- If you live with roommates, get as many as you can together so you determine what food can stay and what can go. Remove contents from one shelf at a time, wipe up spills and check if anything has spoiled.
- Buy storage containers that are transparent and match. Transfer grains, cereal, etc. into the containers to extend their shelf life.
- Get rid of odors. Usually I find that just wiping down the refrigerator with cleaning solution will get rid of any lingering odors, but just in case, you can get baking soda or spread coffee grounds on a tray and place it inside your refrigerator for a few hours. You'll also need to mop the floor and deodorize your food disposal and trash cans.
- Sweep and mop the floor, sort dishware, and donate any kitchen gadgets or serving ware that you no longer use.
- Swap out your heavy blankets for lightweight ones. Before putting your heavy blankets in storage, wash or dry clean them to remove any stains that would otherwise sit for months.
- Remove throw pillowcases and toss them in the wash. You'd be amazed how much dirt and germs sit on throw pillows year-round.
- Move around your furniture and vacuum or sweep underneath your couch and coffee tables. Remove cushions from your couch and use a hand-held vacuum to get crumbs out of the crevices.
- Clean all wooden surfaces, baseboards, and windows.
- Turn over your mattress to distribute the wear evenly.
- Replace your sheets and blankets with lightweight options and store your linens by slipping the fitted sheet and flat sheet into the pillowcase.
- Wash your pillow. Even if your pillow is made of down, you can generally still machine wash it. You'll get rid of any lingering bacteria and odors.
- Go through all your cosmetics and beauty products (shampoo, nail polish, lotion, soap). Honestly evaluate if you will ever use them and discard anything that is expired or not useful anymore.
- Take a look at the medications you have on hand. If anything is expired, get rid of it and make a note to replace it at the drugstore.
- Make a list of any first-aid kit items you need. Are you out of things like band-aids or aspirin? It's best to take one trip to Target and stock up than to have to run out when you're not feeling well.
- Scrub the toilet, mop the floor, and clean out the bathtub.
- Go through all your files - paper and electronic. Toss anything that you no longer need and sort everything so it's easy to organize throughout the year.
- Sort through all your books. If there are any you don't plan on reading again, give them to a friend, donate them to a shelter, or sell them at a secondhand bookstore.
- Use a computer cleaning solution to wipe down your computer monitor and spray the keyboard to remove any dust and dirt. You'll prolong the life of your computer by just removing this dirt.
- Toss any pens, markers, etc. which have dried out.
- Try every piece on and only keep clothing that fits your body and personal style, is well-made, and is appropriate for your age and lifestyle. Make sure your socks have mates, your shoes are (relatively) clean, and your clothing is folded and displayed appropriately.
- Bag everything you are going to donate and/or sell and take it that day. If you let it sit around for weeks, you'll be more inclined to put pieces back into your closet which don't belong there.
- Make a pile of clothes that you like but that need some sort of attention. Fix them that day! Even though it might seem like a large initial investment, it doesn't make any sense to wait until you need something to send it to a tailor.
Storage Rooms & Outdoor Spaces
- If you have an attic, basement, or garage, remove your stored items and honestly evaluate their usefulness. Are you holding on to some things you will never use again?
- Organize your items into weatherproof bins to protect them from flooding, heat, etc.
- Sweep and scrub all decks, patios, driveways, and walkways and wash outdoor furniture.
- Change out light bulbs in your outdoor fixtures and clean the glass.
After all that hard work, open all the windows, put some flowers in a vase, and sink into your new, cozy place. And invite some friends over!
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart