April 2013

Spring Cleaning- Clean as a Whistle

Author:  Kitty Bartell

Like learning a new language, little victories can motivate you to improve. Last month you victoriously and accurately ordered the cheese you actually wanted from the French woman at your local wine and cheese shop without a disapproving tisk-tisk. Now you want to be ready for your first visit to Paris, and not find yourself looking into a bowl of clams when you thought you had ordered scallops at Café Frou Frou.

Making improvements in your life can begin with small victories, and spring, the season of renewal, is the perfect time to launch your own personal self-improvement campaign, beginning with spring cleaning. There’s none of that New Year’s resolution pressure to improve yourself after an indulgent month of holiday revelry, no self-inflicted abstinence from chocolate, and spring cleaning provides mini-victories to encourage you along the way as one project after another is completed on the journey to a better you!

I witnessed a most-impressive display of spring cleaning when my husband, daughter, and I moved out of our rental home in South Africa. The day after we moved out the new renters, a family from Denmark, moved in and promptly hauled every piece of furniture, all the beds, every rug, table, chair, dish, pot and pan to the front lawn of the home so that they could deep clean every nook and cranny of the interior. They were scary-serious spring cleaners.

I’m not suggesting such dramatics to get your life in order, but a few spring cleaning projects just may change your outlook, and give you a little extra time to breathe deeply and enjoy whatever it is you long to do. Begin with the mind-set that there are some things you will come across in your home that should be thrown away. The horror! If you are one of those people who believe everything will “someday” serve a purpose, you may want to enlist the help of a family member, a friend, or even a professional organizer. Warning: Family and friends will be less equipped to meet your “collecting” rationale head-on; a professional will handle your possessions and you, literally, with kid gloves, all while being brutally honest about cleaning out the clutter.

The benefits of a hiring a professional organizer have been well-established; however, whether you choose to go it alone or enlist professional or non-professional assistance, the “green” approach to spring cleaning will require a list of resources where the treasures you choose to move along may be repurposed, recycled, sold, or donated, and not simply dumped in the local landfill.

You have already done the hard work of sorting, organizing, and making decisions to part with some of your “stuff.” Hopefully your closet is now home only to clothing, shoes, and accessories that actually fit you today and do not smack of another era.

Over a dozen consignment shops on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton are the perfect partners to do the rest of the work for you and make you a profit in the process. To successfully navigate selling through a consignment shop, make certain your items, whether furniture or clothing, are in good condition. Polish up Aunt Tilly’s armoire, make sure the clothing is clean and in good repair, and you’ll be on your way to a successful sell.

The Internet is another valuable partner in helping to sell your newly liberated treasures. The emperor of online emporiums is eBay. The place where your 1985 Holiday Barbie Doll in the original packaging may turn you profit, eBay allows you to reach millions through their online auction and fixed-price listing options. Their fees are extremely reasonable starting at $0.50 per fixed-price listing, with up to 50 free auction-style listings, where you pay a 9 percent royalty fee only if your item sells.

Craigslist.com is another online resource that rarely charges a fee for its services. This is a great place to sell a neglected ping-pong table or a mint-condition bike whose wheels haven’t been pedaled for several years.

Etsy.com is an online resource where only hand-crafted items are sold. The perfect place to make a little money from the needlepoint pillow you made for your then-boyfriend, who is now barely managing through life without you or that Nascar pillow you’ve been saving, “just in case.” Etsy.com charges $0.20 per item for a four month listing. That’s all it takes to turn a profit on a hand-made quilt or scarf that you are ready to move along.

A tag sale … a.k.a. yard sale or garage sale, may benefit every member of your household. Encourage your mate and your children to do a little spring cleaning in their collections as well; and if you want help with the work and are willing to share the profits, the kids will be even more motivated if they get to keep the proceeds from the sale of their goodies. Be sure to check with any neighborhood associations for rules and guidelines for having a sale in your neighborhood. Anything you don’t sell should be packed up and donated. You’ve already made the decision to get rid of it; don’t make the mistake of putting back in the house!

Donating is the perfect way to benefit others while spring cleaning to a better you. Thrift stores, like Hilton Head Island’s Bargain Box, Bluffton’s God’s Goods Thrift, and over 15 other charity-driven thrifts in the area do the work of selling donated items at excellent prices, with proceeds benefitting various non-profits and foundations. Make some telephone calls ahead of time to confirm that donations are being accepted, and ask if what you have to donate is currently being accepted. Be sure to get a receipt if you plan to write off your donation on your taxes.

The “cleaning” part of spring cleaning that involves dusters, sponges, mops and buckets is the cherry on top of all your hard work to get organized and efficient.

There’s nothing like the piney-clean scent of a polished wood floor, but remember the outside of your home needs attention too. Window and power washing will bring renewed sparkle to your views and remove that pesky southern green mold, delighting you each time you pull into your driveway or open the blinds on a sunny morning. You will be well-served by hiring skilled and equipped professionals for these jobs. It will save you from balancing precariously at the tippy-top of your extension ladder, and with a good choice of local professionals in the area, your budget and project needs can be easily met.

While you are on a roll, the next logical step in your move to a better you should be getting your vehicle in shape. Option number one could be to enlist the kids and provide them with a bucket, a hose, and some soap. The down side to option number one is that the result is likely to be mediocre, at best, and quite possibly you may have to do more cleaning of children and pets than the minivan needed in the first place. Like professional window washing, professional vehicle washing and detailing will serve you well. Hilton Head and Bluffton car washes and detailers have options for every need; from a quick rinse and shine, to a deep down detailing that will remove muddy footprints and Cheerio collections from minivans, or the turf and sand from a vacation convertible. It is a small price to pay for a spotless job and a break in your day where you can just sit and watch someone else do all the work; just look for the line of cars on a sunny day.

The trick to feeling a real benefit from your spring cleaning is keeping it that way. Consider hiring a maid service to help with the process. With schedule flexibility and a menu of cleaning choices, the right combination can be designed to meet your needs. Another way to help keep things in order is to move things out of your home that seem to always be in the way, but that you just cannot part with. Rental storage facilities have unit options ranging from small to gigantic, and remember to consider what you will be storing when selecting whether or not to rent from a climate-controlled facility. The storage facility staff will be able to help with the process.

Do you want to feel a little lighter to feel a little better? Spring cleaning will do that for you. To see the real benefits of the process, it needs to be more than just pushing around the furniture and cleaning the baseboards once a year. Be patient though, because the little victories you will feel along the way moving from a newly organized closet, to a spa-like bathroom, to a sparkling car will motivate you to do more and keep you getting a little better. You may even find the time to learn French and place your order at Café Frou Frou.

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