The Scariest Stuff

At #Halloween time, people love to have a little fun with the phobias that scare them. Houses get bedecked with #spectres and #spiderwebs, and children dress up in #ghoulish, #gory costumes to roam the neighborhoods’ front porches in search of free candy.

But the really #scary stuff may be INSIDE THE HOUSE. Overstuffed closets that don’t shut. Heaping toy bins. Stacks of books and papers that list under their own weight. Shelves jammed with boxes of rejects and extras. That’s right: Your house is #haunted by #clutter.

Many of the things creating the clutter may be uncomfortable to look at — clothing that no longer fits or has gone out of style, for example. It’s embarrassing to look at, so you shove it to the back of the closet and try to forget about it.

Or those extra knickknacks that didn’t find a place in your new home (and never will). Isn’t it best, you might think, to just box them up and put them on a shelf in hopes that someday they will fit in to your decor?

No! Get rid of them now, and you’ll say goodbye to those embarrassments while creating new space in your home for the things you use and love. Along the way, you’ll reduce the anxiety that having a cramped, disorganized and cluttered home can produce.

Scary Mommy says that clutter produces an ominous dread in her that’s worse than any installment of the Friday the 13th franchise. “Cleaning up clutter is not just another thing on the to-do list like packing my kids’ lunches. It’s a full-on ragey kind of panic.

“It’s the feeling that I literally can’t breathe with all the clutter that’s filling our house,” she says. “It’s a feeling that the world is a chaotic place that I can’t control, and all of that chaos is represented by the loud, unruly, angsty wreck that is my living room.”

Chaos is scary. But the #decluttering process is also scary, because it demands that you go through all of that broken, disused and extra stuff and make snap decisions about what can stay and what should go.

In the spirit of the season, resolve to face those fears. Pick a disorganized, overstuffed shelf, closet or room and begin. It may be uncomfortable, embarrassing or frightening at first, but as your space slowly gets more organized, you’ll feel the anxiety lift.

If you find anything that may still be useful to other people as you declutter, bag it up and contact ClothingDonations.org for a donation pickup. Like giving out candy, you’ll be cheered to donate something knowing that it will assist veterans year-round.

And that may just make decluttering feel like a trick and a treat. Happy Halloween!

Six More Weeks of Winter for Decluttering

The sky was overcast as Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his Western Pennsylvania burrow early Saturday morning. He “told” his Inner Circle handlers that he hadn’t seen seen his shadow, and to expect an early spring.

But the world’s most famous marmot is notoriously inaccurate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the woodchuck has zero predictive skill, and Phil’s track record has been equal to a coin toss — about 50/50 — for the last 10 years.

Whatever the groundhog says, no one north of the 35th parallel should be surprised to see wintry weather through mid-March at least. But having projects to do inside your own “burrow” while you hibernate will help make the next six weeks fly by.

This year — instead of just hoping for an early spring — make an early spring cleaning a reality. Start now by #decluttering, says The Simply Organized Home, because “There is no point in cleaning things that you don’t need, use or love.”

Put away or donate any winter-themed knickknacks and decorative items. With those out of the way and the junk you don’t want boxed and bagged for a #donation pickup from ClothingDonations.org, you can get to work on a deep-clean.

Start with the entryways, a checklist from Premeditated Leftovers says. Sweep, mop, and wipe down all surfaces. Empty the front closet to clean and store heavy sweaters and winter coats as the weather warms, or #donate them if they didn’t see any use over the winter.

Clean seldom-considered areas including as sliding door tracks, dryer vents, behind appliances, and the tops of baseboards and picture frames. Pressure-wash the patio and scrub your outdoor furniture and grill so you’re ready to enjoy warmer weather.

If you’re feeling ambitious (or empowered by your initial success), repeat the decluttering/deep-cleaning process in every room of the home, one by one. By the time temperatures reach the 60s and 70s again, your home will be streamlined and sanitized.

When you finally emerge from hibernation to see your shadow, you will no longer be encumbered by useless stuff and your home will feel fresh. And you’ll be ready to make the most of the spring and summer seasons.

Controlling Santa’s Christmas Clutter

After all of the shopping, cooking and party planning, Christmas is finally here. It’s time to tear into those gifts and feast on your favorite foods. But along with all of this bounty, Santa (and probably Amazon, too) has delivered a lot of packaging, wrap and other detritus that you’ll want to keep in check as you celebrate the season.

First, you’ll want to have a garbage bag or bin near the tree to collect all of the gift wrap that’s torn-into at this year’s gift unveiling. Americans consume about 4 million pounds of gift wrap every year, or about 333 million square feet — enough to cover more than 5,000 football fields! Collect and recycle it quickly as it gets shred and tossed aside to keep your home clean.

Shopping for all of those gifts undoubtedly produced a lot of empty, utilitarian boxes and bags. If you’re hosting, keep a few of these handy for people to put their new things in to take home after the Christmas party, and recycle the rest. Integrating new stuff is difficult enough; getting it to where it ultimately needs to go shouldn’t be a hassle, too.

The larger the group, the more work prepping and cleaning up from a meal will be. Don’t be shy about assigning tasks before you serve the big feast so that it’s clear who will be setting the table, wrangling the kids, clearing the table, and washing and drying the dishes, flatware and pots and pans. Cut the chaos before it starts!

When you’re done with the holiday, be sure to pack anything you want to keep for next year sensibly, I Love My Disorganized Life says. Purge ornaments you don’t like as you pack them, box your artificial tree with all of its accessories, and — if you’re feeling really ambitious — post printed packing lists on the exterior of all storage boxes.

“When you head into the post-Christmas cleanup with a plan, it is much easier to tackle the mess head-on,” the blog says. “Making sure you are systematic and organized doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time now, and the payoff when you can easily find everything next year is worth it!”

If you find lightly-used holiday decorations that you don’t use or want as you purge, set them aside in a separate donation box and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup so that they might bring others joy in the years to come. Your donation will also bring innumerable gifts to the nation’s veterans all year long. Happy Holidays from The Organizing Blog and ClothingDonations.org!

Keep Your Car Clean the Lazy Way

If you’re too lazy to clean your car on a regular basis but still hate the mess, Jalopnik says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. First, don’t eat in your car so that trash and stains never get the chance to build up inside. Don’t let kids inside your car, and if you must, be vigilant against the spills and trash they can bring. Waxing and garaging a vehicle reduces the need for exterior washes, and having a trash bag handy inside can keep detritus to a minimum. Finally, each time you exit the car, take something with you; whether it’s a piece of trash or something useful that shouldn’t be in the car anyway, it will help keep the car’s interior clean and clutter-free.

Getting Started on Your Garage Sale

Having a garage, tag or yard sale is one of the best ways to get rid of the clutter and make a few extra bucks at the same time. Start by going through the house room by room and sorting everything into keep, sell and donate piles, advises the Wholefully blog. As you complete each room, price everything in the sell pile and move it to a staging area for the big day. Then, contact ClothingDonations.org to make an appointment (or two) to pick up the extra stuff you want to donate, and whatever stuff doesn’t sell.