When you hear the words “spring cleaning,” do you immediately experience a vivid flashback of your mom dragging you into your room and forcing you to try on all of last summer’s clothes to see what fit? And then spending what felt like hours trying on clothing items that were no longer in style (bike shorts, skorts, oh my!), and begging your mom to buy you new clothes even if you really hadn’t outgrown last year’s?
You are not alone. Thankfully we’re past that awkward phase (hello, bike shorts - ew!), because spring cleaning as an adult is very different (hallelujah!).
As an adult, you have the luxury of pouring yourself a glass of wine while you spring clean, and relishing in the small things that can make it fun and, dare we say, enjoyable. There’s something about crisp, cool, spring air wafting through open windows, replacing the staleness that’s clung to your home through the cold and rain. There’s something about a new, freshly-lit, floral candle replacing the gingerbread or white fir. There’s something about using a new sponge, and looking at your closet with fresh eyes, and cleaning your door knobs. There’s something about cleaning your home because, well, it just feels good to metaphorically start anew. (Hashtag adulthood, yo).
In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo explores the power of purging, and the sense of freedom that comes when you get rid of all the clutter. Her thoughts on purging can be summed up by this quotation from her book: “I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.”
Ahh, Marie, you are speaking my language.
So then, why are we hanging on to things that don’t really matter to us? This spring cleaning season, start fresh by keeping only what you need and love, and getting rid of everything else. Here are some ways to clean up different areas of your life and make it fun at the same time!
Even if you were traumatized every spring season when your mom forced you try on all your out-of-date clothes (seriously, bike shorts, what were we thinking?), you have to admit that it felt good to purge items that no longer fit. You can get the same feeling as a an adult. And–bonus!–you’re not being forced by mom to do it.
First step here is to rummage your closet and drawers. If you find items that you are “meh” or just plain don’t fit you, put them in a “give away” pile. Go through everything–your shoes, seasonal items, even your underwear–don’t leave any article of clothing untouched! And side note: Do everyone a favor, and just toss your old underwear. I mean, nobody wants your used undies no matter how little you wore them or what brand name they are.
Want to make it more fun? We suggest a spring cleaning drinking game! Pour yourself a glass of wine (we suggest rose to get you in the spring-y mood) and take a sip when any of these things happen:
- You find something you haven’t worn since high school and have the courage to get rid of it. Drink to your strength!
- You find an article of clothing that you thought was missing because you haven’t seen it in so long. Cheers to new clothes!
- You fill up a bag of donations. Sip and celebrate!
- You look around and feel overwhelmed at the amount of things you have. Breathe, sip, breathe, and power through.
Your Make-Up Bag
Next step here is to tackle your makeup bag. Most people don’t ever clean out their cosmetics or toiletries, let alone yearly. But much like food, makeup and brushes have expiration dates. And, um, they need some tender loving care (aka, cleaning). Take time to sort through these items and get rid of what you don’t need. It’s not only a good idea, but it’s good for your health too! Read on.
- Tackle your makeup bag – Take everything out of your makeup bag and take a good look at what’s inside. Toss what you don’t use (or what’s broken - hello, crumbly eye shadow) and wipe down the bag with a damp cloth. You don’t even want to think about the germs that might be living in there.
- Know what expires and when – Did you know that different cosmetics are only good for a certain length of time? For instance, eyeliner and mascara only last about four months because they are exposed to air often and bacteria can build up easily. Lipsticks are only good for one year. Feeling lost because you’ve kept all your products for what feels like forever? Check out these tips for more expiration dates.
- Remember your brushes – Just like the make-up you apply with them, your brushes have expiration dates too. Because they are constantly exposed to different products as well as your skin and the air, they become a good place for bacteria to build up. So they don’t last forever, but how long should you keep them? Learn some signs that you need to throw old the ones and bring in the new.
- Only keep the essentials – Do an honest inventory of your supplies. Are you really going to wear that dark lip liner that was only popular in the mid-90s? What about that shimmery white eyeshadow that was last popular back in 2004? Even if you have products like this that haven’t expired, are you really going to use them? If you are, put it back in your bag. If you’re not, give the unused products away to one of your friends who would enjoy it. If it’s used - or totally out of style - do everyone a favor and throw it away. Only keeping the essentials will make putting your face on so much easier.
You may have the best intentions when it comes to keeping your car clean, but it still (somehow) becomes a place where receipts and napkins and hair clips become friends, French fries go to shrivel up and die, and coins find some long-term lodging. Now is a great time to take a few minutes and clean out the junk in your trunk.
- Check for change – Take out any coins you don’t need to keep in your car for parking meters, tolls, or emergencies. Stash those coins in your piggy bank, and save it for a much-needed girls’ night out or for your next vacay. Check out this guy, who collected leftover coins from vending machines and car washes, and see what he found. You may not find that much, but you’ll be surprised with how much money you do collect from your own car.
- Remove the valuables – You may be shocked to find the things that are kept in cars – and stolen from them. Laptops, iPads, cash, even large amounts of diamonds (yep, seriously) have disappeared from vehicles when owners left them unattended. If it’s valuable to you, don’t leave it in your car. It’s as simple as that.
- Clean, clean, clean – Don’t just remove the junk from your car, but take the extra time to, ya know, actually clean it. Studies have shown that the inside of our cars are dirtier than our Smartphones and our computer keyboards – and dirtier by a LOT. Scrub the interior and vacuum the carpets to stop your car from becoming a bacteria breeding ground. And then try not to judge your BFF’s car the next time you get into it.
Home is where the heart is. Unfortunately for a lot of people, home is also where their mess is. If you’re one of these people, a once-a-year clean-out is just what you need to separate the clutter from the treasures.
It can be way too overwhelming to try to clean your home out in one day, no matter how big or small your living space is. Living in that fourth-floor walk-up that’s only a couple of hundred square feet? It can feel as big as 2,000 square feet when it comes to cleaning and organizing it. Here's how to have fun with it!
Break your space up into smaller chunks of time and assign each room, or section of room, their chunk of time. Make it even more fun and assign each section a different type of wine (yassss way, rose!). When you start working on a new section of your space, open up a new bottle of wine to sip while you clean. It’s a great way to give yourself an incentive to clean every area of your house – and try new wine, of course!
- Invest in a shredder - It doesn’t have to break the bank. Just a simple, basic shredder will suffice. It’s inevitable that you’ll run across personal documents that you no longer need. Make sure you’re shredding anything with any of your personal information on it. The last thing you need is identity theft to ruin your day!
- Don’t overthink things - When it comes to most of the items in your home, you can take one look and know if you want to hold on to that item or not. Go with your gut! Make one pile of all the things you want to donate and a separate pile for the trash bin.
- Cash in on hidden treasures – Before you take that load to a local donation center, make sure you’ve gone through it to remove anything worth selling for money. It’s crazy easy to post things for sale in online groups or on social media sites, and it’s a great way to earn some extra cash for that new pair of shoes.
- Leave no space untouched – Do you have a kitchen junk drawer (or two, or three)? What about that box in the back of your closet that you haven’t opened since you moved months (or, ahem, years) ago? There’s no time like the present to tackle the projects you’ve become an expert at putting off. You won’t get the full satisfaction of cleaning unless you take care of it all, even the things you’ve been dreading.
While obviously a part of your home, the pantry tends to be the space you look into all the time and yet never really "see." Take the time this spring to go through your pantry shelves and ditch the things you no longer need or use, and toss the food items that have expired.
- Check all expiration dates – Even though you may have bought that can of soup a few months ago, it may already be past the expiration date depending on when it was canned. Here’s a handy guide about how long foods are good past their expiration dates. Check it out before you toss your food!
- Make a checklist of what you have – Make a list in the “notes” part of your phone about the items left in your pantry. Since you’re glued to your phone anyway, now you have an easy way of checking what you have at home when you’re standing in the grocery store aisle so you don’t waste your hard-earned money on something that’s already on your shelf.
- Donate what you won’t use – Everyone has those random cans of vegetables or soup that they’ve just never used. If it’s not expired, take it to a local food pantry. They can always use donations to fill up their shelves. (Even though you just read that canned goods are safe long past their expiration date, most food pantries won’t take them if they are.)
- Don’t forget to check your wine – The last thing you want at the end of a long day is to pour yourself a beautiful glass of wine - only to find out that it has gone bad. Like other items in your pantry, wine can last a long time if you store it right. Here’s a great guide on how long opened and unopened wine will stay good on your shelves.
Celebrate When You’re Done
If you’ve made it through everything, then it’s time to party! But don’t just throw any party, throw a Swap Party. Ask your friends to come and bring clothing or household items that they no longer want or need. (Make sure they know to bring newer stuff. You don’t need those pesky bike shorts popping up again!) You contribute items that you have collected from your spring cleaning adventures. Then you all swap items, giving away things you no longer want and getting some items you need or want in return. Anything left after the party can be donated to charity.
And seriously. A party isn’t really a party without great champagne! Don’t forget the bubbly. Surprise your friends with personalized mini-bottles of champagne with a personal wine label that reads “Swap Shop 2018” on the front. Each of your buds can toast to each other and to all of the great (and free!) new treasures you'll acquire.
Spring Cleaning doesn’t have to be a drag. Do it right - with wine! - and you can end up with a fresh start for your life and for your home.