Decluttering wardrobe as part of spring cleaning routine.

Spring Cleaning: Good for Your Home and Your Health

Finding time to clean and declutter can not only make a big difference inside your house or apartment, but it can also help you manage stress and feel happier in your space.

As the winter months end and we transition into warmer weather, many of us get the urge to open the windows, let in the fresh air and clean out the clutter that’s piled up in the last year – giving our homes a good spring cleaning.

But it can be overwhelming to think about how to get started. Maybe you’ve got old papers and bills piled up around the house, dust collecting on your tables, or clothes overflowing in your closets. Regardless, finding time to clean and declutter can not only make a big difference inside your house or apartment, but it can also help you manage stress and feel happier in your space.

Whether you’re ready to tackle a single closet or your entire house this spring, check out the benefits of cleaning and decluttering and some tips for how to get started.

Benefits to Your Wellness

Cleaning and decluttering mean different things to all of us. For some, having a few dishes in the sink or a couple of items out of place feels like a dirty house, whereas others are more content with some messiness. No matter how we define “clean” or “organized,” most of us can benefit from some cleaning and decluttering, giving ourselves organized and manageable spaces to live in.Young couple spring cleaning their home.

Here are some potential health benefits from spring cleaning:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety – A lot of clutter and mess can add to your stress and make you feel out of control, so cleaning and organizing can help reduce your stress and make you feel more in control when you’re at home.
  • Sharpen your focus – When it’s messy and cluttered in your house, you may have a tougher time focusing because there’s so much to distract you. You may find that you’re more productive and can stay focused on your tasks if you have a clean and organized space around you.
  • Gain happiness and confidence – When you’re able to tackle a cleaning task and complete it, it may make you feel more energized and accomplished. You may gain confidence and be more willing to have people over to your house as well. A clean and organized space may improve your mood and give you a reason to smile.
  • Be safer – Clutter can be a safety hazard. Piles of clothes or books on the floor increase your risk of falling. In addition, dust can cause allergies and asthma to act up.

Tips for Spring Cleaning

Even if you get the urge to do some spring cleaning, it can be hard to figure out how to get started. Taking a few small steps can make it feel more manageable.

  • Start small. You don’t need to tackle your entire house all at once. Think about one area at a time, such as a junk drawer or a closet, and just start there. After you’ve accomplished one area, move on. Several small tasks may be more manageable than your entire basement or storage area, for example.
  • Get prepared. Before you start dumping out drawers or pulling things out of a closet, prepare yourself to be successful. Have a bag or a place where you can put trash, items to recycle, and things to donate or sell. Have cleaning supplies on hand so you can wipe things down.
  • Start with trash and recycling. It can make a big difference to go through an area of your house and just get rid of the trash and recycling that’s piled up. This includes items that are broken, old papers you don’t need anymore, coupons that have expired and more.
  • Donate unwanted items. You may have several items you’re holding onto because there’s nothing wrong with them or because they were a gift, but if you don’t want or use an item, it can go to someone else. Donating items to charity can make you feel good, help someone in need and help you declutter your home. Someone else may be able to use that extra blender in their first kitchen. Your old work clothes may help someone else dress up for a job interview. Your box full of vases may help someone make centerpieces for their wedding.
  • Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning your place, ask for help. Maybe a family member or a friend can keep you company or help you with tough decisions on what to keep or get rid of. Someone else may have a good idea about how to organize a space that you haven’t thought of. In addition, there are certain organizations and charities that are willing to schedule pickups and may even help you remove items from your house you want to donate.
  • Get creative. If you’re having a hard time getting rid of items that hold sentimental value, think of ways to preserve some of them creatively. For example, if you have a lot of t-shirts or old baby clothes you can’t part with, consider turning them into a quilt. If you have piles of kids’ artwork around the house, take pictures of it and turn it into a photo book. If you have a lot of old birthday cards or holiday cards, go through and pick out a few to keep or display in frames or a notebook.
  • Create places or systems for your things. Think about what type of messes pile up in your house on a regular basis. Is it books or papers? Then consider clearing a shelf or using a basket to keep them organized. If it’s clothes or shoes, think about a system to keep things under control, such as removing an item every time you buy a new item.
  • Do enough to maintain your spaces. Once you clean out a drawer, closet or room of your house, do your best to keep up with the mess and clutter. Set aside a small amount of time each day – ten minutes for example – to tidy up what you see. A small amount of time can go a long way in keeping things organized and clean.
  • Do what works for you. There is no reason to let cleaning or organizing add stress to your life. If you have young kids, for example, having a picture-perfect house may not be realistic and may make your kids feel uncomfortable or uneasy while playing. Find a good balance between keeping your spaces organized and keeping your stress levels down.
  • Explore the reasons behind your mess. At some point during your spring cleaning, think about your mess. Is the mess you’ve accumulated just because you’re really busy or is it something more? Are you unable to get motivated to do simple daily cleaning tasks? Are you finding it hard to get rid of things after a messy divorce? The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several resources to help you cope with stress, deal with depression or anxiety and get your life back on track. Learn more about VA’s mental health resources and how they can help you.

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use these tips and take it one step at a time!

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