Tips for a Successful Spring Spruce-Up

April 24, 2024

The days are getting longer, the sun is warming up, and the sound of cheerful chirping outside the window can only mean one thing: it’s officially spring! Just as nature bids farewell to the icy chill of winter to prepare for the warmer months ahead, the ritual of spring cleaning is a familiar way to welcome the new season and prepare our homes – and our lives – for a fresh start.

Whether you are simply swapping out coats and boots for shorts and sandals, or preparing to downsize from the family home to a new residence, being prepared for the process will help minimize stress and ensure a smooth transition. If you’re helping a loved one with their spring clean-out this year, it’s even more important to have a plan to ensure the experience is as efficient and painless as possible.

Getting Started

Stuff! We all have it, and as the years go on it seems to multiply while we sleep. From unused furniture, dishes, and housewares, to closets full of clothing, shoes, and linens, less is definitely the new more when it comes to a modern lifestyle. While it’s been a few years since Japanese organization guru Marie Kondo introduced the world to the KonMari method through her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the impact of her movement lives on. The main idea is to gather all your belongings and keep only the possessions that “spark joy.” From there, the goal is to find a dedicated place for each item in your house and make sure it stays there.

While it may seem implausible to find joy in a frying pan or impractical to parse through every single thing you own, the sentiment rings true. Less stuff = more time for the things that matter. Many older adults live in homes surrounded by a lifetime of possessions and mementos. Knowing how to begin the process of a clean-out is often the hardest part. 

Make a Plan

Boxes, check! Bags, check! Sharpies, check! Having the right materials for the job is half the battle. Ensuring you’ve had a good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast, and have a massive amount of patience on deck is just as essential. Spring clean-outs are often exhausting, not simply because of the manpower involved, but also the emotional experience of revisiting possessions – and the memories they evoke – collected over a lifetime. Pair this with nonstop decision-making about the fate of hundreds of items, and it’s enough to make you want to stuff it all back in the closet.

Setting up and clearly labeling boxes as Keep, Donate and Family can help you to stay on track. Be realistic and critical about the items in the Keep pile, and if there are sentimental items such as jewelry, photographs or other valuables you’ve been intending to pass along to family members, now is the time to do it.

Find the Right Resources

Sorting into boxes might be the easy part. Luckily, there are many well-oiled and deserving organizations that happily accept donations of previously owned items, although you may have to hit up a few different locations depending on the scale of your clean-out.

Large household items such as furniture or appliances:

  • Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity operates ReStores, nonprofit home improvement stores that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, building materials, and more. Donating furniture to a ReStore helps support Habitat for Humanity’s mission of building homes for those in need.
  • Veterans Organizations: Organizations such as the Vietnam Veterans of America or local veterans’ groups may accept furniture donations to support veterans and their families. Check with these organizations to see if they have donation programs in place. Many will also come to your home to pick up furniture or other items.
  • Local Churches and Community Centers: Many local churches and community centers have programs to help individuals and families in need by providing them with furniture and other essential items. Contact local religious organizations and community centers to inquire about their donation programs.

Small household items, clothing and more:

  • Goodwill or Savers: Goodwill Industries uses the proceeds from the sale of donated items to support job training and employment placement programs for individuals who are confronting employment barriers. Goodwill accepts donations of furniture and other household items at their thrift store locations across the country. 
  • Marketplace or “Buy Nothing Groups” on Facebook: Through locally organized groups in your town, Facebook allows members to buy, sell, and give away items locally. You can post listings for furniture donations in the “Free Stuff” section or search for individuals or organizations in need of furniture donations in your area.
  • Estate Sales: An estate sale is a method of selling the entire contents of a home. While similar to a garage sale, an estate sale is typically run by an organizer, who takes a portion of the proceeds in exchange for managing the process. The estate sale organizer will separate the items into categories and price them based on their perceived market value. On the day of the sale, your home becomes a shop, with buyers responsible for transporting the items (big or small) with them after purchase. The best part about an estate sale? You don’t have to move a thing! 

Call For Help 

Running out of time (and possibly patience?). When all else fails, companies like 1-800-Got-Junk or LoadUp offer by-the-foot junk removal services and can even be scheduled for same day service. Accepting all manner of appliances and furniture from mattresses to exercise equipment – even hot tubs! – there’s hardly anything they won’t take off your hands. But their “all you have to do it point” service promise will cost you. It may not be the cheapest way to unload your possessions, but it’s certainly fast. Free estimates and online scheduling are available. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, it’s worth looking into local junk-hauling companies or individuals on Thumbtack or other local message boards – many individuals offer this service.

Begin With the End in Mind

While a spring clean-out can seem overwhelming at first glance, the benefits are well worth the effort. Unburdening yourself from clutter even has proven health benefits including decreasing stress, mitigating allergies and asthma, and even improving sleep! As they say, clear space, clear mind. Whether you’re cleaning out a small closet or tackling the contents of an entire house, remember the goal: less stuff, more happiness.