STEP 1: Clear out the clutter! – The University of Illinois Extension Service offers practical advice on sorting, organizing, storing, and getting rid of stuff. You’ll find more clutter-busting tips at Live Simple: Rule Your Stuff and Surprising Strategies for Finally Organizing Your Space.
STEP 2: Where to Donate Goods – If you’re doing spring cleaning, you may find things to get rid of that are too good for the trash. What to do with them? Our ‘Where to Donate Goods’ page can help! Includes recycling info, too.
STEP 3: Resell that stuff! – Thinking about having a yard sale to get rid of some of that extra stuff? Download the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Reseller’s Guide to screen for hazardous products that should go in the trash instead!
STEP 4: Safeguard your Personal Data [NEW!]– Getting rid of old financial/legal documents as well as old electronics that may contain sensitive information, can be an important STEP of de-cluttering. But it can also pose a risk to your personal data. These pages offers practical tips on safeguarding your data. See also Enable security features on smartphones and tablets [NEW!] (2019, Indiana University), Proper Disposal of Electronic Devices (2018, US-CERT), How to Wipe a Computer Clean of Personal Data [NEW!] (2017, Consumer Reports), other Online Security Tips (US-CERT), and other links on Disposing of Old Computers and Protecting Yourself & Your Family Online. The Pack Rat’s Guide to Shredding includes a printable graphic you can keep near your shredder as a handy guide to which documents you should keep and which you should shred (2015, Federal Trade Commission).
STEP 5: Recycle! – After you’ve removed all your personal data from unwanted electronic items, what are you going to do with them? If they’re too old or aren’t working, you can e-cycle them! The South Plainfield Recycling Drop-off Program accepts televisions, computers, monitors and other electronics items; see South Plainfield Recycling Program website for details. Click here for more recycling links.
STEP 6: Safe Disposal of Old Medicine – Did you find unneeded and/or expired medicines in your medicine cabinet? It’s NOT a good idea to put them in the trash or flush them down the toilet! Instead, see Unused Medicines: Safe Disposal to find out how to get rid of them safely! NOTE: April 27, 2019 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day!
STEP 7: Appraise Old Paintings, Antiques, & Collectibles – Did you find any old paintings, antique objects, or possible collectibles while you were clearing out the attic? Want to find out more about them? The Smithsonian American Art Museum offer some tips and resources to help you. See also PBS’s Antiques Road Show.
STEP 8: Clear Out the Fridge – Kitchen shelves full of old cans? Old food in your fridge/freezer? How do you know what to keep and what to toss? FoodSafety.gov has advice for you. See our Food Safety links for more info, and handy charts you can print out & save.
STEP 9: *THE REALLY ICKY STUFF* – The U.S. EPA provides extensive help on dealing with Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. More icky stuff? Here’s some information on Bedbugs (EPA) and many other pests (Rutgers NJ Agricultural Experiment Station).
STEP 10: Let the (Green) Cleaning Begin – Once the clutter’s finally gone (well… reduced?) it’s time to start cleaning! Oregon Metro offers these tips for eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning. For information on cleaning products, see Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning and EPA Safer Choice.
STEP 11: Stain Solutions – For tougher cleaning problems, the University of Illinois Extension has lots of good advice! The FabricLink Fabric Care Center offers stain removal guides, laundry tips, information about fabric labels & laundry products, garment storage, and related resources.
STEP 12: Caring for your Treasures – The American Institute for Conservation has a wealth of information on caring for family heirlooms, keepsakes, and other heritage objects. See also: CCI Caring for Objects [UPDATED LINK!] (Canadian Conservation Institute) and ICON Caring for your Collection (UK Institute of Conservation).
STEP 13: Don’t Forget those Electronics! [NEW!] – This 2018 piece from US-CERT suggests three easy “digital spring cleaning” activities you can do now speed up your devices and secure personal information.
Revised March 2019