March 20th marks the first day of spring, and with it comes fresh starts and the tradition of spring cleaning. Keep your apartment clean and your mind clear all year by incorporating these tips into your daily routines.

A study by Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute reveals, “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information.” In Psychology Today’s article, Why Mess Causes Stress, it further details how “clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done,” causing our minds to be distracted by noise that leaves us in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression.

The key to a successful deep cleaning isn’t simply wiping away grime and buildup, or hiding items in storage for later appraisal. Doing so allows stress to sit and linger, so why put off for tomorrow what you can do today? Follow these steps to keep your apartment clean, your heart happy, and your mind clear.

Deep Clean

Put on your cleaning gloves—we have a lot of work to do!

  1. Vacuum and shampoo carpets and rugs, sweep patios and hardwood floors, and mop bathroom and kitchen tiles.
  2. Dust down all shelves, window shades, electronics, ceiling fans, and anything else that collects build up. Don’t dust around objects—clean under them as well.
  3. Clean inside and outside of all windows (on a cloudy day to avoid sun-dried streaks), wipe down mirrors, and sanitize doorknobs.
  4. Wash curtains and bed sheets, and shake out doormats.
  5. Vacuum dirt off mattresses and upholstery, then spot clean.
  6. Scrub shower walls, tubs, sinks, and toilets, then unclog pipes.
  7. Remove leftover food from the fridge, and remnants from the microwave, oven, and dishwasher, then wipe down clean. What’s the point of having stainless steel appliances if they don’t look stain-less?

Declutter

Clutter can build up anywhere— filter through cabinets, closets, drawers, counter tops, the fridge, the kitchen pantry, and any other stash spot you see. Take it a step further by cleaning out your car and deleting unnecessary files off your computer.

Guilt, anxiety, and fear are emotional attachments that paralyze us from discarding things we no longer need. For example, we may feel guilty for spending money on a jacket that doesn’t fit right, get anxious when deciding to keep or toss it, and fear we’ll regret our decision to throw it away. We end up hoarding it in the back of our closet and revisit those dreadful feelings each time we skip over it when deciding on a jacket to wear.

Help quiet your worries and uncertainty by organizing things into four piles when downsizing. Things to keep, sell, donate, and discard.

  • Keep only what you love. Find a place for everything you choose to keep, and keep everything in its place.
  • Sell what no longer serves you and that you believe to be valuable—it will help ease the pain of guilt. Sell to Craigslist, Amazon, eBay, a consignment shop, or host a garage sale.
  • Donate things others can use that won’t yield much profit. When donating to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army, make sure to keep the receipts for tax deductions at the end of the year.
  • Discard everything else. Junk, old bills, and outdated magazines are things that need to go.

Revamp Routines

Routines are the patterns that create your reality, so it’s important to make them intentional.

Hang keys on key hangers when entering your home, so you never waste time looking for them. Put shoes away in the closet, not in the doorway or next to the couch where you last sat. Each time you buy a piece of clothing, make a habit of finding an old piece to throw out.

It’s the small stuff that adds up to the big picture, so create routines that help expedite the cleaning process.

Commit to Clarity

With anything else, keeping your apartment clutter free and your mind clear takes consistency. Commit to clarity and spring into action now! Your apartment won’t clean itself—at least not yet!

From On-Site’s blog.