Today is the first day of spring and in The White Plains Express we take a look at the annual ritual of spring cleaning. We offer the stories of local homeowners and tips and advice from experts. One of those experts, Bonnie Joy Dewkett, will help Westchester residents organize their homes next month in a class she is teaching at Scarsdale Adult School. (Click here for information).
Dewkett, the owner of The Joyful Organizer, also offers LoHud.com readers some advice on how to get started with spring cleaning chores and the best ways to organize their homes. Read on and follow the jump for her tips.
Q. Why is spring cleaning important?
A. Cleaning and organizing at any time of the year is important. However, people feel rejuvenated in the spring when the warm weather comes around. It’s important to use this extra motivation to tackle the projects you have been putting off. Don’t just let the season dictate your organizing projects, develop rewards for yourself that will motivate you year-round.
Q. Should people start small?
A. Yes, and here’s a great way to do just that. When starting any organizing project it’s important to first write down the goal, or end result of your organizing efforts. Let’s look at tackling the “no-car” garage. I am sure your readers are familiar with what that is, the garage where you can’t fit any of your cars inside. So the overall goal to write down can be “Organize the Garage.” From there, write down small, manageable steps that you will need to take to achieve the big goal. For example, a garage may have the following sub-steps:
• Sort through gardening supplies.
• Have kids sort through old toys.
• Throw away all tools that no longer work, etc.
Now you have created a very manageable “to-do” list of the steps you will need to take to achieve the end goal. When you have a few extra minutes in a given day work on crossing off one “to-do” from the list. Before you know it you will be seeing results.
Q. How should they clean?
A. Cleaning and organizing are two very different steps. Of course if you are organizing and you come across some dirty items, clean them right away. That way they will be clean and ready to be put away when you have reached that step. When you start an organizing project, have some cleaning supplies on hand, within the same room.
Q. Should they use environmentally friendly products? What are the benefits?
A. Environmentally friendly products are a great way to get organized. Look for items that are made out of renewable resources, such as bamboo. The bonus is that these supplies are often prettier and less expensive than unfriendly options. Also, make sure to use cleaning supplies that are environmentally conscious. This way you don’t have to worry about the chemicals that your pets or kids could ingest by touching or licking surfaces. Chances are you will also feel better using them, and you are making a difference. My favorite environmentally friendly part of organizing is reusing things you already have in your home. For example, most of my clients have totes around the house from a past organizing project. Rather than rushing out to buy new products, take a look around and reuse things in a new way and give it a new life. When organizing people should consider that there may be things that are hazardous to our health. Sharp objects, toxic chemicals or just dust. Regardless, taking precautions is a great way to avoid injury and make sure that organizing is comfortable for everyone. Hepa filters are great ways to clear the air, especially if you have allergies. Or using a vacuum with hepa filtration will also help.
Q. Any other advice?
A. The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone on starting an organizing project is to focus on what you want the end result to be. The obvious answer is an organized space. However, look a little further and ask yourself the reason why. Is it because you want to have more time to spend with your kids? Is it because you want to use the space in your home better? Is it because you are always stressed out? Identifying this goal will help you see more clearly why you should get organized, and you have a much greater propensity to meet your goal. Finally, remember, its a process, and you must work at it every day. Thinking that you are going to get organized in one Saturday, and it will stay that way is not realistic. Carve out small chunks of time everyday to keep things neat, and tidy.
(Photos: top right, Bonnie Joy Dewkett, courtesy of thejoyfulorganizer.com. Mayra Ortiz with Maid Brigade cleans a tea pot in Gwen Speak‘s home in Dobbs Ferry on March 12, 2010. Gwen Speak hired Maid Brigade to clean her home, Carucha L. Meuse / The Journal News.)