Spring Cleaning: 6 Steps For An Organized, Clutter-Free Home

spring cleaning your homeIf you’re like most New Englanders, this is the time of year that you begin the countdown to spring. Warmer temperatures and lightweight jackets are on the horizon, so for many homeowners it’s a good time for some spring cleaning.

And if you’re getting ready to sell your home, cleaning up and purging items that you no longer need is a must-do no matter what time of year it is. Our six-step guide will help you declutter and reorganize your home before the flowers bloom.

1. Sort

It’s amazing how quickly items can accumulate in your home. From kitchen trinkets to old clothes that no longer fit (or never did!), these items can take up a lot of space. For a thorough purging, tackle one room at a time. Go through every cabinet and drawer in each room and if you come across an item that is broken, expired, a duplicate or no longer used, put it in your purge pile. Be disciplined; if you're torn about whether to purge an item, err on the side of toss. suggests keeping an eye out for common offenders such as old linens, souvenirs, kitchen gadgets and toiletries. Sort items into four piles: recycle, donate, sell or trash. Depending on the extent of your clutter (and whether you're purging in preparation for a move), you may  need to create such piles room by room. Otherwise, wait until you've conquered each room (including the basement and attic) to sort into recycle, donate sell or trash piles.

2. Recycle

Why not do a good deed for the planet while you get organized at home? Even items that seem like trash -- empty boxes in the basement, kitchen storage containers missing a lid, broken appliances and date electronics – can be recycled.

For a full list of items that can be recycled check out this A-to-Z guide from Real Simple or contact your local Department of Public Works for details about what can be recycled through your town. And if you want to replace some of those dated or broken items, Best Buy offers an electronics and appliances recycling program that includes an option to trade in items for a Best Buy gift card.

3. Donate

What may be old and unused in your home may be just what someone else needs but can’t quite afford. Donating items is not only a great way to purge, but it’s an opportunity to help other’s in your community.

If you have outgrown baby items such as clothes, bathtubs and swings, the Hallmark Health Mother’s Helping Mother’s Program accepts donations for their free store. The Mission of Deeds in Reading is a wonderful community resource that accepts household donations for those in need. Animal shelters and boarding facilities often welcome and appreciate old linens including quilts, blankets and towels. You can also offer items for free via online community or yard sale groups (see below).

4. Sell It

As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. In today's digital world you can pass along your unwanted items and make a little extra cash without setting up everything in your front yard. If you’re a Facebook user, consider the marketplace where you can list items for sale, or join an online yard sale group by simply searching your town name and online yard sale. For example, Reading, MA Online Yard Sale and North Shore Online Yard Sale are just two local options. In addition to using social media, Craigslist and online consignment stores are other resources for easy online selling.

5. Get Rid of It

While recycling, donating or selling unwanted items are good initial options, don’t hesitate to dispose of items that you no longer need or want. Visit your town website for regulations on what types of items can be disposed of curbside or at trash collections centers. If your purging effort is substantial, renting a dumpster or dumpster bag are also good options. 

6. Reorganize

Once you’ve purged and decluttered your home, set yourself up for a quick and easy spring cleaning next year by getting reorganized. Like the sorting process, approach the reorganization process room by room. Are you making the most of the space in your living room? Can you eliminate clutter by adding more storage in the kitchen? Do the bookshelves in your office need reorganizing? Are hair products and makeup taking over your bathroom counter? HGTV offers some great tips to help you declutter one room at a time.

Sorting, purging and organizing is indeed a process and not a one-day event. Using the room by room approach will certainly make your spring cleaning less daunting and perhaps more satisfying.

Pro Tips to Protect Your Home from Snow and Ice

Let’s face it, winter in New England can be brutal. With blizzards, nor’easters and freezing temperatures, this time of year is tough not only on you, but on your home too. Safeguard your home and property from snow, ice and cold temperatures by heeding these winter weather precautions.

Avoid Ice Dams – Tips from The Spruce

  • Keep gutters and downspouts free of dirt and debris.
  • Use a roof rake to remove the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge (rake carefully so you don’t damage the shingles).
  • Eliminate additional heat in the attic by ensuring that recessed lights and duct work are properly insulated.

Dodge Frozen Pipes – Tips from Bob Vila

  • First and foremost, never turn the heat off if you leave the house for an extended period of time. Bob Vila suggests leaving the temperature set to 55°F.
  • When temperatures are below freezing, relieve pressure and keep the water flowing by turning faucets on just enough to drip.
  • Pipes located near the garage are more vulnerable to colder temperatures, so be sure to keep garage doors closed.  

Protect Trees and Shrubs – Tips from Better Homes and Gardens

  • Resist the urge to shake snow and ice off tree branches – this can cause limbs to break. Instead, prop up branches with stakes to avoid breakage.
  • Consider wrapping shrubs and trees with burlap or canvas to serve as a wind barrier (and for those near paved areas, to protect from salt damage).
  • Use mulch to protect tree roots and soil from extreme temperatures.

Steer Clear of Damage to Your Driveway and Walkway – Tips from This Old House

  • Take it easy with the shovel. Aggressive shoveling can cause asphalt to chip.
  • Rock salt can cause damage to concrete; to avoid corrosion, use calcium chloride instead.
  • Gravel driveways and walkways are tricky. Keep shovels and snow blower blades at least one inch off the ground to avoid disturbing the stone.

More Snow and Ice Must-Do’s

  • Snow, mud and ice melt can really do a number on hardwood floors. Protect your floors with doormats both inside and outside, and use a waterproof tray for wet footwear.
  • Clearing outside vents of snow and ice after a big storm should be a top priority - and make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working.  
  • Save your front yard from being torn up by the snow plow by installing snow markers along your property line before the ground freezes.

Unfortunately, New England winters can take a toll on your home, but taking the proper measures before, during and after a big snow storm or a deep freeze can help evade major damage.

The Ultimate Checklist For Moving In The Winter

New England House In WinterSo, you found that perfect new home, your offer was accepted, the paperwork is complete and it’s time to pack all your belongings and start moving. This an exciting time, but it’s January in New England, a time of year when even going outside can feel daunting.  

We've put together the ultimate checklist to help reduce some of the stress of moving in the winter and make your move go as smoothly as it would on a warm summer day.

Safety First

  1. Ice melt: The last thing you want to do is slip on a patch of ice while moving a box of your most valuable possessions. Be sure to have plenty of ice melt on hand to reduce the chances of slipping on outdoor stairs and walkways.
  2. Extra towels: Snow melts quickly when tracked inside. Have some extra towels on hand to mop up messy puddles and avoid wet slippery floors inside.
  3. Visit the new house: Before packing the truck for the move to your new home, visit to make sure all the walkways are clear and the lights are working inside and out. Dusk comes early in the winter.

Stay Warm

  1. Protect your hands: Insulate your fingers from the cold and ensure you have a good grip on boxes and furniture by investing in a pair of warm gloves with good grippers.
  2. From the inside out: Brew some coffee and tea or make a quick run to the local coffee shop. You and your team of movers will appreciate a warm beverage on a cold winter day.
  3. Preheat the moving truck: Before you load the last few boxes, start the truck and let it preheat.
  4. Pump up the thermostat: Your new home should feel warm and cozy. When you make that quick visit before the big move make sure the heat is on.

Be Smart

  1. Protect your floors: Mud and dirt can accumulate quickly, and scratches are bound to happen when furniture is being moved. Preserve the floors in your both your old and new homes with temporary floor protection paper.
  2. Avoid a costly error: Before you park your moving truck on the sidewalk or street in front of your new home, learn the winter parking regulations in your new neighborhood. Ask your new neighbors if there are any parking restrictions or visit your local city or town website. 
  3. Feet first: Moving in flip flops is never a good idea … especially in the winter. A pair of sturdy boots with good treads is a much safer choice. Boots will keep your feet warm, help avoid slips and falls and make it easier to walk in the snow or mud. Boots will also protect your precious toes if something does drop on them.

Last but Not Least

  1. Medications: Some medications (both over the counter and prescription) must be stored at a certain temperature. When packing medications, label them appropriately and make them one of the last items in the truck to ensure they do not get too cold.
  2. Shovels: Tis’ the season for snow. Don't pack your shovels! They should be readily accessible in case an unexpected snowstorm comes along or some last minute shoveling is needed to clear out a pathway for moving furniture and boxes. 
  3. Technology: Your flat screen television and computer don’t like the cold temperatures. Avoid freezing your technology by wrapping these items in blankets and loading them into the truck last.
  4. Don’t forget the lights: In the madness of celebrating the holidays, getting ready to move and shoveling snow, it can be easy to forget to take down those holiday lights outside. When you do your final sweep, check outside for any lingering holiday lights on the house or bushes.

While the winter may not be an ideal time to move in New England, the key to any big move is preparation. If the cold, ice and snow gets under your skin, just focus on celebrating spring in your new home.