Is your home in need of cleaning as the year comes to a close? Here are useful, expert tips on how to de-clutter, organize and make your house ready for 2014

I’ve always had trouble with the saying “Out with the old, in with the new.” Maybe it’s just the way I was brought up, but I have a tendency to grow fond of objects in the home to the point where I find it difficult to part with them.


A local Realtor taught me to use the acronym SORT to help when de-cluttering. He said to categorize items according to the letters, which stand for sell, offer, retain or toss. This has helped me tremendously. As you get ready to clean house for the new year, consider unconventional ways to re-purpose everyday items. Here are some ideas to get you started.

• Disguise an anti-fatigue mat. Before you throw that decorative rug away and replace it with your new anti-fatigue mat, ask yourself how much you like the look of your new mat. If you are like me, you ended up settling for one that was just “OK.” If it fits under a rug you like better, place it underneath.

• Dry your shoes. If your shoes got soaked while out on a run or hike, stuff them with newspaper and let them dry overnight. The newspaper will absorb the moisture much quicker than letting them air dry, and it will keep them from retaining odors from the water.

• Arrange your spices. Instead of keeping several, almost-empty spice jars on your shelf, separate them into a travel pill organizer. Use removable stickers on the outside so you can label the various compartments. This arrangement also comes in handy on camping trips. Bonus: You can use the organizer for storing other small objects like buttons and earrings.

• Give your bathroom a spa feel. Keep towels accessible and on display in a wine rack. Mount the rack to the wall, or use a tall, multi-level one that can stand on its own.

• Protect your fine china. If you switch from a regular coffee pot to a one-cup brewer, don’t toss out your coffee filters. Instead, use them as spacers when stacking your dishes.

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