Support Groups Find Therapist Events Calendar Online Store

ADAVICSocial SupportInformationResourcesProfessional HelpOnline Store

Spring - A time for cleaning and decluttering

Spring marks a change in seasons, and each new season marks a cycle for change.  
Katherine Milkman, a behavioural economist and expert in decision-making, believes that spring is an excellent time to make use of the ‘fresh start effect’. Spring is a time for new beginnings and can act as a pivot point that increases our motivation to set and accomplish goals.
Spring is also associated with the idea of tidying and decluttering, so why not use the momentum of the seasons to springboard into a reorganisation and clean-up of your living spaces – the customary spring clean?
Why a decent clear-out can be good for us:
Have you ever spent what feels like forever looking for something like your wallet or keys, and being unable to   find them amongst all the other piles of objects scattered about? Clutter in our homes or work places can make it difficult to find the things we need and use every day, and our living spaces can become inefficient.  
Even when we are not searching for things, clutter can be distracting and make it hard to feel settled. In a subtle manner, piles of paper, clothes or objects act as a visual indication of encroaching work to be done, and can create a surge in our stress levels. A study from the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that multiple stimuli in the visual field at the same time (from too much stuff crowding our space) compete for neural processing and makes it hard to focus our attention on any particular task. In addition to reduced attention and increased stress, according to a paper from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people living in cluttered and messy homes express dissatisfaction and increased depressed mood.  Everyday environments inform our wellbeing, and the physical   aspects of our living spaces (clutter, crowing, noise, artificial light, colours) have discernible effects on mood and health, in people of all ages (e.g. Evans, 2006; Molony, McDonald, & Palmisano-Mills, 2007).
In some respects then, tidying up can allow us to view our home spaces as less demanding (the need to straighten up clutter or complete unfinished projects) and more of a restorative haven. However, if your home is already neat and tidy, you can spring clean in other ways.
Spring-cleaning activities
So where to start? You might have some clutter you would like to tidy up, or you might want to get to the things you would not normally take the time to clean thoroughly.  Here are some ideas:

• Wash the outside windows (waiting for a cloudy day means the cleanser won’t dry streaky before you can wipe it off)
• Remove cobwebs
• Dust blinds or wash curtains
Air vents

• Clean heating ducts and air conditioning vents, or consider replacing filters

• If you do not usually, vacuum UNDER the bed, as well as around it
• Flip your mattress
• Wash blankets and doonas (according to manufacturer’s instructions)
• Wash or consider replacing pillows
• Replace batteries in your smoke detectors

• Clean the stove top, washing each piece individually and giving the flat surface a degrease
• Clean out the microwave
• Clean the oven
• Wipe down the fridge: shelves, door shelves, trays and walls

One way to simplify home cooking is to use a two or four week rotating menu. Choose 14 or 28 dinner recipes to print out, and create shopping lists based around these. Then you can save time by following the shopping list each week or fortnight.  

Plan a schedule so that exercise becomes a more automatic part of your week, perhaps by committing to a class or walking/running group
Chores system   

• Now is a good time to update and review, or set up, a household system for when (and by who) chores should be done
• Consider starting a 15-minute tidy habit. In the evening, before an enjoyable activity such as watching TV, set the timer for 15 minutes and have everyone race to tidy up before the show begins.
Healthy spring-cleaning

Spring-cleaning is best practised in moderation, with the understanding that we need to allow for some level of messiness and disorder (e.g. ongoing projects, changes to routine, mess when cooking, kids playing with toys etc.). While we often focus on the cleaning aspect, it is helpful to keep in mind that spring-cleaning is not about making your house pristine, but optimising and organising your space so it works for you. 

 “Out of clutter, find simplicity... In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. ” - Albert Einstein
Written by Gabby – ADAVIC Volunteer
self-funded organisation
. We welcome your contributions
donations, and memberships.

If you would like to sponsor ADAVIC
or help with fundraising, please
contact the ADAVIC office.

Sign up for our eNews letter: