Oily Rag - Spring cleaning

Published: Thu 13 Sep 2012 01:21 PM
Spring cleaning!
By Frank and Muriel Newman
Spring has sprung and that means it’s time to do those cleaning and clearing jobs that have been conveniently ignored throughout the winter.
We reckon the best way to tackle the task is through a family social day - but with military-style 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 tasks for each trooper, and have them report back to HQ at regular intervals.
Break the tasks down into small and simple steps. Plan 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”.
Start by rummaging through forgotten places. There may be lots of trash that you can turn into cash. Golf clubs, unwanted household appliances, furniture, books… they can all be sold online, at a garage sale, swapped, or given away.
In the bathroom check the medicines for their use-by-date. Destroy anything a bit 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. Be ruthless… if you haven’t used it, you probably don’t need it.
The kitchen is one of the big tasks. Start by removing everything out of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. Toss out those things that are gathering mould, or are past their used-by-date. 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 are planning 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, 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. You may discover good shirts 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. Take them to a second hand book shop and turn them into cash.
A spring clean can mean lots of dollars in your pocket. There are lots 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 on-line trading sites.
Good luck!
Do you have a favourite spring cleaning tips that you would like to share with others? Let us know by going to or writing to PO Box 984, Whangarei.
*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at

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