USA TODAY US Edition
Spring into spring cleaning, a little at a time
Spring cleaning? Wasn’t that some ancient ritual that involved wall scrubbing, rug beating and a week-long purge of closets and drawers? Who has that kind of time? But if you have five minutes here and 10 minutes there, you could, over the course of an early spring week, clear a lot of clutter and cobwebs from your home and your head. Here are five ways:
1 Bag it. Cleaning out your entire bathroom might be a big job. But your makeup bag or grooming kit? You can tackle that. Take everything out of this bag and throw away the stuff you will never or should never use again — including the lipstick that makes you look scary, the face cream with the odd odor and the expired sunscreen. Be especially suspicious of old mascara: It can harbor bacteria and cause eye infections, so manufacturers usually recommend discarding it after two to four months.
2 Chill out. Since most modern freezers defrost automatically, we’re spared the big chore of routinely emptying and de-icing them. And old food in the freezer doesn’t stink or grow mold. If eaten, it will not kill you. But that doesn’t make it good. So see what you have in there: Last year’s lasagna and those Christmas cookies circa 2007 are past their prime. See suggested storage times at www.fsis.usda.gov/ factsheets/focus _on_freezing. 3 Capture and release winter wardrobe rejects. Sure, sometime before June, you may carefully store away the sweaters, coats, mittens and boots you’ll be delighted to find again next December. But in 10 honest minutes, you could find and bag up a few items that somehow never made it out of your drawers and closets this winter — and get them out of the house, into your car trunk and on the way to an appropriate charity store or drop-off box. (You may keep one cozy, ratty sweater for chilly-evening home use.)
4 Wash one window. Window-washing has a reputation for drudgery. So do just one — and see if it doesn’t inspire you to keep going. Use a spray bottle of equal parts water and vinegar and wipe with newspapers or a microfiber cloth. To see streaks more clearly, clean on a cloudy day.
5 Make the call. The clutter in your house no doubt pales in comparison with the clutter in your head, especially if you are harboring a mental to-do list of niggling little tasks. At least one of those is probably a brief phone call — to schedule a colonoscopy, a visit with your tax preparer, your annual termite inspection or some equally unfun task. Make that call today and you’ll hang up feeling as accomplished as your great-grandmother did when she beat that last plume of dust out of the parlor rug.