Nobody likes to clean their room or house, we’d rather let the stuff pile up than do anything. It has reached a point where it has become an activity on its own with its own name “Spring Cleaning”, done probably once a year and given a significance to justify its rarity. I myself am no different. I watch the clutter build up until its looks like it’s going to collapse over me before I do anything about it. And worse still, I collect a lot of rubbish which I don’t throw away. Yes. I’m the worst sort of pack rat. I’m a sentimental pack rat.
It is clearly evident when I still have Ikea paper folders from 15 years ago still holding my stuff together. I found a bunch of collectibles from musicals that I bought, kept and never saw the light of day. A whole bunch of childhood things I kept since then. Instead of cleaning, I sat there going through them. at the rate I was going, I was never gonna get anything done.
So how does a sentimental pack- rat clean out her room?
1. Throwing out old bills and bank statements
I found stacks of them kept neatly in clear folders, stored away years ago and forgotten. Bills dating as far back as 1997, they range from phone bills from numbers long cancelled, bank statements from accounts closed and Internet bills of ISPs that don’t exist anymore. These you have to shred coz they contain all sorts of personal information albeit outdated, of yourself. Not having a paper shredder at home was a chore but nothing simple tearing can’t solve. Although you’ll get really sore thumbs after that.
2. Re-using other people’s crap
You know what they say about one man’s crap is another man’s treasure. That’s what they also call the recycling program. My boyfriend and my mom have that sort of relationship with me. My mom cleans out her wardrobe ever so often and passes all her unwanted clothes to me, even though I’m a size smaller than her. (No Mother, just because it doesn’t fit you anymore doesn’t mean the clothes shrunk…). My boyfriend gave me a Toy Story 3 mug even though we both didn’t watch the film. Since I have like 20 mugs lying around the house, I re-used it as a lipstick holder since I have like 5-6 tubes lying around the table at any one time. The christmas mug, another excessive gift you receive from an acquaintance, keeps pens and hair clips handy. Not all mugs need to hold coffee.
3. Stack them high
According to my friends, I have Monk-like tendencies. If you ever watch the TV show Monk, you’d know the main character has an obsessive compulsive disorder that ranges between excessive cleanliness and tidiness. I am not tidy at all, you’d agree if you saw the state of my room. But I apparently have a compulsion to line things up in order. without realising it, a bunch of pencils will be arranged in order of length or colour depending. left alone, I’d arrange everything on the table parallel to one another. But you don’t need to be obsessive to be neat. I stacked my DVDs according to height just because it’s easier to stack even more DVDs on top of them if the perpendicular stack are of the same height. Where spaces are getting smaller and smaller, we go vertical!
4. If you haven’t used it by now, you never will.
Another great Christmas gift idea of female colleagues: bath gels, body lotions and the like. every Christmas I receive bottles of these things which I put aside and forget about till the next cleaning mood hits me. One time I decided to use a jar of forgotten body butter and my skin broke up in hives. It was the itchiest mistake I ever made and I never made it again. If you have such bottles lying around after a year, THROW THEM AWAY! If you were going to use it, you’d have done so long ago.
5. Be cold-hearted
This is what I tell myself when I start throwing things out. The pencil case I had throughout my school years, not needing it anymore. All the costume jewelery I stopped wearing, give them away. Magazine clippings of Mulder and Scully (I miss that show), went into the recycling bin. Of course I’m not completely cold-hearted. There were things I still kept; my stamp collection I used to painstakingly keep, my first strawberry shortcake handbag but one has to be selective. If you keep everything, you have no room to buy new things!
6. Boxes, boxes, boxes
Ikea, if you don’t know by now, has an amazing collection of boxes and folder of all sizes, shapes and material. I chose clear plastic ones and opaque cardbox ones to mix it up. Just make sure they fit your shelves and cupboards before you buy them. They are great for stacks of sheet music, scrapbook materials and personal documents like your school diploma. Ikea even sells boxes for shoes with a clear cover so you can see what shoes are in there.
7. Organise them
My stationery drawer is a disgrace. For years it sat like the dump of the room. anything that didn’t fit anywhere went into this drawer. extra buttons, safety pins, stray paper clips, rulers, pens, sticky tape. I finally cleared it out: broken pencils, unused pens from multitude of hotel rooms, a straw hat brooch, dried up blue-tag. in the end, i found 6 stacks of post-it notepads, 8 page-tabs, 3 bottles of glue. 16 lighters, 2 pencil sharpeners and 30 different buttons.
You know how some people feel cathartic after a detox program, or running 20 miles, or taking a really good shit? It felt really good cleaning out all the old stuff you realise you don’t need anymore. and funnily, it helped me stop buying crap. every time I get the urge to buy something totally useless, I stop myself and ask, “do I really need it? will I throw it out a year from now?”
I hope these tips help! if not, I can clean your place for a small fee! I do have a natural compulsion to clean things up.