This post is sponsored by Branch Basics.
When I walked outside earlier this week, I heard an interesting sound. It was…dripping. Caused by melting snow! I could almost smell spring in the air…
It’s been a brutally cold, snowy winter. We’ve been cooped up, and we’ve been living in Crazy Town some days. But it’s almost spring, so close…and before long the windows will be open, the hint of warmth will come, the snow will disappear, and it will be time for playing outside. And planting gardens. And spring cleaning!
I don’t know about you, but I’m actually looking forward to spring cleaning. When I walk into my home and it’s clean and uncluttered, I feel calm and happy. When I walk through it and there are toys and papers scattered all over the place, and the floor needs swept, I can feel my chest tightening — I’m angry and unhappy. I need that lack of clutter.
What better time to unclutter than spring?
And while we’re uncluttering (yes, it’s a word, because I said so), we’ll be scrubbing down the house. Wiping down walls and baseboards and windows, getting rid of all the junk that’s accumulated in the winter months. We need it.
In honor of “almost spring,” I’m giving you 9 tips today for safe and organized spring cleaning.
Tip #1: More Clutter Before Less Is Okay
When it comes to cleaning, the “shove it under your bed and pretend it’s clean” method isn’t a great way to start your spring cleaning. This means that it’s better to allow more clutter first, by emptying out drawers, removing piles from surfaces, and so on — so it’s all out or off, and can be sorted through properly.
Hey — if you’re going to do the job, do it right. 🙂 (I have to tell myself all the time it’s okay to have a mess while I’m in the middle of sorting and organizing!)
Tip #2: Donate, Donate, Donate
How much of what you have do you actually need? Anything that isn’t truly necessary should go! Create piles of extra clothing, household items, blankets, etc. that is unnecessary and plan to donate it. Look for a Good Will, Volunteers of America, or Salvation Army near you. Some will even have trucks come around to pick up bags so that you don’t have to go anywhere! It’s much better to donate than continue to store things you won’t use.
Tip #3: Everything Must Have a Home
Not sure if you should keep it, donate it, or trash it? See if you can find a home for it (that means — a place in your home that it can stay, and not be clutter). If it doesn’t have a home, you probably don’t really need it. And if you do, it needs to find a real home. Items without homes are just waiting to become clutter!
I teach this to my kids, too. All their toys must have a home. Those that do not, and which get left on the floor repeatedly, are subject to being taken and put away for awhile.
Tip #4: One Area At a Time
Spring cleaning a home is a big job — especially if you have kids around who like to “help.” Don’t kill yourself trying to get it all done at once. Don’t pull apart the entire house and then start trying to clean up. You will pull your hair out.
Instead, focus on one room or one small area at a time. Today, clean off the top of your dresser or another surface in your room. Tomorrow, clean out your closet. The next day, clean out your kids’ closet. Then the pantry. And so on, until it’s done! One area at a time means that you feel accomplished, and the job actually gets finished…instead of feeling like there is mess, mess, mess in every direction.
Tip #5: Clean Everything Safely
Once the organization is taken care of, it’s time to actually clean your home. But do you want to fill that space with chemical concoctions that give you a headache? Or, do you want to spend a bunch of money on a bunch of different “green” cleaners? I don’t think so. I don’t either.
Recently I was introduced to Branch Basics all-purpose cleaners. It does basically everything around the house — windows, tables, doors, basically any surface. It’s a concentrate so it lasts forever and can be used full-strength on tough jobs, or seriously diluted for things like glass (and anywhere in between — the bottle has lots of suggestions). It’s plant-based and it’s supposed to be even safer than using plain white vinegar!
I tried it out on crayon and marker on the walls — most of it wiped away almost immediately! I was honestly amazed at how much wiped away with little effort. It didn’t damage the paint or finish on any of the areas I cleaned, either. It was sort of like a much safer “magic eraser.” I haven’t seen anything clean like this before. More on that in a bit.
Tip #6: Air It Out
Doesn’t the air smell so wonderful in the spring? And homes tend to smell stale or even musty after having the windows closed for so long. Open those windows! While you’re at it, use an essential oil diffuser (I just bought one I like) or boil some lavender or lemon peels on the stove to help scent the air naturally and clean it up more. I like to use neroli oil during the day for a fresh, relaxing scent. In the winter I like cinnamon and cloves. Any citrus peels or dry spices can be a great scent if boiled.
Tip #7: Wash the Big Stuff
You know the curtains, bedspreads, rugs, and other stuff that doesn’t get washed very often? It’s time to wash it! Gather up anything that you haven’t washed in a while and wash it now. If your washing machine isn’t big enough, take it down to the laundromat to wash. When possible, wash and then hang it out to dry — the fresh air will remove any stains and will make it smell great!
Tip #8: Switch the Toys
If you have small children, it’s time to switch out their toys. Do you keep some of them put away in storage so that every few months they have “new” toys? If not, time to start. 🙂 Switch their current toys for some of the boxes you put away (or start the process now). Or, if you haven’t done it, have a toy swap with friends and then start the process! But in general, pare down on the toys and reorganize the ones you have.
Tip #9: Organize the Clothes
If you live in a place where the seasons change (i.e. not Texas — more like Ohio!), then switching out clothes is something that you need to do twice a year. It won’t really be time for this until end of March or April, when it’s more reliably warm, but it’s often part of “spring cleaning.”
I organize kids’ clothes by pulling out all the stuff that is too small and the wrong season, then sorting it by gender, size, and type (shirts, pants, undershirts, etc.). Clothing that won’t be worn for awhile is bundled together with masking tape and labeled with gender, size, type, and season, then put into a box and put away. Clothing that will be worn again soon (I had 3 boys in 3.5 years, so sizes mostly pass from kid to kid to kid pretty quick) I simply stick in a bag and put in the closet.
When summer’s coming, I keep 2 – 3 pairs of long pants and 1 – 2 long sleeve shirts for cooler days, and otherwise have the warmer-weather clothes. When winter’s coming, I keep a handful of t-shirts for layering or warmer days and put the rest of the summer clothes away. Not having too much clutter in the drawers really helps. There’s little more frustrating with toddlers and preschoolers who are learning to dress themselves than having them repeatedly choose outfits that are too small or seasonally inappropriate!
Using Branch Basics
I told you that I would tell you more about this. And I will.
I actually reached out to them because I found their website and I was impressed with what they said. They explained how their cleaning solution is 100% safe — safe enough that if you accidentally ingest it, it won’t harm you. You don’t have to worry about little ones getting into this (although you probably still don’t want them to).
I found it much more effective than white vinegar when cleaning the walls. It seemed that most things, I could simply spray and wipe immediately, or spray and let sit for a minute and then wipe. It really was easier to use than most other natural cleaners I have tried — needed less effort to get things clean.
I really love all the information they provide in their FAQ. And I love that this cleaner can be used for anything. And I mean anything. It cleans marker off walls, it cleans glass, it does laundry, it can even be used as hand soap! Imagine that…something powerful enough to scrub marker, can be safely used for hand washing….
Here’s what they say:
We are a company started by three women who believe that safe cleaning is the perfect (and easiest!) first step toward living a healthy lifestyle. Branch Basics is a non-toxic, food-grade soap concentrate that replaces virtually every home and body cleaning product. This one concentrate can be diluted down to tackle stains, laundry, dishes, produce, kitchens, bathrooms, and even used as hand, face and body soap. Since our web launch in 2012, thousands of people (especially moms) have fallen in love with Branch Basics and its ability to clean so effectively (they love that it’s natural and actually works!) while being safe enough for pregnant women, kids, the immune compromised, etc. If you’re interested, you can read some of our testimonials here.
At any rate, you can try it. They’re offering a discount code of “MAM20” for 20% off your first order. I’m excited to keep using mine, see what else it can do (the toilet is next on my list. I have not found a good, natural solution for that yet), and get more when this bottle is gone.
Discount for singular use only. Not valid in combination with other coupon codes or offers.