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How to Tackle Spring Cleaning, Part 1

How to Tackle Spring Cleaning, Part 1

Springtime, the great season of rebirth and renewal, is the perfect time to throw the windows open and do some spring cleaning. If you’re feeling a bit lost about where to start, hopefully this guide will give you some ideas.

The Kitchen

cleaning the kitchen

    Unless you’ve been living like a completely slovenly swine, this should be a sizeable, but not impossible job to tackle.

    1. Follow the same protocol as with the bathroom in part 2 of this hack: empty out all cupboards, cabinets, and drawers, laying everything out in another room. Then wash the ceiling and walls the same way as you did in the washroom, making sure you also scrub behind the fridge and stove. Keep a pillow handy in case you need to scream into it.

    2. Clean your fridge. There are no items inside your fridge that will go bad in the few minutes it’ll take you to scrub inside it, but leave those in the cold until the very last minute. Get your bucket of soapy water handy (use dish soap for this!), and after emptying the fridge completely, wash it all down thoroughly. You can take out the shelves and vegetable drawers to hose down in the yard if you need to, but put things like dairy products, eggs, and meat back in before doing anything else. Check the expiry dates of all items before returning them to the fridge, and throw out whatever’s past its prime.

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    3. Open a fresh box of baking soda and place it on one of the door shelves to absorb odours. If you had an old box of baking soda in there beforehand, toss it out. Don’t smell it first.

    4.This is your chance to organize your fridge a bit better. Keep in mind that the top shelf and the door are the warmest spots in there, so arrange things accordingly. The coldest place in your fridge is the middle drawer, so that’s where you want to keep animal products (meat, dairy, eggs). Keep raw food and cooked food separate, and don’t over-stuff your fridge! Leave room for cold air to circulate.

    Note: Always store cooked (i.e. ready-to-eat) food above raw food like unprepared meat, just in case any liquids are leaked from the raw ingredients onto the pre-prepared foods.

    5. Store fruit and vegetables separately. You can store most vegetables in the crisper drawers at the bottom of the fridge, but harder fruits and veg like carrots and apples can be stored at the top of the shelf.

    6. Use the fridge door shelves for drinks (other than milk), condiments, preserves, and pre-made snacks.

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    If you find that your fridge is getting crowded, consider packing things into stack-able plastic or glass containers: this will keep things nicely organized, and will free up space inside the fridge as well. Consider investing in a fridge thermometer so you can be sure that the interior temperature remains at 40°F (4°C).

    7. Clear out all the cupboards/pantry, and wash down each shelf with vinegar-water. Wipe down every can, jar, box, and other container before putting it back in tidily. If you find that you have too many bags or boxes of dry goods flopping about, transfer their contents to empty jars or plastic containers that can be stacked neatly and keep contents from spilling, or being eaten by insects.

    8. Empty out all the drawers, wash your cutlery container, and wipe down the insides of each drawer before putting anything back into them. Consider lining them with wallpaper or drawer-liners if you’d like to “pretty them up” a bit. Donate any items you’ll never use again (avocado slicer? really?) and keep the tools you use most often within easiest reach.

    9. Clean your stove-top and oven. Scour the top of the stove with baking soda and a bit of dish soap, and wipe clean with a wet cloth. Avoid toxic oven cleaners and just clean it yourself with baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and some steel wool.

    Living Room/Office

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    vacuuming

      These rooms tend to be smaller jobs, as they’re really only used for the sole purpose of work, or relaxation. If your living room pulls double-duty as a kid’s play area, however, there might be a bit more to tackle.

      1. Clear it all out. With the exception of moving all of your furniture out into the hallway, grab boxes and bags and haul all the miscellaneous “stuff” into other rooms.

      2. Wash down the walls, dust all the furniture (polish any wooden pieces while you’re at it), and then vacuum/wash the floor.

      3. This is your opportunity to determine whether you need additional storage. If you found that you had miscellaneous “stuff” scattered around everywhere, you can take some time to organize things more efficiently. If you’re on a tight budget, check Craigslist, Kijiji, and Freecycle for things like bookshelves, baskets, trunks, and other storage solutions. For living rooms, you can designate 2 lower bookshelves for kid-stuff storage, and in offices, adding shelves for storage containers lifts things off the floor and into its proper place.

      4. Before you put things away, evaluate whether you really need them, and if they need to be kept around. Holding onto a pack of business cards from a job you held 5 years ago is wholly unnecessary, and why would you keep disposable pens once they’ve run out of ink? Toss them.

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      5. If your living room is the place where you store your entertainment equipment, go through all of that to see what you still love, and what you’re happy to be rid of. Tastes change over time, and if you’re never going to listen to that Nickelback or Macy Gray CD again, pop it into the “donation” bin. Same goes for DVDs, console games, books, and magazines.

      6. Freshen your upholstery with a little TLC to get it back into great shape. If your fabric couches and chairs are really filthy, rent a steam cleaner from the supermarket and give them a once-over to make them look their best. You can brush microsuede and condition leather furniture, and a spritz bottle of homemade Febreeze* on fabric upholstery can leave everything smelling fresh and lovely.

      *You can make your own with a couple of cups of water, some vinegar, and essential oil.

      7. Wash curtains and drapes to eliminate dust and odours, and wipe down windows with vinegar and water. Drying them with newspaper will bring them to a startling, crystalline shine. If you have vertical blinds, hang your head in shame, take them down, and put up some curtains.

      8. This is a good time to switch around artwork on the walls, or to get some new pieces up as a chance of scenery. Consider some framed prints, or even postcards and small items you can create a collage with for interesting effects.

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      Catherine Winter

      Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

      Boundaries are limits

      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
      • When do you feel disrespected?
      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
      • When do you want to be alone?
      • How much space do you need?

      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

      Sample language:

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      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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      Final Thoughts

      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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