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Oily Rag: Spring clean attention

Spring clean attention

By Frank and Muriel Newman

It's spring and soon to be summer so if you haven’t already done the annual spring clean, there is no time to lose.

We know from your letters and experience that 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, buckets of elbow grease, 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, rewarding them with lots of praise and a batch of home-made scones, or pikelets, if their efforts take the house to frontiers where no man or child has gone before.

Break the tasks down into small and simple steps – 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 to attack one room at a time. Work in pairs if need be and keep the communications short, sharp and snappy - something like; Question: “What about this?” Answer: “Rubbish”. Reply: “Ten-four roger that.”

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

In the bathroom check the medicines for their use by date. Destroy anything that’s a bit dubious; it’s dangerous having them lying around, especially if there are littlies in the household who think that colourful pills look like M & M's! 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, 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 anything that is old or forgotten – especially if it is growing long green hair! Make sure everything in the pantry is visible and easy to access. Have the stuff you have 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 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 it. If you are anything like us, you will rediscover items 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 in 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 or sell them at garage sales and turn them into cash.

A spring clean can mean 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 sales, car boot sales, to a proliferation of online trading sites.

Good luck, and once the job is finished, don't forget the victory parade for your battle-weary troopers!
You can send tips and join the Oily Rag mailing list by visiting - or you can write to us at Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


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