5 Areas to Tidy Up This Winter

Once I make up my mind to finally take down the Christmas decorations every year (and the tears stop falling), there's actually such a refreshing vibe about the house. It always feels emptier, but cleaner. Like a blank canvas, in a good way. 

January and the rest of the cold months are a time to place sparkling disco balls around the house, diffuse lemon and peppermint oils and just have an overall sense of feeling refreshed and anew. The winter reset is also a great time to get your house organized and spotless, way before it's time for "spring cleaning." I always feel that the new year is a much better time to get things done because there's such a timely sense of change and will power (plus, we're all stuck indoors anyway). Here's some places around the house you may be neglecting tidying up:

New Year Cleaning Routine


This spot is so easy to ignore when you absolutely never cook. Starting the new year, I decided to start making food again, which meant dealing with the pantry. It's not the most fun task, but it doesn't take very long to clean and it's so worth it.

- Take out every item and sit on the countertops.
- Check expiration dates.
- Throw out old/unnecessary items. 
- Organize and group into "families."
- Wipe down pantry shelves. 
- Add items back into the pantry. 

Instead of organizing my pantry by type of item (all bread, pasta noodles, tortillas together), I now have bins labeled with types of foods - American, Italian, Mexican, Asian...It's totally changed the way I've always arranged the pantry, but it's been such a help on a daily basis, especially on food prep days.

This clean out is the perfect way to get rid of truly old items (hello 2014 expiration date) and also see what you probably don't need to ever buy again. 

*BONUS: Do a similar major clean out in the fridge. Same pantry rules apply. 


Specifically, the two cabinets that tend to get a little out of control for me are the cups and the plastic food containers. 

- Take out every item and sit on the countertops.
- Ask these questions when going through the items:
  Do these stack? Does this have its proper lid? Is this still useful to me?
- Donate/throw out items you don't need or have missing pieces. 
- Organize and group by size. 
- Snap on correct lids on all bowls, lunch boxes, etc. 
- Then, add items back into their cabinets. 

When we moved from our apartment, we just kept all the drinking cups we had. That included the restaurant cups, the souvenir cups, the cups with school logos. So many different sizes. Not many stackable. Basically, a true hot mess. This is where I really cleaned house and donated almost everything we had. Definitely the easiest way to organize: start from scratch. After much internet-browsing, I found the perfect cups for us, Silipint. We got both the straight up pint and straight up half pint. They stack. They match. They're indestructible. Love 'em. 

As for my dreaded plastic container monstrosity: if you can't find lid, get rid of it. When I cleaned out this area, I put on the lids to every bowl, bento, lunch box, etc. This is also how I decided to store them: lids on. It takes up a lot of space, of course, but not having to search for a lid is the best time-saver. I'll sacrifice the space. 


We have one large shared linen closet which holds the towels and wash cloths for both bathrooms, first aid kit, medicines, paper goods and cleaning supplies. It's kind of a hodge-podge and deserves a good, annual clean-out too. 

- Working one shelf at a time, sit all items on the floor and organize.
- Get rid of the old. Sort what's left.
- Fold the towels, line up the cleaning supplies.
- Add items back in after wiping down the shelf. 

I have three separate piles of towels that sometimes get a little mixed up throughout the year - nice and pretty guest towels, dark colorful towels (for drying my newly-dyed hair) and our daily use towels. It’s good to see them all in their correct place again. Organizing the rest of the space is usually like taking a shelf inventory of what I may or may not need to buy soon. Are there plenty of paper towels? Is toilet paper stocked? Are any of the medications expired? Do we have plenty of band aids? This closet holds a lot of necessities, so making sure everything is lined up and easily accessible makes daily life a little easier. 


If your dresser drawers are still filled with college t-shirts, raise your hand up high! Gosh, I put so much sentimental stock into these dang things. Going in with a new mindset this year, I emptied all my drawers and only kept the (few) best of the best. It’s a tough job, but we gotta do it!

- Empty all drawers onto the bed. 
- Unfold each and every shirt/item.
- Determine if you've worn it in the last year.
- Nope? It must go. Make a donate pile.
- Fold what's left and arrange into similar groups (sort by color or type).
- Add your organized items back in the drawers. 


For a lot of folks, I know that clothing closets have to be cleaned out a couple times throughout the year, depending on how often you buy clothes (glaring at my sister for this one). However, what you may be ignoring when you do that dreaded task is the ever-present pile of shoes below. The beginning of the year is a great time to take inventory of what you have and donate your barely-used shoes. 

- Bring all the shoes out of your closet.
- Start ditching any unwearables (I wear out the soles of black flats about once a year)!
- Make a pile of the shoes you haven't worn in the last 12 months. Donate if condition allows. 
- Hoarding similar styles? (Like, 5 identical black pumps). Bag duplicates up for donation too. 
- Group by similar styles and place what's left back in your closet. 

So, when you're cooped up in the house for several days because of the wind chill or snow...or, just when you're feeling super motivated, take on one of these tasks and get the full effect of a good new year/winter reset!