Tips for spring cleaning like a pro


Springtime: It's like New Year's without the overpriced party plans.
Instead, it's a time when people talk about "spring cleaning," shedding the unwanted and breathing new life into things.

This concept isn't limited to your house and yard, but rather can be a motivator to tackle your inbox and social media sites, to revamp your fitness plans and address other personal goals.

For me, this spring is about cleaning and decluttering my house, learning to be more judicious with my tax return (once I file it), and scheduling some more time outdoors.

"As we are expecting in July, spring cleaning is all about making space and making sure everything is in tip-top shape," said my pregnant friend, blogger and social media/marketing pro Jaclyn Stevenson of Lenox.

"We try to get a couple of tasks done each week so as not to burn out. Last weekend was moving a giant bookshelf to a new spot; this past weekend was washing clothes and linens, returning bottles and cans, and making a pile of stuff to donate," she said.

Marian Rothschild, an image consultant and author who has a maddeningly neat closet in her Boulder, Colo. home, insists that organizing your wardrobe can be "life-changing.

"People who do it can cut down a lot of stress and time spent getting ready," says Rothschild, author of "Look Good Now and Always," in a recent interview with The Denver Post.

She said in the process of editing your closet (as we tend to do in between seasons), you'll find things that are perfectly fine that you no longer wear because they don't fit, they don't suit you or you're tired of them. If those items are stylish and in good condition, you can re-purpose them in a couple of ways -- by swapping them with a friend, or maybe making a little money by reselling them in a consignment store.

Here in the Berkshires, you might even trade unused/unwanted items through a Berkshire Barter swap.

To help get you started, Rothschild recommends pulling all the items out of your closet (or your cupboard, pantry, car, garage, shed etc.) and putting them into three piles: to donate; to clean or repair; to consign or swap. I'd add a fourth pile for non-clothing items: Stuff that's simply trash or recycling.

Locally, you can donate clothing to church and community centers, thrift stores or for specific uses. For example, Goodwill of the Berkshires accepts professional wear and accessories like shoes and ties for its Dress for Success program to help people in the workplace. Berkshire Community Action Council is currently collecting formal and semi-formal dresses and suits to help local youths get outfitted for prom and spring dance season.

If you want to get rid of items, like extra paint or tiles or furnishings from a housing renovation project, consider donating them to the Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Pittsfield, and help keep good, useable materials out of landfills.

Need something repaired? Bring it to the monthly Repair Cafe at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield. Learn more here:

Another thing that might be worth your time is browsing your preferred app store for helpful apps to manage and track information on anything you want, be it counting calories, charting your running routine or managing to-do lists.

One of my college friends recently recommended Trello, a free web-based tool that will help you manage pretty much anything, be it band rehearsal, wedding plans or that bedroom makeover you've been thinking about since January.

Speaking of acquiring new tools, perhaps a new vacuum, a lemon-ginger scented floor cleaner or a new shelving system is the right spring cleaning incentive for you.

And when all else fails, there's always fresh air, friends and tunes, whether you're hosting a clothing swap, sprucing up the yard or sweeping up a storm.

"I open all the windows and clean everything with Clorox wipes to kill the winter germs. I also blast music and dance the germs out the windows," said former Berkshire native Rosemary Finn, now of Albany, N.Y. "Dancing is a necessary step!"

Materials from the Denver Post were used in this story.

Materials from the Denver Post were used in this story.


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