Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming, baby lambs are being born, and your home is just begging for some spring cleaning. Minimalism is in the air, too. With the rising popularity of Marie Kondo and her KonMarie method, and the less than minimal following of The Minimalists, you might be more eager to tidy up and declutter your life than you usually are. This means you’re going to need a good spring cleaning checklist.
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- Make Your Home “Spark Joy” This Spring
- What is Minimalism?
- Minimalist Spring Cleaning Dos and Don’ts
- How to Minimalize
- Spring Cleaning and Decluttering Checklist
Make Your Home “Spark Joy” This Spring
It’s difficult to know why we do spring cleaning. Theories have been offered from wanting to de-soot the house once the fireplace wasn’t needed anymore, to “shaking down the house” for Iranian new year, or even preparing for Passover or lent. Some even suggest that it might be a simple case of warmer, lighter days making us more active: the renewed vim and vigor spurring us to make our living room more livable, and our laundry room lovely.
Whatever the origins of this tradition, it’s become something of a habit in Western societies. But whether it’s spring, summer, autumn, or winter, it’s always good to give your house a good deep clean. But as well as making everything look sparkling, this is a good chance to simultaneously declutter your home and make it a minimalist oasis.
We’ll give you the lowdown on what it means to be minimalist, as well as take you step by step through the decluttering and spring cleaning process, along with some handy dos and don’ts and decluttering tips. However, if you’re really raring to go, you can skip straight to our free printable spring cleaning checklist template.
What Does it Mean to be a Minimalist?
When you think of minimalism, you wouldn’t be blamed for conjuring up images of sparse white rooms with absolutely nothing in them. Or maybe, you think a minimalist is someone who has forsaken all worldly belongings to live out of a rucksack in a hut deep in the woods.
Whilst these are both ways people can practice minimalism, you’ll be happy to know that the essence of minimalism is far less drastic and much simpler and easy to incorporate into your life. The fundamental mantra is simple:
Does an item add value to your life?
It not, remove it from your life.
Every form of minimalism stems from this. Even Marie Kondo’s question of whether something “sparks joy” is just an extra layer, angle, and philosophy to whether something should be kept, or thrown out.
So, you needn’t fear that this year’s spring clean will turn your life upside and into a maelstrom of drama worthy of an Oscar-winning film: unless that’s actually what you want. Giving your home a minimalist decluttering can simply help you shed things you don’t need, don’t add value, and don’t “spark joy”: nothing more.
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Minimalist Spring Cleaning Dos and Don’ts
Check to see where you can donate things – decluttering needn’t mean creating waste. Many of the items you might be saying “goodbye” to may be able to be used by other people. Before you start your decluttering and spring cleaning, check for thrift stores, charity shops, food banks, and soup kitchens that may be in need of your excess. Even see if you have any friends or family that could take your unwanted items off your hands.
Check your recycling facilities – environmental issues are hot topics these days. When you’re shifting a lot of unnecessary items, it’s easiest to just put them straight into the garbage and let it be the landfill’s problem. But ensuring things are recycled means you’re doing your bit for the planet. As well as sorting out your paper and empty cans, be sure to check what kinds of plastic are able to be recycled in your area. Also, check where electrical waste can be taken. That old cell phone or that second hair dryer can actually be put to better, greener use.
Consider selling your unwanted items – if you’re not in the position to run for “Philanthropist of the Year” there’s no shame in trying to make a bit of money out of your excess items. Consider selling them online on auction sites like eBay, classified listing pages like Craigslist or Gumtree, or even just have yourself a good old fashion car boot, jumble, or yard sale. It’s much more environmentally friendly than just chucking them out, and you can pocket a pretty penny or two in the process.
Involve friends and family – spring cleaning and decluttering needn’t be a solo affair. You can make it more fun and speed up the process by involving those nearest and dearest to you. You could certainly organize a “packing party” to achieve this. If you’re thinking of implementing a new regime to keep your house clutter free for as long as possible, then certainly get the entire family on board so they can develop these newfound habits along with you.
Rush – spring cleaning and decluttering takes time. It’s why a lot of people usually do it over spring break or the Easter weekend. Rushing things will not only lead to you being stressed and frustrated but will also make it more likely that you make bad decisions on what you should keep or get rid of. So, be prepared for things to take a while, and don’t expect things to be over before they even get started.
Panic – sometimes decluttering can create a lot of mess before you’re free from it. This is especially true if you’re using a method of plonking everything of a certain category (clothes, paper etc) into a massive pile to sort out. This can be very intimidating. But it gives you an unprecedented look at the amount of clutter you’ve accumulated to motivate you into reducing it to something less shocking. Just take a deep breath and sort through it methodically and tenaciously. You’ll get there, and your home will be all the better for it.
How to Minimalize
Enough chatter about clutter! Roll up your sleeves and let’s get this “mother” minimalized!
Decided on What Form of Minimalism You Want to Practise
As mentioned above, there are many variants and developments on the basics of minimalism. So, before you start to declutter your home, decide on how you actually want to go about decluttering and becoming a minimalist. Will you be armed with an arsenal of Marie Kondo tips, seeking a more emotional approach to minimalism? Or will you be opting for The Minimalists’ more practical but more stoic approach?
Prepare to Clean
If you’re going to spruce up your light fixtures, ceiling fans, window sills, shower curtains, and the rest, make sure you have everything you need.
- Cleaning products – these can be of your choice. Be sure to have a spares handy in case something runs out!
- Gloves – to protect your hands from chemicals in cleaning products
- Cleaning clothes – cleaning is messy business. You certainly don’t want to get your favorite t-shirt and jeans damaged whilst spring cleaning. Therefore, make sure you have a set of clothes that you don’t mind getting a little soiled. You may even want to consider purchasing some overalls or other protective cleaning gear.
- Duster – to get rid of dust and cobwebs in hard to reach areas
- Dust cloths – for wiping down and cleaning surfaces once you’ve decluttered them
- Dust mask – even if you’re not allergic to dust, this can help you keep your lungs dust-free and reduce sneezing
- Bags – you’re going to need plenty for trash and recycling. Be sure to spend a bit extra on heavy duty bags, especially as these might get quite full. Cheap bags tend to break easily meaning you end up using more because you can’t put as much in them.
Prepare to Store
Once you’ve sorted out your clutter, you’re going to need things to organize and store your chosen belongings. If you’re not keen on going out and buying new storage containers before starting the process, look for things around the house that you could use temporarily to store things, like shoeboxes. Then, once you know much stuff you’re going to hold on to, you can shop for storage solutions accordingly.
- Large clear containers – these are great because not only are they roomy and stackable, but you can also easily see what’s inside them. This will make it easy to find out what you do and don’t have once you’ve tidied them away.
- Small boxes – these will help you to group and categorize smaller items, making the categories easy to determine. Also, this will make things within these categories easier to see.
- Folders and binders – paper clutter is a lot more insidious and rampant than you realize. Make sure you have places to put them once you’ve sorted and categorized them.
Start with the Easiest to Declutter First
It can be tempting to start with the most difficult decluttering tasks first. Get the hardest stuff out of the way, and the rest should follow, right?
Wrong. Decluttering and trying to downsize to a minimalist lifestyle is just as much as a mental affair as much as it’s also a physical purge. You’ll actually have to think a lot! For each item you come across, you need to ask yourself if it adds value to your life, and maybe if it “sparks joy”.
By starting with the easiest decisions to make, you can get into the mental and emotional mode you need to make better decisions when it comes to more difficult items and areas. Do it the opposite way around and you end up making bad decisions on the hard stuff because you weren’t prepared enough, and then making bad decisions on the easy stuff because you’re tired.
The KonMarie method for sorting your home with increasing decision difficulty is a good place to start, even if you don’t want to implement her philosophy and approach as a whole.
- Miscellany (inc. kitchen)
- Sentimental objects
Develop Your Upkeep Plan
You got rid of your clutter, categorized and stored the things you want to keep. Congratulations. You’ve achieved your new minimalist lifestyle. But now you have to try and maintain it. So, make sure you have a plan about how you’re going to go about doing this.
This plan shouldn’t be something hideously comprehensive and administrative. Mainly because it doesn’t have to be. It should be some ground rules to help things tick along, such as assigning everyone an area of the house that they’re responsible for, or when and how people should help upkeep the house. If it’s just you, perhaps come up with some mantras to keep yourself in the correct frame of mind. After a while, it will all become second nature.
If things do start to degrade a little, it’s good to have these rules to revise and/or reassert them. If things really relapse, don’t worry. You can take the time to go through the whole process again. Minimalism is not always easy, especially if trying to live more minimally is a huge paradigm shift for you. Just keep on going, keep on redoing, until it’s part of your day to day state of mind.
Spring Cleaning and Decluttering Checklist
Hopefully, we’ve helped you prepare and put into an action a plan to help declutter your home as part of your spring cleaning efforts. You’ll find our free printable minimalist spring cleaning checklist below, which can help you on your minimalism journey.
5 Step Decluttering Checklist
1. Decide on what form of minimalism you want to practice
2. Prepare to clean
3. Prepare to store
4. Start with the easiest to declutter first
5. Develop your upkeep plan
Do you have any other cleaning tips? Are you a fan of the KonMarie method? Have you tried to be minimalist and succeeded/failed? Let us know in the comments.