Category Archives: Tips

13 Extremely Easy Eco-Friendly Organizing Tips For Your Home

Even if you already carpool to work, buy second-hand clothes, or pay your bills online, there are still plenty of small but impactful changes you can make to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.

How?

It starts at home — with your habits, routines, and organizational systems. Yep, you read that right. These 13 extremely easy eco-friendly organizing tips for your home will help you save money, control clutter, and reduce waste (the ego boost is just a bonus):

1. Repurpose shoe boxes as storage containers.

eco-friendly green shoe box storage made by paige smith
Paige Smith

Make use of empty shoe boxes instead of buying new storage bins. Use them to store craft supplies, tools, green cleaning products, jewelry, beauty products, or winter gear like hats, gloves, scarves, and boots.

You can even, gasp, use them to store shoes. Revolutionary, right?

2. Store magazines in a donation basket.

eco-friendly red wicker magazine basket
Flickr/Wicker Paradise

Reduce the amount of waste you produce by donating your magazines instead of recycling them. Designate a stylish basket as the official drop-point for magazines you’ve finished reading.

Then give the magazines away every week or two. Bring them to your local library, nursing home, dentist office, medical clinic, retirement community, or family shelter.

Free Bonus: If you’d like to donate your magazines, read our handy guide on where to donate your old clothes, books, furniture, toys, cell phones, and more.

3. Reuse glass jars to organize your stuff.

a mason jar storing forks, a mason jar storing scallions in water, and a wooden knife block by paige smith
Paige Smith

If your jar of coconut oil, marinara sauce, or pickles is running low, save it instead of recycling it. After you clean it out, use it to organize any number of random household items: cooking ingredients and grains, kitchen utensils, pens, craft supplies, or makeup brushes.

You can even use glass jars as vases and planters.

Pro Tip: Learn more ways to repurpose glass jars with this list of 10 brilliant Mason jar DIY ideas.

4. Toss junk mail in a “Need to Unsubscribe” bin.

junk mail recycling bin by the organised housewife
The Organised Housewife

Immediately recycling your junk mail prevents clutter from building up in your home. But if you always throw away catalogs and promotional flyers without unsubscribing from them first, you’re setting yourself up to receive more paper products down the line. It’s a vicious cycle.

To get rid of junk mail, stash it in a bin where you’ll see it every day. Every two weeks or so, go through the pile one paper at a time, call the customer service numbers, and ask to be removed from all of their mailing lists.

Or use Catalog Choice to stop junk mail for good. And while you’re at it, check out these 15 awesome apps and services that will spring clean your entire home.

5. Store a pile of rags and dish cloths in an easily accessible kitchen cabinet.

kitchen towel tower
Flickr/prettyinprint

Using cloth napkins and rags instead of paper towels and paper napkins can easily cut your waste in half. Keep them in a nearby kitchen cabinet or drawer so you always have something within reach to wipe up spills.

Go a step further and slide a bin below your sink to collect dirty cloth napkins and rags that need to be washed.

6. Display a basket near the front door to hold reusable grocery bags.

entryway drop zone by honey we're home
Honey We’re Home

Make space for a pretty basket in your entryway and fill it with fabric totes. That way, you can quickly grab a tote on your way out the door so you don’t have to resort to using plastic or paper grocery bags.

If you have limited entryway space, hang your bags on a coat rack or wall hook instead.

Free Bonus: These 15 amazing entryway storage hacks and ideas will keep your home's first and last impression incredibly organized.

7. Set up a wrapping station to store used boxes, gift bags, and tissue paper.

gift wrapping station made by paige smith
Paige Smith

You can make your gift station as basic or as Pinterest-worthy as you want. All that matters is that you designate a place — even if it’s a single desk drawer — to store all the used gift bags, tags, tissue paper, bows, and boxes you receive.

Reusing these items saves tons of waste and money.

8. Store a “Reuse” bin in the hall closet.

white reuse bin by paige smith storing socks, roiander body butter, a candle, books, and a pair of vans shoes
Paige Smith

Create a drop-off zone in your home for items you want to reuse, whether by donating, repurposing, or upcycling them. You can toss in clothes, shoes, books, stationary containers, candle jars, mint tins, jewelry boxes, or anything else you think could be given a second life.

Just remember: The Reuse Bin is supposed to help you stay organized. At least once a month, make a standing date with yourself to sort through the bin and decide what to do with each item.

Not sure what items to keep or get rid of?

Our decluttering flowchart will help you finally decide.

9. Set up a mini recycling station in every room.

recycle and non-recycle bin from a doubletree hotel
Flickr/Carol VanHook

You probably have a recycling station in your kitchen, but what about the other areas of your home?

If you only have small trash bins scattered throughout your house — all of which inevitably get filled with a variety of recyclable and non-recyclable materials — it’s time to make recycling more convenient.

Give each room (yes, even the bathroom) its own proper recycling station. Simply add another bin for recyclable items like paper, plastic, and glass. Or use a dual trash and recycling bin like the one pictured above.

Free Bonus: Scope out these 35 powerful spring cleaning tips and tricks from professional organizers.

10. Repurpose wooden crates as storage systems.

custom wooden toy storage crates
Flickr/Kyle Van Horn

Used wooden wine and fruit crates are excellent storage containers because they’re sturdy, versatile, and easy to stack. Use them to store blankets, books, or kids toys (or dog toys, for that matter) in your living room. Or tuck the crates in your entryway and use them to store your shoes and umbrellas.

They also make cool shelving systems in lieu of store-bought bookcases or plastic drawers.

wooden crates storing books
Flickr/Emily Allen
Free Bonus: These 13 easy DIY storage ideas and solutions will organize your entire home.

11. Build a green cleaning kit.

green cleaning kit
Flickr/go_greener_oz

Grab a wooden caddy and fill it with your favorite green cleaning tools: towels and rags, old socks for dusting, wooden scrub brushes, baking soda, vinegar, and jars of homemade disinfectants and stain removers. Just like this lemon and clove nightly sink scrub made by Clean Mama:

clean mama's lemon and clove nightly sink scrub ingredients: baking soda, lemon essential oil, clove essential oil, castile soap, and a ball mason jar
Clean Mama

Stash the caddy in the cabinet below your kitchen sink for easy access.

Want more amazing cleaning tips?

Check out this list of 20 genius green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home.

12. Stock a kitchen drawer with reusable to-go items.

zero waste lunch kit by trash is for tossers includes: a stainless steel lunch container, a reusable fork and napkin, organic cotton bags, a mason jar, and a stainless steel canteen
Trash is for Tossers

Rather than rely on paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable silverware, arm yourself with a cool eco-friendly to-go kit that you can use for office lunches or beverages like coffee and smoothies.

Gather these tools:

  • A stainless steel lunch box or glass container
  • A stainless steel straw
  • A mason jar or stainless steel water bottle
  • Linen napkins
  • Cutlery
  • A couple cotton drawstring bags to hold your sandwiches and snacks
Free Bonus: Learn how to organize the rest of your kitchen drawers with these 11 clever and easy kitchen organization ideas.

13. Use power strips for appliances.

power strip with three chargers plugged in
Flickr/trenttsd

Power strips save electricity and outlet space. Use them in areas where you have multiple appliances or devices to plug in, like your kitchen, TV room, office, and bedroom.

To save even more power, get in the habit of switching off your power strip when you’re not using the items plugged into it.

After you organize your home so it’s ultra eco-friendly, use MakeSpace to safely store the stuff you love but don’t have room for — like your luggage, bike rack, snowboarding gear, skis, winter coats, and collections of CDs and DVDs.

 

All you have to do is schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home, transport it to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff.

When you need something back from storage, simply browse your online photo catalog, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver the item back to you.

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

Is Renters Insurance Worth It? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

While 95% of homeowners have homeowners insurance, only 41% of renters have renters insurance. It’s an often overlooked type of insurance, but it’s just about the most affordable protection you can buy.

If you’ve gotten by without it for this long, though, do you really need renters insurance?

Before we answer that question, know that renters insurance covers your possessions from damage and loss. Someone break into your apartment and steal your boombox? It’s covered.

Upstairs neighbor’s pipe bursts, ruining your shag rug? It’s covered.

Fire take out the entire building, burning all of your possessions? Pull out your policy and be ready to make a claim. But only after you digest this CliffsNotes-worthy summary of what renters insurance covers, the types of renters insurance policies, and how to buy renters insurance:

Renters Insurance Covers Your Stuff On The Go

renters insurance covers theft on vacation

If you’re on the fence about renters insurance, keep in mind that it’s a relatively cheap form of protection. The average annual premium in 2014 was only $190. That’s under $20 a month to protect your possessions. Plus, you can get discounts if you bundle it with the other insurance types you have anyway, like car insurance.

And speaking of your possessions, renters insurance won’t just cover your things while they’re in your apartment. If you keep items in a storage unit, they’re protected there (double check with your insurance provider) on the off chance that they’re stolen or damaged.

(Not that you need to worry about that, though, because MakeSpace’s storage facilities are closed to the public and have 24/7 surveillance. All of MakeSpace’s storage plans also include a $2,000 MakeSpace Guarantee.)

On vacation? Yep, your coverage extends to there, too.

The peace of mind that comes with protecting your stuff — no matter where it is — is one of the most overlooked benefits of renters insurance. If your laptop gets stolen out of a car, or gets a little too cozy with the sidewalk after falling out of your backpack, renters insurance will cover it.

Besides physical items, renters insurance also provides protection in other ways. Basic liability and medical payment coverage is standard in most renters insurance policies, which means you’re not on the hook for legal or medical bills if someone hurts themselves in your apartment.

Everything You Need To Know About Renters Insurance

An actual cash value policy means that your insurer will cover just that — the actual cash value of your items. A replacement cost value policy means that your insurer will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your item at its current price. That’s the difference between your insurer paying out the depreciated cost of your five-year-old laptop, or the full cost of getting a new one.

Because replacement cost value policies tend to pay out more (since they aren’t based on depreciated value), they also tend to cost more than actual cash value policies.

If you’ve had other insurance policies, you know what a deductible is. That’s how much you have to pay before your insurance will kick in. If your policy has a $1,000 deductible, you’ll need to cover $1,000 of repair or replacement costs before your insurance will cover any of it.

Perils are the types of incidents that your renters insurance will cover. On the flip side, exclusions won’t be covered. “All risk” policies cover any peril that isn’t specifically excluded, and “named peril” policies only cover what is explicitly listed in the policy.

As wide-reaching as renters insurance coverage is, it doesn’t cover everything. Flood damage isn’t covered, and neither are earthquakes. Unless you have a personal property endorsement on an item, it won’t be covered if you simply lose it. Some pet damage isn’t covered, and certain dog breeds won’t be covered at all.

Limits on renters insurance policies come in two different forms. Your policy will have an overall limit — say $30,000 worth of total coverage — and individual limits for expensive property. For example, there might be a limit on jewelry, so you can only claim $1,000 for a stolen wedding ring even if it cost $2,500.

Because of these limits, you might consider personal property endorsements. This provides extra protection for specific items or categories (at an additional cost to your premiums). So you’d be able to add a personal property endorsement to that wedding ring to make sure you could cover the entire cost.

Finally, your policy might have additional living expenses coverage. If something happens and you need to spend a few nights in a hotel, your renters insurance would cover this.

How To Buy Renters Insurance

man typing on a macbook and using policy genius to compare renters insurance companies
PolicyGenius

Many companies offer affordable renters insurance. You can use a digital agency like PolicyGenius to shop for rates, or buy direct from a carrier like eRenterPlan, Allstate, or Lemonade.

Either way, the first step is creating a home inventory to decide how much coverage you need. There are a few apps that make it easy. Make a note of any valuables that might need extra coverage so you can add endorsements for them. Compare quotes for the coverage you need, buy the most affordable policy, and voià — you’re covered.

Fewer than half of renters have renters insurance coverage. And according to a 2016 Federal Reserve study, 46% of Americans don’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency. For renters who would have difficulty replacing expensive household items in the event of a calamity, renters insurance is well worth the low cost.

This article was written by PolicyGenius, a digital insurance agency that helps people get the insurance they need and feel good about it. Comparison shop and get the best rates on life, health, disability, renters insurance, and more.

How To Easily Clean And Organize Your Garage [Infographic]

When you don’t know where to put something in your house, where do you usually store it?

In your garage, until you figure out a better home for the item?

While that solves your storage problem, it’s only temporary. Things pile up. Next thing you know, you forgot where you stored your luggage for your upcoming Caribbean cruise.

That won’t happen anymore, though. Because we created this step-by-step guide (plus an infographic!) on how to easily clean and organize your garage.

First, we’ll take you through the best ways to clean your garage floor,  door, and walls. Then, we’ll explain how to organize and store your stuff in cabinets, on pegboards, and in other brilliant garage storage solutions.

The advice all comes from home improvement experts, so you can trust their word.

Click any of the below links to jump to a specific section:
How To Clean Your Garage Floor
How To Clean Your Garage Door
How To Clean Your Garage Walls
How To Organize Your Garage Space
How To Organize Garage Cabinets
How To Organize Garage Tools
How To Organize A Garage Pegboard

how to clean and organize your garage infographic by makespace storage

Want to embed our garage cleaning and organizing infographic on your site?

Awesome! Copy the code below. 🙂

<p><a href="https://makespace.com/blog/posts/how-to-clean-organize-garage/" target="_blank"><img src="https://cdn.makespace.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20123840/how-to-clean-organize-garage-makespace-storage.jpg" title="How To Clean And Organize Your Garage" alt="How to clean and organize your garage infographic by MakeSpace"></a></p>
<p><a href="https://makespace.com/" target="_blank">via MakeSpace</a></p>

How To Clean Your Garage Floor

1. Soak up any oil slicks.

 

Garage floors are especially susceptible to grease and oil stains, but you can remove them with some basic cleaners and cat litter.

The pros at DIY Network and Lowes both recommend applying a layer of kitty litter to the stain first. This helps absorb the excess liquid. If you don’t have a cat, sawdust or cornmeal will do.

Once you’ve let the cat litter work its magic, vacuum or sweep it up. Then attack the stain with a detergent or cleaning agent. Out of the several cleaning options that Jeff Patterson tested for Home Repair Tutor, his favorites were Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) and Drylok Etch.

2. Scrub out other stains.

For all the splotches on your floor that did not come from your gas tank, try a mild detergent first. This should take care of light stains, but if you need something more heavy-duty, muriatic acid can help.

Just as it does with oil spots, TSP works wonders on rust stains. Mix it with water and then scrub it into the problem area with a push broom. After it’s soaked for 10-15 minutes, rinse it all off.

3. Fill in any cracks with epoxy paste.

Does your garage floor have cracks from construction projects or heavy items that fell off a shelf?

Fix the cracks with a little epoxy paste. Simply fill in the gaps with the paste, wait for it to dry, and then sand the area until you’ve buffed out any extra or uneven paste.

4. Seal cracks with sealant.

 

A sealant will help maintain and protect your garage floor. And if you’re planning to paint your garage floor, you absolutely need to apply sealant to it first. As Angie’s List explains, there are several different types of garage floor sealers.

First, there’s a topical sealer. Acrylic is the cheapest topical option but also requires the most upkeep. Epoxy is more expensive but thicker and more durable. Polyurethane offers the most protection at the highest price, and you’ll need a primer to pair with this one.

Then, there are penetrating sealers. These are often siliconate-based and require just one coat. For this reason, they’re the most common sealants used for garage floors.

Once you’ve landed on the right option for your garage and cleaned the floor, apply the sealant like you would paint on a wall. Start in the corners and apply a healthy, even coat.

Give it plenty of time to dry, so it bonds with the concrete. And if you need more guidance, pick up some extra tips from the experts at PPG Paints in the video above.

How To Clean Your Garage Door

1. Brush off the dirt.

Before you bring buckets of water and soap into the equation, shake down any loose debris clinging to your garage door. A stiff brush or broom should do the trick.

2. Hose it down.

man holding a garden hose in his left hand

Knock out any lingering dirt with a garden hose. Give the entire door a good spray before you move onto the next step.

3. Wipe it with warm water and mild household detergent.

soapy yellow sponge on a wood floor

Now comes the actual cleaning. You’ll want to have a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild household detergent on deck for this part.

Dip a sponge or old rag into the soapy water and wipe down the door, inch by inch. Look out for splotches or stains as you go, so you can buff them out by hand.

It’s just like cleaning the car sitting in your garage, minus all those pesky tire spokes.

4. Grease and tighten all the moving parts.

This is a pretty quick and easy cleaning process, so while you’re at it, tune up your garage door.

Check for any bent or malfunctioning pieces and use a household oil to grease every moving part. Also, tighten the screws before you close the door.

How To Clean Your Garage Walls

1. Vacuum cobwebs and debris.

cobwebs
Flickr/Matt Brown

Even if you use your garage frequently, it’s a natural home for cobwebs and spiderwebs.

Before you wash your garage walls, use the bristle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove any webs or grime lurking in the corners.

2. Sponge the walls with warm water and detergent.

You’ll be doing exactly what you did to your garage door just moments ago. Take your bucket filled with warm water and detergent, grab a sponge, and systematically scrub the walls with careful strokes.

You should be going bottom to top, to avoid long muddy streaks. Keep a step-stool close by so you can hit those hard-to-reach areas by the ceiling.

3. Attack tough stains with ammonia.

For the spots that detergent can’t dissolve, try some basic ammonia. Mix one or two cups into a gallon of cold water to minimize the stench.

Then dip your sponge in the liquid and treat each stain individually. If the ammonia can’t do the trick, Housekeeping Channel recommends trying that trusty TSP.

How To Organize Your Garage Space

1. Separate everything into four piles.

You can’t really get organized until you’ve taken stock of your stuff. So gather everything in your garage and sort it into four groups:

  1. Keep
  2. Donate
  3. Trash
  4. Sell

You should only hang onto items that make you happy. All the rest? Donate it to a charity or hawk it at a yard sale.

Well, except for anything broken or useless (i.e. old newspapers). Those items belong in the garbage can or recycling bin.

2. Find a new home for paint, paper goods, and propane tanks.

paint cans on four workshop shelves

Once you have a “keep” pile, separate out the things that don’t belong in your garage. According to This Old House, these items include propane tanks (a fire hazard best kept outdoors) and paint cans (which are ruined by extreme temperatures).

Paper goods like napkins are also likely to attract bugs, and pet food might bring all the possums to your garage. Relocate this stuff to a more suitable space, such as in your cabinet or pantry.

3. Create a basic floor plan.

garage wall storage for tools

Now that you’ve made all those cuts, it’s time to get down to the real work of organizing. This will be a lot easier to do if you sketch out or at least map in your head a floor plan for your garage.

While you can design it however you want, we recommend following these four basic guidelines:

  1. Group similar items together.
  2. Put the bulkiest gear in the corner, where it’s safely out of your car’s way.
  3. Place seasonal items in the harder-to-reach areas, so the stuff you use all the time is more accessible.
  4. Whenever possible, keep things off the floor. Maximize your walls and ceiling as best you can to avoid crowding the floor space.

How To Organize Garage Cabinets

1. Consolidate items into storage bins and tubs.

A post shared by MakeSpace (@makespace) on

Don’t just throw junk onto your cabinet shelves. Storage bins and tubs can help you manage the chaos. This works best if you dedicate categories of items to specific bins and tubs.

Holiday decorations can have one bin, winter clothes can have another one. Once they’re all filled up, slide them into your cabinet. Just make sure you label everything as you’re sorting.

2. Store small stuff in old coffee cans and gum containers.

For the little things that would get lost in a tub, upcycle containers from your own kitchen. Lil Blue Boo cleaned out some old coffee cans to serve as battery recycling receptacles. You could easily use yours for small items in your garage.

Or take a cue from The Ugly Duckling House and save old Orbit gum containers. They’re great homes for your screws, nuts, and bolts.

3. Convert a metal office cabinet into a pantry.

Martha Stewart suggests getting a metal office cabinet to serve solely as a pantry. That way, you can use a magnet to attach a clipboard — with an inventory of your LaCroix, spring water, and other sundries — to the cabinet’s front door.

4. Consider a locker for each family member.

Giving each member of your family their own garage cabinet might seem excessive, but what about assigning everyone a locker?

Shelly at 100 Things 2 Do salvaged a set of old school lockers, repainted them, and then gave herself, her two daughters, and her husband one unit apiece.

Each person could then sort their helmets or sidewalk chalk to his/her liking. Shelly found the lockers in the Canadian classifieds, so keep an eye on Craigslist or The Container Store for your own set.

How To Organize Garage Tools

1. Mount toolboxes on the wall.

Popular Mechanics shared a smart storage tip from car collector Bernie Nevoral:

He bolted his toolboxes to his garage walls and mounted a few metal tool cabinets high up near his ceilings. This garage organization system keeps his floor empty so he has more room for tune-ups.

Even if you’re not a motorhead like Bernie, this approach can also help you save space in your garage.

2. Store garden tools in a converted filing cabinet.

Turn an upcycled filing cabinet on its side and you’ve got a great home for your rakes, shovels, and mops. As The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel illustrates, all you have to do is remove the cabinet’s drawers and slot your tools into the empty space.

You can even install a little pegboard storage with hooks on the side of the cabinet so you can hang wrenches, scissors, garden shears, and more:

3. Build a portable tool caddy.

Your tools make life so much easier. Return the favor by building them a tool caddy with these instructions from Mom 4 Real.

This DIY garage storage project requires wood, pegboards, a saw, screws, glue, and casters. Once you’re done building it, you have a movable one-stop-shop for all your tools.

4. Outline your tools on the wall.

It’s easier to keep track of your screwdriver when it’s literally drawn on the wall. When hanging up your tools, carefully trace an outline around each one with a pencil.

Then, take down the items and make the sketches more visible by going over each sketch with a marker or paint pens. When you’re done, put your tools back in their (now very clearly) assigned spaces.

How To Organize A Garage Pegboard

1. Install a pegboard.

 

Garages sadly don’t come with built-in pegboards, so before you can organize one, you need to set it up. For this project, you’ll need a tape measure, screws, a drill, an actual pegboard, and a few other items to mount it.

Bob Vila lays out the process in five steps here, but if want a more dynamic tutorial, watch the above demo from Frugal Home DIY.

2. Add hooks.

Once your pegboard is all set up, you’ll need to install some hooks so you can actually hang things.

Hooks can easily slip off their slots after you attach them. Which is why The Family Handyman recommends locking them in place with zip ties, pegboard clips, or some hot glue for extra security.

3. Use baskets and bins.

garage wall-mounted pegboard storage bins
Flickr/mtneer_man

Small wire baskets and pegboard bins can help you store items that don’t easily fit on a hook — think stud finders and loose screws. Check your local Home Depot, Staples, or Sears for these accessories.

4. Or skip the pegboard and let MakeSpace store your stuff.

 

Still have stuff that won’t fit in your garage cabinet, on your shelves, or on your new pegboard?

We’ll store it for you.

All you have to do is schedule a  MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.

We’ll pick up everything (including your bulky snowboard, skis, sports equipment, and appliances) and store it in our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you have in storage.

The best part:

When you want something back from storage, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you. It’s that simple.

The 5 Stages Of Spring Cleaning

We live our lives in stages: childhood, teenager-hood, adulthood. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. See where I’m going with this? It’s all a cycle. Guess what else is a cycle:

Spring cleaning.

Yes, similar to grief, spring cleaning has five stages everyone goes through. The first is enthusiasm, before the reality of the day sets in.

Next, we have doubt and fear, two emotions you’ll feel when you’re on the downswing of cleaning day, after realizing this might be a harder task than you anticipated.

Then there’s reassurance, which pulls you out of the previous two stages. Lastly, comes satisfaction, which you’ll get once you finally conquer cleaning your place that probably hasn’t been deep cleaned for several months.

If you’re getting pumped up to clean your space soon, this might give you some insight into what to expect. And if you’re a seasoned spring cleaning professional, you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

Ready to go through this journey with us?

Keep reading below:

1. Enthusiasm

enthusiasm stage of spring cleaning

Today’s the day. You marked it in your calendar. You stocked up on all the supplies. And you mentally prepared yourself for the task of spring cleaning your whole home.

You also have plenty of snacks to sustain you, and a plan for rewarding yourself after the deed is done. This may or may not include wine and a bath in your sparkly clean tub. Or eating food off your floor because it’s so clean …

Okay, we don’t actually recommend the last one.

Like the well-prepared person you are, you’ve made a list of everything that needs to get done:

  • Clean stove
  • Scrub shower
  • Dust wardrobe
  • Vacuum everywhere
  • Windex almost every surface

You may have even written a physical list, which you’ll feel oh-so satisfied checking off as you go through each task.

The day is young. And you’re feeling confident that soon, your house will look just like the ones you read about in Dwell.

You might be going it alone. Or you may have enlisted the help of your significant other and/or friends in exchange for pizza and Netflix later. Trading pizza for cleaning help is always a smart deal.

2. Doubt

 

Okay … now that you’re looking around, did your home somehow get way dirtier overnight?

I mean, you knew it was due for a deep cleaning, but you didn’t think it was this bad. How many rooms do you have anyway? Did you always have this space under your sink? And since when was there mold in your shower?

You start going through boxes you haven’t touched in far too long. And you’re quickly realizing there’s a lot of stuff lying around that you’ve forgotten about.

What are you supposed to do with all of these old band t-shirts? Why are there so many single, lonely socks lost behind your headboard?

You might ask yourself these questions and many more while assessing the damage around your home.

This is when the doubt starts to creep in. Maaaybe it’s not going to be as easy as you thought. Perhaps you actually need several days to get through all this cleaning. Maybe a little autumn and winter cleaning in between last year’s and this year’s spring cleaning session would have been helpful.

3. Fear

fear stage of spring cleaning

This is when the fear sets in. It’s not uncommon to also feel dread and/or panic at this stage.

You might begin thinking things like:

  • There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to take on this mess.
  • I decided I hate cleaning.
  • I’m embarrassed of how dirty my oven, toilet, and shower have gotten.
  • I’m afraid to open my trash can.
  • My house is never getting clean.
  • My house *has never been clean*.
  • How do people even clean their entire homes in one day?
  • What even “is” cleaning?
  • Why don’t we have robots that do this for us?
  • I’m going to keep on avoiding my responsibilities forever.
  • I guess this is just my life now.
  • Maybe I should just move into a place that’s already clean.
  • Yep, I’m moving.

This stage is pretty much the lowest point. You may find yourself sitting in the middle of your bedroom, surrounded by boxes of memories, a few friendly dust bunnies, and lots of green cleaning products.

You could be feeling a little hopeless too. But don’t worry. It’s super temporary.

When you’re at your lowest point in your spring cleaning schedule, the only place you can go is up. Which leads us to …

4. Reassurance

Hold up. You’re better than this. You’re stronger than the monster that is spring cleaning.

Give yourself a quick pep talk and realize that it’s just one day of your life. And it’s probably way better than any given day you spent in middle school. I mean, middle school was rough, right?

And hey, once you’re done, you’ll have a brand spankin’ new place to revel in, which will feel awesome.

Maybe you can just do a speed cleaning, like YouTuber Elise Sheree:

 

Or maybe all you need to get through cleaning your house is a deep breath.

Come up with a new action plan once you’re in a calm space. Now that you’re aware of the depths of your responsibility today, take some time to get organized.

Turn on your go-to music for getting pumped up (mine is anything from Beyonce’s album 4), tie your hair up, and put on some clothes you don’t care about.

Declutter as your first step. Toss trash, put things back in their rightful place, and store or donate anything you don’t *need* to keep around.

Go through each room one-by-one and only do one task, like dust all the surfaces first. Once that’s done, clean up bigger messes, rearrange things if need be, vacuum, sweep, mop, and all that other jazz.

Of course, do cleaning jobs that are specific to certain rooms. Take the trash out (don’t forget to clean the trash can), scrub down your sink, sweep your porch, and clean off your stove. Basically, an all-purpose cleaner and a bunch of rags are going to be your new best friends.

And if, at this point, you’re feeling a little curious, try out some of these insane cleaning hacks with stuff you can probably find lying around your house.

5. Satisfaction

 

That wasn’t so bad after all, right?

Sure, it took several hours, lots of inner turmoil, and maybe an existential crisis or two, but you made it.

The best part:

You won’t have to do a deep clean like that for a very long time – but hopefully sometime before next spring.

If you invited friends over to help, make sure to reward them for their hard work. If you did this all by yourself, make sure to pat yourself on the back.

And maybe don’t invite anyone over to your home for several days so you can really take in how awesome and clean it is.

Top image via A Beautiful Mess

This article was written by Hannah Van Arsdale, a freelance writer and dog person based in Portland, OR.

These 15 Awesome Apps And Services Will Spring Clean Your Entire Apartment

The sun is out and winter coats are snuggled away. Spring has finally sprung!

The change of season, of course, has us thinking about spring cleaning. Namely, how to get out of it so we can ride our bikes instead.

Now, what if you could go cruising and have a sparkling home?

Welcome to 2017, where anything is possible … at least with some help.

These 15 apps and services do your dirty work for you, whether it’s hacking IKEA furniture or nixing junk mail for good.

For those of you who like doing the cleaning yourself, don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you. As in, there’s a service on this list that will send someone to your favorite brunch spot to wait in line for you. Please save us a waffle?

1. Outsource your chores to TaskRabbit.

taskrabbit app on a white iphone
Download the TaskRabbit app for iPhone or Android

Like your own personal Oddjob minus the evilness, TaskRabbit is your reliable, one-stop shop for outsourcing any errand. Such as assembling your furniture. Which is still sleeping soundly in an unopened box. In the middle of your living room. On wine-stained carpet.

Taskers, who are fully vetted by TaskRabbit and reviewed by other customers, obliterate your spring cleaning to-do list by taking care of pretty much anything you can imagine.

Things like cleaning your carpet, helping you move into a new place, mounting floating shelves and TVs, getting groceries, cooking those groceries, delivering potted plants to liven up your abode, performing puppet shows, packing your MakeSpace bins, and organizing your closet on a Saturday morning.

You know, so you can wait in line at your favorite brunch spot for 90 minutes. No wait, a Tasker can also wait in line for you, so you can sweep in last minute like a G.

2. Get your apartment masterfully cleaned by Merry Maids.

2 merry maids cleaning a kitchen
Merry Maids

Your apartment’s been through quite a bit this past winter. Give it a deep clean with zero labor on your part by enlisting the help of Merry Maids. Certified, background-checked pros will come to your home and clean every room better than the imaginary grime-fighting quartet of Rosie the Robot, Mr. Clean, Scrubby, and Brawny Man.

Merry Maids uses the brand’s own eco-friendly products, and will wash your dishes, do your laundry, fold your clothes, make your bed, and take out your trash and recyclables. Merry Maids … will you marry us?

3. Get butler-esque service from Alfred.

hello alfred app on a white iphone
Download the Hello Alfred app

For the 1%, there’s a live-in butler. For the 99%, and Batman, there’s Alfred. Up to twice a week, a carefully-vetted Alfred will swing by your Batcave and complete your chores and errands while you save Gotham.

Alfred will sort your mail, tidy up your apartment, do your grocery shopping, stock your fridge, and pick up and drop off your dry cleaning, laundry, and pharmacy items.

Have a top secret request, such as “Bring me a green smoothie. Go heavy on the power pellets”?

Alfred can take care of that too, so you return to your Batcave unharmed and with an awkward smile, Master Wayne.

4. Sell almost anything using OfferUp.

offerup app on a white iphone
Download the OfferUp app for iPhone or Android

The only thing that untouched set of dumbbells hiding in plain sight gives you is dust. Make it give you dough instead. Use OfferUp to easily sell just about anything (except for these forbidden items) to people in your neighborhood.

All you need is the app, your phone’s camera, and 30 seconds to list any item for sale. Just be sure to double check the buyer’s reviews so you can get your cash with confidence.

5. Sell your stacks of books and tech using Decluttr.

decluttr app on a black iphone, samsung phone, and other smartphone
Download the Decluttr app for iPhone or Android

Textbooks taking up precious shelf space? Unwanted video games, Blu-rays, CDs, or DVDs collecting dust ever since you discovered, well, the internet?

You could use them as coasters and collect nothing. Or you could send them to Decluttr and collect dollars.

The app turns your camera phone into a barcode scanner so you can get an instant value for your discs. You then ship your discs to Decluttr, using a box and their free shipping label.

The best part:

You’ll get paid immediately after Decluttr finishes processing your collection of Alanis Morissette albums and Adam Sandler movies.

But don’t stop there. Recycle one more thing – karma – by donating the proceeds to charity directly through the app.

6. Ship your stuff anywhere in the world using Shyp.

shyp app on a white iphone
Download the Shyp app for iPhone or Android

While purging your closet, a Tasker found a camera you no longer use. You’re thinking about giving it to your newbie photographer cousin who lives across the country. Or maybe you have to return a pile of online purchases that you trip over every time you pass through your entryway.

In either of these cases, how would you ship the items without, you know, actually doing it yourself?

Use Shyp. All you have to do is take a photo of the item and enter its destination. Shyp picks up the item, securely packs it, and sends it anywhere in the world using the most efficient option. Long lines at the post office and shipping stores during your lunch hour, begone.

7. Go paperless with Scanbot.

scanbot app
Download the Scanbot app for iPhone or Android

Take that pile of paper on your desk, yep the one that resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and recycle it at long last. But only after you download and use Scanbot to hi-res scan and upload any paper that’s invaded your fortress.

Got some important info lurking in that stash of reincarnated trees?

Scanbot will convert all writing to searchable text in the uploaded images, so you can easily reference the papers later.

8. Stop receiving junk mail with Catalog Choice.

catalog choice: reduce clutter, simplify life
Catalog Choice

If you have five seconds and Catalog Choice, you can stop junk mail from ever touching your mailbox’s lips again.

Just search their database for any company that’s sending unwanted mail, enter your name and address, and Catalog Choice will contact the sender to remove you from their distribution list. The trees will thank you.

9. Teleport your kids’ artwork from the floor to your pocket with Keepy.

keepy app on two white iphones
Download the Keepy app for iPhone or Android

So you managed to get your own paper chaos under control, but now you’re faced with the glitter-gun abyss that is your kids’ homemade art collection. Clear out Picasso Jr.’s masterpieces — without any guilt — using Keepy.

Simply snap a photo,  save it, and then share it with adoring “fans”… also known as grandparents. You can even enrich each photo with voice or video recordings.

10. Mass unsubscribe from junk email with Unroll.Me.

unroll me app
Download the Unroll.Me app for iPhone

Your apartment isn’t the only thing that packed on some extra pounds this past winter. Your inbox needs a detox, too. Sign up for Unroll.Me, see all your subscription emails in one place, and unsubscribe from the junk you don’t want in just one click.

For the subscriptions you do want, Unroll.Me lets you combine them into one email called the “Rollup.”  Sup Inbox Zero?

11. Declutter like the most organized person on the planet with the KonMari app.

marie kondo using the konmari app
Download the KonMari app for iPhone

Konverts, rejoice! You can now spark joy from your pocket with the KonMari app.

As you tidy up, keep tabs with a checklist that adheres to the five categories outlined by the demigod of decluttering, Marie Kondo:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous items
  5. Sentimental items.

You can also upload photos and share your progress with other users. Of course, if you’d rather hire someone to thank your socks for you, you’ll soon be able to hire KonMari consultants directly via the app.

12. Convert your closet clutter into cash with Poshmark.

poshmark app on a rose gold iphone
Download the Poshmark app for iPhone or Android

Bid adieu to your Jimmy Choos, while making a pretty penny to boot. Better yet, do it from the comfort of your own couch. PoshMark connects you to thousands of shoppers based on your brand, style, and size preferences.

Once you’ve snapped a pic of your gently-worn jeans or too-small blouse, upload the item to the fashion cloud to make it rain. Then share your listing on Facebook and Pinterest because why not. And if you’re looking to revamp your wardrobe, browse the boutique-worthy pieces uploaded by your fellow hustlers.

13. Pawn or sell valuable items on PawnGuru.

pawnguru: get multiple offers from pawn shops near you
PawnGuru

Gone are the days of frustrating encounters with uninterested brokers at the pawn shop. Thanks to PawnGuru, you can upload a photo of whatever goods you’d like to pawn or sell, then negotiate directly with a number of interested shops to get the best deal.

If you’re cleaning out your jewelry collection, take note: Bids can vary massively according to each pawn shop’s specialty, margins, and capital, so this is a great platform to use if you’re listing valuable items.

14. List, don’t lift, your furniture with AptDeco.

aptdeco's website on a black iphone
AptDeco

So you’ve decided your couch really doesn’t spark joy. But then again, neither would hauling it down three flights of stairs for a sketchy Craigslist buyer. Enter AptDeco.

For a minor percentage of the final selling price (which they’ll even help calculate!), they’ll pick up that extra coffee table for you, unassemble it if necessary, and then deliver it to the buyer. The only finger you’ll lift is when you give the movers a big thumbs up.

15. Effortlessly store the stuff you love, but don’t need right now, in MakeSpace.

makespace storage app on a white iphone
Download the MakeSpace app for iPhone

Now that your apartment is almost in tip-top shape, what should you do with the stragglers that are overstaying their welcome and eating your space, rent-free? As in all your sweaters, snow boots, gloves, knitted hats, scarves, snowboard, skis, bulky coats, and other winter gear that you love but don’t need at the moment.

For those items, schedule a MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff (a Tasker can do this for you too), and do your thing.

We’ll pick up everything, except for the Tasker, store it in our secure storage facility, and create an online photo inventory of your stuff, so when you need something delivered, it’s just a few clicks away.

Welcome to your newly-pristine sanctuary. And more time to enjoy spring, which gets shorter by 30 seconds every year.

How To Clean Your Apartment Fast: 17 Quick And Easy Tips

You know how it goes. You’re at home enjoying a very lazy Sunday afternoon when the phone rings. It’s your college roommate, and she’s in town. No, she’s not just in town. She’s in your neighborhood, and will be over in about 35 minutes.

You can’t possibly turn your apartment into a sparkling centerspread from Better Homes and Gardens in that time, but you can still get it in shape for an unexpected guest.

All you have to do is relax, breathe, and follow these 17 cleaning tips. They won’t take care of everything  — and they cut a few notable corners — but they will get your home ready for company, however unannounced.

1. Take a picture of your place.

take a picture of your apartment before cleaning it

Before you rush into panic cleaning mode, snap a few quick photos of your space on your phone. Now look at them. Does anything strike you as glaringly out of place?

It can be easy to get used to the gym bag you dropped in the corner two weeks ago, but a photo can help you notice things that don’t belong. (This tip comes courtesy of A Beautiful Mess blogger Emma Chapman, who clearly knows all about messes.)

2. Focus on rooms your guest will actually use.

 

You don’t have time to make every inch of your apartment spotless, so narrow your scope. Millennial Moms host Jordan Page makes an excellent point in her quick clean tutorial (embedded above):Your guest is only going to hang out in a few spots in your home.

Your guest is only going to hang out in a few spots in your home.

That means there’s no need to clean your home office, since you won’t be showing Aunt Diane how to use your new printer. Simply shut the door on that space and worry about it later.

Instead, focus your energy on sprucing up your bathroom, living room, kitchen, and bedroom.

3. Pick up dirty clothes and towels.

laundry basket next to a white eames style vortex chair on a wooden floor in a clean home

Speed walk through all those rooms we just mentioned, with your eyes trained on the floor. Do you spy crumpled T-shirts next to your bed? Damp used towels by the shower? A rogue sock peeking out from under the couch?

Grab them all up and toss them into your hamper. You don’t need to wash them today, but you definitely need to get them off the ground.

4. Deposit empty glasses or dirty dishes into the sink.

cool coffee mugs from the london coffee festival at the old truman brewery

Time for speed walk, round two. This time, you’re looking at your tables and counters.

Do you see a coffee mug stained with this morning’s latte? The plate you used last night for your Bachelor snacks? Anything else that clearly belongs in a kitchen cabinet?

Collect all those dirty dishes and drop them in the sink. You’ll get to them in a bit. But until then, onto the next task.

5. Caddy your cleaning supplies.

cleaning supplies caddy
Flickr/Collin Anderson

Now is the time to bust out your detergents and disinfectants. Keep your cleaning supplies in one portable place to make this step a lot easier on yourself .

You can use a bucket, caddy, bag, or any other portable item that can hold all your sprays and rags. This way, you can clean more quickly from room to room.

And when you’re all done? Everything goes back in the same place.

6. Give the toilet, sink, and bathroom mirror a quick clean.

decluttered bathroom with a clean mirror
Flickr/Christine Warner Hawks

Your guest is going to ask to use the bathroom at some point. So wipe down the main fixtures like your toilet, sink, and mirror with your preferred cleaning agent. (But first, put away any hair dryers or shaving cream you have sitting on the ledge.)

GQ cleaning expert Jolie Kerr recommends spraying the toilet and sink with Scrubbing Bubbles. Since the bubbles need a few minutes to work their magic, you can run off and do other tasks while you wait.

When you return to wipe everything off, make sure to Windex your mirror, too, for any streaks or spots. And straighten out your hand towels while you’re at it.

7. But just keep the shower curtain closed.

closed shower curtain
Flickr/Dan DeLuca

Yes, your tub should be clean, but it’s also way more work to scrub it than a toilet bowl. Plus, your friend dropping by isn’t going to hop in the bath for an hour-long soak.

Save yourself the time and effort by simply snapping the shower curtain shut. No one’s going to look inside, unless they’re the kind of person who also snoops through medicine cabinets. In which case, why do you even invite them over?

8. Tidy up your surfaces.

white wood pallet coffee table with wheels in a clean living room

As you move out of the bathroom and into your three remaining rooms (kitchen, living room, and bedroom), start looking for out-of-place items on your surfaces. We’re talking about your coffee tables, nightstands, and countertops.

If you spy something that you can easily put away in a second, do it. For everything else? Stack and clump together what you can into semi-neat piles.

Once that’s done, give those surfaces a good dusting. Feather dusters cover lots of ground in very little time, and they cost basically nothing. Bustle suggests this $6.99 microfiber duster from OXO.

Is your counter in need of more than a light dusting?

Wipe up any obvious spills or stains for now, and make a mental note to give your surfaces a more thorough clean tomorrow.

9. Toss stuff in baskets.

multiple pairs of white, red, and black converse chuck taylors in a laundry basket

So what about the junk on your counter that isn’t so easily sorted or stacked?

Here’s a cleaning secret:

You don’t have to put it away right this second.

Grab a laundry basket and load it up with all the stuff you’re not quite sure what to do with. Then set it aside, so you can move on to the next step.

If you happen to have extra time at the end of all this, feel free to put away all the items in your laundry basket. But if you don’t, just slide it under your bed before company arrives.

It’s okay, we won’t tell anyone.

10. Make your bed.

custom plywood bed frame supporting a made bed
Flickr/Pedro Reyna

Maybe your throw pillows spend more time on the floor than they do delicately perched on your comforter. But no one needs to know that.

Making your bed is the easiest way to make your apartment look more put-together than it actually is. And besides, there’s a very good chance your guest will end up storing a coat in this room.

11. Take out the trash.

green trash can on a sidewalk

If you just took the garbage out last night, you can skip this step. But if your trash can is packed to the brim with banana peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds, it’s time for a purge.

Bag up all the trash — not just from the kitchen, but the bathroom and bedroom, too — and get it out of your apartment. Don’t forget to add fresh new bags immediately, in case your friend needs to throw something out.

12. Do the dishes.

clean yellow coffee mug, drinking glass, and dish brush in a kitchen

Remember how you put this off eight steps earlier?

Well, you can’t do that any longer. No one likes the sight of a sink stacked with smudged, stinky plates, so you have to do something about this mess.

If you have a dishwasher, just throw everything in there and move on. If you don’t, wash the biggest pieces and place them on the rack to dry. A sink with a few forks isn’t so bad. But a sink with a skillet full of last night’s stir fry? That’s not great.

If you really don’t want to leave anything behind in the sink but are running out of time, Cosmopolitan has a funny fix:

Simply stack all your dirty dishes together and hide them in your freezer or oven. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.

13. Take care of pet hair.

cute brown dog lying on a white fabric sofa

You probably don’t mind the fur your pup seems to shed every five seconds. But other people might, especially if they have allergies. Run a dust buster over the couch for stray animal hairs and give the floor a quick sweep.

While you’re at it, clean out your cat’s litter box and/or pick up the chew toy your dog left right by the front door. Then remind Winnie to be on her best behavior because you have company coming.

14. And vacuum if you can.

red and black hoover vacuum cleaner on a carpet

Vacuuming is a big time suck (pun intended), and realistically, you might not get around to this task. But if you can give your floors a cursory clean, it will make a big difference.

To ensure maximum vacuuming efficiency, cleaning pro Laura Dellutri suggests tackling the entire length of the room in one straight row. Then adjust and start again at the front of the room.

Loop the cord over your shoulder while you’re making these long rows, so you don’t trip in your mad dash to cleanliness.

15. Fluff your couch pillows.

homespot hq decorative pillows on a clean sofa
Flickr/Homespot HQ

It’s a silly, simple step, but it will not go unappreciated. As a final touch before your friend or family member arrives, fluff the pillows and cushions on your couch.

If you happen to notice a stain on the cushion as you’re fluffing, flip it over to the cleaner side. Also, fold up any throw blankets hanging off your sectional.

16. Spray a scent or light a candle.

porter and plot pinot gris-scented candle

Between the garbage can you just emptied and the dog fur you vacuumed up, there are a lot of weird smells floating through the air right now. Make your home less musty with a fresh scent.

Spray some Febreze, plug in the Glade, break out the essential oil diffuser, or light your favorite candle. The welcoming aroma will trick your guest into thinking your place smells (and looks) this good all the time.

17. MakeSpace.


While you were cleaning your home in a hurry, you may have found some things you love but don’t need in your home right now. Instead of putting them back after your guest leaves, only for the items to take up unnecessary space in your home, schedule a MakeSpace pickup.

We’ll pick up your stuff and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you have in storage.

That’s not all.

When you want something back, you won’t have to spend hours rifling through a bunch of boxes in a storage unit. Just log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Last-minute visits from your family will always be stressful. But with MakeSpace, storage never is.

Top image via Flickr/Living Rooms London

What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Spring Cleaning Habits

We’ve got good news and mixed news.

The good news: Spring is now.

The mixed news: Spring cleaning is also now.

We know, we know. You’ve been in hibernation all winter. And the fact that it’s still chilly outside, coupled with the fact that there’s only so much daylight, means you may have been unmotivated to clean your space.

Sometimes clutter can feel cozy … until it starts to drive you crazy.

So, we made this handy astrological cleaning guide to bring some fun to spring cleaning. Read below to find out what your zodiac sign says about your spring cleaning habits.

Click any of these links to jump to your zodiac sign:
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

aquarius zodiac sign

You’re a bit of a wild card, Aquarius. Sometimes you might even fall into bad habits and patterns (maybe like leaving your dishes dirty for far too long, or keeping a messy desk). And with winter blues in the mix, that can spell trouble.

But here’s the good news:

You’re also inventive and you’ve got big ideas. So this spring, get crafty with DIY projects.

Take inventory of all the stuff you have but don’t use, and all the stuff you need but don’t have, and see if there’s an overlap somewhere. Your logic, practicality, and intelligence will lead you into spring feeling resourceful and crafty.

Plus, you can be eccentric, so make these projects (and your home) something unique and special to you. And then invite all your friends over for a huge party in your newly cleaned and organized space, because we know how much you love a good party.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

aries zodiac sign

Commanding and magnetic, Aries know how to get stuff done. You’re also down to dip into uncharted waters. Take that passion and put it to good use: Try new cleaning techniques you’ve never used before and clean parts of your home you never knew were there.

When’s the last time you looked under your sink?

Find a place that’s gathering dust and start there.Additionally, because you’re great at making things happen, gather all your friends and have a stuff swap! It’s basically like a party where you bring things, like appliances, small furniture, and clothing you no longer use, and swap it for things you do have use for.

Additionally, because you’re great at making things happen, gather all your friends and have a stuff swap! It’s basically like a party where you bring things, like appliances, small furniture, and clothing you no longer use, and swap it for things you do have use for. And if you still have leftovers, you can always have a yard sale.

And if you still have leftovers, you can always have a yard sale.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

taurus zodiac sign

This is your time, Taurus! Long gone are the days of laying in bed, eating snacks, and watching The Bachelor (unfortunately).

Perhaps it’s time to wash those sheets, make the bed, and rearrange your furniture. Spring is a perfect time to shake up the layout of your space. After all, you were just in hibernation, and if there’s one thing you love, it’s comfort.

Make your space even more comfortable by following these 9 easy feng shui tips and clearing out all that stagnant energy that’s been hanging around since November.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

gemini zodiac sign

Geminis are ruled by Mercury, meaning they’re ultra creative and quick-thinking. When you start brainstorming on a project, the ideas flow like nobody’s business. But because your mind is going so fast, sometimes there’s no follow-through.

Don’t worry, we’ve got just the trick:

Switch things up in your place with an easy, quick DIY project like these 10 DIY storage and furniture projects you can finish in under an hour.

Feeling overwhelmed by having to clean your entire home?

Make lists and delegate break times to help you stay on task. Try to view each room as a separate entity, instead of thinking about the fact that your whole house could use a cleaning.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

cancer zodiac sign

Cancers are all about home, and they’re proud of it. They love the domestic, and they’re known to be a little emotional.

In your place, that might manifest by hanging on to items with sentimental value. Perhaps it’s time to check in with what you have taking up space around your home.

If your closets are stuffed with things you have a hard time letting go of, ask yourself which things should stay, which can be donated or sold, and which might be better placed in storage.

Spring cleaning is a great time to get honest with your belongings, especially if you’re feeling cramped.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

leo zodiac sign

I’m just going to skip right to it: If you’re a Leo, you should probably get real with the size of your wardrobe.

Leos are ambitious, fiery, and love to be in the spotlight. So it’s not uncommon for them to acquire a sizeable amount of clothes (and makeup) to make sure they’re presenting as their most polished, ideal selves.

But there is a limit. So free yourself from your fall and winter clothes and MakeSpace for new favorites you’ve yet to find. As Apartment Therapy said, we’re an infinite closet.

Do your best to pare down your closet by selling and donating your clothing. If you’re still having trouble parting with those few magical pieces, but need to make room for new things, we’ve got you covered.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

virgo zodiac sign

Let’s be real: You’re kind of a perfectionist. You like things to be a certain way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s super helpful when you have an apartment that hasn’t seen a bottle of Windex in a while.

You know, because you’ve been busy working on creative endeavors or making a perfect schedule for your life. And that’s okay! But don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of diving into that much-needed spring cleaning.

Sure, you might feel the urge to gather all the right cleaning products. Or you might wait until you can schedule “clean entire house” into your calendar. However, waiting until everything is perfect can stop you from just doing it. Sometimes it’s better to simply let go and jump in.

Need some help?

Use our 4-week cleaning checklist as a guide to make the task less intimidating.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

libra zodiac sign

Justice and order-loving, Libras have a great moral compass, and a great eye for design and beauty. Because spring = nature unleashing its beauty on the world, why not bring some of that inside your home?

Adding some plants to your space is a surefire way to bring life back into it after a long winter.

If you’re feeling stagnant and bored with your place, it might be because you haven’t changed it up in a while. Aesthetics change. It happens. So along with giving everything a nice deep clean, make sure your furniture is up to par with your keen eye.

Not satisfied?

Change it up. Either sell the things you no longer like, or put them in storage for a rainy day. Or, giving them a new paint job might just do the trick.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

scorpio zodiac sign

You’re a charmer, for sure, and you’ve just got a certain way of doing things that screams “power.” You know how to get something done, and you’re determined enough to do it. And the fact that you can be a little secretive means having your space how you want it is important to you.

Your spring cleaning plan of action?

Challenge yourself to shake up your place by using the KonMari Method of organizing. It might be a little different than the way you’re used to organizing your stuff. But it’ll challenge you to view your space and belongings in a different way, shake up some attachments you have with your stuff, and find even more comfort in your home.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

sagittarius zodiac sign

Sagittarians are nothing if not fiery and curious. Philosophical yet free-spirited, you’re not really one to be tied down. Make the most out of these traits by organizing a yard sale.

Get real with yourself about what’s necessary to hang on to and what you can let go of. Once you’ve done inventory and figured out the day, have fun with it.

After all, Sagittarians can be real talkers, so take advantage of the strangers picking through your stuff and turn it into somewhat of a party. A party that leads to taking yourself out to dinner or dancing with all that cash you’ll earn.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

capricorn zodiac sign

Much like Sagittarians, Capricorns are philosophical and intellectual. They’re ambitious, practical, and expert organizers. Get ready Capricorn, you’ll enjoy this spring cleaning task: Go crazy with organizing.

Knowing you, you probably already have a setup. Is it still working for you? Are there things you could add to help with your organization? Are all your organizing containers clean and functioning properly?

Take stock, craft a new game plan for how to best organize your space, and then roll up to The Container Store like a kid in a candy store.

And because we know how hard you work, treat yourself after putting in some time deep cleaning your space. Rewarding yourself for your hard work makes it all the more sweet.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

pisces zodiac sign

As a Pisces, you’ve got a big heart, but like to keep a low profile. Aaand sometimes your big heart gets attached to objects too, not just people. You’ve been known to acquire perhaps one too many vintage lamps or band t-shirts because they were just too good to pass up.

At the same time, you’re also compassionate, charitable, and you look out for those you love. Put all of those qualities to good use by rounding up all the furniture, gadgets, and clothing you no longer wear and donating them to charities.

Want to make an even bigger impact?

Offer to gather your friends’ gently-used items too.

Pro Tip: Need to make a donation and store some things?

MakeSpace does both, because we partner with Goodwill.

Next time you’re packing up your MakeSpace bins, toss whatever you’d like to donate into our blue MakeSpace + Goodwill bag and hand it to us. We’ll then take your donation to a local Goodwill — for free!

Here’s another way MakeSpace makes your life easier:

When you store your belongings with us, we eliminate the need to rent a car, drive that car to a storage unit way across town, lug your stuff up the stairs, and then do it all again when you need to grab any of it.

We also provide our durable storage bins and wardrobe boxes, and we do the heavy lifting. That means more time for you to plan that yard sale, or go shopping for the organizer of your dreams.

So schedule a MakeSpace pickup today. And cross off “visit storage unit” from your spring cleaning checklist — forever.

This article was written by Hannah Van Arsdale, a freelance writer and dog person based in Portland, OR.

26 Dazzling Deep Cleaning Tips And Tricks That Will Make Your Home Sparkle

The start of spring means it’s time to crack open a bottle of rosé, don the jean shorts you haven’t seen since September, and — oh, yeah — break out your cleaning products.

After three months of lounging around your house watching Netflix and cuddling your cat, some spring cleaning is in order. And we’re not just talking about decluttering. We’re talking about finally washing and scrubbing all the nitty-gritty, easy-to-overlook areas of your home.

So grab a pair of gloves, start your favorite podcast, and read on for 26 dazzling deep cleaning tipstricks, and hacks that’ll make your home look brand-spanking new.

Click any of the below links to jump to a specific section:
Bedroom
Kitchen
Office
Living Room
Bathroom
Closet
Laundry Room
Entryway
Garage
Basement
Attic

Bedroom

1. Clean your blinds with a sock.

cleaning blinds with sock, vinegar, and water
One Good Thing By Jillee

Remove the dust from your window blinds using an old tube sock dipped in a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water. Twist the blinds the other direction and repeat.

2. Wash your bedding and mattress.

paige smith is cleaning a mattress with an upholstery cleaner
Paige Smith

Assuming you already wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets regularly, now’s the time to go a bit further and wash your duvet, bedskirt, and even your mattress. (Here’s the full scoop on how to clean and store your bedding).

To wash your mattress, use the nozzle from your vacuum to suck up dust, dirt, and hair particles. Then use an upholstery cleaner to remove stains and odors.

You can also use baking soda sprinkled with a few drops of essential oil. Let it sit for an hour then vacuum it off.

Want more details?

Check out our handy guide to cleaning and storing your mattress, bed frame, and box spring.

3. Use a lint roller to get the dust off lampshades.

paige smith is cleaning a lampshade with a lint roller
Paige Smith

Easy and efficient. Go a step further and clean the base of your lamp with a damp microfiber cloth.

Want more clever cleaning tips?

Check out these 5 insanely easy (and ridiculously effective) cleaning hacks.

Kitchen

4. Scrub the front of your kitchen cabinets.

paige smith cleaning kitchen cabinets with dish soap and a dish brush
Paige Smith

Give your kitchen cabinets new life with a quick clean. Just use a fresh dish brush and soap (or go natural with one part vegetable oil and two parts baking soda) to get rid of food stains and fingerprints.

Free Bonus: Scope out these 11 clever and easy kitchen organization ideas.

5. Clean your sink drain with baking soda and lemon.

a yellow strainer in a clean kitchen sink
Flickr/Rachel Zack

The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest areas in the entire home. To properly clean it, pour one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar down your drain.

Let the mixture work its magic for a few minutes. Then wash it down with boiling water.

For a fresh citrus scent, slice up some lemon wedges and drop them down your disposal.

Free Bonus: Here are 20 genius green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home.

6. Clean the inside and outside of your fridge.

clean fridge shelves on a drying rack
Flickr/Aimee Rivers

Scrub stains and dirt spots on the exterior of the fridge using a damp cloth sprinkled with baking soda.

To clean the inside of your fridge, take out all your food and remove the shelves. Then wash the interior with water and dishwashing soap.

Do the same with the shelves and bins before you dry and return them. Just make sure to unplug or turn off your fridge before cleaning the inside.

7. Clean out your oven with baking soda, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid.

the interior of a deeply cleaned oven
Flickr/Aimee Rivers

Even a self-cleaning oven can use some extra love.

To remove stains and scorch marks from years of Thanksgiving dinners, turkeys, and nacho batches, scrub your oven with the following mixture:

  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 5 teaspoons of vinegar
  • A few drops of dish soap

Let the sudsy mixture sit for a few hours before wiping it off with a clean, wet cloth.

Office

8. Use a coffee filter to clean your computer screen.

paige smith cleaning a computer screen with a coffee filter
Paige Smith

Forget special lint-free cloths. A basic coffee filter is all you need to remove dust and fingerprints from the gunked-up screens on your TV, computer, or tablet.

9. Wipe down your bookshelves with a magnetic cloth.

paige smith wiping a wooden bookshelf with a yellow magnetic cloth
Paige Smith

Just because your bookcase is organized doesn’t mean it’s not seriously dirty. Bookshelves, as well as the tops of books, can hold a lot of dust and dirt.

For a thorough clean, wipe the tops and spines of your books with a magnetic cloth. Then remove everything from your shelves and wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth.

Not enough space on your bookcase for your favorite novels?

You might want to decide what books to keep or get rid of. And store the ones you do keep in any of these 9 creative book storage hacks for small apartments.

10. Clean your desk with the appropriate cleaning products.

clean home office desk with a notebook, glasses, coffee mug, and imac on top

To get rid of the dust and grime that accumulates at your desk over long periods of working (read: procrastinating), first remove everything from it.

Next, give it a good scrub with a clean cloth to remove coffee stains, crumbs, and fingerprints.

Be sure to consider your desk’s material when choosing a cleaning product. Wood, glass, and metal all need to be cleaned differently.

Still have energy?

Here’s how you can easily organize your office desk in under 4 minutes.

Living Room

11. Use Dawn dish soap to get rid of stains on fabric sofas.

how to remove stains from a fabric sofa: squirt dish soap on it, let it sit for several minutes, and wipe it off with a clean wet cloth
Paige Smith

Squirt a bit of Dawn dish soap onto your stain and let it sit for several minutes. Then wipe it off with a clean, wet cloth. Works like a charm.

Free Bonus: Take a look at these 9 stylish, space-saving sofas and couches for your apartment.

12. Iron out your carpet stains.

paige smith removing carpet stains with an iron and a wet pink rag
Paige Smith

Spray your stain with a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water. Place a wet rag over the stain, set your iron to “steam,” and iron on top of the rag for about 30 seconds to thoroughly remove it.

Bathroom

13. Wash your shower curtain and liner.

deep clean your shower curtain and liner by washing it in a washing machine with warm water, laundry detergent, and baking soda
Paige Smith

To get rid of stains, soap scum, and mildew, toss your shower curtain and liner (yep, even if it’s plastic) in the washing machine alongside a few bath towels to prevent wrinkling.

Pour in your regular detergent and one cup of baking soda, then wash on warm. Hang ‘em up to dry.

14. Wipe down your shower walls with vinegar and dish soap.

paige smith cleaning shower with vinegar and dish soap
Paige Smith

Mix one part dish soap with one part vinegar to scrub your shower walls and get that grimy grout sparkling white. Clean it right before you shower so you can rinse everything off easily.

15. Brush your faucet with a toothbrush, baking soda, and water.

cleaning a faucet with a toothbrush and baking soda

If your sink and shower faucets are stained with hard mineral deposits and grime, sprinkle a little baking soda on an old toothbrush, add water, and scrub away until they look brand new.

Want to go the extra mile?

Here are 12 easy ways to declutter your bathroom, plus 42 bathroom storage hacks and solutions to make getting ready way easier.

Closet

16. *Thoroughly* vacuum the floor.

red and black hoover vacuum cleaner on a carpet

Now’s a good time to thoroughly vacuum your closet floor. Especially if it’s accumulated a lot of dust, dirt, and strands of hair from your clothes, not to mention all the bacteria your shoes bring in.

Don’t have carpet?

Take things further by mopping your closet floor with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. When you’re done, rub the floor in a circular motion with a soft cloth.

17. Clean your shelves with all-purpose cleaner and a damp rag.

clean closet shelf with a wet rag and all-purpose cleaner
Paige Smith

Take out all your clothes and wipe down your shelves with all-purpose cleaner and a damp rag.

Tedious? Yes. Worth it not to have a thick layer of dust coating all your jeans and T-shirts? Also yes.

Free Bonus: Here’s how to easily organize everything in your closet for good.

Laundry Room

18. Clean your washing machine with the ultimate cleaning power duo.

clean white front-loading washing machine and dryer

To get rid of mold and mildew (and prevent your clothes from smelling funky), you need to regularly clean your washing machine.

How?

Using the ultimate cleaning power duo: vinegar and baking soda.

Check out Apartment Therapy’s detailed instructions for cleaning a top-loading washing machine, and Popsugar if you have a front-loading washing machine.

19. Vacuum your lint dryer.

pretty handy girl cleaning a dryer lint trap with a brush and vacuum hose
Pretty Handy Girl

Dusty dryer ducts are a common cause of household fires, which is why it’s crucial to regularly clean them out. (Hint: Simply swiping the lint screen isn’t enough.)

Read Pretty Handy Girl’s full breakdown on how to clean your dryer duct using a cleaning brush and vacuum.

Entryway

20. Wipe down your baseboards.

clean mama cleaning baseboards with dryer sheets
Clean Mama

The little things can make a big difference. Use a rag or sponge dipped in warm, soapy water to scrub scuff marks and dirt off your baseboards (Clean Mama says baby wipes work, too).

Finish off your clean baseboards by rubbing them with a dryer sheet to repel dust.

Free Bonus: These 15 amazing multi-purpose entryway storage hacks and ideas will transform your space.

Garage

21. Dust and wash everything.

a clean and empty garage from living well spending less
Living Well Spending Less

Then work your way down: Scrub your walls with soap or a degreasing agent. And sweep and mop your floor to get rid of dirt, chemicals, and oil-build-up.

Basement

22. Clean your light bulbs.

an energy saving light bulb on a blue cloth with white pattern
Flickr/Kai Hendry

Unscrew your light bulbs and wipe the dust off them with a clean microfiber cloth. Your newly bright lamps and pendants will thank you.

23. Wash your window tracks.

how to clean window tracks like a pro before and after from the intentional mom
The Intentional Mom

Window tracks are pretty disgusting — they can fill up with dust, dirt, and even dead flies. If you’re tired of cringing every time you open or close your windows, take a cue from The Intentional Mom:

Sprinkle some baking soda on the dirt in your window tracks, pour a little vinegar on top, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then scrub with a rag or old toothbrush and wipe clean.

Attic

24. Suck up cobwebs with a vacuum hose.

dyson dc22 vacuum hose

Layers of thick dust and dirt can ruin your stuff over time. To keep your vintage furniture and  vinyl records in good quality, use your vacuum to clear out cobwebs and clean your attic floor.

25. Donate anything you don’t need.

makespace offers free goodwill pickups for storage customers in nyc, chicago, and dc
MakeSpace

You know those cardboard boxes filled with old craft supplies, CDs, and DVDs? The ones that haven’t seen the light of day in years? Get rid of ‘em.

Or donate them. Even better, MakeSpace offers free Goodwill pickups in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

Pro Tip: Read our comprehensive guide on where to donate your old clothes, books, furniture, toys, cell phones, and more.

26. Let MakeSpace store your stuff.

 

After you finish cleaning, use MakeSpace to store your snowboard, skis, luggage, and more.

Simply schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when you need something back, simply browse your convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

20 Genius Green Cleaning Tips And Tricks For Every Room In Your Home

“Going green” isn’t reserved solely for your free-spirited aunt who lives off-the-grid in an Ecocapsule in Portland. It’s now everyone’s responsibility to help keep our environment in as good of condition as it can possibly be.

Being a friend to Mother Nature is easy, and one of the best ways to do so is by employing more eco-friendly cleaning habits. Green cleaning can lessen water and air pollution, reducing health problems like allergies, headaches, nausea, skin irritation, and respiratory issues.

You can also live out your dream of being one of Captain Planet’s Planeteers as you slow down the progression of climate change and ozone depletion. The power is yours!

captain planet dunkin donuts card
Flickr/Mark Anderson

Turns out, it’s easy being green. And to make your whole home sustainable, the best place to start is with your cleaning products.

Whether you buy a commercial cleaner or make your own, you’ll have the added peace of mind of knowing exactly what ingredients are working for you as well as for the environment. These 20 green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home will give you a head start.

Click any of the below links to jump to tips for a specific room:
Kitchen
Bathroom
Laundry Room
Attic
Garage
Basement
Garden and Patio

Kitchen

A one-product-cleans-all solution makes tidying up one of the most-used rooms in your home easy.

When it’s all-natural? That’s just a no-brainer.

1. Use a mild but effective cleanser.

bon ami powder cleanser is hypoallergenic and does not contain chlorine, perfume, or dye
Bon Ami

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser uses feldspar and limestone as gentle abrasives and combines them with cleaning agents from renewable sources like corn and coconut oils.

Every stage of meal prep can be safely washed away as Bon Ami is great for countertops, oven doors, stovetops, and even stainless steel appliances.

2. Wash dishes with Biobased ingredients.

a bottle of seventh generation fragrance-free all-natural dish liquid
Seventh Generation

Because the least appetizing thing found in a kitchen is dried-on food, dish soap that gets your plates and pots thoroughly clean is a must. However, dyes and synthetic fragrances can take away from the appeal.

Find a plant-based formula like Seventh Generation Dish Soap ASAP. It’s a USDA Certified Biobased product that makes your glasses sparkle without the fake stuff.

Plus, the bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic, which is 100% awesome.

3. Lose the paper products.

Did you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted?

You may not be the Lorax, but you can still speak for the trees!

 

Reduce or completely eliminate the use of paper towels in your home by switching to reusable towels and rags. Here are three of our favorite tips for paper towel alternatives from One Good Thing by Jillee:

  1. Store clean towels under the sink, or display them in a basket on your counter, so they’re just as easy to grab as their paper friends.
  2. Hang soiled towels to dry, and then throw them in with your regular laundry.
  3. Compile a collection of fabric scraps, tattered socks, old cloth napkins, etc., for the messes you’d rather not have hanging around even after they’re cleaned up. Allocate these rags for the truly gross jobs that you want to wipe away and promptly throw out.
a paper towel alternative that's eco-friendly, made by one good thing by jillee
One Good Thing by Jillee

Bathroom

4. Replace chemicals with all-natural ingredients.

a bottle of eucalyptus mint method bathroom cleaner, a naturally derived tub and tile cleaner
Method

Butoxydiglycol. Say that fives times fast. That’s about as far as we’ll go with anything butoxydiglycol related because it can cause some serious health issues. And yet, it’s present in many bathroom cleaners to help dissolve residue such as grease or soap scum.

Instead, turn to lactic acid and decyl glucoside (from corn starch). They’re naturally derived, do the exact same thing, and are considerably easier to pronounce. Eco-friendly products like Method Bathroom Cleaner utilize these ingredients to eliminate and prevent soap scum and lime deposits.

5. Use a homemade cleaner for the toilet.

Everyone’s favorite part of cleaning the bathroom is the toilet, right? No?

Well, while we can’t say we blame you, it is necessary. And with a homemade all-natural toilet bowl cleaner that won’t harm the environment, you can at least feel a little good about it.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 20 drops of lemon essential oil

Bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Add the Borax and dissolve it completely. Let it cool, then add the lemon essential oil. Pour the entire mixture right into your toilet bowl. Scrub the sides of the bowl with a toilet brush.

Let everything sit for a few hours or overnight, scrub the bowl with the toilet brush one more time, then flush.

Laundry Room

Stains happen. Phosphates (kill freshwater aquatic life), chlorine (can cause respiratory and skin irritation), and ammonia (detrimental to those with respiratory and heart problems) don’t have to.

6. Wash clothes with an irritant-free formula.

biokleen laundry powder citrus essence with grapefruit seed and citrus extracts
Biokleen

It’s possible to get clothes clean (like, really clean) with oxygen bleach and enzymatic stain lifters. We know this because products like Biokleen Laundry Powder have proven it.

All of the irritants in traditional laundry detergent are absent, so towels and T-shirts are as cuddly and comfortable as they’re supposed to be.

7. Make your own eco-friendly laundry detergent.

a plastic container of baking soda, a bottle of pure castille soap, and a bag of real salt sea salt for cleaning
Wholefully

If you’re particularly sensitive — and not just “Yes, I’m still inconsolable from the season finale of This Is Us! What happened with Jack?!” sensitive — mixing up your own laundry detergent is incredibly easy and can save you nearly $70 a year.

Many homemade laundry detergent blends contain Borax, which has been found to cause mild skin irritation due to its high alkalinity. Give this recipe for Borax-free laundry detergent from Wholefully a shot.

Castile soap and baking soda work together to achieve a true clean. And salt fights stains naturally while keeping colors from fading.

Bedroom

Your bedroom is a refuge. But it’s hardly a haven for relaxation when it may be overrun by dust mites, allergens, and the remnants of whatever you and your pet unknowingly brought into your home that day.

While you vacuum regularly-ish and dust your furniture every now and then, the less obvious problems are the microscopic irritants that could disrupt your sleep.

8. Breathe easier with an air purifier.

To help clean the air overall, consider using an air purifier with filters made with polypropylene, a synthetic plastic that ultimately breaks down into carbon dioxide and water.

The Blueair Classic 205 air purifier features a filter made with this antibacterial material, so bacteria and mold from the air are captured but never produced by the filter itself.

9. Wash your pillows with hot water and a mild detergent.

Dust mites and dead skin cells are just plain rude for taking up considerable bed space and not even offering to pay rent. Get rid of these freeloaders by regularly washing their favorite hangout: your pillows.

Fill a sink or washing machine with hot water. The hotter the water the better, as this will kill dust mites without the need for harsh chemicals like bleach.

Now add a mild detergent followed by the pillows (minus any pillow protectors). Then manually agitate for a few minutes or let your washing machine do its thing.

Rinse thoroughly, and press excess water out of the pillow. Just be sure not to wring or twist the pillow (especially if it’s feather-filled) as doing so will ruin its comfy shape.

Hang to dry, or tumble dry on a low setting. Finally, fluff to reshape, and rest easy.

Annie B. from The True Find also recommends considering a pillow made of natural materials such as wool, down, kapok, and buckwheat. These “active” fibers are antibacterial, fighting off contamination from the get-go. Many are also hypoallergenic, which allows for more restful sleep.

Living Room

The living room is the room that does it all, so you need things that clean it all. You know how to organize your home, but what else can you do to make the space spotless?

10. Give dryer sheets another chance.

Start with a good, old-fashioned recycling life hack: Reuse dryer sheets.

If you’ve yet to make the jump to using homemade dryer sheets, you’ll still feel good about giving the store-bought ones a second life. Their soft texture is perfect for wiping dust away from delicate surfaces like TVs and computer monitors — without scratching them.

11. Naturally clean and shine floors.

clean and shiny wood laminate flooring in a house
Flickr/Peter Kane

Hardwood floors can get beat up and grimey in high-traffic areas like the living room, but, thanks to Natural Living Ideas, restoring their gleam is easy with a few ingredients you likely already have on hand:

Combine equal parts hot water and vinegar, adding olive or lemon oil for a little shine. Mop as usual, and enjoy the brief period of clean before someone tracks dirty boots across the room.

12. Freshen the air with real scents.

Many commercial air fresheners will simply put “fragrance” on their ingredients list to let you know what’s making up the scent you’re enjoying. That’s it. Just “fragrance.”

Wouldn’t you rather be able to identify what scent is making the room so fragrant? Same.

The Prairie Homestead has a DIY Air Freshener Spray recipe for every eco-friendly olfaction, but our favorite is the Sweet Lavender.

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vodka, rubbing alcohol, or pure vanilla extract
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of chamomile essential oil

Combine all ingredients in an 8 ounce spray bottle, give it a little shake, and spray all over as often as you like.

Attic, Garage, and Basement

Access to a garage, attic, or basement has its pros and cons.

Pros: You have some extra storage for holiday decorations and the acoustic guitar you’re totally going to learn to play one day.

Cons: You also have pests, must, and dust that can kind of spoil the convenience.

Luckily, all it takes to overcome these obstacles and recapture the advantages of these spaces are a few essential oils, some vinegar, and water.

13. Scare spiders out of the attic with citronella oil.

Add a couple of drops of citronella essential oil to your air filters. Spiders can’t stand the smell of citronella and will avoid areas with this scent.

14. Eliminate mice from your garage with peppermint.

potted mint plant

Unlike your grandparents, mice find the scent of peppermint overwhelming and offensive. So add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to a few cotton balls and lay them strategically around your home’s rodent-prone areas, especially around your garage.

Refresh every week or so, or whenever your grandparents visit.

15. De-fuzz the attic with DIY dusting spray.

homemade dusting spray by one good thing by jillee ingredients: water, vinegar, olive oil, and lemon essential oil
One Good Thing By Jillee

Best for wood surfaces, One Good Thing By Jillee’s homemade dusting spray cuts through grime while shining and protecting the wood. While any essential oil will work, we recommend lemon because it provides a light, fresh scent.

Pour 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 10-15 drops lemon essential oil into a spray bottle. Spray on dusty old furniture or floors and wipe away with a dry rag or mop.

16. Remove mustiness, mildew, and mold from the basement with essential oils.

Essential oils are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial, so diffusing them will help purify the air in a musty basement. Just make sure you’re ventilating the basement well or running a dehumidifier to remove any additional moisture.

Already got a mold problem?

Follow this green tip from Pure Home and Body and clean it up on contact with a mixture of ½ gallon of water, ⅓ cup of vinegar, and 10-15 drops of your favorite, yep, essential oil. (Cedarwood, cypress, and frankincense essential oils are particularly effective.)

Wipe on surfaces with a clean cloth, and allow it to sit for a minute before wiping off.

Garden and Patio

Grow a garden to be one with nature. Grow a garden to be completely sure of where your produce comes from. Grow a garden for the health benefits. Grow a garden, but …

17. Eliminate bugs only, not the whole garden.

dr earth vegetable garden insect killer spray bottle
Doctor Earth

Don’t waste all of this growth with bug repellents and fertilizers that could be doing more harm than good to both the environment and your health. In fact, you don’t even need a drop of chemical pesticide to eradicate and prevent insects.

All you need is Dr. Earth Vegetable Garden Insect Killer. The spray is a combination of natural ingredients like rosemary oil, sesame oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil, and garlic oil that does exactly what its name says.

Neem oil, a gum extracted from the evergreen tree, is another great all-purpose pesticide to keep in your all-natural arsenal. Found at most health food stores, simply combine 2 teaspoons of neem oil with 2 cups water in a spray bottle and spray the problem away.

18. Pour one out for healthy plants.

Pro Tip: Beer + your garden might be the only time something becomes a better version of itself after consuming alcohol.

Beer activates enzymes in soil that help release nutrients to make plants grow stronger, healthier, and better equipped to nip insect problems in the bud.

Freshly opened, day-old, craft, or domestic, any brew works.

19. Spray away aphids.

Next up we have aphids  — small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to puncture the surface of leaves and stems and suck out sap and other fluids.

This causes leaves to dry, curl, and eventually drop, stunting growth while leaving behind a dark fungus. Aphids can also transmit viruses in susceptible vegetables like squash, pumpkin, melon, cucumber, lettuce, and beets.

Not cool, aphids.

To control these little nuisances, start by pruning any stems or branches where you’ve noticed them. Then, try a homemade garlic oil spray like My Little Garden in Japan’s version, which includes water, garlic, liquid dish soap, onion, and mineral oil.

Spray around your garden every few days until you notice them start to disappear. Aphids dislike plants with strong scents, so when surrounded by such a powerful odor, they’ll vacate the area stat.

The Ultimate Green Cleaning Trick for Every Room in Your Home

makespace full-service storage with pickup and delivery
MakeSpace

You’ve out-washed and out-disinfected both Mr. Clean and the Brawny Man combined (safely, too). In your efforts to be environmentally friendly and eliminate unnecessary chemicals from your cleaning products, you might have decided to also eliminate things you don’t need in your home right now.

You know, like your winter clothes, skis, snowboardextra cooking tools, and whatever it was you even had in your attic (but obviously still can’t give away).

20. MakeSpace, and keep up with the go-green trend.

 

Schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack the extra stuff you find around the house. We’ll transport everything to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

Unlike storing stuff in random boxes in your attic, with MakeSpace, you’ll never forget what you’ve packed because we’ll create an online photo catalog of your items.

Really need those extra cooking utensils for a dinner party you’re hosting?

Simply log into your MakeSpace account, click the photos of the items you’d like back, and we’ll deliver them right to you.

You deserve to breathe easy, feel good, and live a spacious life. MakeSpace can help.

35 Powerful Spring Cleaning Tips And Tricks From Professional Cleaners

If you need medical advice, you ring your doc. Digging a new ’do? Swing by the salon. But if your closet feels cramped, your fridge smells funky, and your tiles look terrifying … Who you gonna call? Grout busters?

Turns out, just like fixing back pain and botched bangs, effective deep cleaning is a lesson best gleaned from the pros. That’s why we’ve reached out to the best in the biz for the ultimate spring cleaning tips, tricks, and straight up hacks for every room in your home. So you can literally clean like it’s your job.

Click any of the below links to jump to a specific section:
Prep
Kitchen
Living Room
Bedroom
Bathroom
Laundry Room
Home Office

Prep

1. Disinfect your sponge in the microwave (we’re not kidding).

how to clean a sponge in the microwave according to chasing foxes: soak the sponge in water and microwave it for 2 minutes
Chasing Foxes

Quickly clean your sponge and eliminate bacteria by trying this hack from Maids by Trade:

Fill the sponge with water, set it on a microwaveable plate, and nuke it for two minutes.

Voilà: 99% of bacteria, gone.

2. Clean your vacuum and its attachments with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

laura’s crafty life says to air dry your vacuum cleaner attachments after washing them with warm water and dish soap
Laura’s Crafty Life

According to domestic demigod Martha Stewart, you should already be cleaning your vacuum monthly. We mere mortals can use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe any dirt from the unplugged device.

Cori Morenberg of Ms. Green-Clean recommends cleaning specialty attachments with warm water and a bit of dish soap. Air dry all the attachments, except the rug piece.

For the rug piece, use a white cotton utility cloth “to wipe and scrub the brush and superficial underside,” instructs Morenberg. Then dry carefully with a clean towel.

And don’t forget to change any full bags!

3. Sanitize your mop with vinegar.

bottles of heinz distilled white vinegar on a store shelf
Flickr/Mike Mozart

Start by rinsing the mop until the water runs clear, instructs Julie Bradshaw from Super Maids. Then, place the mop into a bucket filled with 1-2 gallons of water, followed by a cup of vinegar.

After letting it soak for 15 minutes, rinse with water again and air dry.

4. Bang out your broom.

Maids by Trade suggests cleaning your broom by thoroughly whacking it against a tree. Which, as a bonus, is pretty therapeutic.

Afterward, soak the broom in a bucket loaded with warm, soapy water for 30 minutes. Then rinse it off and dry with a cloth, or place it bristles-up in the shower.

To, ahem, brush up between cleanings, try BuzzFeed’s clever broom bristle cleaning hack shown in the video above.

5. Go for a reusable, eco-friendly wipe.

use an alaskan blue e-cloth and water to remove dirt, grease, oil, grime, and over 99% of bacteria from hard surfaces
e-cloth

Merry Maids swears by these mighty little cloths from e-cloth. Use them to remove dirt, dust, grease, oil, grime, and over 99% of bacteria from any hard surface.

Bonus: They last up to 300 machine washes, which makes them an environmentally-friendly alternative to paper towels.

Kitchen

6. Refresh your garbage disposal with ice and citrus.

citrus and distilled white vinegar garbage disposal refreshers from hello glow
Hello Glow

Bradshaw from Super Maids recommends tossing a couple ice cubes down the drain while the disposal is on. This will also help clean the unit.

Next, add a handful of lemon or orange peels (while the disposal is on) to eliminate any smells.

7. Make sure your dishwasher is running up to snuff.

how to clean dishwasher with vinegar: fill a mug with vinegar, put it in the top rack, and run a normal cycle
Clean Mama

To revamp your dishwasher, Molly Maid suggests filling a mug with vinegar or baking soda . Or you can do one of each. Place the mug(s) right side up in the top rack without other dishes, then run it for a normal cycle.

If there’s a funky smell permeating your plates, run a normal cycle with detergent plus two cups of vinegar added to the base.

8. Freshen up your fridge with a natural mix.

ground coffee beans on a clean white surface
Flickr/Joe King

Martha Stewart recommends combining two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water. Dip a sponge in the mix, and wipe your fridge’s interior. Wipe the surfaces again with a separate damp cloth, and dry with a towel.

Warning: Steer clear of soap and detergents, which leave odors that food might absorb.

Odd smells emanating from old food?

Scatter fresh coffee grounds on a tray and leave it inside your fridge until the odor dissipates.

9. Defrost your freezer in a flash by turning it into a sauna.

how to defrost a freezer with hot water in a pot
Mom on a Mission

The home cleaning pros at Cleaning Exec shared their speedy, five-step process for defrosting your freezer:

  1. Unplug your fridge or freezer unit and remove all frozen foods.
  2. Line the bottom of the freezer with paper towels.
  3. Fill a bowl or two with boiling hot water, and place them on top of the paper towels.
  4. Close the freezer door. The steam from the bowls will melt the frost. And in case you’re wondering, the paper towels will absorb the wetness.
  5. Wipe the freezer down with a sponge and some all-purpose cleaner.

10. Use an eco-friendly alternative to your oven’s self-cleaning mode.

cleaning oven racks using dish soap and dryer sheets
Life Love Larson

Whip up Molly Maid’s non-toxic paste of vinegar and baking soda . Apply it to any spills, let it sit for at least an hour (preferably overnight), and wipe down with elbow grease.

If your racks are wrecked, Molly Maid has another idea:

Place them in your tub and cover them with hot water. Add a half-cup of vinegar and ¾ cup of dish wash, let the racks soak for two hours, and then rinse them off. Scrub any remaining bits with a brush.

11. Sprinkle this one ingredient to clean your stove top.

clean a glass stove top with baking soda and a wet cloth
The Make Your Own Zone

Unplug cooled coils and wipe them down with a wet cloth or sponge, says Maids by Trade. To get rid of grease buildup, coat with baking soda and wipe with a wet cloth.

Wish there was an easy way to keep drip pans clean for future use?

Cover them snugly with aluminum foil.

12. Rejuvinate your cabinets with simple ingredients you already own.

how to remove grease from cabinets: wipe them with a rag dipped in baking soda, dish soap, and
Frugally Blonde

Since cabinet and pantry materials vary, Merry Maids recommends keeping the cabinet cleaning process simple: Use hot water and a disposable cloth or paper towel to spot clean.

To remove grease, Frugally Blonde mixes a paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda, ½ tablespoon dish soap, and ½ tablespoon water.

To clean smudges from glass-front enclosures, wipe them with a microfiber cloth and Windex.

13. The secret to getting gunk out of your coffeemaker is…

leftover coffee grinds in a coffee maker basket
Flickr/Gideon Tsang

According to Saudia Davis, founder and CEO of Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning, here’s the secret combo for clearing out any oily residue or hard-water deposits your coffeemaker has accumulated over the years:

A 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Yep, that’s it.

“Halfway through the cycle, turn it off for at least 30 minutes — allowing the mixture to steam-clean your machine — before turning it back on to finish,” she says. Finish with two or three cycles of only water.

Living Room

14. Use this everyday product to revive your rugs.

homemade carpet cleaner made of vinegar, water, and dishwashing liquid
Creekline House

Spill booze on your berber?

Resist the urge to scrub, warns Joseph from Maid Sailors. “The best way to get out a stain in any rug, especially when it’s fresh, is to simply dab it,” he says. This pulls up any excess material that hasn’t yet settled.

Then apply your secret weapon: Shaving cream.

Apply the cream directly to the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes, then do another dab. Spray the stain with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Finally, wipe it dry, like this:

15. Clear windows with this Windex alternative.

cleaning a window with a yellow glass polishing rag
IHeart Organizing

Wash your windows on a cloudy day to avoid streaking. And forget traditional glass cleaner – NYC and Chicago cleaning service MyClean recommends mixing 8 parts water to 1 part vinegar for a DIY solution. Then wipe the panes down with a coffee filter or newspaper.

Sounds insane, but it works.

16. Quickly wipe your blinds dry.

clean blinds in half the time with swiffer sweeper clothes rubber banded around tongs
A Cultivated Nest

Since most of what you’ll find on blinds is dust, Merry Maids advises keeping the cleaning process dry.

Use your handy microfiber cloth to wipe the convex side of your blinds from top to bottom. Then turn the rod and repeat on the other side.

Or, cut your cleaning time in half by attaching a clean rag to tongs, á la A Cultivated Nest. Clamp the tongs on a blind to clean both sides of it at the same time.

Last but not least, vacuum any spilled dust.

17. Take proper care of your hardwood floors.

mom 4 real's homemade wood floor cleaner in a spray bottle is made of water, vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, and dish soap
Mom 4 Real

First you’ll need to vacuum or dust, says TIDY. Next, fill a bucket with warm water and add ¼ cup of either white vinegar or all-purpose cleaner. Dip your microfiber towel in the solution, wring it out, and attach it to a mop handle.

Important: Take special care not to get your floor too wet while cleaning. And be sure to wipe away any excess water when you’re done.

18. Freshen up your carpet’s look – and smell.

homemade carpet deodorizer powder in a mason jar by mom4real
Mom 4 Real

No carpet powder? No problem. According to King of Maids, you can simply sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and vacuum after at least 30 minutes. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for an extra fresh touch.

For particularly stubborn stains, blot the area with club soda on a cloth, then spray it with a 1:1 mix of water and white vinegar. Rinse with just water, and use your hands to readjust the carpet hairs in their natural direction. Dry with a paper towel.

Bedroom

19. Use this awesome guide to declutter your closet.

rubbermaid homefree series closet system organizes, stores, and hangs clothes, shoes, bins, and more
Flickr/Rubbermaid Products

Organize your wardrobe – on the cheap! – with our comprehensive guide on how to organize your closet.

20. Wash your pillows in the washing machine.

how to wash pillows in washing machine
A Crafty Fox

Your pillow type will determine how you wash it, says says Merry Maids.

Put down- and fiber pillows in the wash on a warm, gentle cycle. Follow with an extra rinse to get all the detergent out, and tumble dry low with clean tennis balls to restore your pillows’ fluffiness.

Heads up: Foam pillows require gentle hand washing with mild detergent.

21. Sprinkle this white powder on your mattress.

a spoon of baking soda over a glass bowl of baking soda on a wooden table
Flickr/Aqua Mechanical

In addition to stepping up your mattress game and flipping it every six months, Maid Brigade has this simple mattress deodorizing hack:

Sift baking soda on the surface, let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum it up.

Bathroom

22. Obliterate soap scum with these eco-safe grime fighters.

baking soda in a white jar, white vinegar in a clear bottle, a glass water pitcher, and a small blue olive oil bottle
Bren Did

The Maids recommends coating the shower surface with a 1:1 mix of baking soda and water, then spraying with a 1:1 combo of vinegar and water before wiping it down.

23. Use vinegar to spruce up your shower curtains.

checkered-shower-curtain-creekline-house
Creekline House

Merry Maids advises pretreating new plastic shower curtains in the wash on a warm rinse cycle with distilled white vinegar.

On the other hand, an older shower curtain requires more TLC.  Hand wash it under warm water with a microfiber cloth and baking soda. You can also put it in the wash with either vinegar, baking soda, or a gentle detergent.

Emphasis on the “or,” unless you want your washing machine to erupt like a volcano.

24. Try this crazy simple hack to unclog your shower head.

water coming out of a clean shower head in a bathroom

Your shower head works hard to keep you so fresh and so clean. Return the favor.

Kim from A Real-Life Housewife pours distilled white vinegar in a plastic bag and fastens it to the shower head with a rubber band. She advises letting it soak for an hour before wiping clean with a wet cloth.

25. Citrify your bathtub.

grapefruit cut in half
Katie’s Pencil Box

For the ultimate green clean, Davis of Greenhouse Eco Cleaning suggests pairing grapefruit with salt.

“After wetting down your tub,” she instructs, “slice the grapefruit in half, sprinkle with salt [Davis recommends coarse kosher salt], and scrub the grapefruit around your tub.” Margaritas optional.

26. Bon Ami + Dish Soap = Immaculate Toilet

live simply's homemade toilet bowl cleaner is made of water, baking soda, castile soap, lavender essential oil, and hydrogen peroxide
Live Simply

If you scrub your toilet regularly, just some all-purpose cleaner will suffice, according to King of Maids.

Got a bit of buildup?

Morenberg of Ms. Green-Clean recommends a “little dish cleaning liquid,” alongside a dash of non-abrasive, eco-friendly cleaner like Bon Ami.

27. Safely clean grout with these two kitchen staples.

cleaning grout with toothbrush by iheart organizing
IHeart Organizing

Joseph from Maid Sailors shares his trusty, five-step process for cleaning grout like a boss:

  1. Sprinkle some baking soda on the grout, taking care to cover all affected areas.
  2. Wipe away excess powder.
  3. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, and spritz the powdered part of the grout.
  4. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes, but not for too long, or else the grime will settle back in.
  5. Scrub with an old toothbrush.

“It’ll get messy,” warns Joseph, so have some water on hand. But not too much water, since you want the solution to stay gritty for easy scrubbing.

Wipe up, vacuum any leftover powder, and clean the area as usual.

28. Clean mold the same way you clean cuts.

diy bleach and peroxide being mixed in a clear bowl with a whisk
Mom 4 Real

“Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water,” says Davis of Greenhouse Eco Cleaning.  (Bonus: Add a few drops of castile soap to make it a multipurpose cleaner as well.)

“Wipe the mixture on mold, let it sit for at least 10 minutes, scrub the area to remove all mold and stains, and wipe down the surface.”

Now that the mold is gone, how do you prevent it from growing in the future?

Easy: Spray the surface with a mixture of 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 cups of water.

29. Eliminate musty mildew funk with your favorite natural face wash

natural shower cleaner spray by a beautiful mess ingredients: water, white distilled vinegar, tea tree essential oil, and an urban outfitters glass plant mister
A Beautiful Mess

Joseph from Maid Sailors shared a natural anti-odor solution:

Simply mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water, pour it in a spray bottle, spray the affected area, and let it dry.

After a few days, the smell will vanish.

Laundry Room

30. Revamp your washing machine with a little TLC.

diy homemade fabric softener made from white vinegar
Creekline House

Tend to the door of the machine first, instructs Martha Stewart. Put some rubber gloves on and make a solution that’s one cup chlorine bleach to two cups of warm water. Wipe down the door’s seal, especially the lower portion, using your mix and a soft cloth.

Then move on to cleaning the inside. All you have to do is fill the bleach dispenser with bleach and run the machine on the hot-water cycle.

Can’t stand the smell of bleach and/or prefer a natural alternative?

Use, you guessed it, vinegar. But only vinegar! Because mixing vinegar and bleach creates toxic fumes.

31. De-lint the dryer in a flash with this cheap tool.

interior of a laundry dryer

According to Ms. Stewart, you can easily eliminate residual dust and lint in your dryer with just one cheap tool: a vacuum crevice tool or dryer vent brush, like this one from Home Depot.

32. Clean your iron like Salt Bae.

how to clean an iron step 1: turn the iron off and stand it up
Mom 4 Real

Unplug and make sure the iron is totally cooled, warns Maids by Trade. Then, place wax paper or a paper towel on a flat surface and sprinkle a tablespoon of coarse salt on top. Just like this:

 

Turn the iron on and crank it to the highest setting, but turn off the steam. Lightly press the iron down on the salted paper, moving it back and forth a few times until the sole plate is clean. Unplug and let cool.

Home Office

33. Spot check your desk for rings.

overhead view of a clean wooden workspace with a notebook, coffee mug, magic keyboard, and earpods

Keep an eye out for coffee and beverage rings, advises David Salsone, director of operations for the office-cleaning experts at Managed by Q. Wipe those spots down with an all-purpose cleaning solution and a rag.

34. Use a DIY solution to clean your computer screen.

diy computer screen cleaner, cleaning cloth, and a macbook from popsugar
Popsugar

Remember the magic mix you used on your coffee cleaner? The one that was just water and white vinegar?

Turns out, it works for cleaning your computer, too. Spray and wipe down with your microfiber BFF for a streak-free shine.

35. MakeSpace.

 

All done? Congrats! There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a deeply-cleaned home.

Except, of course, a deeply-cleaned, spacious home. So, MakeSpace for spring!

Schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack your space-eating skis, snowboard, and bulky winter gear. We’ll transport everything to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility and create an online photo catalog of each item, so you never forget what you packed.

When you need something back from storage, simply log into your MakeSpace account, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it straight to you.

What To Do With Sentimental Items (And How To Store Them)

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they just can’t stand to have those boxes of stuff taking up any more space in their closets, garages, and maybe even the space beneath their beds. You’re probably familiar with that feeling too.

We can’t count the number of times we’ve opened up a dusty box of memories determined to free up some space, just to find those special, long-forgotten objects.

But at some point, you either need to face the memories and determine a new life for them, or get right with the fact that they’re going to keep taking up space, rent-free in your home.

If you’re ready to do the former, read along. We’ve got nine tips on how to store your not-so-easy-to-store sentimental items.

1. Learn to let go of sentimental items you don’t need.

a woman thumbing through an old book

A good rule in general and the first step in storing sentimental items is: letting go.

We’re not saying it’s easy, but it’s necessary.

Once you’ve decided to take a look through special belongings, take a deep breath before you dive in. Make sure you’re in the right mindset and ready to let go. Some things might bring up difficult memories, and that’s okay.

Remember: You are not your stuff!

When sorting through sentimental items, some things you’ll immediately see and think, “Why did I hang onto this for so long?” Other things you’ll come across might take you a moment to figure out if you’re ready to let go.

For each item, ask yourself:

  • Why am I holding onto this? Does it, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy?
  • If it conjures up memories, could I still remember it without the object?
  • Does this object still have life? Could someone else get something out of it?
  • Does someone else I know need it more?
  • If I had an image of it, would that be enough?
  • Can I repurpose it into something useful?

We find it’s easiest to separate things into three piles:

  1. Give away/donate
  2. Keep (use sparingly)
  3. Unsure, for things you need another moment to think about

Once you’ve sorted your sentimental items into categories, it’s time to figure out the best way to either give them new life, or send them on their way.

2. Give sentimental objects to friends.

hands giving a holiday gift to someone

This is a win-win situation: You get more space in your home, and your friends save money on stuff they were going to buy anyway. Baby toys, baby clothes, band t-shirts from exes, artwork, and furniture are just a few examples of sentimental objects that can easily be given new life.

Even though you might have sentimental attachment to an armchair doesn’t mean your friend does. And if your friend is moving into a new place, giving him/her your sentimental items (as long as they still have some life left) is good for both of you.

This is especially true for baby stuff. Although you might want to hang on to some things, like one specific toy or a special outfit, a friend with a new baby could benefit from hardly-used, second-hand clothing.

Also, strollers. Basically anything baby related that babies grow out of fast and hardly use, you might want to consider letting go of.

If you’re ready to give, but your friends don’t really need anything, donating is another great option.

3. Donate used items to charities.

makespace offers free goodwill pickups for storage customers in nyc, chicago, and dc

You can donate clothing, furniture, dinnerware, and a whole lot more to charities and other organizations that help people in need.

Not sure where to donate a specific item?

Check our comprehensive guide on where to donate clothes, books, furniture, toys, cell phones, and more.

If you have stuff that’s too hard to keep emotionally, someone who doesn’t have that attachment will be able to use it in a practical way.

And it might make the process of letting go easier if you know someone will be benefiting from getting your lightly-used stuff inexpensively or for free.

Pro Tip: We partner with Goodwill. So the next time you’re handing over MakeSpace bins and other items for us to store, fill up the shiny blue MakeSpace + Goodwill bag with anything you’d like to donate. We’ll then drop off your donation to a local Goodwill — at no extra cost to you.

4. Ceremoniously trash unwanted stuff.

people sitting in front of a bonfire

Sometimes we hang onto sentimental things that are sentimental in a bad way.

Maybe you’re hanging onto love letters from your 9th grade boyfriend, like I am. Maybe you can’t let go of the paintings your partner made for you, or the sheet music of the song he/she wrote you, or perhaps a burger wrapper from your very first date.

Printed photos that are too hard to keep? Journal entries from a tough breakup? Cards from past Valentine’s Days?

Ceremoniously trash them. But do it safely. We definitely don’t condone lighting anything on fire … definitely not outside, in a controlled, well-ventilated area …

Make whatever you do into a sort of ritual. Bring all your unwanted love stuff to a dumpster, close your eyes, tell your ex you finally release his/her energy, and then dump it.

You can even bring friends and make a party out of it. You’ll feel a lot better, and that stuff won’t be taking up any more space.

5. Prioritize the items you do keep, and decide where to put them.

a woman's hand writing "my plan" in a notebook

Okay, as mentioned before, no one said this would be easy. Sometimes you just can’t make up your mind on whether or not you want to hang on to an item .

Instead of just shoving everything back into its box and letting it lie dormant for another five years, prioritize.

If you need to keep everything, figure out what you want displayed, what can go in hiding, and what can go in more long-term storage.

Ask yourself the hard questions like: Do I need all these Mickey Mouse sculptures my grandma gave me displayed on the coffee table?

Probably not.

Things like dinnerware, tchotchkes, and stuff from relatives or loved ones fit into this category.

Reducing clutter on surfaces, in cabinets, and on walls can be a big step.

6. Take photos of sentimental objects to preserve their memories.

hands using an iPhone to take a picture of a photo

If you feel like you need the object to remember the moment, but you just don’t have the space anymore, take photos! (You can even take photos of photos.)

Just make sure you store the photos somewhere secure, and back them up too. It’s best to keep them on two different hard drives and somewhere in the cloud, to make sure all your bases are covered.

Now you can take a trip down memory lane whenever you want without sacrificing space in your home to do it.

7. Reach out to the person who gave the item to you.

hands holding an iphone 6 plus

Another option, if you feel more attached to a memory rather than an object, is to reach out to that person. Of course, sometimes you’re unable to. But if you are able to, emailing or calling the person with whom you shared that special memory can be better than just hanging on to the object itself.

We’re not saying this is the easiest option, but it might be the most cathartic. Once you’ve reached out to the person and taken a photo of the object, let go of that object.

8. Breathe new life into old sentimental things.

diy flower artwork

Aside from the “ceremoniously trash stuff” tip, this might be the most fun option.

If you’re artistically or DIY-inclined, and don’t feel precious about the sentimental object in question, turn it into something new.

Press some flowers from your significant other. Turn that old love letter into a collage. Build a mixed media sculpture out of your old stuffed animals. If you have some plates your ex gave you that you absolutely hate, take a hammer to them and make them into something you do love.

Let your imagination go wild on this one. It might even feel therapeutic.

9. Let MakeSpace store the stuff you love but don’t need in your home right now.

 

We get it, sometimes you just can’t bear to part with that special item. If you know you want to hang onto it, but you can’t stand it taking up any more space in your home, we might know someone who can help.

Us, we mean us.

We’ve got you covered with those special items you just can’t bear to let go of. We make it easy to store your stuff by supplying the durable bins, the heavy lifting, and the driving.

If you have old photos, follow these rules for making sure they remain undamaged in storage. And here are some tips for making sure fragile items stay as safe as possible.

Next, schedule a MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us. It’s self-storage if self-storage could be self-less, painless, easy, and any other positive adjective you can possibly think of.

And with all the time you save from not buying boxes to pack, not driving to a self-storage unit, and not heading back when you need something, you’ll have more time to call the person all those sentimental items remind you of. While looking at photos of said sentimental items because we can also create an online catalog of everything you have in storage.

This article was written by Hannah Van Arsdale, a freelance writer and dog person based in Portland, OR

4 Indoor Spring Cleaning Tasks To Do Now

You know spring is on its way when the weather becomes milder and buds are forming on trees and bushes. You’ll also know spring is near because the urge will probably hit you to clean, refresh, and renew your home.

There are a number of ways to approach the annual indoor spring cleaning project that can make it a less onerous event. Concentrate on cleaning a few of the more obvious parts of your home that both you and your guests will notice.

This way, after a long winter season, cleaning doesn’t have to be a huge chore says King of Maids, a professional cleaning service based out of Chicago, IL.

And with that, here are four cleaning tasks you can do now to spruce up your home for spring:

1. Clean Your Carpet and Rugs

spraying carpet with carpet cleaning spray

When guests are sitting in your living room, sometimes they can’t help but look down at your carpeting. Yes, you do vacuum your rugs, hopefully on a weekly basis. But they need some extra special care after enduring a winter of dirt and germs.

First, rent a rug shampooer from a local home improvement shop. Then clean a small, out-of-the-way area of the carpet to be sure you know how to work the machine properly.

Instead of moving every piece of furniture out of the room you’re cleaning, move each piece just enough to clean beneath it. Now place a square of wax paper under each leg and position the furniture back where it belongs. The wax paper will protect the carpet and prevent your furniture’s legs from getting wet.

Lastly, air out the room by opening the windows so the rug will dry more quickly.

If you have area rugs, shake them outdoors, then hang each one over a railing and beat it with a stick, such as a broom handle. Air them out for while to get rid of odors. Some area rugs can be tossed in a washing machine or dry-cleaned.

The result: Your carpets will be dirt-free and smelling fresh for the coming months.

2. Wash Your Walls, Cabinets, and Woodwork

You may not notice right away, but your walls, baseboards, and woodwork could all use a fresh cleaning after a year of dust, cooking smoke, and grease filling the areas of your home. With a sponge or a sponge mop and a few drops of dishwashing detergent, wash those surfaces. Dry with a clean cloth when done.

The difference should be obvious, especially when you squeeze out your sponge or mop in a separate bucket of water and see the dirt changing its color to gray.

3. Clean Your Windows

cleaning the outside-facing part of a window with a squeegee

Windows need a thorough cleaning by the time spring rolls around. Getting your windows shiny and brilliant doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort.

Take down any window treatments, if convenient, to get full access to windows. Brush away any loose dirt and spider webs that have collected on each window sill and frame, as well as the tracks that the window moves up and down on.

As a heads up, you can skip removing the window’s screens. Simply vacuum them with your vacuum’s brush attachment, working from the top down and side-to-side.

For modern tilt-in windows, spray liquid glass cleaner on the inside panes. Wipe horizontally with a lint-free cloth until dry. Now tilt the window in to clean the outside panes, this time moving the cloth from the top down, vertically. Wiping in two different directions lets you see which panes you need to go over again when you’ve finished.

For double-hung windows, just slide the bottom part of the window up far enough so you can get your arm through it to clean the outside panes. Spray and wipe down as much as you can. Close the window, then get to the rest of the outside panes by pulling down the top part of the window about 8 inches or so to get your arm through.

If you have windows that don’t open easily or at all, such as skylights or casement windows, simply clean the inside and spray the outside panes with an outdoor hose.

If you have windows that don’t open easily or at all, such as skylights or casement windows, simply clean the inside and spray the outside panes with an outdoor hose.

4. Clean Your Window Treatments

white window blinds facing downward

Now that your windows are clear and sparkling, think about cleaning those window treatments before putting them back up.

Pleated honeycomb shades can be easily vacuumed to remove dust and dirt. Use your vacuum’s long bristle attachment to do the job quickly.

Clean blinds while the slats are facing downward. You can run a microfiber cloth along the slats, beginning at the top and dusting left to right. Then reverse the slats so they are facing upwards and repeat the process.

Depending upon the material of your draperies or curtains, you can either wash them by hand or in the washing machine, or you may be able to steam-clean them. Some materials may require a professional dry cleaning.

Enjoy Your Home

happy family spending time together on a couch

Now that you’re done with four of the biggest spring cleaning tasks, it’s time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Light will now stream into your rooms through clear windows. If there’s too much sunshine heating up your home, draw those newly cleaned draperies to cool things off.

You can now invite company into your home and not have to worry about carpet stains or odors, and your cabinets and walls are free of dust and grime. It just takes a few hours of your time once a year to spruce up your home for the season.

This article was written by King of Maids, a platform that makes it super easy for you to book a professional home cleaning.