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Spring Cleaning Basics

Upcoming events and expert tips to jumpstart your annual cleaning.

Spring cleaning can be a daunting task. Some folks are good at purging and organizing, while others like me are much more into the finished product than the actual process. Never the less, there are undeniable benefits to clearing the clutter and cleaning the crevices. 

I really dislike clutter, but am also prone to holding on to things. Go figure. While my “stuff management” skills have improved drastically over the years, I still have a long way to go. Therefore, checklists and formal strategies are key to my success. 

One strategy is to label four boxes: Trash, Sell/Donate, Storage, Put Away.  Most items should go in to the trash or donate boxes. Store seasonal and special occasion items, and put away a select assortment of essentials after giving them a thorough wipe down. 

Trash. Alexandria’s Spring Cleanup bulk trash collection, which takes place on various Saturdays throughout April and May, is one good way to get rid of the trash. Most of Del Ray’s trash will be collected on April 14 (west of Mt. Vernon Avenue), April 21 (east of Mt Vernon Avenue), April 28 (Rosemont), resulting in excellent curbside treasure hunting (and a few fantastic “trash parties”) the Friday nights prior. For trash requirements, click here.

Donate. But before you go kicking everything to the curb, consider donating a few of your items to the Big Flea, the Carpenter’s Shelter or another local charity. For more tips and ideas, including document shredding, local freecycling, charitable organizations and how to stop junk mail, check out the city’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle page.

Store. Place bulky winter gear in plastic bins, and store them in a cool dry area to avoid unpleasant surprises next fall. Similarly, stash a portion of your child’s toys for later rotation to keep their entertainment fresh and manageable. 

Clean. Once you’ve de-cluttered, get to scrubbing. Kristi Mailloux, president of Molly Maids Inc. in Ann Arbor, Mich., suggests a room-by-room, top-down, clockwise approach. Start upstairs in the room farthest from your front door, and work clockwise from the doorframe. Clean the highest items first and finish with the floor as you make your way out the door. Clean the kitchen last, starting to the right of the stove.

In my house, we deal with a lot of wall art. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges (which I discovered through another savvy local mom) work so well, I’ve considered giving them as baby gifts. I also use them for bathtubs and ovens.  For permanent marker, try rubbing alcohol. For grout stains, use a bleach pen and then grout sealant. 

To keep spring cleaning from being overwhelming, divide tasks up among family members and plan a fun reward for your team’s job well done. Happy sprucing!

Where do you suggest donating items? What are your cleaning secrets? Tell us in the comments.

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