Tips for Spring Cleaning: 'The Things You Own End Up Owning You'

How to spring clean like a mean, focused, cleaning machine.

By Hans Freiwald


Well, that time of year is fast approaching. You know, the same time every year, when you decide if that sweater-vest you own might not only come back into fashion, but may also fit you again someday. Figure it out yet? OK, one more. That time of year, when the crucial decision on whether that Motorola Razr phone still holds some fraction of functionality. Yep, you got it! Spring cleaning. But don’t you worry. This year we, along with a little “Life Changing Magic,” have you covered. Here are a few helpful tips that will help you get rid of those never-gonna-read books, never-ever-worn shirts, and can’t-even-connect electronics.


Spring cleaning


'I Wanna Know What Love Is; And I Want You to Show Me' – Let Your Things Sing!

When you catch yourself thinking about whether you’ll need a particular item in the future, take this simple advice: Don’t THINK! Let your stuff do it for you. From her groundbreaking book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which has been helping people with their spring cleaning cleanses since 2014, Marie Condo explains, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” Do you really “love” that pamphlet on poisonous snakes from your trip to Reptile World in 1999? Or is that just nostalgia you’re feeling? If it leans in any direction towards the latter, then it is time to let it go. And if you’re still having trouble, maybe switch it around with this lovely sentiment: “If you love something give it away.” Bottom line, like “Frozen” fans sing, “Let it go!”


Throwing books into box


'Joy to Your World' – Spring Cleaning's Christmas Gift

Two prevalent themes in Marie Condo’s work is “joy” and the “world” directly affecting us. Ask yourself, “Do my things bring me joy? Do they brighten my world?” If the answer is yes (and be specific) then keep that item, and remind yourself of what a thoughtful and caring consumer you are. Pat yourself on the back for not wasting your time or money. However, if that Christmas tie doesn’t spark a Christmas carol in your soul, then out with the wrapping paper it goes. On that note, if you’re conflicted about being wasteful, offers free shipping labels for all your donating needs; BUT do not “donate” your items to close friends or family. This is not a donation; rather, it is a guarantee that they will be dealing with your “gift” this spring cleaning-time next year. (C’mon, chores are not good Christmas gifts.)


A large cardboard box filled with donations for a charity or good cause


'The Things You Own, End up Owning You' – Thanks 1990s Brad Pitt!

That’s right, Brad’s abs aren’t the only thing that should be retained from David Fincher’s grunge-film classic, “Fight Club.” Especially in today’s online-retail consumption culture, it is important for us to remember that stuff is only that – STUFF! Remember, you are worth way more than your washing machine. You hold more value than your vacuum cleaner. And you should never define yourself by your diamond jewelry (but maybe get that stuff insured). To prove this to yourself, think of a time when you lost or broke something of contemporary usefulness or value, maybe a broken cell-phone or a crashed Chevrolet. What happened? Did life go on? If it did (and I have to think it did, seeing as how you’re reading this and all), then what could possibly be keeping you from tossing that tea kettle with the loose handle into the trash? Free your space, free your life.


Woman taking away the garbage at home


What do you think? Are you up for the task? If you’re still on the fence, here’s one final piece of advice: START.


A graduate of Hunter College, Hans Freiwald writes and resides in New York City with his fiancé Megg, and their three dogs Rudy, Warren and Dirt.  Feel free to contact him at

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

Next: Sneaker Structure: How to Organize your Shoes