Q: I have a medium-sized spare room that became a catch all for everything and now you have to actually clamber over everything to get to the other side. Boxes, a vacuum, an old TV stand, and lots of broken stuff I just could never get to the proper junk place (no car). So I’ve let it build up and now I’m too intimidated to even attempt tackling it. Any suggestions on how to do it without burning myself out?
A: You’re in a pretty good position here because you can deal with the spare room at a reasonable pace and not have it interfere with the part of your home you use regularly.
- First, find someone with a car. Pick a date about two weeks out and arrange to make a trip or two to the proper junk place(s). This gives you two weeks to sort the actual junk from everything else. Find a space to put all of the junk that’s out of the way but still all together so that when your junk day comes, everything is ready to go. Make sure to appropriately bribe or reward the car owner for their assistance. Food and/or alcohol usually works well, and friends and family are more likely to take it than cash, although cash is always an option.
- Work in small chunks. You want to devote at least one 20-minute session a day to the room, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Start with clearing out the stuff that’s going on the junk trip.
- Move on to garbage or items that can be put out with your regular household trash collection or recycling, or items that can be donated. Arrange for donation pick-up, if applicable.
- Anything that should have a different home somewhere in your house, put it there.
- How’s your storage situation in there? Once you’ve removed everything that doesn’t belong, do you still have more stuff than storage? If so, work on storage.
- Once the room is reset to clean, and this may take weeks or a month or however long it takes, keep the door open. An open door makes it way harder to ignore a mess, and a closed door encourages randomly tossing shit in there and then forgetting about it.
Q: Is there any easy way to clean hairbrushes? Mine seems to collect fuzz at the base of the plastic bristles which is annoying to pick off.
A: Cleaning hairbrushes is actually super easy.
- Remove all hair from the brush. This is easiest to do by running a comb close against the bristles, but you can use another implement (takeout chopstick, old tweezers, your fingers) to do it. Just get out as much hair as possible.
- Fill your sink with warm water and a few squirts of shampoo. Use a clarifying shampoo if you have one on hand. Moisturizing or strengthening shampoos won’t get things as clean.
- If your brush is anything but wood, swirl it around in the water for a few minutes. If it’s wood, dip an old toothbrush in the water and scrub the bristles and the barrel.
- Run your comb or an old toothbrush through the bristles again to get anything that was loosened up with the water and shampoo.
- Give it a good rinse.
- Lay it to dry (bristles down if it’s not a round brush) on a dry towel. The longer moisture sits on it, the more likely it is that any glue used to hold the bristles in or the tips onto the bristles will loosen. If you’re in a hurry, you can use your blowdryer on low heat for a minute or two to speed things along.
Have a question? Submit it through our Ask Us page!