Gearing up for Spring Cleaning Week

This week, the dishwasher at our new home bit the dust. It was an awful machine to begin with, so we weren’t really surprised, but it has thrown us back to the good ol’ days of hand washing all our dishes. It’s not so bad, actually — especially when you do them in tandem with good conversation.

Right after the dishwasher died, Kyle and I boxed up about half of our dishes. We knew this would make hand washing easier because it would keep us from lazily using more dishes than we really needed.

So far, it’s true. We have far fewer dishes to wash than if we still used the dishwasher as our default. We’ve kept the extra stored within easy reach, so that when we have company, we can easily pull out the extra plates we need.

It’s silly, of course, because we could do the same thing with the same results with our dishwasher — but because the machine is doing all the work, it doesn’t hurt as much to just let the dishes pile up throughout the day.

This exercise was a good precursor for Spring Cleaning Week, starting this Monday here at Simple Mom. It all comes down to one of my favorite all-time quotes, from 19th century architect William Morris:

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Is everything in your home useful or beautiful? Really?

We can clean and organize our homes all week, but without getting rid of stuff, it won’t be long until the place is a mess again.

To get a jump start on next week’s spring cleaning exercise, take some time this weekend and evaluate all your possessions with this mantra in mind. Does every item in your home make your family happy? Does the item add to your home, your life, your family? Or if you were truly honest, would you say it’s more of a burden?

If it’s a burden in any way, get rid of it. It’s not worth the valuable real estate between your four walls.

On Monday, we’ll be going slightly more in-depth with the process of decluttering, so I’ll bring up this quote again. It’s also the cornerstone theme in my e-book on spring cleaning, and I honestly find it useful in most areas of my life.

Tuesday, we’ll focus more specifically on the kitchen, the living room, and outdoor spaces; Wednesday’s post will discuss the value of cleaning with non-toxic materials; on Thursday, we’ll focus on the bedrooms and bathrooms; and finally on Friday, Mandi of Organizing Your Way will feature more in-depth organizing tips.

Our family is pretty good about keeping to the essentials because of our whirlwind lifestyle and the many international moves we’ve endured. Even so, in just this past week of unpacking, I have four boxes headed to Goodwill, three to Half-Price Books, and another with items to be posted on Craigslist. I’m no longer surprised that there’s always one more thing I can part with.

And it feels good.

Your assignment to gear up for Spring Cleaning Week?

Get an empty box and start tossing. Use the e-book’s suggestions for making your decisions on what stays and what goes, and be mesmerized at how great it actually feels to get rid of those things you think you can’t live without.

When you take a break, watch The Story of Stuff and be convicted, and then watch this classic scene from The Jerk and laugh:

Don’t be a jerk.

What stuff in your home do you need to get rid of?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I totally love that quote! What a great one!
    .-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..Rearranging & Decorating a Shared Kids Room =-.

  2. joanne b says:

    oh thanks so much Tsh, we are moving home in a few weeks and this spring clean is just what i need next week, i can’t really tackle any big packing type jobs because it is the school holidays but a bit of spring cleaning/purging is just the ticket 🙂

  3. I’m so excited to participate in your spring cleaning series again this year!

    What continues to surprise me is that every single time I focus on decluttering, I get rid of more and more things. Why did I think all of this stuff was necessary last year? What am I going to toss next year? Could I just go ahead and get rid of it this year and save myself the trouble?! I love the simplicity that comes from having less stuff!
    .-= Mandi @ Organizing Your Way´s last blog ..Question of the Day: What Do You Hold Onto? =-.

    • I’m laughing, Mandi, because that is SO true.
      How could I have thought this looked good on me last year? That one gets me every time.

      I’m excited for your purge, Tsh!! I thought I was thorough when we moved last fall, but I’m still opening boxes and going “WHY did we move THIS?”
      .-= Aimee´s last blog ..Spring Clean Your Body With Real Foods =-.

  4. We don’t use our dishwasher at all and it works just fine. While teaching our family how to do these chores, spending time togetherr, we are saving energy as well. Love spring and the opportunity to open the house and really “CLEAN”. The first couple months of this new year I have been getting rid of everything that wasn’t useful or beautiful. I think I could still go through and do it again though. Thanks!

  5. Our home is in desperate need of this, but we are constantly drawn to the garden. That is really the only “extra” we have time for these days, so I will have to find a way to cram spring cleaning in somewhere.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  6. Yes! Spring cleaning and organization are two of my favorite things! I’m psyched to participate in this week. I have a laundry basket of junk waiting for me from the last time I cleaned. 😀

  7. Lindsey says:

    great post! you have me inspired! i have a neighborhood garage sale next sat and will follow your schedule all next week. sounds great!!!

  8. Well, I don’t guess I’m ever going to get to participate. 🙁 Last year I was sick during the Spring Cleaning week, and this year I’m going to be out of town for the week. Oh well, maybe next year.
    .-= Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog ..Vegas Bound =-.

  9. Adriana says:

    Tsh- I am so grateful for spring cleaning coming around. With your encouragement, we did a major overhaul last year from May until August. And it transformed a lot of areas in our house, but with birthdays, Christmas and just life it piles up quick. I also have things I held on to last year then I have not used so it is time to pitch them in one way or another. I love the book Organizing from the Inside Out. My son 6 mentioned that is was Spring and we needed to get cleaning so I am excited to get started.

    Thanks Adriana

  10. Tsh,
    I jumped the gun. I started my Spring Cleaning this week and I’m on a roll. I will definitely check in to see what’s going on. We had the donation truck come today they picked up about 10 bags and 5 or 6 boxes to donate, plus I have 7 garbage bags. It feels so good to get rid of all of these things that are not “Useful or beautiful” to us anymore.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..Post it Note Tuesday =-.

  11. What a great way to make decisions about what to keep and what to toss/donate/sell! everything should be useful or beautiful…perfect.
    .-= Nikki Moore´s last blog ..everyone’s afraid of something…or several things =-.

  12. Very excited to get started and join you this year!
    .-= jeana´s last blog ..Spring Mantel =-.

  13. Today my husband FINALLY let me bag up tons of his clothes for donation. We’re talking clothes from high school, and he’s 29. If you met his mother, you’d understand 😉
    .-= Meghan´s last blog .."Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness…" =-.

  14. Did this last year and am excited to do it again this year! Very timely for us as most of what we own is in boxes or piles right now.
    .-= Visty´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning and a Diatribe =-.

  15. I have never seen that movie – my eyes are still watering from laughing so hard! That is HILARIOUS! Maybe it hits a little too close to home!?! I definately need to get rid of stuff – thanks for the laugh, just the kick in the pants I needed!

  16. Glad most of you will participate! Just to inform you, I won’t be going though every single day of the e-book like I did last year. This year’s series will be more about the topics discussed in the e-book, such as the three-step process of decluttering, cleaning, and organizing that I use. I’ll still talk about different parts of the house, just not as one individual post per area.

    But get ready to link to your before and after posts and pics! Those are always so fun to see.

  17. I’m so excited about Spring Cleaning Week! I need a little kick in the butt to part with some stuff around here. We’ve moved twice in the last four years, and during that process, knowing we weren’t staying anywhere permanently, I was very good at keeping stuff at a minimum because I didn’t want to move anything unnecessary! But now that we’ve been in this house for a year and don’t have any plans to move, I am much less ruthless with the junk. Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Great criteria! Can’t wait to get to work!
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..129: Retro Treasure =-.

  18. I’m in! We started this week, actually (cuz I know I’ll need 10 days … maybe plus LOL)

    In the e-book you talk about moving everything out and giving yourself a clean slate. I’ve been doing that and I’m finding that, even though we don’t have tons of things either, I’m really being picky about what I let back into the rooms I’ve emptied out so far. I like that blank, empty place – those clean uncluttered areas. It has definitely been worth my time to clear the rooms down to the walls and floors. So, thanks 🙂

    Don’t be a jerk – LOL love it! 😀

    Looking forward to next week!
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Music Review: Dan Zanes Concert DVD and a Surprising New Find =-.

  19. I actually prefer to hand wash the dishes, I don’t think the washer does a good enough job.

  20. I’m looking forward to your spring cleaning week! I really need to get in gear and get rid of a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve actually decided I’m going to go from room to room and try to fill up a garbage bag full of stuff to donate each day.
    .-= hairstyles for girls´s last blog ..Baptism Hairstyle Challenge =-.

  21. What an awesome quote! I look forward to your posts on spring cleaning next week–I actually was planning on making next week my own spring cleaning week, so this is perfect!
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..A very humble start to our vegetable garden. =-.

  22. VERY good quote that I have to better about living by. I think so much of what I get my paws on is done thoughtlessly — with the best intentions, of course, but without taking a much-needed step back and carefully questioning myself. Great reminder.
    .-= selena@howaboutcookie´s last blog ..Sseko-nd chances =-.

  23. Yikes – spring cleaning already! I’d like to skip the inside and move right to the outside because it seems so much more fun. Anyways…I’m in too! A little motivation is a good thing!
    .-= Tina @ Ride On Toys´s last blog ..Choosing the Best Ride on Toys for Your Child =-.

  24. You have inspired me. I’m going to start cleaning out tomorrow 🙂

  25. Can’t wait to read all your posts! I love cleaning and organizing! Spring is just another “excuse” to do it more. I’ve already started some already. I’ve got bags of clothing to donate and I’ve cleaned through my crafting things. Happy cleaning everyone!!!
    .-= Lynne @ Our Happy Home´s last blog ..Our Spring Photo Session =-.

  26. I’ll be spring cleaning the week after everyone…
    Can’t wait for the posts!!!
    .-= Amanda G.´s last blog ..Welcome =-.

  27. I have been spring cleaning for the past few weeks in preparation to put our house on the rental market and move. I have made around $300 on our local website and plan to get rid of the rest in a garage sale next week…what doesn’t sell will be donated. It feels so good to purge six years of stuff that has built up in this house and make a few bucks in the process!
    Now if only I could get the pollen to stop coating every surface in my house I’d be good…
    .-= Kelli´s last blog me sneezy =-.

  28. We started spring cleaning last week. Clearing out way too many clothes and toys for our local Just Between Friends sale. Now I can actually clean! When you can’t through the closets, you can’t clean them! Looking forward to next weeks posts so I can take it to the next level and only have the things I love !
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Double Digits =-.

  29. For me it’s books. (Always). I’d been doing better for a while…but the book purchases have been creeping back up.

  30. I linked here from the RSS feed, which had a wonderful post titled “Spring Cleaning in a Whirlwind.” I desperately need that post and wanted to bookmark it! It was so full of good ideas! Where did it go?

  31. CONVICTING ! We are in the process of another international relo, and I am DESPERATE to not take so much of our junk along to the next location, however, I am so fearful that I am not making good decisions on what I should keep — that will help the kids during their adjustment period.

    Thanks for this. Brilliant timing for me.

  32. Simple equation I recently discovered…..

    Less stuff = easier declutter.

    I wrote about it on my blog here:

  33. Our dishwasher has been on its last legs since we moved into our home years ago. I used to drag my feet and whine about doing the dishes and would get so annoyed when I emptied the dishwasher and found more dirty than clean dishes. A few months ago, I just decided to stop using the dishwasher and go back to washing by hand. And honestly, I have not had a negative thought about the dishes since then. I actually enjoy it as a quiet sort of meditative moment in the day (or series of moments, actually). Enjoy your life without the dishwasher, Tsh. I hope you find it brings you as much pleasure as it has brought me.

  34. I’m definately looking forward to a good purge around here!
    As for the dishwasher, it is a huge convenience at times, but we too have learned that sometimes it actually makes our lives more complicated than it needs to. Our dishwasher died while we had a foreign exchange student, who didn’t have a dishwasher back home and was very efficient at hand washing (I definately learned some!). Together we would pound out the dishes by hand in minutes. Even though our dishwasher was replaced within relatively short order, I still, two years later, find myself often choosing to handwash dishes. I’m still not ready to live without a dishwasher every day, but sometimes it’s just a great under the counter drying rack!
    I can’t imagine dishwashers are the only modern convenience making our lives more complicated rather than simpler!

  35. We started cleaning up this weekend. We have gotten everything cleaned and picked up but now we have to go throught the cabinets and drawers and organize. What do you do if you have, in my case boyfriend, that doesn not like or want to get rid of stuff? I managed to clear out counter space but he has this huge beer glass, its about 2 ft high that keeps moving from corner to corner becuase it is just in the way. I hate itm he wont get rid of it. His brother gave it to him as a christmas gift.

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