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Natural Year Challenge: Household - Month Eight

Under SinkDe-Clutter

A cluttered environment can result in a cluttered mind. Never underestimate the emotional benefit of de-cluttering your home and/or office. It's crucial, however, to approach this process one step at a time. Celebrate small steps such as clearing out that top dresser drawer or kitchen cabinet.

To emphasize the importance of organization, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals cites some startling statistics, including these:

  • The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files. (This translates into one hour per day.)
  • We wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. The rest hang there, just in case.
  • Americans waste more than nine million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced articles.
  • 80% of what we keep we never use.
  • Clutter adds 40% to the housework in an average home.

De-cluttering your home/basement/office can do wonders for your air quality. Mold and other pathogens collect easily in dust. Less "stuff" means less opportunity for these to multiply.

Here are a few organizing tips for four key areas of your home.

Basement. If your basement is your storage spot and full of clutter, take one corner, one box, or one step at a time. Develop an action plan. Spend one hour each weekend until the job is done. Focus on paper items first, as they attract dust and mold. Recyle those old newspapers, magazines, books, and junk mail. Store items in plastic bins or keep cardboard boxes off the floor to avoid mold growth in the event of flooding.

Under bathroom and kitchen sinks. This is where changing to all-natural products can be a big asset. You'll find yourself using fewer products, since much can be accomplished with soap, baking soda, and vinegar. It's imperative that you keep only what you need in this area of your home. Organize the space so that all surfaces are visible. You'll be more likely to notice a small leak.

Desk/office area. Note these five simple suggestions for organizing your desk:

  1. Keep office supplies in one drawer only.
  2. Sort through your desk files. Keep in your desk drawers only the files you use weekly or those that are personal or confidential.
  3. Place your computer at a 90-degree angle to your desk. Keep your desk's work surface clear of everything except essentials and your current project.
  4. Get rid of trash immediately. Keep a trash can within reach. Hold your trash in your hand until it finds its way to the trash can!
  5. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to keep your desk organized.

For more practical desk-clearing suggestions, see Life Organizer's The Desktop Dozen: Twelve Items to Toss Today!

Closets. The first step is to take everything out of the closet. This can be difficult, because you will know that you're committed. However, the reward will be well worth it. The organization Halo Organizers encourages you to ask these four questions as you sort:

  1. Have I worn it in the past two years? Discard if the answer is no.
  2. Do I love it? Discard if the answer is no.
  3. Does it still fit? Discard if the answer is no. If you reach your new weight goal, you'll love rewarding yourself with a new outfit.
  4. Is it torn or stained? Discard if the answer is yes.

Don't forget that organizing can be fun! One mom named Becky hosts a blog titled "Organizing Made Fun," where she offers her suggestions for 31 Days to (Cheaply) Organize Your Home. Check it out for added support and encouragement!

One way to reward yourself is to make a simple sachet for a challenging drawer that you've just conquered. In the following video, Andrea shows her recent success with clearing out
her desk and demonstrates just how simple making a sachet can be!


"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

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