6 easy steps for cleaning your bedroom

We all get lazy from time to time. Sometimes our bedrooms just get out of hand. Things pile up. You tell yourself, “I’ll take that cereal bowl downstairs in the morning.” Morning comes. You’re in a hurry, you’re late for work or school. The bowl sits silently in your room. You come home from work or school exhausted. You peel off your clothes, they lay in a clump on the floor. You plop down somewhere comfy to eat a snack. Soon that cereal bowl becomes a miniature garbage pail, because your real one is a few steps too far away.

We all get lazy from time to time. Sometimes we’re faced with a disaster of a room, just the result of our daily habits. Sometimes you realize it’s time to get things back in order.

Step One: Laundry.

Easy. Laundry is the best place to start when undertaking the task of tidying up your pigsty of a room. The key is contrast. It’s easy to spot among the clutter. It’s bulky, so it helps remove a high percentage of the mess early on, giving the illusion of serious progress in a short span of time. Good. You need that momentum.

Shake off your comforter, blankets and sheets then throw them in the wash first. Gather up all of your clothing, towels, socks, etc. and chuck ’em into a basket or hamper. Get together all of your shoes (do you really need so many?) and put them somewhere out of the way for now. Bring all of your collected articles down to the washing machine, and have them wait patiently for their turn.

Washing clothes takes time, something you’ll need while getting down to business with the rest of your mess. The key is efficiency. Let the first load do its thing and move on to Step Two. As the washing machine finishes, take its soothing buzz as a sign that its time to take a break from your current task and swap out the next load. Hanging your clothes to dry is the ideal way. You need to learn to start conserving energy, dammit. Repeat the cycle as you take on the other phases, until all of your clothing, towels, socks, etc. are clean and hung up.

Note: Now is the best time to decide if you really need all of that damn clothing. Are there articles you can live without? Consider filling up a bag with unwanted or unneeded clothing to be donated at your local community drop off. You will be helping someone in need. Plus, you have way too much. Seriously.

Step Two: Dishes.

Much like laundry, dishes are easy to distinguish from other junk, they’re unmistakable with their unique shapes and solidity. Gather up all cups, bowls, plates, utensils and whatever other odds and ends destined for the sink that you were too lazy to just wash once you were finished with them. Side note: JUST DO YOUR DAMN DISHES WHEN YOU’RE DONE USING THEM! It’ll save you the hassle of trying to scrub off three day old crud, giving you greasy nightmares. C’mon, you should know better.

Start washing! I prefer to wash by hand, it builds character. Plus, dishwashers are wasteful, don’t really do a great job of actually CLEANING (you’ve seen the crap they leave behind) and only perpetuate the lazy behaviour we’re trying to overcome here. Throw on some sweet tunes that get your blood pumping, sing your heart out and dance as you see fit. Wash EVERYTHING! I can’t stress this enough, don’t just half ass this step. No matter how big or small, don’t stop until the sink is completely empty. Take breaks only when the dish rack is full, to either dry and put away, or just return partially wet dishes to their designated holding cells. Personally, I never hand dry. It’s not rocket science. If it’s clean, it’s clean. A little water spots never hurt anyone.

Finish by scrubbing down the sink area and stovetop (since you probably left that a caked on disaster after your latest culinary creation). Like before, if there are pieces that you feel you can live without, entertain the idea of downsizing a tad. Perhaps you’ve somehow amassed four glass measuring cups and finally realized that you only need one. Or maybe you are one of the many people who have forty-nine spoons, when you live alone in an apartment with a cat, and rarely have more than four guests over on any given day, who may or may not even need a spoon. Pack these bad boys up and store them along with the clothing you’ve let go of. Did I just hear the washing machine buzz?

Step Three: Garbage

Now’s our first real challenge. Up until now, things have been pretty straightforward. Now you need to start making executive decisions.

Start with recyclables, they’re practically a distant cousin of dishes. You could probably even wash some of them and use ’em as freebee food storage containers. Repurposing is a good habit to get into. Whatever you don’t plan on keeping, (and therefore have washed in the sink and put away by now) put into the recycling.

Next is what I call “certain garbage”. Who am I kidding, I don’t call it anything, I just made that up. These are articles that you know for sure are junk, like wrappers, scraps of food and discarded packaging. Things that you probably should have just thrown away the moment you were done with them. Seriously, what’s wrong with you? I suggest you get an empty/near empty garbage bag and use this as your master depository. Scour your room for all certain garbage and huck it. As you go, sort through random papers and receipts you have lying around. Neatly stack and stash away only those that are absolutely necessary to keep and throw the rest into the recycling.

Size up doodads and decorations, this being the stage where you figure out what you truly need (which really isn’t all that much). Go through every knick knack, scrutinizing them ruthlessly. Start purging yourself of unnecessary possessions and hoarded treasures that only weigh you down. Keep only choice pieces that give you that special warm feeling in your tummy. That donation pile should be growing at this point. Put aside what you’ve decided evokes too much sentimental glee to let go of until the final step.

Step Four: Surfaces.

Time to do that much needed dusting. You don’t need any harmful, stinky, chemical cleansers and antibacterial blah blah blah nonsense. Just a couple clean cloths, some warm water (with a few spoonfuls of vinegar and lemon juice) and a little elbow grease can take care of 96% of what you’re likely to encounter.

Start up high, working your way to ground level. Wipe down every surface during this phase, getting off the bulk of dust and crumbs with a dry cloth (to help prevent too much dirt spreading). Let it all fall to the ground, we’ll take care of that later. Every desk, shelf, table and counter, give ’em all a good once over. After the initial cleaning, wet your cloth and go over every surface again. Give them a good scrub, getting off any stubborn crud and caked on mystery whatever. Now grab a new clean cloth, some new fresh water/vinegar/lemon concoction and do the final pass.

Step Five: Floor.

Simple. If you have a carpet, vacuum the hell outta it. (Beforehand, pick up any big items that may have fallen during Step Four and throw them in the garbage.) If you have a hard surface, sweep and mop. Easy.

Final Step: Organize.

Wow, what a journey. By now, the laundry will hopefully all be clean and dry. Put away the shoes and possessions you’ve decided to keep in a neat and orderly fashion (there’s no harm in reluctantly giving a few more up to the donation pile). Take some damn pride in your belongings! Make it look nice, give everything its own special place. Remember that place and make sure that when you’re done with your crap, you put it back!

Assuming your laundry is dry, make your bed. Hang up your clothes or fold them and stash ’em in a drawer. Tie off the garbage and put it in the bin. Light a few nice smelling candles, look around and breathe in your accomplishment.

Now keep it that way. Pick up after your damn self, do your dishes, throw dirty laundry in the basket immediately instead of having it pile up in every corner. Prevention is the best habit to adopt. Be responsible. Be respectful. Take some pride in what you have.

In closing, try to limit the amount of waste you create from now on. Be more conscious of what you spend your money on. Try buying more fruits and veggies, less processed or packaged foods (strive to buy none). Recycle. Be aware of the urge to spend. What you purchase, you support. Do you really want to support more waste? Do you really want to support more garbage? Stop and think when you’re doing your shopping. Ask yourself, what do I really need?