I’m a notorious slob (just ask my mom), but I do try to keep my home and workplaces clean (or at least organized). For me, that means occasionally calling in outside help (thank you TaskRabbit), forming piles that will eventually be moved (when I have the time), and making peace with the fact that my home will never be “photoshoot ready.”

That said, I’ve always been fascinated by tidy people. My mom’s super neat, so maybe it’s a curiosity about the genes I didn’t inherit? When I was a kid, one of my classmate’s mom would vacuum their carpets into designs like sunbursts, and you weren’t allowed to walk on them. 20+ years later, I still think about it. Clearly, I’m fixated. To feed my obsession, and in honor of spring (and spring cleaning), I asked the Keeping It Real Panel to share their cleaning and organization styles with us!

Keeping It Real panel collage
Some of the wonderful women on the Keeping it Real panel!

What does Spring Cleaning look like in your home? Do you go all out? Do you buy into it at all? Is your house always perfect and therefore does not require Spring Cleaning? Is it a point of contention for different household members?

Katelyn G.
Well I live in a 4 bedroom apartment where we have a cleaning service come once a month, year round. She does all the common areas and bedrooms but I “spring clean” my closet every quarter or so to make room for new fashunz. I send my nicer things to The Real Real every few months, and then the rest I’ll take to Buffalo Exchange and then drop off whatever they won’t take at a local shelter nearby.

Susan
My house is never perfect, ever. With a toddler around (and messy adults) keeping things even moderately clean feels like picking through a hay bale with tweezers – tedious, eternal, and maddening. Spring Cleaning is always so appealing, and happens in charming spurts. I relish an opportunity to really clean out a closet or give the windows the attention they deserve!

Kristen B.
I tend to do a fall cleaning- get rid of unused clothes, books and clutter. The trees let go of their leaves, so I’ll let go of what no longer serves me too.

Nicole
I do not partake in Spring Cleaning – but I should! I’m pretty good at keeping my kitchen and bathroom clean most of the time, but I have clothes absolutely everywhere, at all times. New York closets are simply NOT big enough! I tend to move apartments about once a year on average for the last decade, so that’s when I tend to do my ‘big cleaning’ where I donate and throw out a bunch of stuff!

Maeghan
Uhh not familiar. What’s spring cleaning? 🙂

Alyssa K.
Prior to the last year, I only owned enough stuff to fill my bedroom so Spring Cleaning wasn’t necessary. Now that I (SOMEHOW?!) filled an entire apartment by myself, I can see why this is a thing people do…

Maggie
My house is perfect about four times out of the year: The weekend my husband is away for work, Christmas Day, the day the weather changes to Fall, and the first day I can open all my windows after winter *actually* ends. I definitely buy into Spring cleaning – though I think it’s as simple as that first burst of new energy in the air. The first time it ‘smells like Spring’ is usually permission to get completely manic about cleaning. I think everyone in the house appreciates having it spotless, but no one wants to have to do the actual cleaning. I’m usually barking orders at the Mr. until the job is done. He gripes, but I think he’s figured out that just getting it done works out better for him than dragging his feet or fighting me on it. He knows better by now than to be caught on a cleaning day doing anything other than cleaning. I’m a big fan of pushing through on a Saturday to enjoy the cleanliness on a Sunday.

Julie
Spring cleaning is an any season kind of event in my house. It typically involves being home for the day with no real plans. I decide it’s been a while since I cleaned the shower and go to scrub it. On the way from grabbing the supplies to head to the bathroom, I notice it’s a little dusty in the living room and get a rag and start dusting. Since I’m up and cleaning, I decide it’s probably time to strip the bed and change the sheets. While I’m doing that, I think about the last time I wiped down the baseboards and start on them. The next thing I know, I’ve got 15 half started jobs and no room is actually clean. That’s when I determine it’s a good time for wine and finish the jobs while finishing the bottle.

Editor’s Note: Julie, I’ve never felt so understood!

What’s your organization/storage style? Are you a pack rat or a purger? A minimalist or a maximalist? Do you organize in piles, in a precise system, or not at all? There’s no wrong way!

Katelyn G.
All my life I’ve been a hoarder and have kept everything. One of my new years resolutions was to have a minimalist wardrobe, so I’ve been focusing on de-cluttering and purging. There’s no reason anyone should have over 30 pairs of shoes in a tiny east village apartment.

Susan
What organizational style? For someone whose workday requires massive organization, my home appears surprisingly chaotic. I’ve got my piles, but I hate them! I love discovering new ways to organize old stuff, though waiting for inspiration to strike on this can mean new additions to the house get stored..eccentrically. Still, most things in their place, mostly fitting perfectly. Mostly.

Kristen B.
My organizational style is usually piles (organized piles!). Though I am naturally a pack rat, I am making an effort to cull. My home is small so I have a capsule wardrobe that I update seasonally and a curated bookshelf of cookbooks and other reference materials. I used to have a book hoarding problem but now pass them along when I’m finished with them. I occasionally go through my belongings and if something hasn’t been touched in 6 months, out it goes!

Nicole
This is me every time I try to clean:

Editor’s Note: OMG, Julie! We have another soul sister up in here!

Maeghan
My organization style is SO unique that I am the only one who knows where I put things. It doesn’t always make sense, but it works for me… most of the time. I also love to throw things away. No clutter allowed.

Alyssa K.
If it fits, that’s where it sits.

Maggie
I’m a purger, but somehow we still have a ton of crap. We just moved from a small apartment to a four bedroom – three bathroom colonial. Somehow, we still have bins in the attic and have things without a home. HOW?! My one claim to fame is that I have every stitch of clothing in the new closet – all seasons! No bins of off season or off size clothes anywhere. Despite all the crap we have around, I will say there is a very specific system to the organization. My clothes, for instance, are hung by type (pants, shirts, sweaters) then color. I’m a stickler that things be in their place and nothing ever be on the floor that shouldn’t be there (so our Roomba can work without interruption). We have a baby on the way this August though, so I’m sure all my systems are going to go flying out the window eventually. I’m enjoying the tidiness while I can!

Julie
I LOVE organization. At the same time, I’m a bit of a pack rat and a piler. This is very difficult with living in a small one bedroom with minimal storage space. It’s also difficult at work where I have a tiny classroom and tons of books and supplies. I’ll work really hard at finding a home for everything and a system that works (I’m a huge fan of stackable baskets). Then along comes something I have no home for and I tend to throw it in the big closet to be dealt with later. The problem with later is that, in the meantime, more things come along and I end up with a pile. The best feeling is when I’ve neatly put everything away in an organized manner. I cherish that moment because I know tomorrow is bound to bring me something new to stow away.

About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

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