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Spring clean the Thirty-One way!

It’s that time of year again to clean out your closets, pantry, garage, basement, attic, cupboards and more to make room for new purchases and to get reacquainted with the organized, tidy household you knew last year.

While you’re deciding what to keep, donate or repurpose from your cleaning spree, we have some ideas to make the job a little easier. Just being organized can help cut down on the time it takes to actually clean and will make things much easier for you during future cleaning events.

Decisions, decisions… throw away, donate or keep and repurpose?

It’s never an easy decision, but here are some guidelines and ideas to help make it easier for you.

Don’t donate broken, damaged or unusable items

Remember that community and charity foundations are not trash dumps. Others are counting on you to donate something they can use and help them to live better.

While we recommend recycling whenever possible, according to, you should put the following items in the trash:

  • Broken toys
  • Games or puzzles with missing pieces
  • Clothing items that are torn or stained (some local charities have boxes for fabric scraps)
  • Damaged books with water stains or scribbling
  • Anything expired: food, medicine, sunscreen, makeup, coupons
  • Dried-out nail polish and paint
  • Old alkaline batteries
  • Scratched CDs
  • Old remotes
  • Rusted or broken tools
  • Dried-out art supplies

Only donate items others will find useful

Most communities are home to easy-to-find places to make donations, whether it’s international organizations like Goodwill or local shelters for the homeless, victims of abuse and those in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Most of these locations will gladly give you a receipt for tax deduction purposes.

Some items to consider for donation include:

  • Clothes hangers (return wire hangers to a dry cleaner)
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories in good, used condition
  • Towels and blankets (animal shelters can always use these)
  • Kitchen goods like cookware, dishes and utensils
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Cables and phone chargers
  • DVDs
  • Clean purses and handbags
  • Used crayons and markers (in addition to donation centres, consider daycares and churches)
  • Unused samples

If you can find a use for it, keep it

Some things might be worth keeping, even in a new capacity if you think they might still have some use. Often by repurposing something, you can save yourself some money.

Here are a few ideas for what you can keep and reuse:

  • Mismatched socks and old tee shirts make great dusting and cleaning rags
  • Old curtains can become useful paint tarps
  • Costume jewelry makes for a great crafting material
  • Old toothbrushes are great scrub brushes for cleaning small spaces
  • Plastic bags can be used to hold miscellaneous items like buttons, pins or coupons
  • Coffee cans can be used to hold nails, screws and other tools or to plant seedlings
  • Glass jars can sometimes be used as drinking glasses, paintbrush holders, vases or terrariums
Cleaning and organization tips

Now that you’ve decided what to keep, it’s time to get organized the Thirty-One way! Here are some ideas to help with your spring cleaning.

  1. For easier room-to-room scrubbing, create your own cleaning caddy to tote around the house. Put all your cleaning needs in it so you don’t have to keep running to the cupboards or closets to get something else. Include rubber gloves, sponges, rags, cleaners, a scrub brush, paper towels, a toothbrush, a squeegee and whatever else you need. The Double Duty Caddy, Small Utility Tote, All-In Organizer or Your Way® Rectangle make great options!
  2. You’ve gotta save your tax documents – personal documents up to 3 years and business documents up to 6 years – but you don’t need a big filing cabinet. A Fold N’ File®, Your Way® Cube or Your Way® Display Bin should do the trick nicely!
  3. Store all those extra pillows and blankets in large baskets or containers at the foot of the bed in your family’s bedrooms, in the family room or in the guest room. It will help de-clutter closets, beds and sofas, and provide additional comfort on an “as needed only” basis. To do it the Thirty-One way, the Stand Tall Bin or Deluxe Utility Tote are great options!
  4. If you’re out of drawer space and you need extra room to store sweaters, sweat shirts, tees or any other type of clothing, the Your Way® Cube can be your best friend. Turn the sturdy fabric bin on its side and stack folded sweaters inside. You can then stack multiple cubes on top of one another to create a shelving unit in your closet, on an open shelf, on a dresser top or anywhere you have some extra space. Use the cubes to sort your clothes however you like, too… by type, colour, etc.!
  5. Corral all the little things with the Mini Storage Bin. In the bathroom, organize toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, and hair care products. Place one in your guest bathroom and fill it with things your guests might need… cotton swabs, shaving cream, toothpaste, a spare toothbrush, shampoo, bath gel or hairspray. In the kitchen, organize your pantry and group your spices, sauces, food packets, seasonings and more!

Before you start, remember these 10 tips!

  1. Make a schedule for cleaning and stick to it. Focusing is key!
  2. Clutter adds to stress. Organize the spaces that need it the most.
  3. Be sure to clean all vents, ceiling fans and light fixtures of accumulated dust.
  4. Replace the filters for your furnace and HVAC.
  5. Don’t forget the blinds, windows and walls.
  6. Work from top to bottom. Start with the ceiling since dust will fall, then tackle the furniture and the floor last.
  7. Think green. A steam cleaner is a great tool for spring cleaning. Also, use natural ingredients like distilled vinegar, baking soda and water that don’t have harmful chemicals.
  8. Throw out all expired items like cosmetics, food and medicines.
  9. Consider a new shower curtain – or at least wash the old one and the liner!
  10. Be prepared if you have dust allergies. Wear gloves, a mask or even a scarf over your head if you suffer from skin irritations or severe asthma.