It’s my Back to Basics series today and it’s all about how to organize your home. I must be on some mission to declutter my home because I keep looking for stuff I don’t need or use. I read an article or saw something on the television that prompted my current state of mind. There was a woman talking about “stuff”, whether it’s clothes, furniture, a picture, a knick-knack or whatever. She mentioned if something no longer gives you “JOY” let it go. I really liked what she said. LET.IT.GO. Before you know it I was offering to help declutter other homes besides my own. I don’t know if there is a song called, “Let it go” or not, but I soon found myself singing that phrase. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Simple words, but so empowering to me. I really want to simplify my life.
The next thing I know a very close friend, Gary stopped by to visit us and said he had been going through his clothes because he wasn’t wearing them anymore. He told his wife about this section in his closet that if he didn’t wear any of those clothes in the next three months he was taking them to the local thrift store. You know, then someone can buy them and enjoy them at a super discounted price. I wish he was the same size as my husband because I would call him in three months since he buys top quality clothing, just saying. I heard myself singing again, “let it go.”
I understand when you look around your home and say “where do I start?” It can be overwhelming, I get it. I use a timer like this one and set it for a certain amount of time per room. Taylor Precision Products Mechanical Long Ring Timer. The timer can be set for 15 minutes for one drawer, set the timer for one hour to do your closet, etc. One of the first things you may need beforehand will be several clear 33-gallon bags for items to take to your local thrift store. I like the clear ones because you know they are not trash. Grab some 33-gallon black bags for trash or items that are broken and not useable. If you have boxes labeled, trash, thrift store or keepsakes that will work as well. If you find some keepsakes be sure and protect them, or even better, display them if they bring you “Joy”. If they are sitting in a box they may be a treasure to you, but after you pass away they may go straight to the trash. Just giving you the heads-up here.
I used to own my mortgage company and would help educate people how to get out of debt. We would go over their bank statements and talk about the various charges in front of us. If a storage unit charge popped up I would ask “you are paying $60.00 a month for that storage unit?” That’s $720.00 a year. Is the stuff inside that unit worth that much or more? Two years paying on that storage unit would be $1,440.00. Man, it better be priceless stuff! I hope you can see where I’m going here. In 99.9% of the time, my clients would say, “Wow I never thought about that!” In most cases they would have been better off selling the stuff and letting it go.
Let’s say your house payment or rent payment is $1,000.00 a month. Your square footage of said house is 1,000 square feet. That means you are paying $1.00 per square foot each month. Let’s say we have a sewing room or guest room. That room is 10 feet by 12 feet. You are paying $120.00 for that one bedroom. This isn’t bad if you use that room all the time. Now, let’s talk about a closet that is full of stuff you haven’t used in three years, maybe even five years. The closet is 3 feet by 3 feet. This means you are paying $9.00 per month to store those coats or whatever in that closet. Of course, we need to keep some stuff, but this makes us all think about some of the items we keep hanging onto, right? The formula to calculate your cost per square foot on a monthly payment basis: take the square footage of your home or apartment and divide it by your monthly payment, that’s it.
Organize Your Home
I am going to list these in alphabetical order, let’s get started. One tidbit of advice is if you have an upstairs and a downstairs, please save your money for an extra vacuum. I just stayed at my daughters and she has three floors in her home. The main floor, upstairs and basement and only one vacuum. I can tell you right now dragging that heavy vacuum up and down stairs is not fun.
I wrote a post last fall about cleaning bathrooms, so I’m going to slip that information into this post as well. Just so you know, if you have two bathrooms place these items in both bathrooms. This way you are not dragging a container with the cleaning supplies into every room of the house. I used to have four bathrooms and I had a set of these in all four bathrooms. I literally can clean my bathrooms in 10 minutes or less by keeping them clean weekly. Keep in mind, I do not have large bathrooms, but one of them has two bathroom sinks, a toilet, and a walk-in shower. The other bathroom has a tub shower combination, toilet, and one sink. I live a pretty simple life, but I love clean bathrooms. I hate to dust, but love cleaning toilets, what can I say?
11 Ways To Clean The Bathroom Quickly:
Toilet bowl cleaner: Lysol Cling Gel Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Ocean Fresh Scent, 24 Ounce (Pack of 4).
I use this product to spray under the toilet rim and let it soak as directed on the bottle. Next, I use the pumice stone shown below on my list of cleaning supplies.
Pumice stone: U. S. Pumice HDW-12 Pumie Scouring Stick (4 pack)
A few years ago I remember someone saying to me, “well won’t that pumice stone scratch the toilet bowl?” Yep, it sure will, but I would rather see a clean toilet bowl than that the brownish black stuff that won’t wash off under the toilet rim. That’s totally gross, in my opinion. So, I use elbow grease and scrub under the toilet rim with a wet pumice stone with the Lysol Cling Gel Toilet Bowl Cleaner sprayed under the rim. Now, I have never had to do this on my toilets, but if you have a rental or older toilet, you may need to do this in order to make them white again.
These wipes are what I use to wipe down the top of the toilet tank, the toilet tank, the lid, and the toilet seat. I use about 5-6 Clorox sheets per bathroom every week. I use them on the counter tops and the top rim of the bathtub. I also use these to clean the grout that may be yellowed by pee at the bottom of the toilet bowl base next to the floor. The grout can get pretty bad if not cleaned weekly. I call that ring around the toilet! I even use them on the floor.
Window cleaner: Sprayway Glass Cleaner – 6 Cans
I used to buy a popular window cleaner you see advertised all the time. Even though it said it was streak-free, my windows always had streaks. I prefer the cans listed above because they work great. Costco sells a really good brand as well. I am fussy about clean mirrors and faucets. I typically share a can or two with friends and all but one keep asking me where to buy it. I love clean windows and mirrors. I buy my glass cleaner by the case, yep 12 cans!
Shower cleaner: Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Cleaner Mega Foamer 3 Pack
This stuff cleans the shower walls really well, and I mean really well. I sometimes still have to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads with the cleaner if the stains are hard to get out. Make sure the product is safe for your shower walls.
Bathroom counter cleaner: Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner Aerosol Color Change (Pack Of 2)
This stuff cleans the bathroom counter tops really well, and I mean really well. I sometimes still have to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads with the cleaner if the stains are hard to get out. Make sure the product is safe for your counter tops.
Here’s the deal about towel racks. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to hang up their towels, whether it be hand or bath towels. Hooks work the best because they literally ensure the towels are in fact hung up to dry. No one likes to fold them into thirds to hang them on the towel bar, in my opinion. I did away with towel bars years ago. I only have towel racks with hooks in both bathrooms now.
Garbage Cans: InterDesign Kent Bathware, 10-Inch Waste Can, Bronze
If you get a nice sturdy small garbage can and use garbage bags, it makes life so much easier when you empty them. I promise. Empty them as needed. Target sells great little garbage cans that are not very expensive.
You can buy 4-gallon garbage bags at your local supermarket or online. I tie a knot in one corner and slip it over the can. They work great and keep the garbage cans clean.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner Set: Don Aslett Cleaning Center
I have one of these sets in each bathroom so they are ready to use when I clean the bathrooms on Sunday. I do not use them like the video shows. I just use the brush/wand with the cleaning solution squirted on it and swish it around the toilet bowl. Next, I squeeze the brush with the cover and get as much water as possible out of them after scrubbing the toilet bowl. Then I let it dry until the next week. Then I use the Clorox wipes to wipe down the toilet parts as indicated above. This is how I clean my bathrooms in 10 minutes every week, literally 10 minutes.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads, 8-Count Box
I use these cleaning pads to clean the bathtub and shower walls. You wet them and start scrubbing. Love it! Just so you know, these cleaning pads will remove washable chalk paint in the tubs and shower. I tried everything and this is the ONLY thing that will remove it. I also use these on rentals where the toilets have really dirty grout on the bottom of the tanks next to the floor. Yep, they work on pee stains.
I hope my 11 ways to clean the bathroom quickly help you clean your bathrooms faster and more efficiently! Here’s to saving time while cleaning the one room in the house that gets used very often! Let me know if you have any cleaning tricks I can add to this list. I love hearing new ideas.
Paper Towels: Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels, Huge Rolls, White, 12 Count are a given with me in my cleaning supplies. I have started having them delivered to my house every month. I love it because it’s one thing less I have to go to Costco to buy each month.
I am not talking about the kids bedrooms here because that’s a whole other story that will be addressed below. I love my bedroom free of clutter. I read somewhere that we shouldn’t have a TV in our bedroom. Well, I do and I love it. It’s in one of the armoire’s that you can open the doors to watch TV and then close when you’re done. I have some favorite shows that I watch before I go to sleep. I do however want all horizontal areas like the top of dressers and nightstands clean and simple. I have a lamp and a box of tissues and a remote for the TV. That’s it. Do you love to walk into your bedroom every morning, afternoon or night and feel happy because of how it looks and feels? I do make my bed up every morning. It’s who I am. My bedroom is truly my sanctuary. So really, my tips for your bedroom would be:
Make your bed every day if you aren’t already and change the sheets weekly.
Get a basket or clothes hamper for dirty clothes (if your budget allows it, buy one that is divided to store whites and darks).
Here’s the prepper in me, grab a pillowcase and make one of these: Survival Bed Pouch by Food Storage Moms.
Do office work in another room, keep your bedroom a sanctuary.
Put clutter away every night, remember this is the room you relax in.
Here’s the deal with closets, if I’m in a cleaning mood, watch out! I drag everything out and wipe down the shelves, the curtain rods and of course, the floors. I have tile in my entire house. I got rid of all the carpet in my home due to my allergies and sinus infections. Hooray! Anyway, I look over the clothes that I hope to “fit into” if I lose weight. If it’s been three months they are going to the thrift store. I want to simplify my life.
I must tell you a story about a friend that lives in my neighborhood. He was up north 350 miles away and he called me to see if I could mail his suit jacket, shirt and tie to him because a friend had died and he needed his suit for the funeral. He and his wife are our best friends here so I know the garage code to their home and they know ours. I asked him “which jacket, shirt and tie”? He said to me “I only have one jacket, one shirt, and one tie, you can’t wear more than one at a time”. I love that guy, I got the giggles because I have NEVER known anyone that only has one jacket, one shirt, and one tie. Literally. Well, it made it very easy to go find the one shirt, one jacket, and one tie in their closet to box up and overnight it to him. Note: these are his “Sunday” clothes, he has more of a selection for weekday use.
They live a simple life and I love them as friends and neighbors. It made me realize I need way less than I have in my closet. Period. I want to simplify my closets and therefore, my life.
In my master bedroom closet, I have two rows of closet rods and shelves to put baskets that hold stuff. I have nine baskets lined up filled and organized. One is for sweaters, travel stuff, dry cleaning, tennis shoes, purses/backpacks, etc. I never have to look for things because I have them organized so I can find them quickly.
I have three types of hangers:
I have some of these for shirts that may slip off the hangers: AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers – 50 Pack
I have these to hang up shorts and skirts: Hangorize Crystal Skirt/Slack Hangers, Clear, Set of 12
I use these for shirts with collars and buttons: The Great American Hanger Company Plastic Top Hangers, Clear, Box of 100
I have a small home so I store all my winter clothes and summer clothes in the same closet. However, I do cover the shoulders with these covers until the next season: Shoulder Covers (Set of 16) I live in the desert so we have a lot of dust here, so the covers help protect the shoulders of my shirts from “dust stains”.
Nowadays, very few homes have a dining room. In my kitchen/dining room, I have a table that is 48 inches by 96 inches. I can seat ten people at my table, I have a large family so I opted to start with a large table and I have never regretted that decision. I did have one cute granddaughter write with magic markers on my wood table and so within 24 hours I ordered a heavy glass top for the table that works well now for meals and crafts. And magic markers, LOL!
Over the years, I have slowly collected just about every color of napkins and tablecloths. I stack them in a cupboard according to colors so I can grab them and be ready to set my table according to the meal I am serving. There is something fabulous about “breaking bread” with friends and family, right? I have placemats as well, but with the glass top on my table it’s a lot easier to just wash napkins or a tablecloth! If I have guests I wash my cloth napkins within an hour after my family or guests leave after a meal. If I use a tablecloth I do the same thing. I use my water bottle and FelsNaptha bar to remove all stains. I iron them the next morning and fold and stack them. I want the napkins or tablecloths put away instead of just sitting there on the dryer. Obviously, I do not use cloth napkins for every meal, especially if I have over 25 people come for a meal. Life is good!
I know in my heart people love to be invited to dinner. It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy table or a card table. A big house or a small apartment. People need to eat together and laugh together. I have heard people say to me, “my house isn’t nice enough.” YES it is. I hope you invite someone in your neighborhood over for dinner this week. Let me know how it goes. I love to hear those things.
I often have people ask me where I get the plastic containers in my hall closets. You can get them at Walmart, target or wherever they sell plastic tubs. They are similar to these: Sterilite 16428012 6-Quart Storage Box, White Lid with See-Through Base, 12-Pack I throw out the lids because it’s just clutter. I measure the shelf size and spacing between them and buy the storage boxes to fit as closely as I can. I have containers for everything. I even organize all my daughters’ hall closets, if they ask me. Yes, some of them do ask me and I love it. I have containers for bars of soap, shampoo, dust cloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes (new ones for guests), hand sanitizer, vitamins, throat lozenges, various sizes of plastic baggies and so much more. I also have some with drawers similar to these: Sterilite ClearView 3 Storage Drawer Organizer
If we want our kids to keep their rooms neat and tidy and be proud of their room we need to make it easy for them and train them at the same time. If they have toys, make a shelf that’s secured to the wall so it won’t tip over on them. Every night before they go to bed they need to put their bedroom to bed. You know, by cleaning up the stuff they pulled out that day. If you can afford bins to put on those shelves that’s even better. Label the bins so the children learn where they need to return the games, stuffed animals, toys, etc.
Laundry baskets are a must have. All children need to have a place to put their dirty clothes. If you start when they are young it becomes a habit to take a dirty shirt or pants off and place it in the laundry hamper or basket. After the laundry is finished you can show them how to put their own clothes away. I suggest when the kids are little you go through their clothes at least quarterly and donate or hand down the clothes that no longer fit, are out of style or show undue wear. If they are only wearing the top five outfits every single week, ask them if there are some clothes they really do not want to wear. You don’t need to store clothes they will never wear.
Just think of all the children who could wear them NOW if you took them to the thrift store or give them to a family who could use them. You can also sell them at exchange stores and your kids can choose some gently used new clothes.
Invest in hooks for the closets when the kids are small and add another closet rod that is lower so they can learn to hang stuff up. As the child grows you can raise the hook shelf. A happy child is a proud child because they have learned to keep their room neat and tidy.
Teach the children to make their bed every day and help change the sheets weekly. You will have less sickness, I promise. Man, I love clean sheets and pillowcases!
Place a small garbage can in their room and have them empty every week, the night before garbage day is a perfect day. Here again, we are training our little ones to be working adults. We can’t do everything for them or we will still be doing stuff for them when they are 21 years old.
Now my blog is my business and that means the kitchen is my office most days. I have a very small home and therefore, a very small kitchen. But it works because I made some adjustments. This is not where I store my long term food storage, but you can see I can fill this pantry very full.
By just adding a few extra shelves to your small pantry you gain almost 50% more cupboard space, depending on how your cabinets are built. I have the pantry shown below that used to have only 5 shelves. I added two more shelves to give me more space that was not as easily usable because of the height. I only have a few tall items to store in the pantry. Plus, you can only safely stack cans two cans high. I have ten-foot ceilings so the pantry is taller than a house with 8-foot walls. The door alone is 8 feet tall. I want you to know those dimensions so you realize how I was able to add more shelving.
Plan Out The Shelves Of Your Small Pantry
Make a list of the various items you eat every day or every week. Then start measuring approximately how many shelves you can add. I measured and measured so many times then I went to a local cabinet place and had them cut the shelves. I picked up the exact size brackets that were already installed in the side walls. The holes were there so all I had to do was consider the depth of the shelves when measuring for the shelving.
There is something about having a pantry full of canned goods, honey, cocoa, canned soups, etc. I have large and small buckets with flour and sugar for everyday baking and I refill them when needed.
Add Some Shelves
I hope this idea can show you how to make more space in a small kitchen. Have you ever wondered why some cabinet makers make cabinets with so few shelves? I bought some extra shelves and I can now find stuff in the cupboards. Those pink bowls are for my granddaughters that come to visit.
Here is my other cupboard where I store my spices and bread pans. By just adding a few more shelves….I have twice the space. I realize I have way too many spices, but I love to cook…it’s who I am.
Here’s the deal with our living room or family room. If we fluff the pillows the couch looks better. Well, I decided to get rid of all my couch and chair pillows. I love going to people’s homes and they have all these beautiful pillows with fabulous colors all lined up on couches chairs or whatever. Here’s the deal with pillows, I don’t know where to sit on the couch if you have pillows. Do I move it, do I sit on them, do I put it (them) on the floor? Sometimes I just stand there in the living room because I don’t dare sit on the couch with those beautiful pillows. My pillows have gone to the local thrift store for someone else’s couch. I wish them well.
Now, I have also decided not to have a lot of knick-knacks in the living room. First of all, I do not like to dust. Period. Mark does the dusting, I set the rags out with the spray and he is happy to do the dusting in our home. Thank goodness. I have a large 18-inch wooden carved out bowl on my coffee table where we place the local ads that look good and the newspaper for the day. One thing I do before I go to bed at night is make sure the room is picked up ready to start another beautiful day tomorrow.
I hope you could use some of my tips today, please share some of your ideas on how you organize your home, I love hearing from you. Let it go, let it go, let it go. May God bless you for giving the things you no longer need to your local thrift store.