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Yesterday was my sixth-month anniversary in my new apartment.

It also marks the first time I’ve found a cobweb here. A good reminder that time and filth march on, largely unimpeded.

With Labor Day now past, it’s time to get serious about fall cleaning. Winter is the season of nesting, relaxing, and enjoying your home — but only if you do the prep work.

Now’s the time to get the cleaning out of the way so you can focus on other things that need doing.

Make a day of it, and start early by getting your slowcooker going with something tasty, and by the end of your very long day, dinner’s done, the place smells great, and you might even get some leftovers when you’re in comatose movie-watching mode the next day.

Here are other reasons fall cleaning is something to celebrate, not dread.

Taking Stock

In our fast-moving world filled with reminders all around of everything we don’t have, there’s something very cathartic about being forced to spend hours, possibly days, cleaning and sorting through everything you own.

When fall cleaning rolls around, it’s when we start wishing we had less, because we realize how much of our time is being Hoovered by the copious things we own.

It’s time to be grateful for what you have, reassess what you think you need, and pare down where you can.

A great way to tackle this is to plan ahead for generosity. Prearrange a pickup by a local charitable organization and set the preceding weekend aside for taking back your home and whittling down your belongings. Things people would be very grateful to receive are your old jackets, warm clothes, blankets, and even socks and shoes.

For things too good to donate, you can Craigslist ’em or give them to a consignment store to sell on your behalf.

If you’re like me, you’ll feel as accomplished by getting rid of clutter as you will for cleaning up the place.

Opportunity to Change

When you’re doing the everywhere-everything deep-clean once a season, it’s an opportunity to start fresh.

Sometimes you can get frustrated because your spaces aren’t working for you, but you just need to look at it differently. Where does the chaos usually start? Whatever area always gets messy first and fastest is telling you that area’s just not organized in a way that works for you.

For me this week, it was my new coffee table with the open “magazine shelf” that’s been the store-all spot for everything from my manicure tools to my multimedia remotes. I found a perfectly suited organizing tray, everything’s inside there, and suddenly my table’s been much better, and so has my sofa and the room around it. There’s a ripple effect from solving a problem spot.

Let your space tell you what’s wrong, then put your thinking cap on and try to solve that space. Focus on one spot, not the whole, and piece by piece you’ll put your homestead puzzle together.

After all, there’s no sense pulling everything out to clean if you’re just gonna put it all back in the same dysfunctional way. Call it the carpe diem of domesticity.

 

Healthy Home, Hearty Season

Like the calm before the storm, there’s an odd and eerie perfection that comes in the days after you’ve solved some clutter issues in your place, and everything’s clean and orderly. But that’s not the full extent of its benefits to either our health or our soul.

It’s the time of year for heaters to come back on and windows to close. Dust comes out of those heaters, and if you’re not already on the case, the unwelcome arrival of that old dust can cause allergies and other issues. It’s also the time when bugs like to find warm houses to nest in, so keeping an eye out for critters might save some grief later.

Fall is also another “calm before the storm.” As much as you’ll hate me for saying it, Christmas and all its seasonal chaos really aren’t that far off. WIthin a few weeks, you’ll be buying gifts, planning for the holidays, and a life that’s already busy will go off the charts.

Now is the time to pare down, clean up, and plan ahead. You can create the space for a Christmas tree now, donate blankets and other warm things for people who’ll be needing it in cold months to come to shore up your karma points, and get your home ready for a season filled with relaxing nights, movies to watch, and quality time with people you care about.

Because that’s why we clean.

What’s your best fall-cleaning tip? What do you love most about being done?

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.