I’m a fan of air fresheners – the scented solids, the fragrant gel beads, the plug-in variety of air freshener, even those little trees you can hang in your car. However, once in place, I often forget to check if the item is still doing its job or if the solid has dried up. Check the condition of any air fresheners you use.
Do you store boxes of facial tissues and rolls of toilet tissue in multiple locations in your home? Perhaps you have a spare roll or two in the bathroom, some items in your cleaning closet, and an overstock of items in the basement or garage.
Can you store your overstock on a single shelf or in a single cabinet? Although I’m not suggesting that you should have so few of these supplies that you risk running out, do you have months of stock? Do you really want to give that much space to these bulky supplies?
Maybe when the kids lived at home you maintained a certain level of stock, but you’ve never adjusted your shopping habits as the kids moved away. Consider how often you shop and what you really need to keep for back-up supplies.
Lunchboxes and backpacks aren’t just for kids. Check the condition of the lunchboxes and backpacks (and tote bags, if that’s what you use) and make certain that zippers zip and other features are in working condition. If the item(s) needs to be aired out, hang it up. If the item doesn’t get used or it has been replaced, clear out the items you don’t need.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate a snack that you are eating only because you are bored, or you need a break.
Pull everything out of this space, wipe down the area, and then return the most useful items. Do you have cleaning items under here that could be stored elsewhere with other cleaning supplies? Are there any other items under here that belong in other places? What don’t you need to keep
Consider how many laundry baskets and hampers you need for shuttling dirty clothing to the washing machine.
Do you have some laundry baskets that have become catch-alls for stuff that needs to be put away? If you walk through your home with this basket at the end of the day putting away items, great. If there’s a layer of dust on the items because they never get put away, consider that both the basket and its contents may be unnecessary.
If the basket is broken or cracked, you may still be able to use it, but clothing may get snagged and damaged.
I heard the story of a woman who put multiple hampers in her bedroom, bathroom, and closet to encourage her husband to toss his dirty clothes in a hamper instead of on the floor. Alas, he did not develop a new habit.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Take an item off your to-do list. Either do a brief activity or cross something off your list that’s been there for more than 6-months (and that you are realizing you won’t just do)
Did you get a new vacuum but held onto the old one ‘just in case?’ Do you make use of that old vacuum? If not, let it go. Remember, you replaced it for a reason.
“Vacuum” included your home vacuum, the shop vac, a handheld vacuum, or the vac for your car. If you’ve replaced an item or you just don’t use it, trash it or donate it.
For good measure, do you have a rug cleaner because you thought you should own one, but you never use it? Is it worth the space it takes up?
If this task doesn’t apply to you … use your 15-minutes of decluttering to get rid of three-to-five horrible photographs (print or digital).
Even reusable cleaning cloths that you pop in the washing machine can become thin, grimy, or frayed and make the task of cleaning more difficult.
As for disposable cleaning cloths … including paper towels … did you get caught up in sales and coupons and now you realize you have a year’s worth of supplies tucked into various locations in your home?
Look through your cleaning cabinet and that shelf out in the garage or down the basement where you store paper towel and disposable dust cloths and disinfecting wipes. Gather it all together so you can inventory what you have.
Think about how often you use these items and do a bit of math to see how long it will be before you run out. You don’t have to get rid of anything, (unless you have a year supply and want to share it) but keep these supplies together and make a point of not buying any more until you’ve nearly run out. Tell anyone else in your house who shops that even if the items are on sale, it will still be a waste of money purchasing what you don’t need.
I am guilty of using sponges until they are falling apart or stained with grime or tomato sauce. If you use sponges, upgrade to some new ones. Or, consider switching to dishcloths and cleaning cloths that you can throw in the washing machine.
If you use makeup sponges … or natural sponges for artwork, check out their condition as well.
Only if this doesn’t apply to you: Delete 3-to-5 emails that you’ve been holding onto for more than a year.
Do you keep your cleaning supplies together, so you don’t lose track of what you already have? If not, gather all these supplies and group them by type. Are there some containers that are nearly empty? Can you use up the remaining contents in the next couple weeks or is it time to dispose of the container?
Avoid combining bits from different bottles unless it is the same product from the same manufacturer.
If you have full or nearly full supplies that are duplicates, consider asking your neighbors or coworkers if they’d find these supplies useful during their spring cleaning.
Or, make a point of using what you have. Store similar products together. Keep your supplies in one place. Don’t buy something because it is on sale (and you have a coupon!), if you already have that type of cleaner at home.
Cleaning supplies last. Use up what you have.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.