“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
– Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
I'm catching up on past seasons of Downton Abbey. The romantic episodes cast a magical spell .... historic grandeur, epic love stories, sumptuous settings, great gardens, a lady's maid to lay out your clothes ....
Ok. It's 2014. Wake up and smell the coffee! So much to do, no household staff, and only one of me. Now that taxes are filed, it's time for the annual ritual of spring cleaning and organizing for my home and for my clients.
Here are some tips on how to get it all done:
Clean without chemicals You don't have to be a home chemist. Just buy natural products. Read the ingredients: no dyes, fragrances, coloring agents or unpronounceable words. It's worth a few cents more to breathe easier, have a healthier home and save the planet, too.
Organize your closets Store winter clothing in bins, suitcases or boxes using sachets of natural cedar and lavender. Don't store heavy items on upper shelves as it's hazardous. Donate clothing that is outdated, no longer fits or doesn't work in your current lifestyle. Toss anything stained, ripped or faded. Donate sale items that never worked, still sporting price tags. Consign high-end, current designer clothing in perfect shape but which you no longer wear. Give your closet a good dusting and vacuuming. Recycle wire hangars back to the dry cleaner, and treat yourself to a new set of huggable hangers. The seasonal change is a good time to purchase new baskets and organizers for accessories. Be sure to measure your shelves before shopping.
Freshen the fridge Toss moldy or expired foods lurking in the back and resolve to clean out the refrigerator periodically going forward. Wash the interior with dish soap. Keep meat and seafood separate from foods eaten raw. Use see-through plastic baskets to separate and store like items or those used together. Store leftovers in lock-top glass containers.
Pantry pandemonium Next clean out the pantry of expired foods. Glass jars work for open grains, crackers and pastas to prevent bugs. Nut and seed oils go rancid quickly so store them in the refrigerator. Nuts are best in air tight containers in the freezer for up to a year. Keep like items together in baskets and if you store canned goods, use a sharpie to mark them with the purchase date. Stepped organizers allow you to see everything. Place newer products in the back so you use older ones first.
Plastic pitfall Since we're in the kitchen, let's toss that stash of take-out containers missing lids, which are just taking up space. Check the numbers at the bottom of plastics for recycling codes and avoid #3 PVC, #6 PS (Styrofoam) and especially #7 PC which contains BPA, an endocrine-disrupting compound.
Bathroom basics Even a small bathroom can be spa like. First, give it a deep cleaning. Next, sort through your make up and toiletries. Cosmetics expire, too. Inexpensive updates can help. Install a hook on the door for wet towels. Roll small towels and store in baskets. Place extra toilet tissue rolls into a large covered glass apothecary jar. Set up easy access to items you use daily. In a small space, a second medicine cabinet works well or mount a shelf or two for attractive items you use regularly.
Increase ventilation Wash the windows to let the sunshine in and open them to freshen the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air, and at times can be 100 times more polluted, so let the breezes blow. And while you're at it, put a few house plants on the windowsill to clean the air. Those mums and greens filter out benzene, commonly found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent.
Help is here Need assistance with spring projects? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 718-930-8111. We'll get it done. No drama and no household staff needed.