Spring cleaning? How about spring decluttering?
Spring is only a week away, and as the temperature warms, many people are motivated to embark on annual spring-cleaning rituals. After several months of living with doors and windows closed, both dust and possessions have accumulated in our homes, and now is the perfect time to try to reduce both. Along with the typical spring-cleaning tasks, such as having rugs and draperies cleaned, laundering mattress covers and pillows, and clearing out unwanted items from closets, you might also consider the following clutter culprits as prime targets for removal during your cleanup.
Everyone should have a handful of vases in different sizes in their home, especially in the spring when flowers can be cut from the garden and brought inside. But you do not need two dozen large and almost identical vases taking up valuable storage space. People often underestimate the number of vases they have tucked away. Start by gathering all of them so you have an accurate inventory, and then decide which to discard. Vases can be recycled or donated. Many flower shops are happy to accept vases so they can reuse them. Also, many community-based organizations that deliver flowers to people in hospitals and nursing homes will accept vase donations. Thrift stores are also good choices for donations. A quick search online should give you plenty of options.
Hangers seem to multiply in people’s closets. Most closets have a random collection of wire hangers from the dry cleaner, plastic hangers from store purchases, inherited wooden hangers and an assortment of brightly colored plastic tubular hangers. Keep a few extra hangers, and return excess wire hangers to your dry cleaner for reuse. All other types of hangers can typically be donated to a thrift store that sells secondhand clothing or to an organization that helps people in need. Call first to make sure they need your donation before you show up with 100 hangers. Although it’s not imperative to only use one or two types of hangers in your closet, it will make your clothes easier to see if everything is hanging at a uniform height.
A lot of us have tools and other hardware supplies in our basements or garages that we have never used. Either someone gave them to us, or we bought them for a project and never touched them again. In some cases, the previous owner just left them. Habitat for Humanity will accept working tools in good condition. Community Forklift, located just outside the District in Hyattsville, Md., also accepts home-improvement supplies and tools.
Old towels, linens
Towels and linens in good condition can be donated to homeless shelters and transitional-housing organizations or thrift stores. Worn-out or torn linens and sheets can be made into rags or donated to an animal shelter. It’s always a good idea to keep some old linens on hand in case of a plumbing issue or if water accidentally seeps into your basement.
You do not need to keep every can of paint you have ever used. Yes, it’s useful to keep some paint in case walls need to be touched up (and it’s a good idea to have a list of your colors and finishes), but keeping more than 10 cans of paint is probably unnecessary. Leftover paint that has been opened, closed tightly and stored in a cool, dry place should be used within two years. If you have older paint, there are many disposal options that depend on the paint type. Water-based, latex paint can be dried out at home and put in regular household trash. Small amounts of paint will dry if you simply leave the lid off, but larger amounts require combining the unused paint with absorbent materials such as cat litter or sand. You can also buy paint hardener at a hardware store. Oil-based paint is considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and should never be thrown in the trash, even if it is dry. Instead, take oil-based paints to your local HHW facility for proper disposal. District residents can take old paint to the Department of Public Works’s Fort Totten Transfer Station; to find a location nearer to you, check your local jurisdiction’s website. Also, an organization called PaintCare will accept paint for recycling or reuse at drop-off points in the District.
Almost everything in your house that you would like to get rid of can be reused, recycled or donated. It just takes a little bit of research and time to find a recipient and to drop off the items. Doing some decluttering each month will keep you
motivated to do more and will save you a lot of time in the future.
Nicole Anzia is a freelance write and owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Instagram at @neatnikdc.