Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
March 2016 – Vol. 15 No. 3

If you have to buy stuff to store stuff, you might have too much stuff. ~Courtney Carver

11 tips for faster, easier spring cleaning 

photo credit: Goodyear-7584 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Goodyear-7584 via photopin (license)

Happy spring! You know what that means…time to start your spring cleaning. Now, you’ve heard me say this before and I’ll say it again: I’m all for cleaning smarter, not harder.

That’s why I came up with this list of 11 tips that will help you get your home in tip-top shape fast – so you can get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather coming your way!

I'm all for cleaning smarter, not harder. Click To Tweet

Zoom, zoom. Remove clutter from floors, coffee tables, and other horizontal surfaces before you start cleaning so you can zoom through each room. (See the Favorite Products and Resources section below for my favorite clutter-clearing tool.)

Skip it. Spot clean visible dirt and smudges – skip cleaning entire walls, inside windows, hardwood floors if they look okay. What I love for spot cleaning scuff marks on baseboards and removing crayon and grease from painted walls – Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The “magic” is actually a melamine foam that works like fine sandpaper. Always test it on an inconspicuous place, especially when cleaning a counter or flat-painted surface.

Call in the pros. Consider hiring out carpet, window and screen cleaning. Pros do it faster, better and for less than you might think. A few years ago, I had all of the windows in a two-story house cleaned inside and out for $125 and that included cleaning the screens!

Start high. Remove cobwebs from ceiling fans and corners, door and window moldings, and lighting fixtures with a long-handled duster or broom. Now would be a good time to remove and clean those lighting fixtures if you can see insects in there. While you’re at it, give (cool) light bulbs a wipe  to remove grime. FACT: A dirty light bulb emits 20% less light than a clean one.

Believe in miracles. Wet a microfiber cloth and wring it out completely – or spritz it with water. Use to wipe all mirrors and glass surfaces for a streak-free clean. I use microfiber cloths designed specifically for glass for that job. For larger jobs like kitchen and bathroom, I use larger microfiber cloths to get the job done quicker. Use different color cloths for bathroom and kitchen to avoid introducing germs from one room to the other. Microfiber cloths are also my choice for dusting and cleaning everything from computers and cell phones to window blinds and chair legs.

Walk away. When it comes to cleaning the shower/tub, bathroom sinks and toilet, let cleaning products do the hard work for you. Spray cleaning product and let sit for 5-10 minutes to loosen soils. To clean a dirty microwave, set a microwaveable bowl of water in your oven and heat on high for 5 minutes. The steam produced will soften hardened-on gunk, making it easier to wipe clean.

Follow the one-tool rule. Grab what you need to tackle a specific cleaning project throughout a room or even your entire home. Done? Put that tool away. Grab the next. So, for example, do all of your dusting, then all of your wet cleaning chores (think kitchen and bath), and then finish up by vacuuming.

Clean while you sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up to a clean house? You can – sort of. Before going to bed, set your oven to self-clean. Pour toilet cleaner in toilet bowls, then just brush and flush in the morning.

Get moving. Move furniture and large appliances so you can vacuum underneath and behind. Roll up large area rugs and vacuum underneath. Don’t forget to get after those dust bunnies under your bed! Those “critters” only sound cute – they’re actually made up of a mixture of tiny fibers shed from feathers and fabrics, pet dander, food particles, bacteria, mold and fungus spores, and insect parts. Dust bunnies also contain dust mites, the microscopic creatures that feed on dust, and their waste products. Yuck.

Give me 30. If you want to dedicated an entire day or weekend to your spring cleaning, go for it. Otherwise, plan to clean for just 30 minutes a day until the job’s done.

Reward yourself. Treat yourself to fresh flowers for your table, a massage or pedicure, or dinner at your favorite restaurant when you’ve spring cleaned your home to your satisfaction.

More help with your spring cleaning…

I had the honor of testing a slew of new cleaning products for the April issue of Family Circle. If you’ve got that issue, turn to page 49. If not, here’s the link to that article on  – 50 Best New Cleaning Products.

Got pets? We adopted a stray kitten last summer. I’d forgotten how much mess they make! Check out this article that I contributed tips to – 7 Pet Cleaning Hacks That Will Blow You Away.

Here are some more ideas I suggested in the article for spring cleaning – Spring Forward: 8 Smart Tasks to Do Every Daylight Savings Day.

Like a good neighbor…I contributed tips to State Farm’s Good Neighbor magazine (Spring issue) – Spring Cleaning.

Enter to win a $2,500 gift card!

Did you know? Three million households with children under 4 keep containers of liquid laundry pacs on the washing machine. And 1 in 4 parents place laundry pacs on the washer or dryer while they do laundry. I am partnering with Tide and the American Cleaning Institute to spread this important safety message:

Please keep laundry pacs out of reach of children. KEEP THEM UP. KEEP THEM CLOSED. KEEP THEM SAFE.

I encourage you to take the KEY Pledge for laundry safety. When you do, you’re automatically entered for a chance to win a $2,500 gift card.* Even if you took the pledge in 2015, you can take the Pledge again in 2016!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends on December 31, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Open to legal residents of 50 U.S. and DC, 21 and older. Void where prohibited. For Official Rules, go to

Favorite products and resources 

As a professional organizer and certified House Cleaning Technician, I’ve used and recommended a lot of products, services and resources over the years. Every month in this column, I share new and old favorites.

Last month, I shared a laundrytoteproduct that I discovered several years ago at the International Home & Housewares Association Show in Chicago. It’s a hands-free laundry tote – a flexible plastic basket with a shoulder strap. I often recommend using a laundry basket for fast and easy clutter clean-up. The shoulder strap on this basket means you have both hands free to clean up twice as quick! There are so many ways you can use this basket around your home. I have two – one that I use as a laundry hamper and another for storing beach and pool gear.

Clutter-Diet-Homepage-Header-Updated-600x409This month, I’d like to remind you of a service that I wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who could use some professional help to get organized, but maybe don’t have it in your budget to pay for the services of a professional organizer. The Clutter Diet is an online membership service created by my colleague and friend Lorie Marrero, a Certified Professional Organizer. For as little as 54 cents a day, you get a weekly project plan, monthly Q & A call, unlimited access to articles, videos and more from Lorie’s team of experts. And you can try it free for 7 days. Or grab a copy of Lorie’s book by the same name.

Shameless promotion: Conquering laundry challenges together  

Did you know that 70% of laundry soils are invisible? Or that there’s a science behind the beauty and care of fabrics that goes beyond cleaning? These are just a few of many interesting facts gleaned while touring Procter & Gamble’s Ivorydale Technical Center in Cincinnati earlier this month.

Me in P&G's Microsopy & Imaging lab

Me in P&G’s Microsopy & Imaging lab

Like many of my readers, I grew up with P & G brands and I was honored when they asked me to be a fabric care ambassador for Tide and Downy. Now, I’ve done a lot of research and writing on the subject of laundry and I’m frequently tapped by magazine editors for tips. But even I – a laundry care expert – came home from my tour of P & G’s innovation labs with 11 pages of notes!

I’ve decided to include in this monthly newsletter a series of Fabric Care 101 articles to help you conquer your laundry challenges. By the time you read the last article, you’ll know how to make your clothes whiter and brighter, smell fresher, and last longer.

Missed my last post? Here you go: Organizing Tips Newsletter – February 2016 (I share my 7-step paper clutter clearing plan plus a video with 5 easy ways to organize your closet.) You might also enjoy reading The Cost of Clutter. (Be sure the read the comments as well!)

Need some motivation and support to get organized?Join my organizing support group on Facebook (it’s a closed group so what gets posted in the group stays in the group – and there’s no cost to join.)

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this organizing tips newsletter may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I will earn a small commission. These earnings go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter which is free to you, but does cost to distribute. Please know that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.