Spring fling

It’s National Spring Cleaning Week and professional declutterer Katherine Blackler shares some of her tips for getting your house shit together.

woman doing industrial cleaningThere’s a common misconception that all professional organisers are neat freaks with immaculate Instagram-worthy homes.

Well, I can’t speak for every organiser, but most of us are fallible creatures and we let things slide too. Even if we are pretty efficient at keeping spaces clear and organised, we subject ourselves to living with darling others, offspring, pets and even our own alter-egos, who wreak havoc with our precision systems.

I like to justify my own imperfections on the grounds that that not all shrinks have their thoughts totally straight yet but that doesn’t stop them helping others. Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Talking of sticking to things, I’m getting more and more attached to my kitchen floor of late. Marie Kondo, the Japanese whirlwind for decluttering, recommends you only keep things that “spark joy”.

So while reviewing my own belongings in my compact 410 sq ft London home two years ago, I rationally decided that the mop and bucket took up too much space for the joy they provided and indeed, for the frequency I actually ever used them. So I ceremoniously ditched them. Boy, that felt liberating.

On the odd occasion I get the urge to clean the floor (such as during National Spring Cleaning Week or if I’m having an identity crisis), I have floor wipes which are far quicker to cover the entire 11 kitchen tiles and the tiny amount of bathroom lino that my house proudly sports. And, lest I offend any environmentalists with this disposable cleaning solution, rest assured, I don’t get those urges very often at all.

Despite the fact that my organisation, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) is in cahoots with National Spring Cleaning Week, it doesn’t mean that I, or indeed all of my colleagues, will be squealing for joy at the excuse of a deep clean.

Sure, our logical, system-creating brains can’t comprehend emptying a cupboard, sorting the contents and NOT wiping it out thoroughly before loading it back with the items the client is keeping. But that’s not the bit that makes us truly tick.

“We’ve all done it: tried a new recipe that has a pinch of this and a pinch of that added to a dollop of something even more obscure, none of which you use for the next 15 months.”

So with this in mind, I’m not going to tell you how to spring clean your spaces but instead here’s a few practical tips on how to spring clear instead. Hopefully they’re quick enough to fit in between kids clambering up your legs and meeting your boss’s deadlines, while trying to find time for a social life too (a what now?).

1. Check for food that’s way past its use-by date and ditch. Don’t rebuy those items until you really need them again, which, let’s face it, may be never. We’ve all done it: tried a new recipe that has a pinch of this and a pinch of that added to a dollop of something even more obscure, none of which you use for the next 15 months. If the chef you want to be is actually your ‘fantasy self’, let them go whip up a storm elsewhere.

2. Tackle your toiletries. Most cosmetics are recommended for use between three to 24 months after opening, so do a swift stocktake this spring.

Daily tip: If you’re a makeup wearer, empty your makeup bag each morning with the bits you need for your routine and place each item back as you’ve applied them. It’s a simple habit which leaves your bathroom countertop automatically tidier. It has the added bonus that you can clearly see if you’ve forgotten to apply the mascara in your sleep-deprived state.

3. Declutter your inbox by unsubscribing yourself from junk emails that you never get round to reading. Unroll.Me is a free service that will save you swimming in the usual technology treacle.

4. Install a ‘snags box’ in or near your wardrobe to collect any clothes that need new buttons, alterations or dry cleaning. Save yourself that heartbreak of realising something isn’t wearable just when you had the perfect combo in mind.

5. Change your bed sheets weekly (OK, try for 10 days?) to save slumbering in a heady mix of sweat, body oils, urine, and even sexual fluids and faecal matter.

If all else fails, remember that the onset of spring means we’re heading towards longer, brighter days. You’ll likely spend less time in your house, so won’t mind so much if it looks like a bomb’s hit it.

  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Katherine Blackler

Katherine Blackler is a professional organiser and declutterer who walked away from the security blanket of her demanding city job and stopped waiting for Mr Right to appear before setting up her business SortMySpace Ltd.