Why Spring Is the Time for Organizing (Not Cleaning!), According to a Pro Organizer

published Mar 21, 2024
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illustration showing inside of a home with different areas to organize this spring

There was always something about the ritual of spring cleaning that rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t until I started professionally organizing that I was able to pinpoint exactly what it was, and it turned out to be this: When a home is full of clutter and disorganization, cleaning is (kind of) a waste of time.

In other words, if you’re just dusting or mopping around piles of stuff, it’s not nearly as effective as if your surfaces and floors were clear. Many of my clients hired me to help remove the things that no longer sparked joy and reorganize the ones that did before they hired a housekeeping service or went on a cleaning spree themselves.

If you’re considering participating in spring cleaning this year, I’m not discouraging you. But I do strongly suggest you get your home organized as much as possible ahead of tackling that list of chores. Because it’s hard enough to find (or make) the time to perform an exhaustive cleaning, even if only once per year. So if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it as efficiently as possible.

Below, you’ll find ideas for spring organizing projects that will help get your space ready for a cleaning sesh as well as the upcoming summer season.

Credit: trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com

Tackle the garage, attic, or shed.

In most places, these storage spaces get entirely too hot and humid once summer rolls around. Unless you’ve invested in an HVAC system or have a portable heater, they’re also freezing in the winter. This makes spring and fall the only comfortable times to work in them. Between the two, I say shoot for spring (especially if organizing the garage or shed) because it will give you a chance to go through your warm-weather gear. Toss ripped pool floats, fill up bike tires, wipe down patio furniture, and untangle your fishing poles. Go through holiday and seasonal decor and donate what you no longer display. Reorganize your gardening tools and take note of the supplies you’re low on so you can avoid making rash decisions next time you’re shopping.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Free up space in the coat closet, mudroom, or entryway.

With temperatures rising, spring is also the perfect time to go through your coat closet (or whatever setup is by your front door). Let go of that missing mitten your kid lost months ago, give away the coats and boots that they grew out of, and pack up the winter gear you’re keeping for next year. Make space for flip-flops, beach bags, sunscreen, and whatever else you’ll want to grab on your way out the door these upcoming months.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Declutter the linen closet or bathroom.

Speaking of sunscreen, chances are you have expired bottles stashed away in either of these areas. It’s not worth chancing them for one more season so declutter them along with all other toiletries that are past their prime. If you’re unsure, go by the way they look or smell, and if it seems off, like nail polish that’s permanently separated in its bottle, it’s time to toss. Store cleaning products in this closet too? Go ahead and dump old products (yes, cleaning products do expire!) or marry duplicates to save space. Sort through sheets and towels and drop off the ones you no longer want to your local animal shelter. 

Go through clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Now is the ideal time to sort through your fall and winter clothes. Didn’t wear that chunky sweater once this past year? In the donation bag, it goes. Either pack up the things you want to keep for storage or reorganize them to the top or back of your closet until it gets cool again. Do the same with accessories, like hats, before going through your spring and summer wardrobe. If you know you won’t wear that bathing suit you bought on sale last year, it’s better to declutter it now so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space. Reorganize your closet to have warm weather or transitional pieces up front so they’re easily accessible for the next six months.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Sort (and shred) paperwork.

Just finished filing your taxes? Or maybe you’re like me and waiting until the last minute. Either way, spend time sorting through, shredding, and filing (or, better yet, scanning and digitally filing) your paperwork. I like to use this time to go through both physical and digital paperwork to make sure I’m up to date on it all and can go into the summer feeling a little more carefree.

Credit: Minette Hand

Reorganize the kitchen and pantry.

Any time of year is a good one to address these two spots, in my opinion. They see a ton of wear and tear so it’s important to declutter and reorganize them more often than, say, the garage. For springtime, I would suggest focusing on the following categories: BBQ tools, outdoor dinner and serveware, and party goods (paper plates, plastic utensils, etc.) so you can be prepared for the first cookout or backyard get-together of the season.

Credit: rivermo74 / Shutterstock

Address the car.

The car gets the least amount of attention when it comes to cleaning and organizing. Take 10-20 minutes to empty the car of trash, rehome things that don’t belong, and reorganize the trunk, glove compartment, and center console. This way, whether you clean it yourself or take it to the car wash, you won’t have to worry about obstacles being in the way.

5 Things You Can Skip Organizing in the Spring

On the other hand, here are some things you can hold off on sorting through this season:

  • Kids’ toys, books, and school supplies are better off being tackled around the holidays and the end of the school year.
  • Baking tools (think: muffin tins or cookie cutters) are not used often in the warmer months so feel free to address those in the fall or winter.
  • Holiday decor items (think: Halloween or Christmas) can wait until later in the year, as you’d want to declutter closer to their corresponding seasons (fall or winter).
  • Books. A lot of reading happens over the summer, whether by yourself or by kids, so clear them out after everyone’s done and before receiving more books as holiday gifts.
  • Makeup and medicine. These items should be gone through multiple times per year, but you don’t need to deeply declutter in the spring. Wait until the weather warms up to toss lighter-shade foundations and berry-colored lipsticks or the fall when flu season starts to make sure you’re stocked up on (unexpired) medicines. One exception: If anyone in the house suffers from the onset of spring pollen, now is a good time to organize allergy medicines.