By KIM LOCCISANO
Times Leader Staff Writer
Spring cleaning is a timeless tradition which in many households is observed as a routine part of major seasonal shifts, but not in all homes.
T-L Photo/KIM LOCCISANO
Gather your spring cleaning team players together before starting your spring cleaning venture. This is the time to check the supply list for refilling or replacing any cleaning supplies or equipment. It is also the right time to double check details concerning safe usage of each item.
Even as we live in this sometimes surreal age of cars that park themselves, vacuum cleaners that need no human hand to function for hours at a time, and phones that can close your garage door from miles away or help do the banking at 3 a.m. which you forgot to do at 3 p.m., expertly effective spring cleaners are held in high esteem.
Symbolically or literally making a conscious effort to sweep from the home all negative elements left behind from a previous season just before a new year arrives is something many cultures with particularly ancient roots observe almost without fail from one home to the next.
Annual spring cleaning efforts often start with a specific task, in a particular location, season after season for many who proudly carry on this tradition.
Newcomers to spring cleaning can quickly find themselves overwhelmed by what can appear to be a Herculean task if not prepared to simply select a starting point and a reasonable stopping point for a day's efforts.
A favorite starting point is often found by opening a single closet door-a door not to be closed until the job is done within a set amount of time that same day.
Decide on ground rules for what goes, what stays, as well as how and where it will be stored.
Before opening a door for the official beginning of your cleaning effort, make sure to gather the necessary containers, trash bags, marking pen and masking tape-the right tools for the job.
Most closets or cupboards contain at least a few items perfect for those initial decisions as to what should go straight to a marked storage container or trash bags, providing a positive starting point for your efforts.
Marking containers before starting the cleaning out phase helps keep the process of removing the unwanted, unused, and unneeded or just unable to use items from a home moving forward at a manageable and steady pace.
Cleaning and professional organizers routinely recommend this type of approach if for no other reason than the immediate sense of satisfaction it brings with making that initial decision: throw or keep.
They also recommend giving your "keep it" items another critical look toward taking items from the keep and store to the out-you-go-now bag before deciding for a final time this season that the goods get the thumbs up to hang around for another season.
But it is important to remember if they have not been used by this time next year it will be much easier to reach the decision that they need to find a new home elsewhere.
Depending on what policies you choose to practice, the ownership reprieve window can be open for as long as 18-months, but it should slam shut at that point, making it the perfect moment to move something idol or ignored for all that time out of your closet, cupboard, garage or household.
You will feel great about your accomplishment, even if no one else ever knows of your overall victory gained through long, hard-won pitch battles-battles others find no need to fight as they are simply not prone to keeping goods around them, or simply haven't gotten to a point in life yet when goods seem to gather around you as you make your own home.
One serious word of caution when it comes to the cleaning out and getting rid of stuff phase of any project: if it is to stay in your home, DO NOT put things into a standard trash bag for safe keeping. Forget this rule and you might find yourself heading to the local municipal landfill in hopes of locating a very specific green or white garbage bag containing things you consider treasures, not trash.
A quick check of your local gently-used goods collection sites will provide ready remedies for the predictable question: where to take old "stuff" so someone else can get some use out of it (only if it is still in decent shape). At times like these, charitable organizations are only too happy to help remedy your dilemma and can likely hand you a donation acknowledgment receipt which might be helpful at tax time. In this area those agencies include Goodwill, Salvation Army, the YWCA, church-run community assistance sites like a St. Vincent de Paul Store, a community daycare center, mental health rehabilitation center, a church or school-based clothes closet or the like.
To make the experience a little more fun, consider donating some goods to your local high school drama club for their future costuming and stage prop collections.
But before grabbing cleaning supplies randomly from your pantry, or from under your kitchen sink, read the product label again and pay attention to where and how it should be used to bring about the best possible result.
Following through on this type of plan will provide immediate satisfaction, will likely help a number of other people - many who are truly in need, and should also generate open shelf space where there was none before your spring cleaning project.
A little knowledge about the timeless basics of spring cleaning can make the entire process less imposing or overwhelming: planning is the key to spring cleaning success stories. After all, it won't do much good to prepare a bucketful of cleaning solution if the area you hope to clean has not had its contents moved aside and as out of the way as comfortably possible.
Another must for this type of project is to be sure all materials are kept contained and out of reach of any children or pets.
Additionally, check to make sure the number for your poison hotline is ready and waiting at your fingertips, all in the hope you never have to make use of those resources.
Getting to know spring cleaning classic tactics and making sure essential supplies are on hand before starting any cleaning project will be time well spent.
The key to a successful spring cleaning effort seems to rest many times on the ability to keep tactics simple, despite decades of research, development and massive media campaigns waged by chemical companies in efforts to influence the buying public.
But lately, things in the world of spring cleaning practices have begun to shift substantially back toward the idea "less is more" reversing the previous thinking that having a pantry shelf or two packed with what could be mistaken for a high school chemistry materials is disappearing in favor of a return to simpler times and clearer thinking, cleaner kitchen countertops, and maybe even fewer goods requiring transport to a landfill for disposal.
When it comes to choosing cleaning products make sure to read directions and follow any cautionary messages manufacturers readily provide consumers. It's good to keep in mind the truth that although something looks simple on the surface, it may be very complex deep within.
But there has long been more to spring cleaning efforts than can be found in a bottle of ammonia, a container of Murphy's Oil Soap, or an old pail. The complex nature of materials and surfaces used today can quickly get a person into trouble as some surfaces are not meant to be cleaned with anything remotely considered common.
Knowing what you will need in the way of supplies and how to use them correctly, making sure you understand which surfaces require what type of attention, and what to do if something goes completely wrong can make all the difference in the outcome: whether it will be a disaster or a delight.