This is a guest post by Emily Folk
Decluttering your space makes life feel like a new start, whether you’ve moved into a new home or have lived at your current residence for years. A blank slate frees up the rest of your time and attention to focus on what matters to you that’s the heart of leading a minimalist lifestyle.
Cultivate healthy habits that enrich your life and make it feel less complicated. The perfect place to start is with decluttering and detoxifying your cleaning routine in a way that works with and for your life — not against it.
Get to Know Your Inner Cleaner
Guilty of procrastination over picking up, or do you obsess over every nook and cranny when scrubbing away? Found a happy balance yet? Most people tackle cleaning in bite-sized sections while others make it a marathon.
Sometimes the best bet is the middle road. Give yourself small maintenance tasks to tackle during the week, such as washing the dishes or taking out the trash. Save the weekend or a weekend day to tackle the whole house or a particular floor.
What does your inner cleaner say is best, and how can you negotiate to cultivate better habits? The job will get done when you do it in a way that works best for you.
Start High, End Low
It feels easier to pick a random surface and scrub it, but you end up creating more work for yourself. Don’t do that.
Start higher up and work your way down. For example, dust out the cabinets and scrub the grime off all the counters in the kitchen, knocking the pieces of food on the floor. You’ll sweep and mop it up. You’ve saved time and can redirect your energy into waging war on the nooks and crannies, instead of tracking a stray crumb like an assassin on assignment.
Get rid of the bleach and blue dye glass cleaner. Your pantry holds natural cleaning products that won’t leave the toxic chemical smells and potential burns that can result from cleaning. Expose your family to safer cleaning methods:
- Use a salt and baking soda paste to clean out the grime between tiles.
- Leave the same paste in your oven overnight and give it a grub scrub the next day with hot water. Vinegar adds that middle school volcano science action into the mix for super greasy, grimy scrubbing efforts.
- Use diluted vinegar and newspaper for streak-free window and mirror cleaning. Just use the newspaper like you would normal paper towels, minus the annoyance.
- Some people add a drop of dish soap to clear waxy build up.
- A little dish soap and vinegar go a long way to a sanitized floor, while baking soda will get the floor grime free.
- Include a squeeze of lemon for antibacterial properties into most of these mixes and get a fresh scent without the chemicals.
- Use natural cleaning products from your pantry to save you time, money and space. It’ll also improve your health since you’re not exposed to toxic chemicals for prolonged periods.
Waste vs. Needs and Keepsakes
Get real with your clutter and yourself. You don’t need most of this junk. Choose your weapons of dispense such as plastic containers, cardboard boxes, trash bags or a mix.
Go drawer to drawer, room by room. Hold the object in hand and decide if it’s waste or fulfills a need. In the last two years, honestly, how often have you used it? Is it an heirloom?
Can it be repurposed and will you make an effort? With enough effort, some families move toward zero-waste by following five rules — refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot, in that particular order. Can you start small? Answer wisely, or you’ll keep enabling yourself as a waste hoarder.
Recycle and donate what you can. Get a friend to help haul things off if you’re too attached. If you need more time, stow a few items away, and if you don’t miss them after three months — let them go. Don’t forget to return borrowed items to friends and family, and refuse to store items that belong to others, within reason.
Move Toward a Minimalist Lifestyle
Decluttering and detoxifying your cleaning routine frees up time and space to focus on what holds meaning in your life. When you move toward a minimalist lifestyle, you’re not as dependent on the whims of wants and understand more about your true needs.
Work with your cleaning style, and go minimalist to motivate growth and healthy habits in your life.
Emily is a sustainability blogger who has been in the process of decluttering in order to live a simpler and eco-friendly lifestyle. You can read more of her work on her blog Conservation Folks.
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