This article is part of a series of posts on @mnmlgrlblog on Instagram & mnmlgrl.com related to #minimalisthome & #minimaldecor
I never knew how much stuff I truly had until I had to pack everything up for a move. I was completely unaware of most of my possessions to the extent that I even had duplicates & triplicates of some things – 2 hair dryers, 3 flatirons, 4 dresses with tags still on that were a size too small & a ton of freebies that moved with me from house to house – without ever being used once! When I did decide to minimize my possessions the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ I owned overwhelmed me…paralyzed me! It was only during Diwali that I would gather courage and finally take the plunge in decluttering.
I tried several decluttering & minimizing techniques over the years. Early on, I used to focus on getting rid of things – getting rid of everything, pretty much! That was when I was new to minimalism & didn’t know better. This almost compulsive need to discard that which wasn’t adding value lead me to declutter some of my prized possessions & heirlooms, most of which I still miss till this day. I compared the number of my possessions to the number of possessions other minimalists had – they had 100, I had 100 times 10, and that would make me wonder if I was minimal enough. This made me come to a stand-still with living a minimal life because suddenly fewer possessions was equated to being minimal. I was wrong.
I do not want you to make the same mistakes. If you want to get your home ready for Diwali, this article is for you. If you want to declutter and spring clean your home, this article is for you. If you want to break the cycle of mindless consumption, monotonous living & never having enough then this article is for you. I’ve distilled my minimizing experience into a convenient step-by-step guide.
Traditionally Diwali cleaning is like a deep spring-clean of your home. All members of the family is involved, additional house help is also involved because can be a huge task that could take anywhere from a day to a week depending on the size of your home. Most often cleaning begins with the kitchen and moves on to the bedrooms, then living rooms and finally bathrooms. Every piece of belonging is removed, the area cleaned and the items set back neatly in their place.
We do things a bit differently in our home. A few weeks before Diwali, we make a mental note of things we enjoy, would love to highlight and use more of and basically just cannot live without. We declutter and deep-clean as we go and donate whatever didn’t make the cut. I prefer to start with my closet, but that’s a personal choice. Additionally, if you are feeling stuck and need some extra motivation, I encourage you to pick up the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering & Organizing.
Step-by-Step Guideline declutter and get your home ready for Diwali
1. Decide what adds value. Discard the rest. Ask yourself - what you can’t live without, what you would like in your life moving forward, what will add value to your life.
I like to dream up my ideal life and whatever doesn’t add value or coincide with this image usually goes. Your home should reflect your personality and support your lifestyle. The point I'm trying to make is that; nothing should compel you to spend tons of money maintaining a bright white couch if you have pets or toddlers, haha!
2. When decluttering, speed is your friend. Do not procrastinate. It will only confuse you & make you indecisive. If the minimizing bug has caught you, go & declutter right now! Do not wait!
Don’t overthink your first instinct. Stay decisive and keep downsizing. Start with easy wins. Here are some places you can choose to start. Begin by discarding things you don’t want from anywhere in your home. Begin by decluttering areas you know have a lot of clutter like the junk drawer. Begin by throwing out broken, unrepairable, unsalvageable items. Begin somewhere. Begin now!
My usual decluttering map goes something like this - I begin by decluttering my closet & clothes (this is the quickest & easiest section for me since I don't have many clothes, lol!), then my makeup & bathroom stuff, then books, followed by kitchen stuff and finally my sentimental items and heirlooms. Marie Kondo’s book does things a bit differently. Feel free to change this order up based on what you are most comfortable with. Start with easy wins - begin with rooms & sections that you know you can declutter easily and quickly, then swiftly move to the next room or section before you lose momentum.
3. Stay consistent & clean as you go. Ask yourself the same question every time, use the same method to assess your things etc. For instance you may choose to donate whatever you haven’t used in over a year. Maybe you will choose to let go of things that aren’t good for the environment or your body – junk food, fast fashion, toxic chemical laden cleaning products. Whatever is your criteria, pick one or two and stick to it. I hadn’t read the book when I downsized but I’m sure I would’ve kept/thrown a few things out of my life if I had asked myself “Does this #sparkjoy ” for each item.
It’s important to clean as you go! Here are some non-toxic cleaning recipes for your home. You will need
For shinier mirrors & glass: Mix ½ baking powder, ½ vinegar (any brand & kind). Apply paste & scrub off after 10 mins. Soap scum will come off easily. If there isn’t any scum simply spritz water and wipe with a page from an old newspaper.
For fresher carpets, rugs, thick upholstery: Sprinkle baking powder (add a few drops of any essential oils if you prefer). Let it sit for 30 mins. Vacuum thoroughly. Ensure that your upholstery sees the sun. Nothing disinfects better than the sun…it will also fade your things (you’ve been warned lol). To refresh linens & even closets, you can use a disinfecting spray. Add a few drops of essential oils of your choice to undiluted vodka. Vodka is safe for colored clothing & won't cause discoloration, it also kills odor causing bacteria and dries without a scent. Please do a patch test if you are unsure how this linen spray will react to your fabrics.
For shinier wooden surfaces: Spritz a soft cloth (an old T-shirt will do) with a solution of 1 cup water and a drop of oil (any cooking oil). Wipe with dry cloth to get a shine. You can add a few drops liquid soap if the wooden surface is too dirty.
For clean stone & tiled surfaces: scrub & wash with diluted soap mixture. Alternately you can use the disinfecting spray as well. For floors our favorite cleaner is locally made phenyl or few drops of dettol both of which are chemical in nature.
For general cleaning of the bathroom & toilet: Scrub with soap and follow with a multipurpose cleaner (½ tap water & ½ vinegar + few drops of essential oils of your choice if you prefer it) for deodorizing. To deep clean, we let the baking powder paste sit on bathroom & toilet walls for a few minutes, then follow up with soap & finally finish with vinegar.