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SPRING IS HERE: IT'S TIME TOCLEAN UP CLOSETS, GARAGE

By Gracie Bonds Staples

Cox Newspapers

New buds bloom in the warmth of spring, signaling, ah yes, that time when we clean. The house. The closets. The garage.

"It's a natural thing to open the curtains and let the light in and enjoy the warm weather," said Suellen Germani, owner of Creative Order, a professional organizing firm she founded in 2005. "With that comes cleaning. I don't know if it's an innate urge to declutter in the spring or something we've just been programmed to do."

Here are some tips to clean and organize your home in 10 minutes or less:

Keep cleaning supplies on each level of your home. You will avoid having to run to the bathroom for dish soap, or to the kitchen cupboard for the shower cleaner.

Don't procrastinate. Get in the habit of cleaning immediately. For instance, don't let dishes sit in the sink (rinse and get them in the dishwasher right after eating); make the bed the moment you get up.

Make it bright and cheery. The lighter the room, the cleaner and more open it feels. Add a dash of bright color to take visitors' eyes off the stacks of clutter.

Baskets, baskets and more baskets. Baskets make great storage units, are easy to "throw" stuff in and can be tucked in a closet or under a table at a moment's notice.

Do one "deep cleaning" project a day. These include vacuuming, mopping, window cleaning, laundry and other time-consuming tasks.

Dryer sheet tricks. Use them to clean the inside of glass shower doors and tiles to prevent soap scum buildup. They are also great for loosening caked-on food from baking. Simply fill with warm water, place the dryer sheet inside, let stand overnight and it will be easy cleaning the next morning.

Microwave magic. Steam a bowl of hot water inside a dirty microwave for 10 minutes. Baked-on foods will soften and wipe off with a damp cloth.

Bathroom and kitchen have priority. If those two areas are clean, the whole house will feel it, so wipe down countertops and sinks after each use.

Don't be afraid to purge. Once a month, go through one room or one closet and get rid of stuff that doesn't fit or no one plays with. Nervous about having regrets? Put it in a "to donate" box. If in two weeks, you haven't thought about it, say goodbye.

Make cleaning enjoyable. Grab your headphones, press play, and dance. Music will motivate and speed you through the task.

Source: Jennifer Chung, CEO and co-founder of Kinsights, an online advice-sharing community for parents

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