Here are some spring-cleaning tips:
Start with a plan. Consider: will this be a one-day project or will it last a week, or even a month? Can I do this myself, do I need to enlist family and friends, or pay someone?
Try these easy things first you can do by yourself:
- Clean out the medicine cabinet. Check your medications expiration dates. If the date has passed—or if you’ve been hanging on to some that you thought you might need again in the future but haven’t—it’s time to get rid of them. (Be sure to dispose of them properly.)
- Clean out the pantry. If you have a pantry where you can only see what is on the front shelf, be prepared for what is hidden behind. Ancient jelly jars, expired soups and spices—dump them all. You want to start anew by purchasing some inexpensive lazy Susan’s that can spin these products so you can see—and use—what you have.
- Clean out the refrigerator. You know the baking soda you put in your fridge to freshen up and remove odors five years ago? Throw out the ounce of parmesan cheese you were sure you would use the next time you had pasta. Do the same with the leftovers that are showing some green.
A word about downsizing to clear the clutter
Downsizing is all about making room in your home for the things that truly matter—and getting rid of anything that doesn’t. My personal rule of thumb: If I haven’t needed it, known it’s there, used it, worn it, or cleaned it in two years then I do not need it anymore.
Decide what is meaningful to you and part with the rest. You may need to start with ‘keep,’ ‘don’t need,’ and ‘maybe’ piles, but if the ‘keep’ pile grows much larger than the ‘don’t need’ pile, you may need the help of a friend or loved one to nudge you in the right direction.
Spring cleaning is a good time to re-evaluate the safety of your home
- Eliminate area rugs from rooms and hallways. They are the number one cause of falls among the elderly.
- Install grab bars in the shower and toilet area.
- Check expiration of fire extinguishers. What? You don’t have one in your home? Get one and know how to use it—now!
- Post emergency information in a very conspicuous place, such as on the refrigerator. This should include an emergency contact name and number, the name and phone number of your primary physician, a list of your most current medications, and a living will or POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) form, if you have one). Place all documents in an envelope that says "open in case of emergency" in big red letters.
When you need help with spring cleaning
- Make it a family affair! Invite any and all willing family members and friends to deep clean and de-clutter a room. Give them guidance and parameters (dust, vacuum, wash floors, etc.) and then make (or order) a great meal to celebrate a job well done.
- If you have the means and are willing to pay, the National Association of Productivity & Organizing prices range from $80 an hour to $1,000 for an entire house.
Originally posted: April 2021
Updated: March 2022