Cleaning Tips Indoors & Out

Declutter the Family Room

Keep the center of family life clear of an explosion of clutter.

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Store Items in Proper Place DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley LimitedAfter

STOP Clutter in the Family Room

Gather your tools: timer, STOP declutter boxes (marked Put Away, Sell/Donate, and Storage), garbage bags for trash. Set the timer for 20 minutes. To make it easier to do a group declutter, double or triple the number of boxes used for Put Away. Limit the STOP clutter session to 20 minutes to shortcut the potential for argument.

Step 1: Sort

Start sorting. Assign each family member a small area to clear — a shelf, table or corner — and a tight timeline to declutter it to make the job specific and short. Key targets: the choked video storage rack, the stacks of old magazines, the scattering of toys all over the carpet. Give the kids a Put Away box for far-flung toys, the family crafter another box to collect his or her paints for return to the craft corner.

Step 2: Toss

Disagreement is a potential hazard when diving into a group STOP clutter session. Mom may be perfectly happy to send a stack of old motocross magazines to recycling, but a teenage son objects. Limit potential disagreements by assigning the interested parties — the motocross enthusiast himself — to sort and decide. A second tactic: Use black plastic garbage bags to collect trash. If the clutterers across the room can't see the contents, they're less likely to put up a fuss about the discards.

Step 3: Organize and Put Away

When the timer bell rings, toss the trash and return Put Away items to their homes in other rooms. Organize the remaining family-room residents — DVDs, videos and game equipment — into flat-bottomed open containers for easy access.

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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