I announced yesterday that I’m attempting to go from Clutter to Clean in one week. It’s all based on a deadline of this weekend when the grandparents are watching the kids and we are borrowing a truck to haul stuff away. Nothing like a deadline to get you moving. I
So yesterday I had four (4) areas to clean:
- Linen/toiletry closet (upstairs)
- Hall closet (downstairs)
- Upstairs bathrooms
I quickly realized that I am a lot messier than I thought I was. Seriously. It took longer than I thought. Of course most things do, right?
ALL photos are not before and AFTER pictures exactly – they are before and “in process” photos – because each day as I move through the house, I’m moving stuff around. I’ll take final, final photos when we get everything settled – probably after the big garage clean-out this weekend.
Here is the process I went through for ALL the stuff I came across:
- Do I need this?
No? Trash or donate or sell
Yes? Step 2.
- Do I need it on a regular basis?
No? Store in the garage?
Yes? Step 3
- Is it in the right place to be used?
No? Put it in the room it needs to go. Make it accessible based on how often it’s used. More you use, the more accessible it should be.
Yes? Step 4.
- Is there a better way to store it?
No? You’re done!
Yes? Fix it.
LINEN/HALL CLOSET - This closet sits in between all of our bedrooms. It serves as a medicine cabinet, toiletry stockpile, linen closet and dumping ground. I think I’m most embarrassed to show you this photo. It had really become a mess. I have no excuses besides there never really seems like a good time to clean the hall closet. You just close the door and don’t think about it.
Sheets and bedding - What a mess we had, I think it was causing a lot of the organizational problems because it was shoved in where ever it would fit. I made the decision that sheets should be stored in the rooms in which they are used. Thanks to a helpful tip from Martha - I folded all the sheets and stored the sheets inside the matching pillow case and moved them into the rooms where they are used. Brilliant. Moved the summer duvet to the garage for storage until it warms enough to bring it out again. Extra quilts were moved to the rooms where they would be used (kids or ours).
What a relief it is to open our hall closet now! The biggest key for me was throwing out and donating a bunch of the toiletry items that I didn’t use or want anymore. For example, I rarely use lotion, but had bottles of it from couponing. It would take me a lifetime to go through it. I have a friend coming Wednesday night to pick it all up – she won’t mind my half-used bottles of lotion or shampoo, she could actually use it! I still need to add labels to my bins and I really do not like the blue bins, so I’ll slowly replace those as I find baskets on clearance. But I’m very happy with this initial de-clutter.
Everything is sorted in bins, some of them include:
- First Aid – bandaids, gauze, etc.
- Oral care – toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss
- Hubby’s stuff – shaving gel, razors, deodorant
- My stuff – hair stuff, extra lotions or skin care products
- Household extras – shampoos, conditioners, q-tips, cotton balls
- Soap – bar and hand soap
Here’s what I did:
- Take everything out of closet
- Wipe down shelves
- I already had the bin system set up – but I went through all the bins and removed stuff I didn’t need or hadn’t used in the last 6 months. I consolidated bins.
- Toss expired medicines and products.
- Picked up some wooden baskets from Ross for some different size options. Blue bines are old ones from Ikea.
- Pick up some $0.97 plastic shoe box organizers at Target. Stores hair clipper in one. Dental care in another tub.
- Moved sheets and blankets to the rooms in which they are used.
- Vacuum floor and wipe down door and trim.
BATHROOMS - While our socks seem to disappear, our towels seem to propagate. We have enough towels in our house to dry the entire Olympic swim team. Don’t ask me where I got them (okay, I’ll tell you – my mom – she has a thing with giving towels as gifts). I’ve held onto them because they are gifts. But frankly – we do laundry on such a regular basis that two towels per person is really sufficient. Maybe three if we want to be generous. So that’s what we did – we downsized 3 towels per person. The photos above are of my kids bathroom
Here’s what I did:
- Get rid of extra towels
- Organize under sinks – a few towels and toilet paper
- Organize drawers
- Wipe down and clean after organized
PANTRY - What a disaster. Our pantry is the lamest design in the world. It’s basically just a storage spot under our steps with mini shelves on the left and right and a slanting wall that really limits what you can store inside. And when I say mini shelves – they are about 5 inches deep. In the very back, there are big shelves about 2.5 feet deep. Because it’s not a very functional design, it’s biggest purpose is storing kitchen appliances and convenience foods – like cereals and snacks for the kids. I’m embarrassed about my “before” photo – we couldn’t even walk into it. But now that it’s all cleaned you can see the gorgeous brown shag carpet from the early 80s – and it’s a beautiful to see, if you ask me, because it means the floor is clean.
Here’s what I did:
- Move appliances that we rarely use (like bread maker) to garage.
- Move foods that we don’t access often to the stockpile in the garage
- Move the bulk foods from the kitchen baking cabinet (which was overly full) to the pantry
- Wipe down shelves and cabinets
- Toss out expired food (duh)
- Vacuum and clean after organized
- Wipe down door, molding and trim
COAT/SHOE CLOSET - This one was a mess as well. Shoes piled up. Jackets everywhere. And enough winter coats and gear to think we lived in Alaska!
First I took dumped all the winter gear in a pile to be sorted by person. Then we’d know what we could get rid of.
What we ended up keeping. It all went into a rubbermaid tote labeled Winter Gear.
Kid’s shoes live in this IKEA bench/drawer right across from the coat closet. Each kid has a box inside the drawer (far right). There are 2-3 pairs of shoes in that box. To the left of the boxes are shoes that are one size bigger or specialty shoes – like for church or the yard. We have had this system for the last couple years and it works great because the kids can easily access their shoes. As soon as we come in the house – the kids know their shoes go back in their own box. Even my 2-year-old has this down and it works great on those busy mornings – they get their own shoes and jackets on.
Coats hang on a hook above the bench. Easy access for the kids means they can get their own jackets on before we leave and hang up their own jackets when we get home.
It had been awhile since I went through shoes – and look at the ones they’ve outgrown. Boohoo. Some of them were barely worn. The nicer ones will go to the LMNOP Consigment sale in March and I’ll make some money to buy them shoes the next size up!
I should have taken better “before” photos with the doors off, so you could get a better idea of all that was accomplished. We got rid of a ton of jackets, shoes and winter gear. I moved the tall or awkward boots to the top shelf and moved the winter tub to the floor, for now. In the spring, I’ll replace that with a tub of sunscreen, flip flops and other seasonal summer gear.
Here’s what I did:
- Take off closet doors so I could easily access everything
- Take everything out of closet
- Go through snow/winter gear. Sort by person. Kept 1-3 items per person. Duplicates went in a pile to donate.
- Sort shoes. Too small? They went into the consignment pile or Goodwill. If they were filthy and worn – in the trash.
- Sort and get rid of extra jackets.
- Vacuum and put items back into closet.
- Wipe down doors and molding.
Final note – You can comment, as long as you’re nice or constructive. There is nothing like going through your stuff and taking photographs of it to make you feel vulnerable. For me personally, I’m feeling embarrassed by the sheer excess of stuff. The fact that we might have 3 or 4 coats for one person, while some have none is difficult to swallow. I think the process of decluttering has given me an appreciation, and awareness, of just how much “stuff” we have collected – and has encouraged me to get rid of more. I really believe there is a BURDEN in the excess. Everything that I’m getting rid of is going to a good home – whether it’s a local nonprofit, thrift shop, a friend’s house or a consignment sale.
So what do you think about all this – is it helpful? I’d love suggestions for storage or helpful organization tips.
How do you keep your linen closet organized? How do you organize the hall closet? Check back tomorrow for an update on my bedroom closet and dressers – it’s gonna be good!