Spring cleaning is one of those chores that can become a guilty pleasure – and with so many of us staying at home this Spring, there’s no excuse not to just do it!

In the UK Spring officially beings after the equinox, which this year means 20th March. Some of us clean during Lent, in preparation for Easter, which this year falls on Sunday 12 April. In fact, in the Eastern Orthodox Christian church,  the first week of Great Lent, which started  on 2 March this year  [2020], is even referred to as Clean Monday. Many families also prepare for Ramadan with an extra cleaning  blitz, and in 2020 it begins at sundown on 23 April.

Whenever you start, first take a step back and set your intentions before you get the mop out. We suggest breaking your Spring blitz down onto three stages: clearing, cleaning and containing. There might be a bit of chaos along the way, but it’s temporary and the end results will be worth it. You’ll have a space that gives you pleasure,

Clear It

Decluttering is so much easier said than done: who hasn’t made a trip to the local charity shop only to come back having bought more clutter!   You do have to be quite strict – especially in a flat where space is likely to be at a higher premium. Decide what makes something worth keeping for you? One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so allow yourself some slack – just not too much!

An increasingly popular approach is the KonMari method : ask yourself “does this thing give me joy?” If not, out it goes!  That goes for clothing, curtains, ornaments, furniture – you name it.

Where will you send the stuff that you decide to pass on? Not all of us can pile it all it in a car boot and take it to the charity shop. Luckily, many of them will collect if you get in touch with them. The Charity Retail Association’s guide to donating to charity shops should help you find the right way to pass your pre-loved stuff forward. It advises on clothing, household goods, furniture and electrical appliances.

There do seem to be a lot of people putting collection bags through doors saying they will collect in two or three days’ time.  Probably most are bona fide, but you might prefer to stick with bags branded by a charity you know and support already. Here’s some advice from the Textile Recycling Association.

If you think there are items in your “to go” pile that are just too good to be sold off cheaply in the charity shop. Why not try eBay or one of the app-based marketplaces for buying and selling?

Books, of course, are notoriously hard to throw out, but book exchanges at railway station waiting rooms and increasingly in supermarkets make it easier to let them go as you know they are going to read and enjoyed again.

Recycling can be a conundrum. We all want to do more of it, but we aren’t quite sure what can be put in our collection bins. It does vary from council to council, but here’s the lowdown on plastics and top tips from Which?

Once all the surplus has gone, have a look around. Yes, you’ll still have loads of stuff but now it should all be stuff you love. Are these precious contents insured? Do remember that if you live in a flat, then although service charge will usually include buildings cover and fixtures and fittings it may not necessarily protect you against loss of damage to your personal furniture and other belongings. Gallagher Insurance 

Clean It

Is your cleaning cupboard full of a confusing array of bottles? We are all getting more aware of the need to cut back on environmentally damaging chemicals, but while some people swear by cloths that claim to clean effectively with water only, most of us still prefer to use at least some specialist products. What do we really need?

  • A general-purpose cleaner for windows, mirrors, glazed surfaces, bedroom furniture, windowsills, skirting boards etc. These remove dirt without harsh detergents and, because they are anti-static are good at removing dust and, more to the point, not attracting it straight back!
  • A general-purpose cleaner for hard floors with the power to remove grease, but pH neutral (if you have sealed or laminate floors, do check the bottle).
  • A more concentrated cleaner, de-scaler and deodoriser for acid and water-resistant surfaces in bathrooms and toilet areas.
  • A toilet bowl cleaner with high acid content. Weekly use is usually sufficient.
  • Washing up detergent.
  • Sanitiser spray, especially for food prep areas. To kill bacteria and ensure a clean workplace, you should follow cleaning with sanitising.
  • Oil or polish for solid wood furniture.
  • A powerful degreaser for occasional use, such as oven cleaning.
  • Mould spray for occasional use in bathrooms (although preventing mould forming in the first place with good ventilation is better)

It’s probably a much shorter list than the one you’d have if you took an inventory of your cupboard now!

Find a brand you like and trust, ideally with eco-friendly ingredients. Then, coming back to the KonMari method, pick the one the smells nicest and gives you most pleasure without costing a fortune!

Use up what you have in the cupboard first, but then think carefully before you rebuy. Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle.  

Contain It

Ever get the feeling that every time you open a cupboard things fall out on top of you? Sure, there are loads of clever storage ideas featured in glossy magazines, but they often involve spending a lot of money.  Buying a new bed just so you can have drawers underneath, for instance, is rarely going to be practical.

So, how do you make better use of the storage space you do have?

Wardrobes and linen cupboards:  Many home stores sell thinner, ‘velvet’ covered flocked coat hangers. They take up much less space in your wardrobe and, unlike wire hangers, they are designed to not  leave creases on your clothes and they have good grip so you won’t find your favourite silk shirt fallen into a heap at the bottom of the wardrobe.

How you fold clothes makes a huge difference to how bulky they are too. According to Marie Kondo, inventor of the KonMari method. You can search for Marie Kondo’s advice on folding socks, sweaters, jeans, shirts, etc., and realise you’ve been doing it wrong all your life!

It’s common sense really, but once you get into the habit of folding your clothing, towels and other contents of your  airing cupboard carefully, you’ll find everything takes up a lot less space.

Outdoor sports equipment: Gym gear and yoga mats are one thing, but bigger sports and leisure items can be hard to accommodate. Make this the year that you finally find a solution. Storing equipment outside the home is one option, but what if you don’t have a shed or garage and you are into mountain biking, canoeing or wild camping? The reality of hanging a well-used, muddy, oily bike on the wall is very different from the pictures you see in glossy magazines!

Sometimes renting self-storage space is the only answer, but it’s far from ideal if you are the spontaneous type that wants to be strap the bike or kayak on the car rack and get out there as soon as the sun comes out. If you opt for keeping a lot of gear permanently in the car boot, just be very sure that you dry it out thoroughly after each use. A heavy-duty, lockable garden box might be a better solution. Just be sure these sheds and boxes are fitted and locked securely and that, wherever you keep the stuff, it’s covered by your insurance policy. If you live in a flat in a shared building, be sure to check with you neighbours and the management company that it is OK to build a shed or lockbox, and whether outhouses are covered by the block’s buildings policy.

Hopefully your Spring blitz will result in a calmer space, one where you can lay your hands on everything you need quickly because there will a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Cleared, cleaned, contained … now bring on summer because we will all want to spend as much of it outdoors after the extraordinary Spring of 2020.

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The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.