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How To Eliminate Clutter In Your Home

About a month before getting married, I moved out of my parents’ house and into the house I now share with my husband. Part of that process involved throwing out all the unnecessary things that caused clutter in my bedroom and creating a clutter-free home.

Well, we’ve been married for almost eighteen months and I’ve decluttered multiple times. I can’t believe the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated. Sometimes it feels like clutter will always be a problem and other times, when our home is looking particularly sparkly and tidy, I realise that clutter does not have to be in my life. I don’t like it and I’ll do what I can to get rid of it.

Before attempting to get rid of clutter, here is something to remember:

Decluttering isn’t a once-off task. 

Clutter finds its way into our lives on a daily basis. Nice new magazines that you read and then no longer need, paper clutter that comes through the mail, things that we think we’ll use every day and then don’t. Don’t think that you can declutter once and you’ll be clutter-free forever. Commit to maintaining a clutter-free home and you’re on the right track.

how-to-eliminate-clutter-in-your-home

So here are a few things you can do to eliminate clutter in your home:

Get rid of old things

Old magazines, expired medicines and food products, unread books, old cellphones, outgrown clothes, mismatched socks, mismatched storage containers, duplicate appliances and cleaning items, worn towels, broken jewellery, old mail, unused toiletries, old make up, spices you never use, scratched or unwatched DVDs, and so on. Get rid of things that cause clutter by not even being used.

Give everything a home

By not having a home, the items in your house will start to find themselves on kitchen countertops, bedside tables, desks, the floor and other places that really need to be kept tidy. If everything has a place in your home, it’ll be easier to move it from the countertop to its rightful place, thereby eliminating clutter.

Limit the amount of hangers you have in your cupboard

If you only have forty hangers in your cupboard, you can only hang forty things in your cupboard, thereby eliminating clothing clutter. This will encourage you to think twice before buying new clothes and/or give clothes away more often. This process is made even more simple, by asking yourself one question: “If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?”. If the answer is no, you can donate that item.

Find out where your clutter is coming from

Junk mail, too many new purchases, or laziness that results in the build-up of things you really do use a lot. Is there anything you can do to eliminate this clutter? For example, automate your bills so that they can be received via email and paid online. Put a restriction on things you buy and how often you’ll buy them so that you are bringing less into your home. Perhaps you need to have a regular decluttering schedule – every day when you walk into the house, empty the paper clutter from your handbag and throw away any bits of paper and trash that you don’t need.

Find ways to get rid of books

Donate books to the local library, give books to family and friends and sell old textbooks. When it comes to recipe books, only keep the ones that have a large amount of recipes that you use. If you only use a few, photocopy them, put them in a file and give the book away.

Make your bed every day

There is something really powerful about starting your day by making your bed. Tidying up your room sets the tone for the rest of your home and the rest of your day! If your bed is tidy, you’ve got space to organize and fold things, and all your messy things start to look out of place when your bed is neat.

Get rid of excessive dishes

Glen and I have ten dinner plates, so that when we have friends over we can feed them without asking them to bring their own plates (because that is weird). The problem is that sometimes we get lazy and instead of cleaning a plate, we grab one from the cupboard. By having fewer sets of dishes, cutlery and glasses, you are forcing yourself to clean up instead of grabbing something clean and then creating a pile of dishes to be cleaned later on.

Start using the “touch it once” rule

This is how the rule works: when something comes into your home, there are a few things that could happen while it’s still in your hands:

  1. Throw it away
  2. Store it away
  3. File it away

What we usually do instead is move things from one countertop to the next, creating clutter in every room of the house.

Here are some examples:

When we receive wedding invitations, the date is put into our calendar and we either put the invitation on our fridge until the wedding is over (and then throw it away) or we throw it away immediately. The date is already saved in our calendar, after all, along with registry details, the address and that sort of thing.

The only birthday cards I keep are the ones from my husband. It’s something I’ve one since we started dating, so I make a point of putting his cards and letters into a box I’ve kept for the last seven years. All other cards are read, appreciated, and then thrown away.

When we buy new medicine, it gets put straight into our organized medicine box. Our box is categorized, so different types of medicine are grouped together (things for colds and flu, things for sore throats, things for sore tummies, etc).

join-the-declutter-challenge-2

You know what they say; a cluttered home creates a cluttered mind. If you are serious about getting rid of clutter in your home, join the Declutter Challenge. Starting on Monday 24 October, you’ll get an email each day with an area to declutter. I’ll send you my before and after photos, so you can see what I’ve done. The idea is to spend five minutes each day for five days getting rid of some unneeded clutter! If you’d like to sign up you can do that right here.

10 Creative ways to use the wall above your bed

Glen and I put effort into keeping our home clean, decluttered and just generally a nice place to live. Specifically now that Spring is here and we’ve got our Spring cleaning calendar [You can get your own right here] we’re keeping our home relatively clean. However, there are a few spaces in our home that need a little extra work. There’s always that one spot that seems to gather clutter because it’s just so easy to take piles of paper and dump them in a hidden space.For us, that space is our home office. No-one but us really goes in there, so it can stay messy for days at a time.

The other space we haven’t paid a lot of attention to is our bedroom. We keep it pretty clean – aside from the odd pair of shoes kicked onto the floor – but we haven’t done much to make this space something special and pretty. We’ve got boring white walls, white curtains and until recently, a white duvet cover. You’d think we would prioritize that place we spend 8 hours each day, but we haven’t.

It’s so easy to make sure your lounge, dining room, kitchen, and even bathroom look good, because that’s where your guests are going to hang out. No-one else gets to hangout in your bedroom so it requires less effort. I say “No!”. Glen and I have come up with a few ideas of how we can make our bedroom more awesome, and we’re starting by personalizing that space on the wall above our bed. So, here are a few ideas for you if you’re in a similar space and you want to make your bedroom awesome!

10 creative ways to use the wall above your bed

1. Create a mural

OK so this one isn’t a “quick and easy” thing to do, but if you are creative and you love painting, this might be right up your alley! Take a look at this bedroom wall makeover by Pam Lostracco.

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2. A romantic quote

Pick something really special and romantic that you both love, have it printed and framed and put it on the wall. It’s not too difficult and it looks really pretty! You can buy the prints in the photo below right here on Etsy.

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3. A beautiful painting

Whether you painted it yourself or bought it for the purpose of displaying it in your home, a beautiful painting is the perfect way to add colour and creativity to your bedroom. This one found on House & Home is so lovely.

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4. A family photo

Wedding photos, photos of your kids, abstract photos of people you don’t even know. Whatever you choose, pick something pretty, blow it up and put it on the wall. I really like this one by Design Milk.

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5. Wedding vows and significant dates

These are pretty, simple and so lovely. It’s also a wonderful reminder of your anniversary date (for those that forget easily) and those lifechanging promises you made to each other on your wedding day. I love this one by The Tomkat Studio.

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6. A gallery wall

Why choose one photo or painting when you could choose  few of your favourites and display them all? This one by One Kings Lane is eyecatching and pretty.

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7. White space

If you already have colourful, vibrant bedding you don’t want to hang something on the wall that will clash with it. I love the idea of a simple quote in a pretty font with a lot of white space around it. This one is by Sugar and Cloth.

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8. Pretty frames

So, you can’t think of anything to put in your frames, use them as the artwork! I just spotted this on Live Give Love and I think it’s a really lovely use of frames.

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9. A statement mirror

Or you could pick three pretty mirrors, like this one on My Hole In The Wall.

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10. Something unexpected

Why stop at artwork or quotes when you could have something a little different above your bed. This is by Cuckoo 4 Design and I like it!

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9 Things You Can Clean With Vinegar

As you might have noticed, I’m really getting into this whole spring cleaning thing. Over and above our usual cleaning routine, Glen and I are doing a bit of a deep clean of things in our home. We’ve cleaned out the oven, washed our bedding, organized our medicine cabinet and we’ve got big plans to tackle our carpet stains, our super messy laundry room and home office. Are you with me on this?

nine things you can clean with vinegar

1. Carpet Stains

For light stains, mix 2 tablespoons of salt with half a cup of vinegar. Apply your mixture to the stain, let it dry and then vacuum.

If your stains are a little tougher, create a paste made up of 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Rub this into your stain with a dry cloth, let it sit for two days and then vacuum.

2. Drains

Pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Don’t be surprised when it starts to get foamy. Once the foaming stops, flush the drain with hot water, wait five minutes and then flush the drain with cold water.

3. Stinky toilet bowls

Pour two cups of undiluted vinegar into your toilet, let it overnight and flush in the morning.

4. Tiles

Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and use that to scrub your tiles. Finish off with a warm water rinse.

5. Mildewed towels

Throw your towels in the washing machine, don’t add any washing powder, but instead pour one cup of vinegar into the wash and let it do its thing.

Related: Get your 30 day spring cleaning calendar right here

6. Mirrors and Windows

Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water and 12 drops of lemon essential oil. Pour it all into a clean spray bottle, spray onto your mirrors and windows and wipe off with a clean towel.

7. A grimy oven

Sprinkle the base of your oven with baking soda and spray it with vinegar from a spray bottle until it starts to get foamy. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply this to grimy parts on the side of your oven. Spray this applied paste with your vinegar and allow it to sit overnight. Wipe your oven clean in the morning.

8. A wooden cutting board

Wipe down your board with vinegar and finish off by rubbing a cut lemon over your board to sanitize your board.

9. Tupperware

Dampen a cloth with vinegar and use it to wipe out smelly plastic containers.

Related: 12 cleaning tips from real people who clean

Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide

It’s the last week of August, which means Spring cleaning is just around the corner. Before I got married Spring cleaning was easy. I only had a bedroom and a shared car to clean, so I could take care of that within a couple of days. Now that I’ve got a husband, a home, my own office and a car, there are many more things to clean and organize.

Your ultimate spring cleaning guide

So, I’ve created a Spring cleaning calendar which will spread all my cleaning tasks across the month, making it all so much less overwhelming. If you’d prefer to do your Spring cleaning in a few days, go for it, but doing a little bit each day works better for some.

You can get your own free download of this pretty pink Spring cleaning calendar >> right here <<, along with other printables [my personal favourite is the weekly planner I’ve got stuck on my fridge]. Print your calendar, stick it on your fridge and use it to keep track of your Spring cleaning tasks.

Spring Cleaning Calendar blog graphic

So, now that you’ve got your calendar, here are a few ideas of more detailed cleaning jobs you could do in each room of the house:

Bedroom

  • Mattresses
  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Clear out closet and donate clothes
  • Clean makeup and hair brushes
  • Dust nightstands, bedside tables, lamps and other surfaces

Lounge and office

  • Clean or vacuum floors under furniture
  • Dust and vacuum corners and ceilings
  • Dust all surfaces (including bookshelves, ceiling fans and light fixtures)
  • Vacuum carpets and mats
  • Organize books and magazines
  • Organize and sort through all paper clutter and digital files
  • Dust the tops of all frames and wall hangings
  • Dust any indoor plants

Kitchen

  • Deep clean your oven
  • Clean out your fridge
  • Clean and sanitize all cutting boards
  • Clean the floor
  • Wipe down microwave, stovetop, cupboards and fridge
  • Indoor bins
  • Clean out the washing machine
  • Scrub your knife block
  • Clean the space under the fridge, oven and microwave
  • Put your sponges in the dishwasher to clean them out
  • The top of the fridge

Bathroom

  • Clean out drawers and medicine cabinet
  • Wash bath mats
  • Clean all surfaces
  • Clean toilet brush and disinfect toilet
  • Clean and swap bath towels
  • Clean the floor
  • Wipe down the mirror
  • Clean the shower and shower curtain
  • Clean and disinfect the bins
  • Clean out the toothbrush holder and soap dish

 

 

 

12 Cleaning tips from married people who clean

What’s the best way for newlyweds to learn how to clean? By getting killer advice from other married couples who actually clean their homes. Read to the end to see my cleaning tip!

Cleaning tips

Set realistic cleaning goals

Since becoming a mother, I have also had to let go of trying to have a perfectly clean and tidy house all the time, and become accepting of that fact. Making peace with what I am able to accomplish, has been very important and necessary at this stage in my life. I don’t just let things spiral out of control though. I have a set schedule for what cleaning and chores I do when, but then I need to allow myself to chill a bit (and let it go) when the lounge has toys lying around and the baby has tossed out the tupperware all over the kitchen floor. – Alice de Jager

 

Coconut oil!

In terms of cleaning I use it for:
*Polishing/treating wooden surfaces if I don’t have furniture polish (thin layer)
*Use it for keeping rust at bay
*Use it to get the stickiness from a label off an item (or you can use Furniture Polish)
 
Other uses:
*Moisturizer (good to put in your bath)
*Great as a substitute for oil in cooking- a healthier alternative.
*It’s a great anti-bacterial- so if you have a cut etc
*Good for your hair too (in moderation)
– Shelley Brummer
Make chores fun!
What we have ended up creating is a fun environment whenever we clean. For example, we’ll do the dishes together, put on some awesome tunes and sing our hearts out while doing the tedious task. It makes it seem less of a mission and we end up laughing and bonding over something that would usually cause me to become irritated and miserable. – Candice Challis
Bicarb is your friend
Never underestimate the power of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) as a cleaning and deodorizing agent! Baking soda can be used to clean your bath and toilet bowl, unclog drains, clean tarnished jewelry, and even deodorize your dirty laundry. To quickly clean my kitchen sink and prevent the drain from smelling, I pour about a 1/4 cup baking soda and a dash of vinegar into the sink, scrub the sink and gently wash it down with some water. – Amy Weimann
Use wet wipes
To clean any of your kitchen appliances that might have gathered some oil from cooking and general dust, use a wet wipe.  It removes the oily film and leaves it shiny and clean. – Rory Mole (my dad)
A drop of vinegar
If you have to wash glasses by hand, add a drop of vinegar to warm soapy water and then rinse.  It leaves the glasses sparkly and clean.  Same goes for washing windows – add a little vinegar to your water. – Cathi Mole (my mom)
Get a dishwasher
My best cleaning tip:
Do yourself the BIGGEST favour ever… invest in a dishwasher!
Not only does it save me time [doing dishes was never my vibe], but stacking the dishwasher means I’m also “cleaning the kitchen” at the same time! #DoubleWin [oh, and apparently it saves water, and the planet and all that good stuff]My second cleaning tip:
If you have kidlets [or soccer playing husbands] who get mud and grass stains all over their white shorts – the BEST remedy for that… the white bar of sunlight soap – I particularly like this blue one.
Wet shorts – rub bar over problem area, then chuck in washing machine with arial washing powder [or liquid] – because it just smells awesome! – Emma Weise
Deglazing and bathroom hygiene 
If you don’t own a non-stick pan, you will be well-acquainted with how tough removing cooked-on grease can be. The irony, is that the cooked-on bits contain so much flavour, yet is usually scrubbed away. A great solution to this is deglazing. Once you’ve finished cooking in the pan, turn up the heat and pour either chicken stock liquid or a small amount of brown-wine vinegar in the pan, and use a lifter to gather all the cooked bits. The liquid and heat helps them to come off the pan very easily. The result is a pan that is super easy to clean, and the liquid can be used as a sauce or gravy – the best of both worlds!
Our last shower curtain became rather disgusting due to the fact that we probably didn’t clean it nearly enough, but mainly because we didn’t realize that they need to be aired out. We are determined not to make the same mistake this time! Our tip: Once you’ve taken a shower, leave the shower curtain closed till it dries – this will prevent mould and germs from collecting on the wet curtains.  – Hayley Gallagher
Get some additional help
We have a lady who helps do the bigger cleaning jobs once a week (dusting, windows, shower, etc) We do the normal tidying and washing so she can do the more time consuming stuff. This means no more weekend spring cleaning, and more time to hangout with each other, family and friends. I realised I’m spoilt on this one though.  – Shana Kreusch
 Cleaning while renovating is a little different
I generally will vacuum at least once a week and mop the floors once a week. Mid-week I will give the house a sweep as well as all the dusting especially those hard to reach spaces, dusting is not just for the big furniture, dust everywhere, it can also help against itchy eyes and sneezy noses. Dishes, I like to wash throughout the day as I hate the buildup of dishes (personal preference). As it’s just the two of us one load of washing a week can be sufficient although with a husband who has a physical job and a love for motorbikes and cars we are likely to do a “dirty load” too. Renovation and building is no joke, keeping everything clean is hard with cement dust that goes everywhere. This is where both of us hit the cleaning supply pretty hard, between sweeping, mopping and dusting this becomes a daily routine to try and lift the perpetual building dust. In general though I have found that if you stay on top of it all, the happier you will be in your home. I try to do a little bit everyday and have learnt to enjoy my time spent cleaning and even take pride in it (cheesy, I know). – Emma-Jane Shaw
Break it up into smaller chunks
Prioritize your cleaning. Decide what needs to be cleaned now, and what can wait. The last thing you want is to be left with a mound of cleaning that needs to be done in one go. Rather break it up, and if it feels like it’s too much, break up the cleaning into smaller jobs. – Glen Hartmann (my husband, who loves a clean home)
Handle clutter before it becomes a problem
I absolutely hate clutter and I’ve been known to randomly purge items from our home, particularly my cupboard and office space. I’ve found that the best way to handle clutter is to tackle it before it’s a problem. Everything in our home has a place. If something comes into our home and it doesn’t have a place, we either create a place for it or throw it away. I can’t have things lying around in the interim. As paper enters our home (newspapers, bills, flyers, magazines) one of two things happens to it immediately after it’s been used: 1) It gets thrown/given away, or 2) It gets filed away. There is no other option, because we all know what the third option would be: it would sit on the kitchen counter for a few days causing unnecessary mess. – Me

A Free “Weekly Planner” Printable

I don’t know about you but I love to be organised. I have lots of lists, journals, planners, calendars and ways of keeping on top of my admin (and some of my husband’s too). I have lots of tips on how to stay organised and the first one I’ll give you is this: use a calendar and a “to do” list. I literally could not survive without mine. Having my trusty list with me helps me to know what tasks I’ve got to do, what appointments I need to prepare for, and what I want to get done.

FreePrintablesGraphic

Your lists can be super simple or a little more detailed. I like to have a meal plan too [read all about how I plan my meals right here.]

Confession time… I sometimes complete tasks that I hadn’t added to my “to do” list (it happens when you try to be efficient), and when that happens I’ll always go back and write that item on my list just so I can tick it off. It’s just so satisfying ticking something off my list. Am I alone here?

Click here for free printables

I would love to see you using your printables, so take photos of your organised self making use of the printables in your home, upload them to Instagram and tag @lovelyprettyinsta.

Meal Planning For Newlyweds

One of the first lessons I learnt after getting married was that food is expensive. Grocery shopping and cooking takes up a lot of time, and don’t even get me started on doing dishes. In my first year of being married, I’ve learnt a couple of things that have helped us save money (I have also gone off book and spent waaay more on food than we budgeted for) and have delicious meals every day.

So, today I’d like to invite you into my planning brain and show you how I put together our meal plan and shopping list for the week.

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Step 1: Only shop once a week

Glen and I go shopping on Tuesdays, because it is generally a good day for us to spend time shopping. Choose a day that works for you and do your best to buy everything for the week ahead so that you don’t have to go to the shop again during the week.

Step 2: Plan your week

If you’re anything like me, you like to plan ahead. In planning what groceries we need, I’ll write out the days of the week and scratch out those that don’t require any cooking. If we are planning on going out on a Saturday night, there’s no point in buying food to cook on that day, is there? Next to each day that requires a meal, we’ll write out what we’d like to cook. Sometimes we feel like a particular dish (Asian chicken stir fry) and other times we’ll write out a type of meat and see what we find at the shop. Our supper plan looks a little something like this:

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Step 3: Make a list

Based on our plan for the week, we’ll make a list. If we have a particular meal in mind for any of the days, we’ll write out all the ingredients we need that we don’t have in our kitchen already. Usually our list will include all the meats we want, a selection of vegetables and any other things we need to buy for the week. We’ve been eating yoghurt and granola for breakfast and chicken salads for lunch (last week we bought way too much so we aren’t buying anything for this week’s lunches). Today’s shopping list isn’t very long, but it looks like this:

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Step 4: Look out for good deals

Sometimes we’re in the mood for beef, so we’ll look out for specials. If there’s a steak special, we’ll get those. There are some cuts of beef that are better suited to slow cooking, which is a great way to save money, because those cuts are almost always going to be cheaper. If you are flexible with your shopping list and meal plan, you can really save money and buy good quality ingredients that suit your budget and cooking style.

Step 5: Keep your meal plan on the fridge

What’s the best way to stick to your plan and avoid going to the shop again? Keeping your meal plan right in front of you! Our fridge looks like this:

I’ve got some more ideas I’ll be sharing with newlyweds, so keep a lookout on Lovely Pretty and say hello on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

I’ve upgraded my fridge meal planner and I’ve made one for you too! Get yours right here.

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Coming up later this week:

Cake tasting with the girls!

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