The Summer Guide To Decluttering Your Home And Life

The Summer Guide To Decluttering

Your Home And Life

Summer is here, and that means more time in your AC-ed apartment, away from the sweltering heat. We want your refuge to be as comfortable and uncluttered as possible, so here’s a guide to everything you need to know about cleaning every bit of your space, so you are ready for a beautiful and productive summer.

Remove clutter

“The main issue with small spaces is clutter; even if your home is spotless, it won’t look clean if it’s untidy and disorganized. Your first step should be decluttering items that are old, broken or you don’t use anymore. Getting rid of just a handful of belongings will free up space, creating a larger, brighter-looking room. If you’re decluttering your closet, you’ll be amazed at the space that’s been freed up for other items! If you’re looking to spend some cash, it’s a good idea to invest in multi-functional furniture that provides additional storage. You will be able to store items away neatly, making your space look cleaner and more organized. This will also make dusting easier – the less stuff on show, the better!” – Nicola Croughan, Interior Designer at Blinds Direct.

Think of everything as a storage container

Maximize the storing abilities of your space by using every possible option. “Insert drawers underneath your bed and furnishings, use the inside of ottomans, place baskets over the kitchen cabinets, etc. Also, see if the inside of your wardrobe door can take some items and use it,” says Harriet Jones, a former cleaner, currently cleaning and organizing expert for Go Cleaners London.

Work your way from high to low

Many people’s idea of cleaning is to start ripping the house apart. You need a plan. “Start from the highest point of a room and work your way down. In other words, start by cleaning fans, crown molding and walls, and then work your way down to the furniture, baseboards and floors. The floors should always be the last part of a room that you clean because this allows dirt and dust to naturally fall to the ground and then you can vacuum and mop it up,” says Samantha DeBianchi, founder of DeBianchi Real Estate and the first woman to star on Bravo’s hit TV show Million Dollar Listing Miami

Removing Soap Scum Fast

Soap scum is another bathroom maintenance problem, but with the right solution, your chrome no longer needs to look dingy. “The easiest way to break down soap scum is to simply scrub the fixtures with a dryer sheet. Whether the dryer sheet is used or unused, they should start cleaning immediately. Another option is to try putting a small amount of cooking spray on the fixture. However, look for plain cooking spray options that don’t have a lot of add-ins. Coat the chrome fixture in your cooking spray and then wipe it clean with a gentle cloth,” says Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

Clean out your closet
"By curating mix and match, versatile, and well-made pieces, you can reduce clutter and decision fatigue in the morning."

Consider creating a capsule wardrobe. This is a collection of 30-40 items that serve as your sole wardrobe for a whole season. “By curating mix and match, versatile, and well-made pieces, you can reduce clutter and decision fatigue in the morning. It allows you to spend more time pursuing your interests versus staring at a closet overstuffed with clothes!” says Sara Weinreb, Founder of IMBY. This is particularly helpful for entrepreneurs who have way more important things to do than to waste their time and willpower getting dressed in the morning.

Change your storing perception and go upwards

Use your walls to hang shelves and store your books there. “Mount a bulletin or magnetic board to display reminders, shopping lists, etc. If possible, insert a pantry shelf near the refrigerator. Once everything has its place, the kitchen countertops and other surfaces will be free and the visual clutter dramatically reduced,” says Jones.

Smaller tools mean more space for you

When choosing your kitchen appliances, make their size the first criteria you consider. “Make sure you actually need those appliances – why would you have a bread baking machine if you always buy baguettes? Consider buying the smallest versions of the appliances you actually use in your daily routine,” says Jones.

Divide your kitchen into zones

To keep everything in order in your kitchen, divide the room into different zones – food storage, meal preparation, cooking, cleaning, and a zone to store your dishes and cutlery. “Store your items depending on the zone and time you need them. If you bake a lot, consider dedicating a zone for that,” says Jones.

"To keep everything in order in your kitchen, divide the room into different zones – food storage, meal preparation, cooking, cleaning, and a zone to store your dishes and cutlery."
For the serious summer cleaner

If you have the time, patience and stamina to do it, the best and most thorough way to summer clean is to empty the contents of a room entirely. “That means absolutely everything gets taken out of the room and you do a complete scrub down of the walls, floors and ceiling, and then a complete wipe down of everything before you put it back in the room. This is the only way to make sure you get rid of all the dirt, dust and other nasty items,” says DeBianchi.

Cleaning Your Oven

Many kitchen fires are started from a greasy oven. “An easy way to clean your oven and avoid this danger: sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven then spritz it with water from a spray bottle. Let it sit overnight and then remove it easily in the morning with a damp sponge,” says Valerie Stewart, owner of Mr. Appliance of Littleton.

Cleaning Glass Shower Doors

If you’re looking for a DIY solution to clean your glass shower doors, mix one cup of warm vinegar with one cup of a dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. “Then, spray the mixture directly onto the door and wipe with a soft sponge. If there is any residue left on the glass, use a glass cleaner to give the doors a final wipe,” says Larry Patterson, owner of Glass Doctor of Dallas, Texas.

Use All Available Space

When you live in a small space, it is extremely important to use all available space. “With limited space, you have to get creative and create your own storage. Incorporate shelves, hooks, etc. so you have ample ways to stay neat and organized,” says Christina Giaquinto, Organizing Expert.

Start with closets first

“I’ve seen many people attack a room and get it looking spotless. Then they start emptying their closet and make a huge mess in that room they just spent hours cleaning. Start with the closets and get them clean first,” says DeBianchi. “Then take on the room. This way you don’t have to be as concerned with the room if you know it’s going to get cleaned afterwards.”

Think of the unobvious

When we speak of summer cleaning, we think of things like furniture, floors and getting rid of clutter. “A thorough cleaning should include the unobvious or hidden areas like your dryer vents, AC filters and coils and the refrigerator’s condenser coil. Check for wet spots which would indicate a leak and for animal droppings which would mean you have uninvited house guests like a raccoon staying with you,” says DeBianchi.

"On average, if a homeowner whose dryer typically takes two cycles to dry clothes has their dryer vent professionally cleaned, they can save nearly $150 a year” Photo Courtesy of The Spruce
Clean Your Dryer Vent

Did you know that dirty dryer vents cause 15,000 home fires a year? Yikes! “In addition to that risk, it’s costing you money to dry clothes twice just because you haven’t had your vent cleaned in a while. On average, if a homeowner whose dryer typically takes two cycles to dry clothes has their dryer vent professionally cleaned, they can save nearly $150 a year,” says Stewart.

Getting Rid of Rust

If you catch rust early in your kitchen or bathroom, you can create a thick paste out of salt and lemon juice. “Using equal parts, you’ll get a solution that’s acidic enough to scrub away the rust without scratching your metal surfaces. When it comes to chrome fixtures, most rust can be removed with light scrubbing from a rag that’s been dipped in cola,” says Gallas.

Ditch Dirty Air Filters

If it’s been more than three months since your last HVAC filter change or cleaning, you’re past due. “Keep filters clean, replacing them every two to three months at a minimum, to cut down on energy use and prolong system life,” says Richard Cerise, owner of Aire Serv of Louisville, Kentucky.

Let It Be 

Our society has a constant need to buy things. No matter where we go, we are always looking at the next thing to buy. It is important to be conscious of what you are bringing into your home. “When you live in an apartment, it is that much more important. Living in a small space puts a responsibility on you to make sure you only bring in what you need. When you have finished organizing and decorating your apartment, let it be! Enjoy the space and don’t feel the need to constantly buy new products and décor,” says Giaquinto.

This post was first published 7/17

Aly Walansky

Aly Walansky is a freelance lifestyles writer based in New York City, who contributes regularly to iVillage,, xoJane, Huffington Post, and The Fashion Spot as well as many other print and web outlets.

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