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:

<a href=””><img title=”operation clean sweep” src=”; alt=”” width=”350″ height=”351″ /></a>

DIY reusable daily and weekly planners

Are you ready for the week to begin?

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with daily planners and notebooks.

But instead of telling you about my love affair with planners and walking down the aisle in the office supply store, I’m just going to cut to the chase and show you what I do know.

I could write down all of the things I needed to do in my planner, easy. The problem was actually opening up my planner again to do those things I wrote down.

Now I use dry erase boards that are hanging on walls all over my house. I figure that “out of sight, out of mind” also means “in sight, obnoxiously nagging you.” I also figure that it gives me some accountability to anyone else that can read…

Here’s an example of one. I’ll explain the layout and give more examples below.

All you need is a dry erase board, a Sharpie, and an idea of what you want to be planning. Ruler and nail polish remover optional. Basically, you draw the outlines with a permanent marker and draw inside those outlines with dry erase markers.

Step One

Use the Sharpie to draw out the permanent layout on your dry erase board. If you mess up, you can erase the permanent marker in one of two ways.

  • For small areas, take a dry erase marker, scribble over the permanent marker, and erase.
  • For large areas, use nail polish remover and a Q-tip or cotton square to apply.

Note: If you accidentally draw over a permanent marker line with a dry-erase marker, the permanent marker will come off. That’s why I don’t draw lines for writing on—I draw boxes to write in.

Step Two

Actually, that was pretty much it. I suppose at this point, you start filling in your planner. Woohoo!

My examples

Here’s a close-up of the board shown above. I got the days of the week magnets at Target. The first row of seven is for daily appointments. The next is for menu planning and lists the menu theme of the day, as well as daily chores. The bottom section is the Honey-Do list, which LT and I both contribute to.

This one is a more elaborate weekly planner in a “checklist” format. On the left are things that need to get done every day, ordered in the rough progression of the day. The squares on the inside are either blank or I write in what needs to happen during that time. For example, I have two slots for “projects.” In the boxes I write which projects I need to work on that day. When I finish a chore or activity, I put a magnet on that square. The first column reads: Vitamins, breakfast, chores, lunch, projects, work out / go outside, snack, projects, dinner, dishes, brush teeth, mini bedtime (bedtime for the mini people in our family, aka the kids), before bed tidy up. Yes, I often forget to eat three meals each day.

If it would appear that I haven’t done anything this week, then I should point out that today is Sunday, and the board is for tomorrow–Saturday. Tomorrow I will put the magnets in the squares as I complete each item.

This format will be adapted or duplicated, probably, when I have more children. With this layout, each child could fit a magnet in one slot, or you could have a board for each child.

Here’s the daily one I made today.

The one on the left is the blank version. On the right, I filled in the planner and made a couple of additions.

When I saw these Free Daily and Weekly Planner Printables from, I thought that they were great! And I thought maybe I’d try them out, and then I’d design my own. However, I haven’t gotten to that yet, and I wanted to use my third dry erase board for daily planning, so I did this.

The printable downloads are lovely! If you go that route, enjoy them heartily. Be sure to check out Ann’s book and the rest of her blog, too! She’s an inspiration. You can even try laminating her planners and reusing those with a dry erase marker (or overhead markers, if those are still around). When I come up with my design, I’ll post it here, on my blog, for free. I’m wanting a smaller size, I think, hence designing it myself. We’ll see, I suppose.

  • Top row: Devotion? check box | date
  • 2nd row: Blank space to write out memory verse, practicing every day |Domestic duties | business
  • 3rd row: Imperatives (things that have to get done) | things I should do | things I could do, if I have time | things that need to get done eventually
  • 4th row: menu for the day | Schedule for the day (when I will do what I wrote in the “to do” section)
  • 5th row: workout? check box | Water? Check box

Have fun planning out your days and weeks!

When Clothing Attacks: Organizing the Beast

Part One: Children’s Clothing Sizes

Have you noticed that clothing brands NEVER fit the same? Same is true for baby clothes. I went through Little Champ’s clothing and decided to create my own sizing system, based on the averages of different brands.

I’d also get really confused. Are kids supposed to wear 3M until they are 3 months old, or do they start wearing 3M when they are 3 months old? Is 3M the same as a 0-3 in another brand, or a 3-6?

Carter usually fits my son the best according to his age. Gerber runs ridiculously thin and long. Ridiculous isn’t the word. Preposterous, maybe.

I could take a picture of the difference between Gerber and Carter sizes, but other people have done that for me. Below is a size 18 months in both. Click through to be taken to the source.


Anyway, here’s my clothing system. I went through all of Little Champ’s clothes and drew a color coded star on the tag designating weight.

Feel free to share, download, print, and use! You don’t have to credit me as long as nobody tries to profit from the chart. Share and share alike!

A few notes: Gap and Old Navy are the same sizes. I didn’t include all of the baby clothing brands, obviously, just what we had the most of. If you have a different brand and are wondering what to compare it to, I suggest comparing it to a Carter’s piece. A general rule of thumb is that cheaper runs bigger. Little Champ has a pair of Faded Glory pants that are 6-9 months that will fit no human child, unless he or she is wearing an innertube around the waist. I put the cheapest brand on top (Garanimals, the Walmart brand that I totally love. Nowhere else can you get a new fleece hoodie for a toddler for $4—not on sale). Uncharted brands may or may not have similar sizes to other brands in the same price range.

After 5T, I’m going to assume that the size will be appropriate for the age. It was for me, anyway, until I had to wear adult clothing (and join the blasted small-medium-large system that is idiotic, if you ask me).

When Little Champ is finished with a color range, I donate half and keep half for the next kid, sorted and labeled by color size.

2014 Update: Having clothing sorted by sizes has made things SO much easier for my second boy. I can look and see where he is on the chart, take that size out of my hand-me-down bin, and and put them in his drawers.

Part Two: The Rest of the Mess

Speaking of clothing, I haven’t posted in a while because I am trying to battle the clothing monster that has multiplied and is spreading across the house like a fungus.

My laundry room is like the rats that bore the bubonic plague. I had to start there, since it’s the source of the problem. Unfortunately I can’t play a flute to make every article of clothing scurry into a lake of drawers and closets. Somebody invent that.

I watched the YouTube video on folding shirts the Japanese way. Instead of raiding my own closets, I raided Pinterest for ideas on how to organize closets.

Basically, I know that my clothes have to be easier to put away than take out.

Rule #1: If you can’t see every article of clothing, you are doing it wrong.

I know, I know, when you think of folded clothes in drawers, you probably think of something like this, clothes folded and stacked neatly, maybe you throw in some rolled(!) shirts, because that saves space:

Now this works…if you wear the same exact thing every day, like a MARINE.

If, however, you have liberty to wear something different every day, and you stack your clothes like that, you will have to dig through the piles to find the one shirt you want to wear, and the clothes will soon turn into a scary, terrifying mess.

But if you simply turn those stacks on their side, then you can see every article of clothing when you open up the drawers. Like this:

You can then browse through your selection and pluck the fruit without disturbing all the other little berries of clothing.


Rule #2: Get over your aversion for hangers

Update: See how I got over my aversion for hangers in “The Cure for Hangerphobia”!

I can’t explain my aversion to hangers. I just really don’t like hanging things back up. It’s a familiar scene: I take something off the hanger I’d like to wear, I put it on, it looks terrible, my husband hears growling coming from the closet, I take it off, and I throw it on the floor so it knows what it’s done.

Most people at this point might say, “If it looks bad on you, why do you own it?”

That’s a complicated answer. 1) I buy things on sale if they fit my high standard of “not crappy” rather than buying what I actually love. I’m getting better, realizing that I could buy one really cute dress I love if I don’t buy ten clearance items. 2) Sometimes it’s the day—if you haven’t had “fat days,” don’t dare tell me—and sometimes it’s just wrong for where I’m going. “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t wear this thigh-baring, cleavage-creating dress to church.”

Anyway, LT actually doesn’t like hangers because dust gathers on his clothes, especially his pants that he doesn’t wear often. So we put his rarely worn clothing in garment bags.

I commissioned LT to create something so we can utilize a bottom row of hanging. I’d like to have my skirts and shorts under my shirts, with dresses hanging by themselves.


Rule #3: Sort.

I love the look of arranging clothing on hangers by color, and I tried it once, but it didn’t last long. So I sort the books on my shelves by color and went back to my old system of sorting clothing:

  • sorting by formality
  • then by warmth (sleeve length, usually)
  • then by color.

2014 Update: In our new house, I don’t have walk-in closets anymore. Now I have a hanging shelf in the middle, on one side I have colorful dresses and shirts, sorted by color, and on the other side of the hanging shelf I have my neutrals (white, grey, black, brown) sorted by color and then by sleeve length. Now I can make an outfit by oordinating colors or mixing a color with a neutral. I still have clothes that I don’t wear, but I replace them as I go shopping (which isn’t often, now that I have 2 little boys and little or no access to drop-in childcare. )

My plan is to create a lower rung in Little Champ’s closet so I can hang tops on top and bottoms on bottom, then sort his clothes in the same way. Then when he’s old enough, he can pick out his clothes and still be appropriate(ish).

I’d use four graphics: One for formal (a Church?) one for play (a soccer ball or truck?), one for warm (a sun), and one for cooler (a snowflake or cloud). These would either go on the hangers or on sections of the closet. On his closet door, I’d put a felt board that showed the weather and what we were going to do that day (play or go someplace formal, like Church or a wedding, etc.).

His closet would only have clothes that fit him and were appropriate seasonally. Out of season or different sized clothing would be in the garage, in labeled bins, or they would be in a different child’s closet. I plan to color code like crazy when we have a houseful of kids. If we have a host of one gender or the other in similar ages, I might designate one room to be the “closet”—yes, like the Duggar family.

2014 Update: I have a Pinterest board of ideas for living with multiple kids, including shared closet ideas. The board is called “A Full House” and you can follow it here.

How do you sort or organize your clothes?