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7 Spring Cleaning Tips That Will Make Your Home Shine

It's about time for a detox.

Home Improvement

Despite all that's going in the world, it's still that time of year again. Bright nail color shades, bright makeup trends, and everyone's favorite —spring cleaning. Now, more than ever, it can prove to be beneficial to keep yourself busy while being productive and busying yourself with decluttering and detoxing your space can offer a reset you didn't know you needed. It can also prove to be deeply therapeutic.

Now, before you start thinking about the drawer full of hair products or the clothes in your closet you've been meaning to give away, we want to give you some tips on how to spruce up and declutter without feeling overwhelmed.

Make A To-Do List

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I am a firm believer in writing it down and making it plain. A to-do list is a must-have tool because it keeps you focused on what you need to get done and it's gratifying to see your progress as you check tasks off. If you're planning on doing a full home cleaning, make a detailed list for each room.

Tackle One Room (Project) At A Time

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A few years ago, I read a blog on how to keep a space organized that really stuck with me: Every day, set a timer for twenty minutes and focus on the spot in your home that needs the most attention. I'd like to think the same rule of thumb could apply here. Instead of looking at your house as a whole, dedicate a specific amount of time (no more than an hour) to each space you'd like to whip into shape.

Is the pantry just a hot mess that you can no longer stand to look at? Are you tired of not being able to find things in the junk drawer you store stuff in? Are pots and pans falling out on you when you open your cabinets? Make those areas your focus. If you're a person that is going to get caught up watching the new season of Queer Eye (be sure to watch episode 5) or chatting with your best girlfriend, set a time limit you feel comfortable with, turn off the television, silence your phone, and knock that thing on out.

Donate It or Throw It Away

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So you've decided to clean out that junk drawer full of stuff. The first thing you should do is empty it entirely. It's difficult to sift through things if you're trying to decide what you don't need while it's still piled on top of each other in a drawer. Lay everything out and make a keep, donate, or throw out pile. The key here is to be real with yourself. Have you used that hair product that has sat unopened over the last six months? Are you really going to use that thing you picked up in the $3 section at Target? If the answer is no, it's time to let go and give it to someone that would make use of it or throw it out if it's expired.

This practice is one that can also be applied to your kitchen, specifically the pantry or the kitchen cabinets and drawers filled with canned goods you haven't thought about since last spring, not to mention all of those cute kitchen accessories you've picked up on HomeGoods runs. Donating canned food to your local food bank is a way to clear your pantry and help feed your community. If you're unsure of how to connect with your local food bank, Feeding America is an excellent resource.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about all of those dishes and kitchen accessories you aren't using — you can donate those to a charity of your choice. If you don't have one you love just yet, Habitat For Humanity's ReStore's is a personal favorite.

Organize By Season

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I know it's not quite time to pack up our winter coats just yet since there could be what my mom calls an "Easter snap," which is the cold weather that comes along just when you thought you were going to pull out your favorite sundress from last season. But, when it's finally time to start packing that winter gear away, be sure to pack it up and store it. If you live in a small space and don't have room in an additional closet, under the bed storage containers make great options for storing items you aren't using without taking up useful space.

If You Haven't Worn It In A Year, Bid It Adieu

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Speaking of clothes and closets— spring offers an opportunity to get rid off things that no longer fit, you haven't worn in years, or items you don't like anymore. If you're in need of some extra cash for your next trip or are looking to pay down some debt, consigning clothes is a solid option.

If there are charities or causes you enjoy donating to, here's a chance to bless someone on your quest to organize your home. I enjoy giving my gently used clothes to domestic violence organizations so that women who are in need of clothing for job interviews have options. If you don't know where to start, a quick Google search can offer up many charitable causes — but be sure to vet the organization to verify who they serve and who receives what you donate.

Make It Look Good

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One of my pet peeves are wire or mismatched hangers. Yoil (my mom) instilled that in me. That may seem like a weird flex, but I enjoy looking at an organized closet when I got dressed each day, especially since I am working with a small space (thanks LA). I love a good velvet hanger, which I usually pick up from TJ Maxx. They're thin, so they save space, typically keep my clothes from slipping off the hanger onto the floor, and look nice. What's not to love?

Get Those Dust Bunnies

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Last but not least, it's time to clean that carpet and wipe down every nook and cranny in your home, again make sure you're taking it step-by-step. The key to getting the dust that made itself at home during the winter is to start at the top of each room and work your way to the bottom. That means wiping down the ceiling, light fixtures, the walls, and baseboards. Next up is all of the furniture and appliances in each room. If you're someone with allergies, be sure to change your air filters. Your sinuses will thank you!

Spring cleaning doesn't mean turning your house upside down. It should be a time to show your home some love while prepping you for a productive rest of the year. So make that to-do list, get that playlist going, and make your space shine.

Featured image by Getty Images.

Related Articles:

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How I Make My Home A Sacred Space For Productivity - Read More

Originally published on March 23, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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