11 easy spring cleaning tips from a local professional organizer

Tidy up everywhere, from your home to your phone.

The Little Details in Cambridge.
The Little Details in Cambridge. –Little Details

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It’s spring — nearly summer — and the outdoors are calling. But so are your spaces, aching for a little TLC.

Use the last few weeks of the season to part with the barely-worn items squished in the back of your closet and brave digging into your junk drawer. Oh, and really clean your appliances. Stasia Steele, the founder and owner of Little Details organization studio in Cambridge, said they’re what’s most often left behind during a cleaning spree.

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“People are good about cleaning the surface, but not going inside,” she said. “That goes for your fridge, freezer, washer, and dryer.”

Organization isn’t all about physical spaces, either. Steele’s studio specializes in home, office, and digital tidying, helping people sift through clogged email inboxes, hectic digital calendars, and years’ worth of photos.

“Getting digitally organized feels just as good as getting physically organized,” the Little Details website reads. “The relief of knowing all of your photos and documents are backed up and all of your devices are properly syncing with each other is so satisfying.”

Steele offered her advice for effective spring cleaning, whether you’re dusting and decluttering solo or with the whole family. Start summer on a good, clean note.

7 tips for cleaning your physical space

1. Start with SPACE.
This acronym — which stands for Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, and Equalize — can be used to clean spaces and make sure they stay clean. Organizing a closet, for instance, would begin with sorting clothing, then getting rid of unwanted items, then giving the remaining stuff designated spaces. Containerizing would involve figuring out what materials, such as hangers and shoe organizers, you need to store your things. Equalizing means asking if the system works. If it doesn’t, Steele suggests going back through the acronym until it feels successful. “It also works for anything digital,” she said. “Being very intentional with the space and going through the same process anywhere you’re working is really crucial.”

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2. Invest in a visual timer.
These timers display a block of color, which disappear as time passes. Steele said she uses them to stay on track with her cleaning and organizing schedule. “I’ll use it because I can get really hyper-focused on a task,” she said. “Having that go off is your reminder of, ‘OK, time to move on.’”

3. Play some tunes.
“Turn on some music, dig into your fridge or freezer or something, and give yourself the momentum,” Steele said. “Being able to get some upbeat music on and get moving is really, really helpful.”

4. Use an over-the-door shoe organizer…
…But not for shoes. Instead, use it for items that don’t have a set space, but to which you need easy access during the warmer months, such as sunscreen, hats, bug spray, and sunglasses. Hang one of these organizers in an entryway closet, and assign each family member a row where they can stash their items. The same trick can be used to organize spices in the pantry or cleaning products in the basement.

5. Clean your appliances.
Back to these guys and going beyond their surfaces. Take everything out of your fridge and clean the shelves. Remove everything in your freezer, make sure items are re-bagged, and throw out anything with freezer burn. This advice also goes for the laundry unit. Steele said the drum of the washing machine often gets ignored, and the liner of the dryer doors can trap mildew. “I’ve seen horror stories, like Petri dishes,” she said. “Your clothes aren’t really clean if they’re not going into a clean washer or dryer.”

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6. Dig through the linen closet.
Once you’ve taken out any items with holes, tears, or stains, and pieces that aren’t used, Steele proposed donating them to an animal shelter. “They’ll even stuff dog beds with old towels and blankets,” she said.

7. Get matching hangers.
“It’s so incredibly pleasing to the eye to see one hanger across the board,” Steele said. “I would recommend the non-slip hangers, which doubles your closet space because they’re half the size of normal hangers.”

4 tips for cleaning your digital space

1. Organize your to-do list.
Steele said she believes the Reminders app on the iPhone to be “one of the most underused features.” Get unwieldy lists under control by using the app’s ability to sort items into color-coded sections. Different lists can be created to help organize house tasks, errands, and the like.

2. Purge your mailbox of unwanted magazines.
By taking a screenshot using Paper Karma of the mailing address on a magazine, you’ll be taken off the subscription list.

3. Take control of your inbox.
Unroll.me scans a user’s email and brings up a list of all subscriptions. Users then decide if they want to keep receiving the emails, unsubscribe, or put them in their “rollup,” which will take the messages out of the inbox and instead send them in a daily digest format. “It’s like Tinder for your email,” Steele said.

4. Keep your finances tidy and paperless.
Steele said she uses Mint.com to track expenses and set budgets, Neat to scan receipts and turn them into PDFs, and Dropbox to store files. “That’s how our business went paperless,” she said. “I put everything on it.”