..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spring Cleaning, Part III

Cleaning Your Bedroom

It is your private space, the one room where you should be able to find peace and serenity. This room, above all others, is necessary to feel centered; it is where you gather your strength and relax. Your bedrooms and bathrooms and laundry room can become the dustiest places in your home due to the linen and clothes that generate lint and dust as beds are made, clothes are folded, dresses shaken out, etc.
We will first concentrate on general room cleaning and then we will focus on the particulars.
Let's dig out those step stools again. If you have any ceiling fixtures, let's clean those first. I get my dear husband to take down my light fixture and then I wash it and he puts it back up. Clean the lamps thoroughly. Personally, I windex the brass lamps each week and vacuum the shades about every couple of months. Don't forget to dust the light bulbs, too. Ceiling fans and ceiling heat and air conditioning vents can also be wiped down now. If you have ceiling fans you might want to do this about once a month. If you have dust spots on your ceilings near the vents, vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Clean or replace special air filters throughout the house. You could call your builder to ask what you can do. With a lot of building in your neighborhood it will cause an inordinate amount of dust and sand to blow around. One suggestion is to place thin white sponge filters inside the ducts and that should catch the dirt before it blows onto the ceiling. Would this make your AC system less efficient, probably not noticeably. But replace these filters frequently or it will dirty them up and make your HVAC work harder.
Vent Covers. You can wash some of them in dishwasher. If they are brass then wipe them with Windex. You can buy new vent covers or paint them with gloss spray paint. If you are a terrible spray painter then buy a pint of paint. Pour the paint into a foil cake pan, dipped the vents into the paint, and set them on paper to dry. Remember you only need the outer side to be drip free. The next time I have to wash them, I'll be able to get the house icky off them easily and they will remain white. Saves a lot of money too!
OK, let's move on to the windows. If you have drapes, clean them -- either wash them or send them to the cleaners if they need it, brush them or vacuum them. If you have blinds, it's time to clean the blinds. If you have miniblinds then get your dear husband to take them down and you can wash them in bathtub/shower or outside. Use a soft brush, detergent and hose off. Let drip/dry and have husband put them back up. If you use vertical blinds then take a sponge and wipe each blind. Personally, I do not buy a fabric coated vertical blind as they are too hard to really clean. You can vacuum them but do this often, not just once a year. Wooden shutters (like Charleston shutters) are hard to clean but can be done with patience. Use sponge and a little Murphy's Oil Soap mixed with a lot of water. Replace water when it gets dirty. Wash all surfaces. Be sure to wash before trying to paint shutters. Then clean the screens, windows, window casements, window sills.
Strip the bed completely -- bedspread (comforter or coverlet), sheets, mattress cover, pillows, dust ruffles, all of it. Now you have this sad looking naked bed sitting there. It's OK; it needs an airing. Start your laundry. If your pillows can't be washed, how about setting them outside and airing them? Or stick them in the dryer on air fluff, no heat. Is it time for your seasonal spread change? Let's leave the bed naked until we're all done with the room. Before you put linens back on the bed, vacuum it. Your mattresses should be turned today. Try to strip the bed real early in the morning and catch husband before he leaves for work to help turn the mattresses. If you have a water bed, is it time to add tablets or anything to it?
Under-Bed Storage
Now empty out anything that you have stored under the bed. Set the boxes or bags out in the middle of the floor. Vacuum under the bed and wipe down all storage containers that you use under the bed.
*Tip*: If you have quilts for each bed and need a place to store them in off season layer them between the mattresses of the bed. I wouldn't do this for heirloom quilts, but just everyday quilts...
Remove the duvets and launder them and just fold up the quilts to fit the top of the bed and store them between the box springs and top mattress.
Let's take a look at what you have stored under the bed. Maybe you have out of season clothes stored there or miscellaneous objects that you couldn't find any other place to store. Rule number one -- the chocolate wrappers have to go! Take a hard look at what's stored there. Do you need it? Do you love it? Could you live without it? After making those decisions, replace whatever it is if there is no better place for it.
Depending on what your bed is made of, use what ever cleaners are necessary to clean it completely. If it’s upholstered, then spot clean and vacuum. If it’s wooden then polish real good. If it’s brass or metal, then wipe with damp sponge and dry or polish. I do this about once a month. I leave the original plastic on the box springs to keep the dust down on the box springs. Or you could use another mattress pad. I vacuum the mattress after turning it.
*Storage tip*: If you use flannel sheets in the winter months, they are bulky to store and do not fold up as neatly as cotton sheets. They can, however, be folded up into a nice fat square, just the perfect size to fit into a bed decorative pillow. In the summer months, you can have pretty decorator pillow covers and store the flannel sheets in them. Keeps the linen closet neater and creates a nice look for the bed. Thermal blankets can also be stored this way. 2 winter afghans can be stored in a sofa pillow too.
OK, now the ceilings, windows and bed are taken care of.

I get husband to pull all the furniture out from the wall and I wash down the walls from ceiling to floors and baseboards. Personally I only use latex semi-gloss or latex gloss paint or wallpaper. Flat paint catches and holds dust and grime. If you use flat paint, grass wallpaper or other flat, fabric or textured wall covering then you might need to vacuum the walls thoroughly. This will help with the dust but it won't clean the grease, smoke or grime that walls naturally collect. If you have wooden panelling then use a dust mop with furniture polish. Check the walls for cobwebs or dust ladders. Check for fingerprints. Can your walls get away with just a brushing or vacuuming, or do they need to be washed? No cheating here. I wash all the doors, window sills, door frames, closet doors, etc. I dust the backs of the furniture and vacuum and mop before I get my dear husband to push furniture back to their places. This is a good time to re-arrange furniture if you want.
*Tip* Keep your wash water clean by replacing it often so you aren't putting dirty water on the walls.
Now clean switch plates and door handles. If they are brass you can use Windex on them or brass polish.
Vacuum and mop the floor.
Nightstands collect all sorts of clutter. Paperback books, tissues, medicines, pens, paper -- take a look at your collection and sort through it. Already read the books? Pass them on or return them to the bookcase where they belong. Empty the night stand completely. Clean the drawers or shelves, clean the exterior. If you have a glass top, remove it carefully and clean under it and then clean the glass. Drawer knobs tight? Now, think about the minimum you need in your nightstand and put only those items back into it. Wash all the knickknacks and doodads, clean your bedside phone real good, clean all your framed pictures and re-organize your reading material. I do this every week. Do the same for the second night stand.

Dresser Top
Take a real deep breath and run and take an honesty pill, well, maybe 2 pills. Empty everything that is your dresser drawers. Put it all on your bed. Amazing isn't it? If you have any little accumulated things then put them where they are suppose to go. For ex: paper clips go to the study and put in the paper clip box on your desktop, straight or safety pins go in your sewing box, buttons go in your button jar, etc... Clean the dresser inside and out. Dust the back of the dresser and mirrors too. Polish the mirrors. Well, that's just beautiful! Just like when you first brought it home a wonderful empty dresser.

Her Dresser
Let's look at your lingerie collection. Separate it into daily wear and "special wear." I NEVER save nice things. I WEAR my nice things. I wear them until they start looking not-so-nice and then it's time to get rid of them and get new. I like to wear nice lingerie that is pretty, practical and washes well. Remember you get what you pay for too. If it's too cheap it probably won't wash well and will look bunchy around the seams, unironed, rumpled. If it's too expensive then you can only afford 1-2 things instead of the 3-4 you need. Decide how much you need and how much you can afford. Do you really need 35 pairs of undies? Do you really need 35 pairs of socks? I only buy enough panties to last for 10 days and I buy in white and/beige (with some black thrown in). If I wash once a week then I only need 7 pairs but then there are the times you might be on vacation, etc. and you need some extras for after you come off the beach or out of the pool. You get what you pay for. If you buy cheap undies then they might shrink, draw away, bunch, not fit well under pants, etc. Once they show wear, toss them and buy new. A neat way to store bras and panties is to put them into drawer dividers. They sell these at various stores, or you can make by using poster board and an Aleene's (tm) Box Maker. You can separate by color, fabric, and style. But if you buy white, beige and one black set then there isn’t a whole lot to separate. There's no rustling through the drawers for what you need, everything is in plain sight and you can just pluck out what you need.

Special bras can also be removed from your dresser and put into a box to be put into the closet. Be sure to label the boxes, so you won't have to search for anything. If you have one for a specific outfit, then try, hanging the bra with the appropriate outfit.

Hosiery: Let's discuss panty hose first. If you have special hose for outfits then hang them from the hanger in a baggy or tuck into the matching purse. Everyday hose is stored in their own little containers, too. You use a box and then cut off the bottoms of one liter drink bottles to about 3 inches high and roll clean hose and store the hose in the little containers. How many pairs of hose do you need to keep around? Probably not more than 6 pairs at a time.

Socks: I know that some people roll them, others fold them side to side. I'm going to describe another way to fold them so they are always neat in your drawer and easy to slip on. Stay with me here. Take one sock. Do not fold it sideways like they come. Open up the toe and flatten out the sock so that you are seeing only the front side (as if it were on your foot). Turn the sock over and take the heel portion and flip it out and fold it down towards the toe. Do the same with the second sock but flip the heel portion toward the top of the sock. Now place the socks together back to back. You've eliminated the heel bulk. Fold the socks together back to back in half. You should now have one nice little package. Fold the next pair of socks the same way, but place on top of the first folded pair in the opposite direction. Measure the average size of your folded socks and make containers for storage for your drawer. Sort by color. I have white, khaki, dark blue, brown and black. I try to buy a bunch all at the same time and the same brand so that I have less trouble sorting when folding clean clothes.

Remember, ask yourself if you really need these items? How many do you realistically need to keep? Do you really like to wear it? Would someone else like it better? Is it too worn to keep?

Everything should now be back in your dresser. That leaves your dresser top. Remember that everything you leave on your dresser has to be handled to be cleaned. Try to pare down the amount of accessories on your dresser.
*Tip:* You can use a strip of lace or pretty fabric and some tacks to make a holder along the inside of your drawer to hold small bottles. I saw this idea in a magazine. You just tack the lace strip down one side of your drawer and put a tack along the way so that you have enough to hold your bottles upright. Not so tight that it's hard to remove and replace the bottle.
His dresser
Be sure your dear husband is not home when you do this. Follow the same procedure cleaning his dresser as you did yours. But this job requires looking at the underwear. You see, we all know that a woman will throw away a sock that no longer has a heel in it, but men, well... search through his underwear and quickly toss the junk. Not only toss it, but bag it so he can't see it. My dear husband gets all over me for throwing away his "perfectly good" holey underwear or some old stained shirt or ripped pair of pants. I keep telling him that he isn't so poor that he has to keep everything no matter what condition it is in. We can afford for him to have decent clothes. I try to get him to go through his drawers and clothes about once a year to get rid of stuff he no longer wears. That is the stuff I would take to charity. But the holey, stained and ripped stuff goes in the garbage.

His underwear can be stored like yours. Men's underwear is so much easier to buy than women's. I buy him new underwear a couple of times a year and I buy enough to completely replace all his old. I try to keep 12-14 prs for him as he showers twice a day so needs 2 clean prs underwear per day. Then I go through and throw out any that are showing wear in the elastic or have holes.
Bathing suits can be put in a plastic container marked bathing suits and then put in his closet.
Gather all the bits of paper, business cards, screws, bolts, toothpicks wrapped in plastic, things I didn't know and probably never will know what they are, and put everything into a basket and set it on his chair. He wasn't exactly happy about going through the basket but help him later in the evening and write the numbers he wants to keep in his phone book, and file the cards he wants to keep in his card file. I have to do dear husband's junk pretty regularly. There is always keys, business cards, screws, wire connectors, golf tees, change, etc. I have a key cabinet. You can buy these at office supply places or make one with cup hooks. I also bought key labels at the office supply store. I went through all our keys and labeled them and grouped them in the key cabinet (house keys, car keys, luggage keys, etc.). Everytime I find a key I put it back in the key cabinet. Any keys I don't recognize and can't place are thrown away. My dh keeps too many keys on his key chain for work but, at home, my keys are organized! I put all change in my wallet to use to buy coffee or make copies at the library. I put the golf tees in his golf bag. I have a little cabinet with the see through drawers and I sort his screws, wire connectors, etc into these drawers in the basement. I sort through paper and pull anything I need like receipts, deposit slips, etc and take to the study. I throw all other paperwork away. If he needed it he wouldn’t have left it on the dresser. By the time it's sat on his desk for a week it's history as far as I'm concerned. These little things are a pain and aggravating but if you don't do it regularly it really can start adding up and make a mess of your room. Put collar stays in a small jeweler's box and mark it collar stays. Take an old tie he hates and hang it from his closet and used it to attach all the pins he has collected, race passes, etc.

Does he collect ball caps? Run clothesline across the top of his closet along the walls and used clothes pins to attach the hats. Now they are out of the way but he's happy because he can see them. It's a man thing, I guess. Or toss in a plastic box in his closet. His handkerchiefs can be stored in a divider box, his cuff links in another, tie tacks in another. I have a small wooden jewelry box for his watches and rings. You can store his ties in a special box so they can lay flat (silk ties lose their shape if hung). His magazines are stored in magazine holders by category.
Be sure to clean all accessories in your bedroom, including knick knacks, lamps, wastebaskets, wall hangings, crosses, photographs, vases, etc.

Hope Chest
If you have a hope chest in your bedroom, empty it out completely. Give all the stored items the honesty test, and refill. For those of you who don't care for the smell of moth balls, stick a few bay leaves in for bug prevention. You can use acid free tissue paper to line the chest and layer between items.

The Finishing Touches
OK, so how is your room looking? Is there a place to set a candle warmer? Candles can live a black smoke film on everything so it's best to use a candle warmer. Perhaps a flower? Do you have room for a comfortable chair and lamp?

Put on your fresh mattress cover and put on your fresh sheets. Take your pillows which have been airing and put them in their cases. Make up the bed.

Re-hang any curtains, blinds, or swags. Now, how about a spritz of perfume on turned-off light bulbs? There should be absolutely no clutter any place in your room.
If you have a desk in your room, empty it and clean it. Have lots of occasion cards that you will never use in this lifetime? Drop them off at a local nursing home.
Did you find any bed linens that are very tired? Perhaps they could be made into pillowcases. Often during the summer, all you need to feel fresh in bed is a clean set of pillowcases. Faded sheets sewn into pillowcases with a bit of lace added look like heirlooms.

Need a handy nightstand in a hurry? Purchase a large trash can, put out of season clothes in it, put the lid on upside down and cover with a plywood round, a cloth and then a piece of glass. Double duty tables always help.

Keeping the Room Special
This room is very important to you. It should be a place of refuge. Children, friends, relatives are not allowed in the bedroom. Arguments and disagreements shouldn’t take place in there. You don’t want negative feelings in your place of rest. Keep your bedroom as a place of reflection, a place where you can pray, read, dream and relax. It's a marriage room. Only newborns are allowed to share it and then only for a short while. If you can develop this within your home, you and yours will always have a safe place. Use a tassel hanging on your door knob. If that tassel is hanging to the outside of the door, the rule should be “Don't even knock. We are not available.” This rule is even honored by both my husband and myself. If either one of us needs time alone, the tassel goes out and it's as if that person isn't home.

Well, my friends, if you're brave you can start on the other bedrooms in your home.

Spring Cleaning, Part II

Cleaning Bathrooms

Remember that the bathroom and bedrooms and laundry rooms are usually the most dusty because of the lint from linens and clothes, powders, etc. Everything gets dusty in these rooms.

1. Clear it Out

Gather curtains, shower curtain, bath mats, toilet cozies, rugs, and rarely-used linens that require a freshening and put in laundry.

2. Windows
-Blinds – If you have them, take them down and wash. You can wash them in the shower-tub or take out on the deck in good weather and hang over the railing.

-Shades – If you have them, roll out and wipe down.

-Wooden Shutters – If you have them, wipe thoroughly with Murphy’s oil soap & water mixture.

-Remove screens and wash

-Wash window frames, moldings, sills, and latches

-Wash windows

-Be sure to wipe curtain rods

-Wash any curtains

3. Medicine cabinet

-Empty all items into a basket
-Check for outdated drugs. Is the medicine cabinet really the best place for the items there?
-Clean the cabinet thoroughly and reline if necessary
-Replace items
-Clean the outside of the cabinet, be sure to get top and hinges
-Clean the cabinet mirror if applicable
4. Tile walls
Remove all plants, knickknacks, etc., and put into kitchen. Your bathroom should now be naked -- remember the pictures on the walls.
Wipe down with damp sponge. If really dirty, use some Greased Lightening. Don’t use too much because you don’t want to leave cleaner on the tiles or it will be dulled and smeared. I normally use just water and damp sponge because I do this more than once a year. Scrub down the walls; be sure to catch the tops, soap dishes, and towel racks. Rinse when using a cleaner and then dry.
5. Shower head
If removable, remove and soak in vinegar. If not removable, fill a plastic baggie with vinegar and tie it onto the shower head.
6. While the shower head is soaking
-If you have shower curtains, clean and polish the rod -- a touch of wax will keep the curtain gliding smoothly
-If you have shower doors, clean them now
-Remove the vinegar from the shower heads
7. It's time to clean the tub
I do not use abrasive cleaners as it scratches fiberglass, porcelain, and acrylic and this ruins the surfaces. It attracts dirt and makes your tub/shower look dingy after time no matter what you do. I use Greased Lightening.
Rinse well.
Be sure to get the corners and outside and tub/shower enclosure.
Polish all tub metals. Clean doors, tracks with toothbrush.
HINT: If you will be re-caulking your grout, wait until the bathroom is done and be sure to fill the tub at least half full with water before applying new grout. This will prevent the grout from separating from the tub in the future. Remove as much of the old grout as you can. Get it as clean of debris as you can. Use some bleach and let it sit to kill any mildew before you re-caulk. Once it is completely dry, then use caulk that is specifically for bathrooms because it has mildew resistant added to it. I would use the best caulk you can afford (it’s not that expensive). Try to leave the caulk line as smooth as possible so it won’t hold water in little pits and niches (this causes mildew to begin growing). Follow the instruction on the caulk tube.
8. Commode
-Remove the water tank lid
-Clean inside of water tank and flush until the interior is clean. (I have never done this but I would assume you can use a toilet brush. The porcelain inside the tank is unglazed so it’s a rough surface.)
-Spray the exterior of the commode’s water tank (wiping down the entire exterior of commode); (I wipe the tank exterior weekly with damp sponge. I like a sparkly tank. Cleaner can leave residue and make it smeary if you don’t get it completely rinsed off.)
-I use Clorox wipes to completely clean the exterior of the commode’s bowl and rim and seat. I do this very thoroughly whenever I clean the bathroom.
-Pour bowl cleaner into the bowl and let set for recommended amount of time. Another thing that I do weekly, if not daily

9. Vanity cabinets or storage area
-Remove all contents and wipe out
-Replace lining if necessary
-Sort and organize, throw away old or half used stuff
-Don't forget to clean the pipes under the sink too
-Replace items, making sure everything is clean before it goes back in (Yes, I clean lotion bottles, shampoo bottles, etc in sink with detergent before putting back so I don't have dusty bottles of stuff)
-Remember, if you haven't used it in a while, toss it
Okay -- windows, tub, walls, medicine cabinet, commode, and cabinets are all done. We're one third of the way to an unbelievably sparkling bathroom!
1. Linen Closet
-Remove contents -- refold items if necessary
-Sort and organize. Get rid of over-worn items if you can. I always try to throw away stuff that is getting too ratty. These are questions I ask myself,
“Am I so poor that I have to use towels full of holes or so thin you can see through them?” Remember towels can be used as rags. Or, if they are in better shape, they can be donated to your Vet or Humane Society to be used when washing dogs.
“Am I so poor that I have to wear **unmentionables** which are full of holes or have no elastic left?” Throw them away.
“Am I so poor that I’m still keeping socks that have lost their mates hoping that I will lose the mate to another like pair?” Throw them away. Don’t waste space on leftover socks.
“Do I seriously use ______?” Whatever never-used item you seem to collect. If I don’t use it throw it away, give it away or take to charity.
“Will I ever use that shampoo?” I bought it with a coupon and hated it.
“Do I need to keep those burgundy towels that I used in our old house?” If they don’t match and they make a mess in your wash everytime you wash them throw them away. (I just had to throw away half my unmentionables because some burgundy towels bled dye all over them in the wash and turned them all a dark pink.)
“Did that product work? Then why am I keeping it?”
Be realistic and throw away half used items you won't use. Combine those things you do use but are half used. My dh is particularly bad to use half a bottle of something and then start using the new bottle instead of finishing the old bottle. That is a pet peeve of mine.
-Wash the shelves
-Does that closet need re-painting? Now is the time. Nothing makes a closet look good better than a fresh coat of paint. You might even re-think the color of your closet. But clean the shelves and baseboards and doors thoroughly before painting so you aren’t painting over the dust.
-Reline shelves if necessary
-Wipe floor and moldings
-If you have a light fixture, take it down and clean it (I get husband to do this for me.)
-Check the ceiling for dust ladders
2. Ceilings and lamps
-Vacuum ceilings and wash if necessary (I start at ceiling and wipe down). I get husband to hold the vacuum for me.
-Take heating vents and fan covers off and wash. I get husband to do this for me.
-Remove lighting fixtures and clean -- don't forget to wipe the bulbs (be sure they are cool). I get husband to do this for me.
-Clean ceiling fans
-If you have lights over your sink, clean them now
3. Wash all walls
-Be sure to catch the floor moldings and the tops of door moldings. Start from ceiling and wipe down.
4. Wash doors
-Sanitize handles, clean hinges (oil if necessary)
-Wipe down the doors on both sides. If they are wooden doors, use Murphy’s Oil soap and water mixture. If painted surface then use damp sponge.
5. Mirrors
-Polish all mirrors (I do this weekly)
6. Sink
-Remove and clean the faucet screen
-Use an old toothbrush to really get at the edges of your faucet and handles
-Clean sink -- be sure to get the water overflow area too. I usually pour a little bleach down there to prevent bacteria from growing. You might use a toothbrush in that overflow too.
We are now 2/3 done!
7. Floors
-If necessary strip old wax
-Wash and wax floors -- this cleaning will be an on-the-knees cleaning. Use an old brush to get into corners, grooves, etc.While the floors are drying,

8. Replace accessories
-Gather clean rugs and set out
-re-hang blinds and curtains
-wash all knick knacks like fancy perfume bottles, vases, etc. about every 4-6 weeks. If I use silk flowers I make them simple and I rinse them under the shower and let them drip dry every 4-6 weeks. Otherwise they collect dust and begin to look bad instead of attractive. I regularly replace these simple silk bunches about every 12-18 mos and throw them away. Any fancy towels are washed every month and re-hung or rolled and put back. All baskets are rinsed in the shower every 4-6 weeks to keep them from getting so dusty and unattractive.
-wash your bathroom trash can. Wipe down regularly so it stays nice looking and use trash bags so the inside doesn't get so bad looking.
Some Extras to Think About:
-Hairdryer vents can be cleaned out with an old toothbrush and vacuum cleaner
-Brushes and combs can be soaked (or replaced, which I do)
-Hair irons can be wiped with alcohol to remove hair spray residue
-Electric shavers can be cleaned
-Toilet brush (and holder) can be soaked in a sanitizing solution (or replaced, which I do)
-Electrical appliance cords can be wiped down
-Clothes hampers can be cleaned -Bath scrubbies can be sanitized along with nail clippers, brushes, and metal files
You are finished with the cleaning and organizing but you are never completely done until you clean your mop and mop bucket, toss your rags into a wash (use a detergent with bleach and hot water to kill germs), put away the vacuum cleaner and all cleaners. Anything you are giving away, go ahead and put in your car to take to charity. Take all throwaways to the trash.
Now, you are really finished and it's a nice time to draw yourself a nice hot bubble bath, take a glass of iced tea and your favorite book and RELAX!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Cleaning, Part I

I am going to publish my Spring Cleaning lists here on my blog for future reference:

Do you notice something about these messy closets? Here are my observations:
* They have a dedicated closet (How many people in this world don't have shelter, much less their own rooms with closets to hold multiple changes of clothes?)
* The closets have organizing accoutrements like hanging poles, shelves, drawers. They just aren't being used.
* They have too many clothes for the size closets they have but the closets are large enough to keep as many clothes and shoes for you to be happy for 7 days in a row (or more). Isn't that all you really need?

Remember, you can clean your closets and organize them but if you don't maintain them, it's a waste of time. When you get through with an outfit, hang it back up and put your shoes neatly away. When you do the laundry...bring the clothes back in and hang them up or fold them neatly and put them where they belong. If you buy new clothes, see if there isn't something you can get rid of to make room for the new things. Maintain, maintain, maintain! And teach your family members to maintain, maintain, maintain! Don't send your children into adulthood without the skills to live in a chaos free home.

Cleaning Closets

Closets, a homemaker's nightmare, can be turned into the very core of organization.

First, the basic cleaning, and then we'll get into organizing them to their optimum use.

1. Clear 'em Out
Empty the closet completely. Empty the shelves and set those items in one area. As you handle each item decide on the following - do I like this? Do I know what this is? Do I use this? When did I use this last? Do I want this? Is there a better place for this that would make my life simpler? Could Aunt Grizelda use this more than I can? Mm I so poor that I have to keep all those t-shirts with holes in them, faded, stained? If you need some for those days you work in the yard or re-finish furniture or paint…how many do you honestly need to keep for that purpose? (I personally don’t often do those type of jobs so I only need one or two outfits for that purpose, therefore I only keep a few ratty things and throw away the rest. Once I’ve used a ratty outfit and it’s all yucky – toss them, don’t waste your time washing and storing them again. Some people, especially with children, have to have “play” clothes. This is different from what I’m talking about. Only you can decide what you need and how many. The point is to be realistic.)

Start piles: a. Keepers b. Need repairs c. Not sure if I want this or not d. Giveaways to family or charity(Remember that giveaways should always be stuff in great shape. If it’s not in great shape, toss it.) e. Trash f. Find a better place for this g. Take to consignment shop or sale at yard sale. (These items have to be in excellent condition, washed and ironed, before you take them to a consignment shop.)

Now empty the clothes that are hanging being sure to follow the decision rules. Put the keepers on the bed as neatly as possible, or, if you can hang them someplace to prevent wrinkling, do that.

Now it's time to pull out shoes, purses, and everything else. And of course you are following the decision rules.

2. Sort
Put the giveaways in a box or bag and put into the garage or your trunk. DO NOT just stack them in a different corner. Go ahead and get them out of the house.
Put the items needing repairs in a box or bag and set next to your favorite chair. Put the shoes needing repairs in a bag and put in your car. Put the trash in the trash bin. Hang stuff going to a consignment shop in your car and items to yard sale in a bag and move it to the garage. Put your "not sures" in a box and move to the kitchen table.

3. Clean
Now we can clean. The only items left in your room are the keepers. Do a good vacuuming and wipe down the walls and baseboards. Catch all the cobwebs and be sure to get the moldings.

Wipe down the shelves. If you have wire shelving, dish detergent does a good job on these. If you can take them down, it’s easier to take them to the tub to wash with a soft brush and rinse.

Do your floors.

Clean any light fixtures, windows, and the door. Switch plates could use a wiping, too. Check your door hinges and polish the knobs.

Your closet should now be a nice empty clean space.

This is a good time to re-paint the closet. Be sure to have a fan and window open for ventilation as the enclosed walls in a closet can make the paint fumes intense. Wallpapering a closet is a good idea.

*Organization and Tips

Everyone's closet needs are different depending on how they hang their clothes and their wardrobes. Would an extra rod expand your hanging space? This comes in handy for those with lots of blouses.

Shoes: Do you store your shoes on the floor? How about buying a plastic carpet runner the length of your closet and cutting it right down the middle. Put one piece on each side of your closet. Any shoes you store on the floor would never get your carpet dirty. This also works well under shoe racks. It's real easy to wipe off a plastic runner. Personally, I used one end of my closet to put a small bookshelf. I use this to store shoes. Over this bookshelf I can hang scarves, blouses, sweaters or other short items.

Purses: How many do you use on a regular basis? Most of us only alternate between 1 or 2. That leaves a pile of others used just a few times yearly. Don’t store vinyl next to leather as the leather finish can be ruined. I've cut my purses down to the following: One real good natural leather shoulder bag in brown and one real good natural leather shoulder bag in black. I have a matching black leather wallet and matching brown leather wallet to be used for these purses. Some may use a waist bag (fanny pack) for malls and outdoor activities or a small all-in-one shoulder bag. One small black leather dress bag with detachable shoulder strap for evening wear. Extra bags can be wrapped in felt envelopes and placed in a box on a high shelf. This box (with lid) also stores miniature purse supplies. A tiny holder for license, credit card, and money. A small mirror and comb, pen and hankies. No time spent searching when you have to switch purses for an evening out.

Personally, I never change bags. I wear the black one til I’m tired of it and then switch to the brown one til I’m tired of it. I do keep the black & brown wallets until they are looking worn. I just change the wallet with whatever bag I use. A wallet will usually last as long as 2-3 bags or more. So I may change to a new bag twice a year and just switch wallets to match the color of the bag that I just purchased. If I always only buy black or brown then I have a wallet already at home to change to.

Shoe clips can be stored in the a box with lid. You might keep 1 pair of wonderful black dress pumps that you add clips to whenever you need to change their appearance. Let's say an outfit really needs brown pumps -- well, just add a brown leather rose clip to the black heels and you’re all set. If you pay a fortune for shoes, try to keep just the basics. If you purchase a pair of good white or ecru pumps one year, then think about dyeing them black for the following year.

Belts: Belts hang from a special plastic belt rack which attaches to wire shelving or hang on the clothes rod. Belts, too, are kept to a minimum. 2 good quality belts --1 black and 1 brown. Occasionally buy an accent belt, but keep the cost down so when the fashion changes you won't feel guilty about disposing of it. If you buy good leather belts they can be dyed by your shoe repair man. For belt collectors, why not sort by color and hang on hooks set into a corner of your closet or the back of your closet or use a belt hanger. Whatever you do, don't roll the belts. That will in time cause cracks along their edges.

Scarves: If you love scarves and have a bunch of them to finish off various outfits, hang them from a multiple hanger skirt rack. Put pieces of white felt inside the clips before attaching the scarves to prevent marks. Or use one of those plastic hangers that was made for stringing scarves through holes in the hanger. You may want to hang a particular scarf with a particular outfit.

Pins, necklaces, etc: Find a one square foot of cork board or find a small-size cork board to attach to a closet wall. These items can all be hung from the cork board, along with a calendar. Another way to store pins is to hang a wide gross grain ribbon from your rod and pin the pins to the ribbon. Earring collector? How about an 8 x 10 frame backed with nylon screening. Earrings can be attached (both french wires and button styles. Clip earrings can go on a ribbon like the pins. Another idea I saw is for the handy person. Use 2 cabinet doors, some 1x4's and a peg board. Create a frame with the 1x4's, attach the peg board (or screen) to the back, put the cabinet doors with hinges on the front and hang. It makes a nice place to hang necklaces, earrings, even bracelets and it looks nice and is dust free. Personally, I keep all my jewelry in a jewelry box (or you can use a tackle box or tool box) with the lid closed so that they don’t get dusty. I bought a very nice wooden toolbox at Lowe's last year that had multiple drawers and I use it for my jewelry. I like the box because it is divided so I can organize my jewelry. If they are on the ribbon, cork board, etc, they are going to get very dusty. I also like to clean my jewelry regularly.

When you completed cleaning out your closet your bed is probably stacked to the ceiling with clothes. Try to separate into blouses, jackets, dresses, dress slacks, casual slacks, skirts, etc. Sort your accessories out as to what you want to keep, what goes to charity, what goes to consignment shop, what goes to yard sale.

Decide how you want to organize your closet. Do you want to put colors together? Outfits together? If you have multiple sizes due to changes in your weight, then how about grouping sizes together? Or all pants, all dresses, all sweaters, etc? When hanging jackets be sure to button the buttons.

Remember: Do not put anything back into your closet that does not reflect your best assets and current lifestyle. Just because you spent a good sum of money on something doesn't mean you must keep it if it doesn't suit you. The first mistake was in buying it, the second mistake is in keeping it. Sometimes we purchase something that suits us at the time, but as we grow within ourselves, the item no longer suits us.

*Note: If there are some things that were very stylish or have sentimental memories attached then you can clean them and should store in acid free boxes in acid free tissue paper. These are what memories are made of. Can you imagine if I still had the first pair of bell bottoms I ever owned? What a laugh your kids would get if you could pull them out and show them how thin you were and how the styles are coming back. I still have the last blouse that Grandmother Geneva made me from one of her old 1940's patterns to my personal request. I also have the sweater that I wore to Melinda's wedding. We have Granddaddy Avery's toddler overalls and Grandma Vivian's dress she wore to Granddaddy Avery's wedding. I have the last sweaters that Grandmother Geneva knitted. But if you don't have the room to store and can't store properly then don't store. Take pictures.

Continue to re-hang your clothes making notes of what outfits you can build with what you have. You'll soon discover your orphans -- see if adding accessories could make them usable.

Boot storage: put rolled up magazines in them to keep them upright and to prevent an ankle crease from forming. Add a bay leaf to keep paper mites and silver fish away from the paper

Sneakers: Cut little squares of scrap fabric about 8 inches square. Fill the centers with baking soda and gather and tie with a ribbon or a rubber band . You'll have sweet smelling sneakers. I do this for all my everyday shoes.

Personally I store my shoes in plastic shoe boxes with photos of the shoes inside taped to the outside.

The above directions are primarily for cleaning your clothes closet, but the same principles apply to all closets.

*Some More Tips
So you don't have a linen closet, and you've been storing your extra sheets on a closet shelf. Why not make a pillow to match your bed and put your extra sheets in it? Personally, I only keep one set of sheets. That way I take them off, wash, dry and put them right back on. It saves money! I keep a set of extra sheets in all different sizes only for use when we go on vacation and need to bring our own bedding. I keep these in the plastic zip up bags that come when you buy comforter or sheet sets. I also keep an old comforter in a bag for vacation bedding.

Been storing extra blankets in your closet? How about storing them between your mattresses?Out of season clothes can be stored in large garbage cans topped with a plywood circle and made into a table. Here's the trick: Fill the barrel, put the can lid on upside down, and you have a flat basis for the table top. Table tops can be purchased precut at your local hardware store. Cover with a coordinating cloth and put a glass circle on top. If you use boxes of any kind to store items in your closet, go for the square kind. I don't use baskets as they allow dust in. The square shapes take up less room and can be stacked more easily.

Hang slacks from real trouser hangers to maintain the creases. Don't fold them in half. Try hanging a sachet onto your robe hanger. You can use bay leaves on your husband's robes and suits and he will love it.

Silk ties should be stored flat. Or buy a photo storage box and store DH's ties in there, just gently folded into thirds. No marks are left. Hanging the silk ties causes the bias to get off kilter. Hubby’s handkerchiefs are divided into daily ones and dress ones. Dressy ones are stored in another photo box along with his dress cufflinks and money clips. Also keep in mind that photo boxes are good ideas if you need long term storage for fabrics. Make sure they are acid free or archival quality. Plastic boxes are great for things you don't want to keep forever because plastic fumes can hurt fabrics over time. Also keep in mind that cardboard boxes have channels or tunnels that make for excellent bug houses. So cardboard boxes can accumulate silver fish, roaches, etc. Plastic is better than cardboard.

DH's white shirts too dingy to be fixed? Ask your laundry to dye them a light blue for you. Charge should only be $2 a shirt. The $12 a year spent on dying them isn't even 1/3 the cost of a new shirt. The light blue shirts can be worn for casual days as well as with jeans.

All bathing suits are stored in photo boxes. Easier to find that way. Or plastic see through shoe boxes.

DH problem: He tends to wear the same clothes over and over and completely ignores others. There is a solution -- hide 2 of his favorites and substitute 2 he hasn't been wearing.

Cuffs worn out on long sleeve shirts? Cut them down and hem to short sleeve shirts. They'll get another couple of years use even if it's only for mowing the lawn.

Remember, as you gather the trash items get rid of them. You aren't finished until you take your items to dry cleaners, consignment shop, have your yard sale or take it to charity. If you leave boxes or bags around the house then you've just moved your clutter around. Be sure to put back all your cleaning supplies and machines. You aren't finished until the vacuum cleaner is up, the mop bucket and mop are clean and put up and the rags are washed!

My Closet:

Winter, by color.

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