What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Cleaning

I grew up in a household where spring cleaning was a must. I could always tell when Mom was gearing up for it too. There would be empty boxes, a couple of large package of garbage bags and buckets with mops, dusters and any other cleaning aid possible. The ladder would be brought out for the windows and the plank brought out for the one attic. I hated that plank! It rested on the stair landing on one side and the attic opening on the other side. To get to it you had to crawl along the plank over the staircase! Worse than that there were mice in that attic. The other attic had mice as well but at least there was no stairwell. Everything was pulled from the attics, dressers, cupboards, cabinets and I do mean everything. She left no stone unturned! Everything had to be gone through for whatever didn't fit or wasn't of use to us for the donation boxes and bags but nothing was ever tossed in the garbage. Well as if that wasn't bad enough then the cleaning began and it was from top to bottom, one end of the house to the other. It just was not a good experience when spring cleaning time came around.

Spring is a busy time of the year for me and if you've read my gardening blog you would see why. Still despite my childhood spring cleaning trauma, I still spring clean. I still follow a similar way of doing the spring cleaning too. Mom was right, remove the clutter or items you can no longer use first. I made an earlier entry on clutter so here's what I do for spring cleaning. First, I break it down into manageable working units of time focusing on one room at a time since I simply have too many things to do in the spring to spend a week or so just cleaning. Second, since I keep up a regular cleaning routine, I don't find that the big spring cleaning takes as much time inside. Outside is a bit more and then there is the garage. Over the winter it gets piled up with recyclables and anything I've decided is no longer needed in the house. Since the car goes in the garage there is usually a lot of mess on the floor that has to be cleaned out and of course we can't forget the freezer.

Clutter: I use the three box method - keep, toss, donate. I start with the clothes then work my way up. Anything that hasn't been worn or used in the past year goes mainly to donation. The trick is to get the stuff in the appropriate box without thinking. Set a time limit then just go.

Closets: Sorry the only way to deal with closets is remove everything. This pertains to closets being used for storage only. Use the three box method, clean the closet then replace only what you are keeping. At this time you may want to add space saving tips or organizers to make things easier to finds and discourage future clutter.

Cleaning: Unlike my Mom, I have new gadgets to help me so I don't have to lug heavy pails of cleaning solution around and I don't use toxic chemical cleaners. Everything I use to clean our home is on a previous entry. Also unlike Mom, I do not wash every piece of clothing I'm going to donate. It was clean in the drawers and they are going to wash it anyway. I have kept some of the old habits though like working from top to bottom. It makes good sense. Start with the ceilings then work your way down.

Outside: This can be as simple as picking up twigs and broken branches or in my case cleaning the garden beds to prepare them for planting. We tend to get a lot of branches and twigs so even during the winter, if the weather is nice, I'll take a 10 or 15 minute break and pick up whatever I can. It doesn't seem like a lot but it does save from a major having to do it all at once cleaning. Cleaning the garden areas is as simple as removing any rubbish and debris. But this is also the time to look at problem areas or pest problems like mice or spiders. Deal with these problems now.

Garage: Here's our nightmare! We start with the recyclables. During the winter months they pile up because they are in huge bins and bringing the bins back in with winter conditions is difficult for me but I can't leave them out there to blow away either so they pile up. Starting right about now we try to get whatever recyclables out possible. Empty beer cases, while we don't drink it ourselves but I cook with it on occasion, do pile up. We have kids and friends that tend to leave their empties after poker parties despite my warnings they must take them with them. We gather these for one load for our son to take the empties back. The funds goes towards filling his gas tank so everyone is happy. My husband crushes all the cardboard which is taken to a larger recycling drop-off. Once that is done it is time to tackle the clutter. We have three walls of industrial shelving and it holds a lot, too much! What it tends to gather aside of the necessary (Christmas & seasonal storage) things are things we don't need in the house but aren't sure whether we will need it again. We try to pare this down to one shelf. Then it is off to sweeping out the garage.

Spring cleaning is a tradition and one that can easily be worked into most schedules by breaking it down into bite size chunks. Pace yourself. As long as you do 15 minutes per day on the declutter stage followed by the cleaning broke into rooms, it will be more than manageable and your house will be squeaky clean freeing up a lot of time to enjoy those summer rays and that what it's all about.

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Garden Gnome
© 2007