Clean Sweep: Overview

Simplify your life by getting rid of clutter. “Getting rid of” means just that—you need it out of your house.

The next six weeks, I’ll share with you what worked and what didn’t work for me as I eliminate lots of stuff, organize, rearrange, and pack up my entire house to move across country.

Ready to embark on Operation: Clean Sweep with me?

Step One: Make a plan.

I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed really easily. At least when it comes to cleaning and organizing. If you are as much of a clutterbug as I am, then you know things have to get worse before they can get better. Making a plan will help you tackle things in smaller pieces.

My Plan

  • Decide themes/color schemes for each room. Here’s an idea of my colors (Warning: Pinterest Board!). This post on Young House Love is a great read about picking colors that create a sense of continuity in your home.
  • One room at a time—wall to wall—separate EVERYTHING into toss, recycle, give/sell, keep, store. If you want to make the process simpler, make three distinctions: Keep, toss, sell.
  • Gather books and separate by hardcover (for display), paperback, business/professional books, research, non-fiction, inspirational, etc. See if any paperback books are free for e-readers.
  • Magazines: highlight the good stuff, rip out ads, document/index, put in pretty boxes (tutorial coming in a few days!)
  • Decor: divide into spring, summer, fall, winter. Eliminate anything that doesn’t match each room or isn’t completely loved. I rotate decor between my bedroom and the living room so 75% isn’t in storage all the time.
  • Toys: Give away obnoxious toys, divide by age and season.
  • Photos: Divide by subject (artsy versus personal, family pics), divide by season. Frame.
  • Clothes: Get rid of everything not absolutely loved. Shoes, too. Divide by season, formality, and age (for kids). Recycle old T-shirts into a gigantic quilt. (Tutorials herehere, and here.)
  • Crafts: divide by medium, divide supplies and tools, get rid of crap.
  • Collect all containers/storage: Decide in which room to store them and what to put in each.
  • PAPERS: Recycle, shred, digitalize, or file. Organize notes into binders.
  • Furniture: Decide what to get rid of.


Next week (or later this week) I’ll update you on how the office Clean Sweep went. Until then, what’s your plan for getting rid of clutter?

Operation: Clean Sweep

Did you ever watch the TLC show Clean Sweep?

Yes, ladies, it’s the show with Eric Stromer, the carpenter who spreads paint on the wall with his hands.

Ahem. Anyway, it was a show in which a team would visit a cluttered home, choose the two scariest rooms, and declutter them. They’d first remove EVERYTHING from the two rooms. Then they’d bring it all out onto the front lawn, where they would divide the stuff between Keep, Sell, and Toss (or donate). Then the organizer would be brought in and purge everything.

No, Mrs. Paulsen. You cannot keep your porcelain cat lamp. It’s awful. Say goodbye.

Then the husband and wife would have competing garage sales, and whoever sold more stuff would get to choose something from their spouse’s “Keep” pile to get rid of. Drama and hilarity ensue.

Meanwhile, aforementioned carpenter man is building custom built-in storage for the family, and a professional designer is revamping the room. They put all the keep stuff back into the rooms, and then reveal the rooms to the family.

Wow! I can’t believe it! It’s amazing! It looks great!

You get the idea.

Well, it’s time for us to undertake a clean sweep ourselves. LT and I really haven’t accumulated much in our 2.5 years of marriage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have too much stuff. Last week I found Flonase that had expired.

Expiration date: January 2006.

That was before I graduated high school. Since I graduated high school, I’ve moved TEN TIMES.

Time to purge.

The Plan

In lieu of bringing everything I own in my entire house onto our front lawn (as I’m sure our housing would have an issue with that), I’m going to be playing a crazy musical chairs sort of game.

We are having a party in about 6 weeks. I need to get rid of everything that needs to get rid of, and then put everything back in its place. After the party, then I’ll pack it all up for our move. Why put everything back? Well, to ensure that I have the room for everything I’m keeping. Otherwise I’ll get rid of more stuff. Plus, I’d much rather pack an organized house than a disorganized house, because the last 10 moves I have packed disorganization. Then I unpacked disorganization. Vicious cycle, really.

Operation: Clean Sweep

Want to join me? Stay tuned. I’ll post my plans and the results: successes and failures.

Are you a blogger? Use the image above to let people know you are participating! Copy and paste the code below onto your own blog:

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Confessions of a slob

(in which the reader witnesses the horror of my disorganization)


Let me just describe what I am seeing in this office (a room I have avoided for several weeks now) before I start organizing. Sure, it is a way of procrastination, but it will also help you catch a glimpse of how bad it really is.

on the desk

The scary arm reaching towards the desk is actually part of the futon

There are three piles of papers on the desk. One started out as a pile and has oozed across the middle of the desk. I shall refer to this as “Jabba.” To the right of Jabba is my birthday present, a beautiful Canon photo printer with 5 separate ink cartridges. It’s also a fax machine, scanner, and copy machine. I haven’t named it yet! (This is a travesty, as I name all my electronics.) I will call it The Millennium Falcon. Behind her, there are three sculptures I made in college, the “Lubbles”, and a large white head from IKEA, whom I sometimes deck out with 3D glasses and a beanie.

On top of Jabba’s tail is more than a dozen toilet paper cardboard tubes, which I have been saving for a thrifty project I will make and blog about, someday when my house is more organized. There’s also a wooden figure model doing some sort of gangster pose I didn’t put him in, a jar of paper clips and thumb tacks. On the left side of the desk is LT’s HP touchsmart, on which I’m typing and will soon watch Little House on the Prairie episodes whilst organizing. Behind that is a toolbox filled with drawing supplies and a box of thank you cards and envelopes I never sent out from my wedding, which, in case you didn’t know, occurred in 2009. (Er…Thank you, and Sorry.) There’s a box of checks back there, too, with our 2010 address on it. In front of the computer, another pile of papers, including a letter from the boy we sponsor in Haiti, which I haven’t responded to yet in length, even though we got it in January/February (I did send a short note). Plus the video camera I can’t use because I lost the battery charger somewhere, a stack of my business cards, two dead batteries. The newest addition to the desk is an English writing desk given to me by my in-laws for my birthday. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I need to put it to use (perhaps writing our little boy in Haiti and maybe thank yous?). Covering that piece of beauty, are pages from the bane of my existence (read: the church directory that took 5 agonizing months of information gathering and waiting), a to-do list, and our 3rd copy of Tale of Two Cities. We started with 4. I haven’t read Tale of Two Cities, ever.

The desk drawers are somewhat organized. One for stationery, one for art supplies, one for the usual office supplies (pens, pencils, stapler, etc.). Then there’s one with black and white film, two paint brushes, sticky-tac, a phone cord, and a HALO book on CD. And the key board drawer with a keyboard, mouse, and burp rag. And then the cupboard of doom, which is one of the seven black holes I throw things into before guests come over.

the floor

Papers which were once bound by a 3-ring binder before Henry mistook it for lunch and pounced on it. A paint palette. A tuft of cat hair Henry probably pulled out upon realizing that 3-ring binders are not categorized in one of the feline food groups.  A burp cloth. A Teether. Some leaves. A goldfish cracker. A pencil with no sentimental value I’m pretty sure I got in 8th grade. Another burp cloth. Pillows. Some books which were also the victim of Henry’s binder attack. Yet another burp cloth.

This is where you feel very, very sorry for my poor husband.

southeast corner

Two plastic shelving units. One is filled with art supplies and has a printer and a pineapple on it. The other is filled with papers, and has a box of batteries, a box of photos, and an expanding file with our important family files in it.

northeast corner

A bookshelf with a stack of frames on top of it I’ve been meaning to hang up. A cardboard box full of notes from college and church. LT’s trunk (our first coffee table), Christmas decorations, a filled paper-organizer, a brand new cat tower Henry is too fat to fit into (apparently it is for kittens only). Fabric I am going to use to make curtains for our bedroom. Two empty cardboard boxes.

It’s like those I Spy books. Gone horribly, terribly wrong.

southwest corner

A bookshelf I organized by color! Months ago! On top of that is a pile of books I need to put away, a sculpture I made, and a baby monitor.

northwest corner

The closet. We won’t go there. A plastic bin filled with things I mostly haven’t gone through since 2008.

the futon

The futon is in it’s flattened position, as it has been since last September when we had guests visiting us to see the baby. It’s got a box filled with things I will send out in care packages (care packages are one area where I am quite prompt), a plastic bag filled with information about my asthma, clothes I washed the first week of March and kept forgetting about, a sleeping cat, an unfolded blanket, some pillows, and an empty plastic bag.

This ought to scare off any unwanted guests. If we had some.

Little Champ was content in his pack and play for the duration it took me to type the above. Then he got bored after about 10 minutes of cleaning…


…which is why it took me several hours spread out between two days to just get this far. But I’m posting this anyway, because now momma’s got bigger fish to fry (if you can believe it).

and maybe someday I will use that calendar on the wall!

I didn’t get to the bookshelf on the right, but the desk surface is much, much better. The piles have been thrown into Sarlacc Pits (aka brown paper bags for recycling). Jabba didn’t escape this time. There is only a couple of papers in the corner, which are my to-do list, and, yes, the infamous Tale of Two Cities, until I figure out what to do with it (I scanned some pages for an upcoming project, but don’t need the physical copy anymore).

maybe we’ll have pizza movie night in here tonight? The floor is just asking to be spilled on.

The futon is back in it’s natural position. I cleaned it off, replaced the pillows, folded the blanket. The tub on the left (only 1% pictured) is now closed, with the Lubble sculptures atop it. To the right of the futon are bags for me to recycle. The binders on the trunk and in the white plastic bag (those aren’t bunny ears behind the brown furry pillow) I had either just brought home or need to go through, which is why they aren’t put away. Out of sight, out of mind. And I have a terrible memory, which is one reason I leave things out all the time.

I’ll get back to finishing the office next week. Right now I’m folding clothes, doing laundry, and getting ready to do dishes between loads!

Uff da.