Clean Closets Make a Happy Home
(Family Features)—When it comes to getting the house clean and tidy, closets often get left off the to-do list. From hall closets and linen closets to bedroom closets, "out of sight, out of mind" thinking quickly leads to clutter -- and then frustration when you can't find what you need when you need it.
But a little planning and a few simple tips can help you get your closets in user-friendly shape in no time.
Put your closets on your calendar. Take stock of your schedule and commit some time to tackle your closets. Set realistic expectations -- you don't have to conquer all your closets at once. It may make sense for your family to forego TV one evening a week and focus on one closet at a time, for example.
Start by sorting.
- If you haven't worn a piece of clothing in the past year -- or you can't remember the last time you wore something -- then you don't need it. Other items to purge from your closet: children's clothes and shoes that are either too small or too worn out to pass down to a sibling or a friend.
- Sort your remaining clothes by season and then into piles to keep or pass down. If you have limited closet space, keep only the current season's wardrobe in your closet. Carefully pack and store the rest for later.
- Linen closets stay more organized when you stack similar sized items together. Sort sheets by size, and group washcloths, hand towels and bath towels together.
- For closets that hold everything from the vacuum cleaner to art supplies and anything in between, work one shelf at a time. Sort items by categories and dedicate one shelf or area of the closet to each group.
Eliminate excess -- but don't throw it away. As the saying goes, one man's trash is another's treasure. There are easy ways to donate your unwanted items to benefit those in need. One example is DonateStuff.com, where you can request pre-paid UPS shipping bags that make it simple and free to send in unwanted clothes, shoes, accessories and household linens. Your donation benefits one of three national nonprofits of your choosing: AMVETS, Easter Seals, or The Purple Heart. It's tax deductible, and it reduces waste. Americans throw away an average of 68 pounds of clothing each year. You can learn more at www.donatestuff.com.
Green up your storage. When it's time to put things back into place, instead of buying new containers to hold things, look around the house for boxes and containers you already heave. Baskets, crates and even empty shoeboxes can be reused to keep your closets more organized.
Repeat often. You don't have to wait until the next neighborhood yard sale before you sift through your closets again. As with most household chores, a little maintenance goes a long way to keep your closets looking neat and clean. You could even keep a bag in each of your kids' closets and encourage them to set aside gently used and outgrown items on a regular basis.
You'll be amazed at how much happier clean closets can make the whole house feel -- especially when you turn the stuff you don't need into a good deed.