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Oh Yeah, It's Spring Cleaning Time

Alden Wicker

So have you done your spring organizing yet? No? Well, maybe you just need a few neat tricks and inspiration to get you motivated. Because we know you’re unhappy with the state of your closet.

We recently got in touch with our friend Molly Graves, co-founder (alongside Ashley Murphy) of the nationwide organizing company NEAT Method, which creates easy-to-implement organizational solutions for their clients, often busy urbanites with too much ‘stuff’ on their hands.

Ms. Graves imparted a few pearls of wisdom with our staff. If you’re not excited about organizing after reading this, well, you may be a lost cause!

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Molly Graves, Co-Founder of Neat Method

Start Small

If you’re still scared of the situation in the hall closet, just psych yourself up with an easy win. “The easiest first step is to check for expired items: makeup expires, medicine expires, spices expires,” Graves says. “It’s hard to remove items from your life, but this is the quickest way to get you into the mood to clean for Spring.” Because once you’ve tossed out that three-year-old apricot jam, it’s a smaller leap to, ”Well, I don’t necessarily need to get rid of these jeans, but am I wearing them? Which of my friends would wear them more than I do?”

Do It For a Deeper Purpose

“Some people feel more inspired to do the work after they’ve figured out a charity or place to give the items to,” Graves says. “See if there’s a women’s shelter in your neighborhood, or a school looking for new books, so you have inspiration behind what you’re doing.” Be specific with your causes, she advises. It will be easier to clean out when you can clearly picture how helpful your unused suit will be for a single mother through Dress for Success, for example.

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The NEAT closet

Put Like-minded Items Together

If you don’t know what you have, you’ll keep re-buying it over and over again, contributing to clutter and emptying your wallet. “We color code the closet so that we can see that there are six black t-shirts,” Graves says. That way, you can see which black t-shirts you actually wear and this will remove the need to buy more. This works in the kitchen, too. “If you don’t have any rhyme or reason for how the drawers are organized, you might have two peelers. Keep one, pass along the other.”

Handle It Once

“The more steps you add to the process the less likely you are to do it,” Graves says. She advocates handling each item only once. “For example, if you make a pile, you’re handling it twice. You’ve made a pile, and now you have to find a bag to put it all in. If I throw this on my floor, I have to take another second to pick it up and put it where it belongs. You’re actually wasting your own time by not putting it right where it belongs.” Good point.

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A finished men’s closet by NEAT

Get these closet accessories

Here’s the fun part: shopping for essentials. Pick up these basics at the store:

Black, velvet slim line hangers: They help you see clearly everything you have, and the texture will keep your clothes from falling off. “It’s the worst to have a great silk top that’s always on the ground, so you never know you have it,” Graves says.

Shoe boxes: The clear bins will let you see all of your shoes at a glance—so you don’t buy another pair—and stack uniformly.

A canvas bin: This is for storing flip-flops and casual flats. “It corrals the shoes and leaves less opportunity for have a few go missing.”

Ceder blocks: “If you’re in an old place, definitely get cedar blocks, it smells way better than getting mothballs!”

A sturdy clothing cover: Don’t leave your clothing in the plastic covers. “The plastic has toxins in it and it breaks down your clothing. If you have items that need to be covered, get some sort of breathable canvas—it will help your clothes last longer.”

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The NEAT Method approach to organizing your jewelry

Get Into The habit

Graves advocates keeping the organizing going throughout the year. “Spring feels like a time of new growth, so definitely it’s a great time to do it. But as an organizer, I have to say, spring cleaning is much easier if it’s done throughout the year and not held off until one particular time.”

Voila! If you’ve followed Graves' easy steps, you likely have a home with fewer but better things - and a clear conscious for only using what you actually need. Congratulations. This is a proven step toward happiness.