Clean It Challenge

Oh, my word.  It’s time!!

My garage is a terrible mess.  I’ve tried, but I’m in an all-out attack mode.  It’s going to get clean.

As many of you know I volunteer a lot and my volunteer area to collect things is out of control.  It’s to the point it either gets under control or I quit volunteering.

I have quilt tops in several different totes.  These all need to get out to people but in my wish to get them out of finishers I was out of postage money and as I said in an earlier post, I’ve been footing the bill for that and so they have sat while I do the auction to get money in the postage fund to send them.


This box is full of cross stitch stands I bought at the thrift store but have since decided that I don’t want.  I’m a stitch-in-a-hoop gal.  If I knew someone who would love the stands, they can have them for the price I paid for them…I should probably just take them back to the thrift store.

This is all …auction stuff, quilt tops, and decor.  I want it back under control.

Here are things for auctions, the quilts for Buck’s girls…moving blankets, mats I want to put down but haven’t cleaned a spot for…fabric for Carolyn who makes the sleepers for the Lutheran World Relief baby care kits…I need to send it to her…mats I want to get put down.


This all needs to go to my friend Lana…

Oh and don’t forget this.  I never knew when I started fostering dogs that I’d need space for kennels and puppy pads…and fences and, and, and.  I feel like my garage is big version of “but wait, there is more!!!”


This is only the southwest corner.

I’m tired of it all.  I’m ordering a shelving unit and I’m going to work and work and work on it until I can stand it and then I’m going to work on it just a little more.  I am so done with all this unorganized mess.  DONE.

So dear readers…It’s time to attack.  Is anyone with me?  It’s time to GET IT DONE!

How about you find a place in your house or garage that is driving you crazy and you reorganize it along with me?  Assess your space, get the items you need to organize it, and then ATTACK!

I just hate the paralyzing feeling of disorganization.  I’ll report back in a week or so.  THIS IS HAPPENING just as soon as the new shelving unit comes.

What do you need to organize and clean out?  Please let me know in the comments.  I don’t want to do this alone.

50 thoughts on “Clean It Challenge”

  1. Hi Jo,
    I hear you.
    That’s what I’ve been doing and therefore sending my stash out.
    I’ve still got a ways to go but I tackle a little every day. Can’t tell tho.
    Take 1 step at a time.

  2. I need to organize and clean out my entire house and garage! GHHA! I’m a terrible collector, and I just know that as soon as I get rid of something I will need it. I’ll join you as I work on my downstairs.

  3. Oooo, now I know I’m not alone!! I have shelves with stuff on them (probably a lot I could get rid of) and then I’ve got stuff on the floor. I look at it and think I need to clean it up but it never happens. One of these days (maybe) but I’m not to your point yet. Hope you’re able to grab the bull by the horns and DO IT! Rootin’ for ya!

  4. Oh my! What a job you have ahead of you. You will conquer it though and then will be so glad you gave it time. You are so generous with your time and with helping others that it surprises me you get so much done with quilting, stitching, cooking, and more. All that you do is so important to many others and yourself (including your readers), and you do such a great job serving others. Would come and help if you were about 500 miles closer!

  5. Marsha from Kansas

    I have been organizing with Pat Sloan the month of January. BUT – I figure she has done it each year. Mine has stacked up many years, since I retired in 2014. So I am way behind. I just got the books organized. My daughter moved the book stand to where I can actually get to the books. Next was my bedroom. Again, my daughter helped with the heavy stuff, tubs of fabric. One room under control. I’ll be working with you as now everything that got piled on my cutting space and ironing board for me to “go through later” is what I need to work on. At least I won’t get lost reading books as I go through the remaining containers. lol. Good luck with your project!

  6. My daughters’ bedroom WILL get all cleaned out this month! They are 44 and 42 and have been out on their own for 20+ years, so it’s about time! I did my son’s room last year and it is a good feeling walking in the room and being able to breathe!

  7. I’M IN! My garage is a mess and I keep putting it off because it’s so cold. You are going to be the motivation to get my butt moving. I know you enjoy what you do but I’ve never felt it’s fair for you to become a dumping ground for what others don’t want. You are a good person for taking everything, organizing, selling, and donating. Wasn’t there a time when you requested people stop sending you stuff? You are such a busy grandma and artist there could come a time when you throw the red flag and say no more…. This seems to take up far too much of your time.

  8. My basement isn’t horrible but I should work on it. Actually I did go through my small storage room when I put the Christmas tree away so it’s done. My plan is to box up things and take it to the online auction house.

  9. Make 3 piles. Donate, Toss, Keep. If you haven’t touched, looked at in 2-3 years then it goes. You didn’t need it and haven’t missed it. Buying more shelving will just be kept if your trying to down size you overload. It’s hard but feel better with the results at the end.

  10. Hi Jo, With this big project in front of you I am making the happy assumption that your last trip to mayo’s was a success and you have Lots of energy. If that’s the case woo Hoo for you. I somehow missed your post on those results and the later link doesn’t work for me. I too have cancer so think of you lots and am sending you lots of long distance hugs! Xoxox

    1. Hi Meylonie…Nope. I’m not letting cancer get the best of me. I had medium news. The tumors in my lungs have shrunk…but my tumor marker went up a bit. So a mixed bag. I refuse to let it stop me at this point. It likely will some day but not yet cancer…NOT YET!

  11. Hi Jo, With this big project in front of you I am making the happy assumption that your last trip to mayo’s was a success and you have Lots of energy. If that’s the case woo Hoo for you. I somehow missed your post on those results and the later link doesn’t work for me. I too have cancer so think of you lots and am sending you lots of long distance hugs! Xoxox

  12. I need to work on. My sewing area. Also my freezers need a big clean out- my sister in law is coming next week to help with the freezers.

    1. With the cold weather, my husband suggested we clean out the garage chest freezer. Auugh. The roach motel: once they (leftovers) check in, they never check out! The oldest frozen item was dated 2010!
      Now once a week I’m playing freezer roulette: close my eyes and grab something that will be used this week.

  13. The first thing I need to know is what shelving unit did you choose??
    Honestly, I still have lots to go through from our move over a year ago. Ugh!! We haven’t got my husband’s car in the garage yet. He thinks it can be done in a day or two. I’m not so sure.

  14. I have a walk in closet in a bedroom that was my son’s. He’s been married 13 years! The closet has stuff from HS and college! He doesn’t want it. Textbooks, clothes, models, small dioramas from school projects! It’s upstairs, to boot. I need to tackle it, but do I have the strength and stamina??

    1. Marsha from Kansas

      My suggestion would be to carry one arm load of things from the closet each time you go back downstairs. I’d start with stuff you know are throw aways taking them straight to the trash can. You might be surprised how much you can clear out that way. It doesn’t sound like you have any kind of deadline and slow and easy wins the race.

  15. I’m in with you with our living and dining area, Jo! I need totes for storing things (one is on its way from Temu) and the rest I’ll get this week Friday. Then Saturday since my husband is helping a friend fix the guy’s bike I’ll attack right along with. It’s supposed to rain again all weekend here so perfect weather for indoor clearing and cleaning!

  16. Jo, I feel your pain. Before I start to organize, I first have to declutter, which means getting rid of things I haven’t used for ages or have lost interest in. Sounds like you have already started on that. Continue on and know that it isn’t one and done. I definitely agree with the saying “Mess Creates Stress” because it feels so much better when things all have a place. Thank you for all you do for your community.

  17. I hear you. My whole house is a mess. I help my mom a lot so I stay with her. I start to deal with my house then have to stop for several days in a row. I have piles of fabric in every room that need an organized place for home. I have given some away.

    1. Cynthia from SWMinnesota

      Just a suggestion, do one room at a time as it helps a person feel success one room at a time, otherwise too overwhelming. This is what I have done in cleaning out an entire house due to death. We had a throw, maybe and keep pile, but stuck to just one room at a time. Good luck! I get bogged down in my own house as there is no deadline.

  18. We are doing a huge remodel and gutted our house, all but the bedrooms. There is dust everywhere and I have no idea where anything is so I ran away from home. It’s filthy and disorganized and I’m staying gone until it’s done. I painted all weekend so while the finish is going on, I’m staying missing. My April and may will be all about cleaning and putting back. This week, I’m going on a quilt retreat and staying in a hotel. I’ve been gone since mid December.

    1. Cheryl, I feel your pain! My youngest is finishing part of our basement into a work room for my hubby, so hubby’s stuff is all over and my basement pantry area is a nightmare! My son is in construction and most days his tools are in sight. My mom just moved in and the son had to quick switch gears to put in an accessible shower and start planning a small addition for an entry way with ramp etc, 400 sq ft of new flooring needs to go in, and a small half bath. Poor kid. I almost feel sorry for him. He’s already finished an added bedroom for us. But then, he’s only 22 and still lives here rent free lol, but I think I get the better deal! I try to focus on how much more functional our house will be post renovations.

  19. Oh, Jo, I’m with you, sort of…we just moved into our new home…after nearly 2 years of waiting! My longarm and the majority of my quilting “stuff” has been in storage for that long! Today I attempted to put my sewing room together…it needs an annex! Fortunately, the longarm gets a room mostly to itself, but that now needs to be put back together so I can get back to work. My husband nearly had heart failure when he saw how many things I’ve made in the last 2 years that now need to see the longarm. The garage is full of furniture that it waiting for one reason or another to come into the house, and we’re still waiting for furniture that was 1) damaged in shipping; 2) damaged in the warehouse; or 3) just didn’t ship on time and is now waiting in line to be delivered. I’ve unpacked 30-some boxes, but lots of stuff still doesn’t have a permanent home…it might find it at the thrift store! There should be a rule that you can’t move across the country and build a new house over the age of 70! It’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

  20. My husband painted the house this past winter between working at church on the Sunday school rooms. The sewing room was last, and January UFO was reclaiming the back bedroom, this month is reclaiming the front bedroom and making sure things were organized and if I didn’t need it or plan to use it again it has been going out the door, have 4 boxes setup. A newer quilter/friend, longtime friend quilter, our local guild, and the local Dress a Girl group which can use dress and little boys’ short fabric. Have already carried 2 bags of quilt books to guild for their library. Problem is a lot were gifts from people no longer here and I tend to cling. Besides I like the Bric bract, I think it’s fun. Good luck in getting everything on your list completed.

  21. OH, MY WORD! I am soooo IN!!! Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat just thinking about my sewing/junk room(s)! We have lived in this house for 45 years and I don’t think I have thrown anything out since my son moved out on his own 20 some years ago! Just glad I am not in this alone!

  22. I am with you. I HATE it when things are a mess. I am 80 years old. Two years ago I moved to be near my daughter. I never throw anything away. My son-in-law is a cattlelman. He filled a large cattle trailer three times with things that went to the dump. That left a two car garage, a good size attic and a two story outside storage building. Although I had a lot of stuff, I could almost always put my hands on what I wanted or needed. I now have a three car garage filled to the rim with boxes, yet to be unpacked. Many of my sewing room supplies are out there. My car is loaded with boxes for the thrift store but I don’t drive, so it sits there waiting for family to have time to deliver. Guess it is time for me to get back to work. Wish me luck. P.S. Love your blog. Look forward to it every day.

    1. Many organizations will come to your home to pick up items for free. You just have to call them. I used to drop off items but I found that it is a lot easier to call for a pick-up. Good Luck!

  23. OH MY!! I am so in on this challenge! We have a storage room with built-in shelving and cupboards in our basement. It’s been overflowing for two years. Every time I go in there – and I do have to go in there to access our big freezer and the paper goods (TP) stash – I want run out screaming! It. Is. Time. Ready, set, go!!

  24. Cynthia from SWMinnesota

    Just a thought, if you have items for specific people, could they not come to get them rather than you send thru the mail? Once you get things sorted I think that will help you a lot to put it onto your shelving to stay organized. I will be working in my basement tomorrow!

  25. Always remember, how do you eat an elephant? ONE BITE AT A TIME”

    That is my motto. One bite at a time. Before we moved I dedicated 1 hour to cleaning the garage each day. Just one hour, but everyday. You can do anything 1 bite at a time. .

  26. I’m all in. My sewing/cross-stitch/extra bedroom is a disaster. But, I’m working on the basement right now. I am getting better at donating or trashing things. Today my husband even said I was making headway! That’s my motivation to keep going.

  27. This is just what I’m doing this week. We’re having a swap at our campground and I’m decluttering. Things I haven’t worn in months, things I haven’t used…you name it. It goes to the swap and if not taken, goes to the local thrift store. This includes my tiny craft closet which is actually overflowing!
    Love and prayers

  28. I’m in ! Definitely my sewing room needs decluttering (actually the garage too but that will wait until March when my son will be visiting). I have overflowing quilting projects and books from 30 years ago that I haven’t touched in 20 years!

  29. I am doing closets and my daughter is helping her dad with the garage. Won’t it be a great feeling when it is all done!

  30. I have piles of stuff everywhere. I am glad I’m not alone here. When I do clean out a space I am always surprised at how much of it is stuff I don’t need. So off to the thrift store.
    I agree that looking at , and thinking about, this clutter and the work it takes to deal with it IS paralyzing. It is very hard to decide what to do with an item sometimes. So I have a 4th pile called ‘don’t know yet’ and usually by the time I’m finishing up the area, I am so tired of all of the junk that I have no problem deciding which pile to put it in. Usually not the keep pile.
    All this clutter robs me of my energy. I try to keep my cool and deal with it a little at a time.

  31. Susan from Michigan

    Yesterday I worked on getting my sewing closet organized. I got rid of some boxes and stacked similar fabrics on shelves. If I can see what I have at a glance it helps tremendously. Better to look at fabric than a cardboard box! While working I listened to a book on tape about decluttering from the library!

  32. I can clean up my small house but it will not stay clean unless I eliminate stuff. My husband thinks my stuff can all go…I keep an ongoing charity box by my door, that helps. I get rid of horizonal spaces and that helps. I don’t need to clean my garage but I do need to clean out my back room. I am in..

  33. I’m with you Jo!! I’ve got a garage and a couple of rooms that need cleaning out. I’ve been working on one of the rooms slowly, but the time has come to get it done!!! Let’s do this!!

  34. My son is a minimalist and has been an inspiration for me, although I’ll never be one!! I have a back pantry that needs to be gone through badly, as well as the bottom of my hutch cabinet. I just keep telling myself someone else will be able to, or have a need to use these things, since I am not. So, off to the Historical Society donation barn they go!!

  35. I so enjoyed reading all these messages about everything they needed to clean as well as what you plan on doing. I talk to myself every day about actually getting my garage cleaned out and that’s as far as it goes. Now I am motivated!!! I spent yesterday working on my sewing room but I need another room. Too much fabric and nowhere to put it. So, tomorrow I head to the garage after I have my coffee. Can’t wait to see your cleaned out garage, Jo. Send pictures. We’ll all feel so proud of ourselves so we need to keep track of what all we accomplish.

  36. Jo,
    Please tell us when the postage fund is getting low. We can always send you some money. Then when you have time do the auction. I missed the auction but will try and get you some money in the mail this week.

  37. Dear Jo
    I have just spent a happy time rereading a few of your latest posts and the last one and loved it all. I’m not a cross stitch person, or a doggy one either but I love reading all about your enthusiasms and boundless energy. Your garage clean up sounds a marathon project and I hope your family and friends will lend a hand, one bite of the elephant at a time. Did your latest two auctions bring in enough money to cover postage so some of those bags of donations can be mailed and out of your way? Hope so. Thinking about you in Kenilworth, UK and sending my blessings on all you do, I loved Jazz’s post and admire how she is trying to keep track of all the donations sent her way and thanking everyone personally. A huge task as you found out!,

  38. Dear Jo
    I have just spent a happy time rereading a few of your latest posts and the last one and loved it all. I’m not a cross stitch person, or a doggy one either but I love reading all about your enthusiasms and boundless energy. Your garage clean up sounds a marathon project and I hope your family and friends will lend a hand, one bite of the elephant at a time. Did your latest two auctions bring in enough money to cover postage so some of those bags of donations can be mailed and out of your way? Hope so. Thinking about you in Kenilworth, UK and sending my blessings on all you do, I loved Jazz’s post and admire how she is trying to keep track of all the donations sent her way and thanking everyone personally. A huge task as you found out!,

  39. Spring is just around the corner and that will give me some work outside working in the flower beds and yard. I started deep cleaning my kitchen a month ago and worked myself through the laundry and office areas. I need to do the master bedroom and its closet next. Where does all this extra stuff come from and never get used??? Your garage will soon be orderly, and the shelf unit looks great, love the idea of wheels on it.

  40. I am also ‘trying’ to get organized. Not easy! I am 89 years old and surely do not want my children to have to get rid of all of this ‘stuff’. I am in good health so there is no reason for me not to tackle it–I just need courage. How can I send money for postage to you? I was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Haven’t lived there since 1955 but love to visit. Would really like to visit your thrift shops and cross stitch shops. They sound wonderful! I mostly quilt but do like a variety of things to work on. Keep on keeping on!

    1. Myrna, thanks so much for you comment. You are welcome to donate to the postage fund at any time. Here is my address:
      Jo Kramer
      111 2nd Ave NE
      Waucoma, IA 52171

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