What to throw away while cleaning and what to keep.
Pesach provides an ideal opportunity to go through our homes, to organize, and to de-clutter.
Stacey Pratt, author of What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?, suggests ten steps to organizing anything: focus on the bigger picture, visualize your desired result, choose an area of focus, clear the space, sort into four piles: keep, toss, donate and fix; revisit the keep pile and ask yourself what you love, give everything a home, and keep things together; choose containers to fit the space, maintain order by putting things back in place, and finally, tweak as needed.
When making the decision whether to toss or keep, she asks you to consider: do you love it and do you use it?
Going Through Your Home Room by Room
Brooklyn-based professional organizer Reva Lieberman suggests storing your food in see-through containers so it’s easy to see what you have on hand. “Keep what you use and give or throw away what’s been sitting around. Toss expired food, spices, or condiments in your fridge and pantry.” You’ll want to use up or get rid of products that contain chometz.
“Where finances allow, consider buying a set of storage containers as well as pots and pans,” says Reva. “Sets nest to perfection and take up far less storage room.” Stacey adds that it’s advisable to get rid of duplicates: anything rusty, broken, burnt, worn or pitted aluminum cookware, as well as toxic non-stick pots and pans.
Review cleaning products under the kitchen sink and throw away bottles that are crusty, empty, old, damaged or no longer used.
Kids’ Bedrooms and Toys
“Pesach is a great time to wash and wipe down toys,” reflects Reva. “Consider what kids actually play with, and store what they don’t in labeled plastic containers.” You may want to give away a few toys, and toss those that are broken, worn out or unsafe. Save one or two of your child’s artwork from each month that best reflects the time period – label and date them. You could also photograph them.
“Keep only what you wear and what’s seasonal in your wardrobe,” says Reva. Stacey suggests donating clothes that are wearable and in good condition but are out of style, unflattering, itchy, too small or too big. Toss anything ripped, stretched, stained, or damaged beyond repair. Keep clothes that are flattering, that you love, and that project the image you are after.
Get rid of cosmetics or products you haven’t used in a while, or anything rusty, e.g, old razors and toothbrushes. Return unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations for safe disposal. “Consider customized shelving around the pipes underneath the bathroom sink,” says Reva. “Lots of labeled drawers ensure everything has an easy–to-find home.”
“This area should be a minimalist space,” reflects Reva. “Go through your Shabbas or Pesach dishes and glassware, and get rid of any that are chipped or mismatched. Discount home stores offer new sets at affordable prices.”
When cleaning for Pesach, you’re bound to find papers in other parts of the home. “Organize papers in sturdy filing cabinets,” says Reva. While going through documents, consider if the information they contain is current or relevant or if you need it. If not, toss! Stacey advises shredding documents with sensitive information, such as tax returns. Ensure hard-to-replace documents like birth certificates are stored in a fireproof safe and that you have copies. File manuals and warranties on your computer and recycle the paper versions.
“You’ll want to pull couches apart and take everything out of drawers, as you never know where snacks are hiding,” says Reva. “You’ll probably find lots of toys and junk in the process.”
Pesach cleaning doesn’t need to be seen as a burden or chore,” Reva says. “It can be reframed as a unique opportunity to start afresh.” However, avoid any undue stress, and remember what is actually required by halacha (Jewish law), i.e., removing chametz (leavened bread).
Written By: Loren Minsky