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Oily Rag - Spring has sprung

Oily Rag - Spring has sprung

By Frank and Muriel Newman

As the calendar clicks past August, we now know that spring has arrived - even if spring-like weather arrived early this year. Spring means new born lambs, but it also means it’s time to do those cleaning and clearing out jobs that have been conveniently ignored through winter.

We know from experience the best way to tackle the task is as a family social day, but with military-like discipline! Organise and arm the troops with fluffy feather dusters, top secret cleaning agents, rubbish bags, boxes, and most of all a positive attitude as they march towards victory. Write down the Mission Impossible task for each trooper, and have them report back to HQ at regular intervals. Reward them with lots of praise and a batch of home-made scones, or pikelets if their efforts have taken the house to frontiers where no man has gone before.

Make sure you break the tasks down into small and simple steps – and a formal inspection of the guard, with regimented marching to the sound of marching music, is always a good way to begin! The battle plan should be worked out one room at a time. Set the team to work in pairs if necessary and remember to keep the communications short, sharp and snappy … something like - Question: “What about this?” Answer: “Rubbish”. Reply: “Ten-four roger!”

Start by rummaging through forgotten places. There may be lots of trash that can be turned into cash. Golf clubs (old ones, not new ones!), unwanted household appliances (old TVs before 52’ flat-screens became the minimum standard for sport loving dads), furniture, books… they can all be sold online, at a garage sale, swapped, or given away to create space.

In the bathroom check the medicines for their use by date. Destroy anything that looks dubious; it’s dangerous having them lying around, especially if there are littlies in the in the household. Get the torch out and have a good look at the back of the bathroom cabinet. Snoop like a secret service agent and apply the rule: if you haven’t used it for a long time, you probably don’t need it.

The kitchen is one of the bigger tasks. Start by removing everything out of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. Toss out those forgotten things in the back of food storage bins (the things that have grown long green hair!) and toss out stuff that has gone past its used-by date. Make sure everything in the pantry is visible and easy to access. Place the goods you need to use in the near future at the front so you can adapt your menus to suit.

While you are at it don’t forget to spring clean the deep freeze. Make room for the bargain buys and baked goodies for school lunches.

In the wardrobe, if you haven’t worn it for years, you are not likely to need it (unless you plan to go to a retro theme fancy dress party!). Sort everything into one of three piles:

· Stuff that you wear,

· Good stuff that you would wear if you could fit into it (!), and

· Stuff that should be thrown out or used as rags.

Give away the good stuff that you don’t wear, drop it into one of the charitable thrift shops, or sell it on-line or at a garage sale. When putting the clothing back to wear again, try sorting by items (all the shirts together for example) or by use (for example, best, casual, work and so on). The better organised your stuff is the more efficiently you will use them. You may discover shirts that have been lost in decades of chaos in the wardrobe!

Cancel subscriptions to magazines that are no longer read or enjoyed. Sort though the old stacks of magazines that will invariably be cluttering up closets and mounting up into ever taller piles on coffee tables - so much so, that discussions have to be through the piles rather than over them! Take them to a second hand book shop and turn them into cash.

A spring clean can mean much less clutter and lots of dollars in your pocket. There are loads of avenues available to sell those unwanted goodies - everything from classified ads in your local community newspaper, garage sale, car book sales, or through a proliferation of online trading sites.

Do you have a favourite springtime tip to share with readers? If so, please send it to us at or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


© Scoop Media

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