Reaching into the cupboard for canned pumpkin, you come upon what appears to be a rotting bag of potatoes you’d forgotten that you bought a couple of months ago.
You go down to the basement to pull out your holiday décor and realize it will take days to even get close to the area where it is stored – the boxes you can reach have been chewed into by…something.
You look under a bathroom sink for the ointment you haven’t used since last year’s blister you got while raking and you discover what must be a leaking pipe (and a mass of soggy toiletries).
Just because you have not actively used a storage area for some time, doesn’t mean that it has remained unchanged in your absence. Storage spaces like basements, spare rooms, closets and cabinets can be easily ignored when organizing or cleaning. The items they contain do not present the issue of “visible” clutter. The door is closed and what is stored is not in anyone’s way. Besides, the everyday mass of new paper, gadgets and gizmos coming in that crowd our countertops are enough of a challenge. Who has the time to deal with what’s already stored? Right?
Well, unfortunately, what is out of sight and out of mind is not necessarily out of play in the functioning of our homes and lives.
We want to be able to use the storage that we have in order to be able to put away supplies, seasonal items, sentimental memorabilia and the like, so as to keep them from impinging on our daily living. However, if we continue to shove new items in, we can end up pushing older items back, back, back into the dark recesses known only to the Boogieman. Therefore, an occasional survey of storage spaces can keep them functional and friendly. And, although I doubt you’ll need worry about coming across any ingredients in Shakespeare’s brew, you may want to be prepared for the unexpected when venturing to take-on one of these areas.
- Have trash bags on hand. Trash inevitably shows up in spaces that have long been off your radar. Be prepared for candy wrappers, leaky bottles of hand soap, broken hangers, and moth-eaten sweaters when addressing certain long-neglected areas.
- Keep cleaning supplies nearby. Unless your drawers, cabinets and closets are vacuum-sealed, you should, at the very least, expect a significant amount of dust. Once you have purged any unwanted or unrelated items from the area, putting items back into a clean space will give you peace of mind and having the cleaning supplies on hand will allow you to get the job done there and then.
- Stay calm. Occasionally you may encounter bigger issues; a leaky pipe or an infestation of bugs or rodents in spaces that you have not visited in a while. Although these discoveries can be unpleasant and startling, ignoring them will only make matters worse. Open a window to ventilate the area and check the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for step-by-step instructions for safe removal of messes such as mouse droppings and mold.
If you’ve seen signs of bugs or rodents, consider bringing in an exterminator first and holding off for a week or two on the organizing. If there’s a leak that you cannot find or fix yourself, call a plumber sooner rather than later. Unaddressed leaks and critters can do damage to your health and your home, not to mention your wallet. Take care of them before they turn into a caldron full of trouble.
Let the witches and goblins that ring your bell for candy be your only scary surprise this fall season!
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