constantly consumed with maintaining our junk and the accumulation of this and that, we are focused more on experiences--treasures that stay with us always. So all in all, it feels like putting forth the effort to clean out nooks and crannies a good thing.

For me, problem issues continue to be closets (I love to toss stuff inside and shut the door...obviously not a great long-term plan!), the playroom, my children's rooms, the laundry room, etc. Because of heavy use, these little areas tend to keep me on my toes. What areas do you find problematic in your space? And what secrets do you have to share?

Peek at organization tips #1 - #23  as well as my general organization tips.

p.s. this fabulous little nook resides in the home of Sarah Hicks Malone--the creator of the fabulous party blog Sara's Party Perfect. I haven't stopped thinking about her living space since viewing it on D*S last Autumn. I find it incredibly inspiring on so many levels!

24 comments:

Emily said...

I absolutely LOVE purging and scaling back--one of the reasons (probably the only one) I enjoy moving. It's amazing how much "stuff" we collect. I'm about to go room by room and really de-junk. Our two rooms most in need of it are the office and the spare bedroom/storage room.

Stephanie said...

We are on the same page Emily...I shudder to think were we'd be if we hadn't moved a bajillion times already. This last one was particularly painful--5 years in one location...yikes!

xo

Briana said...

Great tip! This post is very timely. Organizing and purging have been at the forefront of my brain.

Here is a quote (can't recall where it came from) that I repeat to myself daily: "A place for everything and everything in its place."

Mary said...

I feel exactly the same way. I keep a box in a closet where I collect items to be donated, and I schedule to have it picked up about once every month or two. (No more shlepping!) It's a never-ending process for sure, and it always feels good after a a big purge. I am also a big fan of freecycle.org, which I like to use for baby items (because it's nice to give directly to someone who can use them, and new parents are especially appreciative of stuff--babies are expensive!), and where I can get rid of more unique items (an old mantel, anyone? a large stack of bricks?). Trust me, there is someone out there who will put your stuff to good use!

The playroom is constantly being rotated and thinned out, but my problem areas are bathrooms and our back storage room (a.k.a. "the crap room").

Pauper said...

I came to this realization about a year ago and now my new mantra is 'less is more.' It certainly makes me more conscious of what I do buy and makes me feel happy when I walk out of a store having turned down a number of items. I agree that experiences are far more important than 'things'. I look forward to looking at your other tips!

Ana Degenaar said...

I really needed this! Thank you!
PS: don't forget this giveaway end today.

Miranda said...

I couldn't agree more! We spent the weekend going through a bunch of our stuff getting ready for a massive yard sale. It saddens me a bit that we've spent so much energy boxing this stuff up and moving it when we didn't even need it.

jora said...

Stephanie: this is sooooooo true, thank you for putting it into words for me! My husband is a total and complete minimalist (through and through) and I like it too, but I also like to shop and get lured into buying too much stuff. I am happiest though when I have less, and clean up is WORLDS EASIER without stuff spilling out of the closets.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I would love to read tips 1-23, I could really use the advice, but the "Peek at organization tips #1-#23 here" link just goes to #23. Then I tried to track them down using the general organization tips link, but I felt lost and in the midst of chaos. Which might be ironic. Can you help? Thanks!

stephmodo said...

Anon: click on the link and it will take you to #23...then at the bottom of the post a link will take you to #22 and it continues...

Hope that helps!

Betsy said...

Oh, I completely agree! And purging is NOT a one time thing! Although the initial time you do it can take months as you go through every area of your home for the first time. But it is such a fun, liberating experience and you do get better with it over time. I've also found that I think twice before I buy something, too.

erin said...

We moved 8 times in our first 11 years of marriage and it definitely kept us from becoming "cluttered". I become very unsentimental when I actually have to think about moving something, and I must really love or need something in order to pack it! That being said, we've been in our current home 7 years (unbelievable) and although I purge it regularly, it's not the same! My biggest problem areas are the garage and our home office! Yikes! The thought of preparing either one of those spaces to list this home (or pack it), gives me total anxiety!

dandee said...

You're so wise Steph. I too love a good de-junking session and have been asked on more than one occasion if we've just moved into our home. We've been here 4 years. Minimalist to an extreme? Perhaps. . .

by Sara Hicks Malone said...

thanks for the shout-out! we are continually bingeing and purging stuff around here...

Andrea said...

so true! i'm currently working on purging 100 items during the month of june. my motivation was this fun little fact: Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of housework in the average American home. if that doesn't motivate you, i don't know what will. ;) http://www.ourlittlegems.com/2011/06/june-purge-losing-100-stuffs-in-30-days/

Stephanie said...

Erin! Finally someone who has moved as often as us :) I can relate!

Danyelle/Dandee, I am not sure about being wise, although thank you so much for the compliment, but I am sure that I hate cleaning up stuff all the time and I hope this helps. It would be nice to look like you slaved at your home when really it was just effortless b/c you don't have stuff everywhere. I hope to see your minimal house someday...i so wish I lived by you!

Andrea, I believe that statistic is true. That sounds about right! I definitely feel like decluttering helps a ton when it comes to maintenance. A ton.

shirley slee said...

Thankfully we have moved a lot! So we are forced to completely clear out any junk! Even though our last move was 2 miles away from our last house. I actually feel bad for my friends that don't move as often, seems their drowning in clutter! http://thesleefamily.blogspot.com/

Lindsay marie said...

For me, closets are scary places too. We've been living In a tiny apartment in San Francisco, so I had to store so much stuff in them! We just moved out and are on our way to moving into a little quaint new England home across the country.... Im so happy to start fresh and have less "stuff"!

Anonymous said...

Here is another blog that has some great solutions on cleaning and organizing your home.

kalanicut said...

Ah, we are so on the same page. I just blogged two weeks ago about purging and how I've learned very recently that the less we have the more we live. We have been having more wonderful experiences, spending time with other people, getting out into the lovely world. You are so right, it is so true.

My biggest problem right now is my workspace. It is servicing a whole lot in a tiny space. I haven't seen the top of my desk for a few weeks & it's getting me down. Maybe I should tackle that today. I'm inspired. :) Thank you!

Carrie said...

There is a wonderful quote that I have always loved from Simple Mom

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

My only problem....I think so many things are beautiful;)

I really do love simplifying and this post was a great reminder. I was helping my SIL purge a lot of stuff and I asked her the question.."would you move this across the country?" It is amazing what you find you don't need anymore;)

kbd said...

I recently did a clothing clean up and - I'm sure this applies to other places as well - its so much easier to find what I need! And I'm using more of what I like because the stuff I don't like is not in the way. Fantastic.

Sally said...

Any chance you can post a larger picture of this, so I can see what you've done here. I'm organizationally challenged and could use the help.

Warm regards,
Sally

Stephanie said...

Sally, I apologize I don't. It's from the home of Sara Hicks Malone I believe. She has great style!

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