Tag Archives: cleaning

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 4: Blundering in the Dark

(This installment of the Clutter Dragon Saga brought to you by: sheer stubbornness and willpower.)

Illness, exhaustion, and my old friend procrastination teamed up on me this week, to keep me from sallying forth to strike at a single closet shelf. But by yesterday afternoon, I knew I could not wait any longer without disappointing myself and losing the rhythm of my accomplishments thus far.

So, around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, though I still felt under the weather, I began my clutter counterstrike, stumbling forward into a darkness of storage, which has held onto my girlhood much longer than I have.

Due to some freak fit of gravity, this little avalanche out of the closet had occurred at some point during the week. I got this out of the floor first, but put it aside carefully, since it had some items that actually needed to be back in the closet when I had room.

The REAL Work Begins: Clearing the Shelf

This first bit of shelf was cleared pretty easily, since it was only a couple of small boxes and a book or two. But I uncovered some evidence of mice (to put it as non-grossly as I can) lying about on the shelf, so I had to stop and disinfect the surface as well as I could before moving on.

Note to Fellow De-Clutterers

If you encounter such evidence of mice, which is unfortunately quite common when you’re cleaning up stuff that’s been sitting in the same spot for a while, BE CAREFUL how you handle it–it can make you sick! Use rubber gloves if possible, and make sure to use disinfectants in a well-ventilated space so you don’t get sick from fumes.

The second bit of shelf was much more difficult; not only was there more evidence of mice, but several toys from the shelf above attacked me as I removed items from the working shelf. (Guess they were defending their fellow toys from being removed from the closet? LOL!) Not to mention that when I tried to shift the largest box of toys, it began to vomit Lego pieces everywhere. xD

Disinfecting the shelf, defending my head from falling items, and picking up about a thousand Lego pieces slowed me down, but eventually, I did get that bit of shelf clean, too, as seen in the picture above. Small victories in the name of cleanliness!

The third part of the shelf was almost too easy after the near-disaster I’d had a few minutes before. There was only one box of toys left, and it was mainly big, soft stuffed animals. Once that was out of the closet, I disinfected the remaining surface, and was rewarded with this sight–one completely clear shelf in my overstuffed closet!

A Little Reward: Using the Newfound Storage Space

I had already planned what I wanted to store on this newly-cleaned shelf, so I had everything already picked out, stacked, and ready to be sorted.

From left: my Hawk & Dove comics collection; an old makeup box I used for Clix storage, which will be repurposed soon; computer doodads, install discs, and other techie paraphernalia, all in various gift and shoeboxes.

I was also able to store many small travel bags I’ve picked up over the years on this shelf. It’s a bit messy at the moment, but eventually I’m going to repurpose one of the small totes I recovered from the closet to store these properly.

This is where all the travel bags used to live–piled up beside the dresser, in a stack almost 3 1/2 feet high. Now you can nearly see the floor beside the dresser. It’s a tiny victory, but a victory nonetheless!

The three bins seen here (which I’ve been using for organization in the last couple of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon” installments) will stay in the closet, though their contents will likely change a lot between now and when I finally finish the closet reorganization. They fit well on the shelves and are easy to take down when I need them, thanks to the handles. (In fact, I’ll probably be getting a few more of them for other shelves, too!)

Work, Interrupted

As always, the bed ended up holding all the detritus from the cleared shelf–it’s literally a bed full of my childhood in this picture. LOL

In the beginning, I had planned to start sorting out which toys I wanted to keep for my own children vs. which toys I wanted to donate. Sadly, at this point my body sharply reminded me that I had been sick all week, and that if I didn’t want to be horribly sick/dizzy again in a few minutes, I should lie down as quickly as possible.

Thus…this had to happen:

Sigh. I worked so hard to clear that space in front of the closet, and now it just looks like my childhood puked all over the floor. xD Ah well, it was for a good cause. And actually, I can more easily pick up the work of sorting any time between now and the next installment of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon.”

(I even had to use some of the other bits of floorspace I’ve so painstakingly cleaned earlier in the series. Grr and grumble.)

But this is an important lesson of cleaning/straightening: you have to work with the space (and the physical energy) you’ve got, and you can’t expect every clean section of a room to stay clean while you work with other sections, especially if other sections are as cluttered as my closet.

The room isn’t absolutely finished till all sections are clean and straight–till then, it’s allowed to look like a work in progress. I can’t be mad at myself for making two giant steps forward, even if it looks like I’ve taken a giant step back. You fellow de-clutterers out there keep that in mind for your own clutter projects!

Next Week: Another Shelf, Another Pile of Childhood

Now that I have braved the horrors of dust, mice, and attacking toys, what else can possibly await me in the closet of horrors? Tune in next week to find out! 😀

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 3: Horrors in the Hidden Abyss

I return triumphant, flushed with my most recent victory against the Clutter Dragon! *heroic music*

This week, I tackled the giant mess in front of the overflowing closet–this area has been jokingly named the “Clutter Abyss,” and this picture proves it:

This is where I started; my goal was to clear the floor immediately in front of the closet, and to uncover the old TV in the corner so we can take it to be donated. (Don’t see a TV in this picture? I promise you there is one–it’s just hidden by all the clutter! SAD!)

Task #1: Everything Off the Floor

Just like always, my bed became the staging area for all the keepable items:

Sadly enough, this is just the first layer of junk that I removed from the floor to sort through. When I took this picture, I had not yet waded down to the second layer of keepable items, which was hidden beneath yet another layer of paper clutter and trash. (Side note: that is my computer you see in the background–I needed a little cleaning music to keep my spirits up. 😀 )

As you can see, the layer of trash/paper clutter was quite a bit more daunting than in the last episode–more had been allowed to accumulate, and was actually covering up more stuff. Sigh, such is the life of a pack rat!

The most random things showed up when I began to sift through the mess…like this VHS case for the first Pokemon movie. I have no idea why it was mixed in with everything else; I have a theory that my room’s mess comes alive and just swallows stuff at random. LOL

Once the paper clutter and trash was all dealt with, this was the vista I was greeted with. Still quite a ways to go…my fight was not yet over! I still had plenty of stuff to put up–and nowhere to put it.

The Root of All (Cluttered) Evil: The Closet

I have not yet spoken much of my bedroom closet itself, though it is actually the main reason my room remains cluttered. Having been converted into shelved toy storage in my childhood, many of those girlhood toys have remained on the shelves collecting dust ever since.

The end result:

Um…yeah, it’s kinda bad. The closet was physically unreachable for many years due to severe pack-rat-itis, and when I finally did reach it during the Super Duper Cleanout of 2009, I did not tackle it; the project looked too daunting after finally clearing the rest of the room. My energy flagged, and so I procrastinated on completing this final task.

But the no-storage problem in my room has not gone away; indeed, it led to the Clutter Dragon taking up residence yet again in my room. (Food for thought: if I had tackled the closet 3 years ago, I might not be fighting the Clutter Dragon now. Sigh…)

A Small Closet Side Quest

So, to start using the closet space a little better, I rearranged the middle shelf in the above picture just a little bit, to allow for more things to be stored on it. Then I put up the few things from the floor that would fit onto it, being careful not to overload the shelf in the process.

Now, that shelf is better-used, though it still looks as messy as its brethren. But this won’t be the last you hear about the closet!

Uncovering the Bed

This time, after cleaning up the floor, I was left with quite a big pile of junk on the bed, none of which could leave the room–it was all my stuff and needed to find a home somewhere within the room.

Not to mention that there was still junk to be cleaned off the old TV in the corner. (You can just barely see it, bottom center of the picture.)

Though the sight of all these items left to deal with made my energy begin to waver, I knew I could not quit now. After all, I had this very blog post to write, and I did not want to disappoint myself by doing less than I had planned. So I struck out at the Clutter Dragon yet again, and began to work at uncovering the TV and the rest of the floor in front of it.

In the middle of this effort, I randomly discovered a box full of Christmas presents from about 2 years ago. I had forgotten I even owned these books! :O They were quickly taken from the room and put with my other books, elsewhere in the house, so they wouldn’t get messed up further in the cleanup effort.

Cleaning off the TV also meant that I found several of my colder-weather jackets strewn about. In need of a place to hang them, I finally made use of the six-hook over-the-door hanging system I had bought a few months ago, putting it on half of one of the louvered closet doors. It’s not ideal, but hopefully it won’t be permanent. (Famous last words, at least in my room. LOL)

Believe it or not, there’s a TV under there! With the floor mostly cleared and the random stuff atop it removed, now I can maneuver a dolly into the room to cart the TV off to Goodwill or wherever else might take it.

With that, the second half of the job was complete!

But there was still a problem: the bed was still covered with boxes of random stuff. And, unlike earlier in the day, I was not much in a mood to continue sorting. More than anything, after almost an hour working with little rest (or ventilation in the room, for that matter), I wanted the bed cleared off.

So, I reverted to a solution that always worked well for me in my childhood. I cleaned off the bed…

…and stuffed all the randomness into the next small area of the room, to be dealt with later. 😛 (This junk pile will be part of a future episode of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon,” I promise. :D)

One Small Step for Woman, One Giant Lunge at the Dragon

This is basically what the Closet Clutter Abyss looks like now–it may not look much better to the neat-freak’s eye, but it will enable us to cart away the TV, which will free up the corner space and the closet door. And once that space is open for maneuvering…

…the next phase of defeating the Clutter Dragon will go into effect. I know now that no room-cleaning will ever be effective unless this closet is confronted and conquered–the last three years are living proof of that.

So, next week, I will begin the unenviable task of tackling the closet, one shelf at a time. Though I might be trapped in the Closet Abyss for several weeks, I will not overload myself each week–that will only lead to procrastination and ultimately quitting. The closet must be conquered bit by definitive bit, rather than trying to do it all in one go. Kind of like weight loss, I guess!

Tune in next week for my first foray into the Closet of Childhoods Past! Who knows what I’ll find in there among the detritus of girlhood?

BONUS: The New and Improved Display Shelf

In the first installment of this series, I showed you how I first designed the display shelf for my figurines. I have since improved on it, using the display shelf as a way to store my DVD collection as well as my figurines.

This picture encompasses the smaller of the two Belle & Beast figurines on the left, my entire DVD collection, and my little collection of figurines off to the right.

I freed the Dove figurine from her packaging and set her up on the included stand; I added the small Belle figurine and a newly-acquired Princess Peach figurine alongside, to create a little vignette of some of my favorite characters.

The larger of the two Belle & Beast figurines did get her special display spot at last, sitting atop my dresser. Once the dresser gets cleaned off (in a future issue of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon”), she’ll be showcased properly.

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 2: The Valiant Sword Sweep

I’m back with another installment of defeating the Clutter Dragon in my bedroom! This time, flushed with the success of last week’s efforts, I endeavored to clean off the top of the plastic dresser next to the catchall bins.

This is what I planned to clean up, anyway. But there was a problem.

…THIS pile of junk was on the floor in front of the dresser. I could not even reach the other side of the dresser to clean it off without slipping and falling on the pile (and believe me, I tried). There were literally no places to put my feet, and no floorspace to work within.

The Clutter Dragon had struck back at me with its vicious tail. If I were to get anywhere with my original project idea of cleaning up the dresser top, I had to clean up the floor first…and that meant tacking on much more work than I had expected.

But it had to be done. I was heartily sick of living this way. And, after all, I didn’t want to disappoint myself, or you, my faithful readers! 🙂

Uncovering the Floor, and Hidden Treasures Galore

I began by picking up most every item off the floor, throwing obvious trash away as I did so, until my entire bed surface was again full of items that needed to be sorted.

Again, I amaze myself at how much utter crap I can cram into such a small space. Argh. >_< But surprisingly, I found that about half of this stuff did not actually belong in my room at all--I had just stored it on my room floor because it was a "temporary" storage spot. (Note to self: no place I set any item in is going to be just a "temporary" spot. If I've learned anything about my organizing habits, it's that.) Thankfully, I was able to take some items out of the room entirely and put them back where they belonged. AWESOME! 😀 (The less junk in my room, the better.) Other items just needed to find another, more permanent home within my space, so I took time during this first step to find each misplaced item a home to belong in. For instance: several travel bags, which were lumped in with the clutter, but which actually need to be stored with the rest of my luggage in a corner of my room. Once all these big items were dealt with (or stored on the bed for the moment), I discovered that there was a hidden layer underneath all the keepable items: a layer of paper clutter, unbeknownst to me.
Did I mention how much I hate paper clutter? Especially having to stop and read through it to see whether I need to keep or toss it? Drives me nuts. It’s the worst part of cleaning, I swear. >:(

Anyway, the trash bag again came in handy, as I slowly sorted through all this detritus pictured above. For this part, I had to sit on the floor; my ankle was beginning to complain, as was my back, from having to bend and lift as I had done for almost 45 minutes thus far.

But, once all the random paper clutter was cleared up (either thrown out or put aside for sorting/shredding), I had this lovely vista to gaze at:

This is what was left behind after clearing away the larger paper mess–little bits of paper randomness, crumbs, and general dirt. (How all that dirt got in underneath all the clutter, I will NEVER know. I think it just burrowed under there or something. SIGH…)

Lacking a working small vacuum cleaner that can maneuver into these tight spaces, I improvised with a broom and dustpan. Though my floor is carpet and really does need a good vacuuming, this will have to do for now.

As you can see, I did a pretty good job of sweeping up most of the crumby dirty mess. You can actually tell that the carpet used to be white, now. xD

First small win of the day: in the process of picking up and sweeping, I found about $2.50 in coins hidden on the floor. Hidden treasures, indeed! Every little bit helps! 😀

Tackling the Dresser Top, At Last!

With most of the obvious trash gone, and most of the large items sorted, I was left with less of a pile on the bed. I then deemed it was time to tackle that messy dresser top. So I took all the stuff off the dresser and put it onto the nearest available surface…the bed, again.

Um, yeah. I know this looks pretty terrible. But all this clutter carnage was necessary…see what happened?

See? Proof that there WAS a surface under there, and that I DID clean it off completely! 😀 I even dusted, which is a small miracle in and of itself. xD

Once everything from the dresser was on the bed, I began the sorting process again, throwing away obvious trash, laying aside important financial bits and papers (pay stubs, receipts, and the like) where I would not lose them till I have dealt with them, etc.

One of the unexpected wins I came across during this cleaning spree was a selection of shoeboxes, shipping boxes, and a few organizational bins I had purchased in a futile past effort to clean.

Each of these little boxes and bins came in handy to sort out and store little items from the dresser top which could easily get lost. (Pardon the blurry picture…my hand must have been shaking or something. 🙁 )

In the process of organizing, sorting, storing, and throwing away, I found even more treasure hidden by the Clutter Dragon:

Yay! I think there’s close to 4 bucks in there now. 😀

At last, when I finally got everything from the dresser top sorted and/or dealt with, I put back just a few items that were meant to sit there:

Mainly, the dresser top holds mail, my cell phone (especially while it’s charging), some assorted arts/crafts supplies (because I don’t have desk space for them yet), and other things I’m generally using on a daily basis. I even have a mail/paper sorter off to the side for bigger paper pieces. But I’m never going to let it get so stacked up again!

YAY a clean bed! Proof that I did actually do some real cleaning, right?

The floor beside the bed, which I worked so hard to clear, just has a couple of bags set there so they will not get damaged elsewhere in the room (because I am prone to accidentally trampling on stuff). Ultimately, they will both go somewhere else in the room…but that must wait for next week.

Next Week: The Cluttery Abyss

What horrors next await me in my battle with the Clutter Dragon? This picture does not even do it justice. Next week, this procrastinating warrior will face the hardest challenge yet: the Abyss of Closet Clutter! Stay tuned!

Life Hack: Using OxiClean to Clean My Combs

Most of us think of OxiClean and other super-detergents as being more for the laundry and really tough stain-fighting. But leave it to me to find another (creative) use for it!

The Problem: Strange Film on My Combs

I’ll admit, I’m slightly vain about my hair’s apparent cleanliness and tidiness. I could usually care less about being completely made up, wearing pretty (and painful) shoes, etc. But I absolutely hate when my hair looks dirty just after washing it, or when it has tons of ratty ends, flyaways, or a non-centered part. (OCD, much? 😛 )

This whole not-quite-obsession with having clean- and tidy-looking hair roared up out of my subconscious one recent evening, when I had gotten home from a workout and quickly hopped into the shower to clean up. My hair felt great after I washed it–felt squeaky clean, light, and generally awesome. I went to detangle it with my trusty wide-tooth comb…

…and a minute or so later, I looked at my detangled, “clean” hair in horror. My hair no longer looked shiny, but dull with dirt; moreover, there was a white filmy substance just barely visible on a few sections of my hair.

A serious “OMG-WHAT-DID-I-DO?!” moment ensued, culminating in the discovery that the offender was the wide-tooth comb itself. The white filmy stuff was clearly visible between the individual teeth of my comb; it could easily be scratched off with a fingernail or toothpick, rendering fingernailfuls of white goop that felt like gluey gel to the touch.

I was pretty sure this stuff had to be hair product buildup of some sort (found out later it had to be excess conditioner, because I don’t use my combs for anything but detangling just-washed hair), but I still wanted it off my comb(s). Both of the wide-tooth combs I had in my drawer were like this, and it disgusted me. The damage had already been done to my current hair wash, but I wanted this junk gone off my combs so that I didn’t have to worry with it the next day.

A Creative “Solution” (Literally)

I debated for a moment about getting an old or unused toothbrush and trying to scrub away at the “teeth” of each comb with some soap. And then, my eye lit on the huge tub of OxiClean powder under the sink, awaiting its myriad uses in laundry stain-removing and house-cleaning. “I wonder…” I thought. Well, it couldn’t hurt to try–my combs were solid plastic, after all.

So I filled up my trusty 12-quart dishpan (great for soaking delicates and small items) halfway with hot water, then put about a third of a scoop of OxiClean in it and dissolved it. After I was sure it was dissolved thoroughly (like usual), I threw both wide-tooth combs in the tub–and left it for a while, going about the business of getting dried off, wrung out, and dressed again.

The Result: Squeaky-Clean Combs, Squeaky-Clean Hair!

After about 2 hours of checking it, flipping the combs over in the water, etc., I went back and checked them. When I lifted one from the water, I saw a literal CLOUD of itty-bitty debris shake loose from it underwater, and I thought, “Oh wow, this might have really worked.” But I didn’t believe it for myself till I scratched at one of the teeth with my fingernail and came away with absolutely nothing. The OxiClean solution had indeed dissolved all that product buildup, leaving the comb clean as a whistle. HOORAY!

I rinsed the combs very, very well under both hot and cold water and let them dry overnight before using them again, and I have to say, my hair is turning out so much better. And to think, I thought all this buildup on my hair was the fault of some of the shampoos I was using!

To Try This at Home:

  1. First of all, do not try this on any brush or comb that has rubber, silicone, or wooden parts. I don’t know exactly how OxiClean would react with these materials, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be good. A completely “hard plastic” brush or comb shouldn’t hurt, though.
  2. Use either a dishpan or a sink to soak out your chosen hair implements.
  3. Fill the pan/sink with only enough hot water to thoroughly submerge your brushes/combs. Note: Combs will float, but this is not a real issue–just flip your combs over every so often so all of the plastic, especially between the teeth of each comb, comes in contact with the water. (Hot water makes the OxiClean work better, I’ve found.)
  4. Dissolve a third to a half scoop of OxiClean in the water before you add your brushes/combs. (My measurements come from the scoop that came with my tub of OxiClean, which looks like a powder laundry detergent scoop.) If you’re soaking a lot of stuff or if it’s all absolutely caked with stuff, go with a half-scoop; otherwise, less is more.
  5. Put your brushes/combs in, and soak for at least an hour. Check periodically to see how it’s progressing, swishing the combs and brushes underwater. Your brushes/combs are clean when you can scratch at the bristles or teeth with a fingernail and come away with nothing.
  6. Rinse, rinse, rinse, and by the way, rinse your brushes and combs. Make sure there is no OxiClean residue left, otherwise you could do damage to your hair when you use your combs/brushes next.

One Final Note

In future, I’m going to keep an eye out for any more product buildup, doing the old fingernail-scratch test. I figure I’ll have to soak my combs again in a few months, perhaps. This isn’t something that has to be done every day, for certain, but every few months should be enough to keep all-plastic hairstyling tools in shape.