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How to get your (neat) freak on: Four steps to superior spring cleaning
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How to get your (neat) freak on: Four steps to superior spring cleaning

"Tidying is the act of confronting yourself," says Marie Kondo. And it's a lot more productive than sitting around in a therapist's office or running 100 miles, isn't it? Easy for me to say: Like Kondo, I'm a natural-born neat freak. Nobody else in my household shares my low tolerance for mess, so I end up handling much of the dirty work. Suits me fine; I enjoy laboring in monastic solitude and silence. For most of the year, that is. Right before Easter we like to observe the venerable tradition of spring cleaning together — usually because my wife is hosting family for brunch. I don't begrudge them their fair-weather enthusiasm for getting our house in order any more than I begrudge their twice-a-year urge to go to church. Everyone's got to start somewhere. Here's one way to do it.


Like Marie Kondo, Uline president and CEO Liz Uihlein is a woman after my own heart: “I love product. It’s weird to develop a love of corrugated boxes and shipping supplies, but I really enjoy [it]. It’s very exciting to get a product, write the copy, put it in 11 locations in North America, and so I really like the creative part.”

Using Uline storage boxes to organize your clutter is just as exciting. These are honest, functional American products that do just what they're supposed to. Try their 700 lb. capacity Collapsible Straight Wall Containers — aren't they beautiful?

Bonus: As colorful, outspoken conservatives not shy about deploying their considerable wealth, the Uihlein family have long been a thorn in the side of the Democrats as well as the moribund GOP. I guess this NY Times piece is supposed to be negative — but it just makes them seem like the kind of fun people you'd want as neighbors.


Now that you have your knickknacks stashed, you'll want to dust. You don't need to go overboard; broad strokes will do. If I get too granular when dusting my bookshelves, for example, I tend to get sucked down an analog rabbit hole about the Civil War or waste an hour reading a Len Deighton novel because I can't remember how it ends.

It helps to have a quality brush. Gordon Brush, based in City of Industry, California, manufactures over 17,000 different types of brushes and brooms for all applications — even fingerprint dusting brushes. If your house, like ours, often looks like a crime scene by Sunday night, you'll be happy to avail yourself of their fine feather and cotton dusting brushes.


I have to admit I've bought into the Dyson hype more than once. I fell for Sir James Dyson's image as a sort of Elon Musk of housecleaning. And they're not bad. It's just that they're awfully plasticky for such high-end devices. I feel the the same way about Teslas, come to think of it.

If you agree, you may wish to try a Riccar. Dyson and most other modern brands use clean air motors, which provide excellent filtration. But if you like the satisfaction of watching every little speck and crumb get snatched up from your shag, carpet agitation is key. And that's where you want the power of Riccar's direct air motor on your side.

Riccar also has the distinction of being the rare American company to reverse outsourcing and bring its production back to the U.S. If this video of a Riccar and a Dyson going head-to-head is any indication, they must be doing something right at their factory outside St. Louis.


You're done. Light a candle. Open some windows. Take time to enjoy the order you've created while it lasts. And think about why spring cleaning and Easter go hand in hand. He is risen; and we're once again here to witness it. Don't we always clean up for company? And He's really back; it's not some metaphor or "spiritual" abstraction. This Dorothy Sayers poem helps remind me of that:


—This is the heir; come let us kill him.

—Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?

Christ walks the world again, His lute upon His back,
His red robe rent to tatters, His riches gone to rack,
The wind that wakes the morning blows His hair about His face,
His hands and feet are ragged with the ragged briar’s embrace,
For the hunt is up behind Him and His sword is at His side,…
Christ the bonny outlaw walks the whole world wide,
Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Lie among the bracken and break the barley bread?
We will see new suns arise in golden, far-off skies,
For the Son of God and Woman hath not where to lay His head.”

Christ walks the world again, a prince of fairy-tale,
He roams, a rascal fiddler, over mountain and down dale,
Cast forth to seek His fortune in a bitter world and grim,
For the stepsons of His Father’s house would steal His bride from Him;
They have weirded Him to wander till He bring within His hands
The water of eternal youth from black-enchanted lands,

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Or sleep on silken cushions in the bower of wicked men?
For if we walk together through the wet and windy weather,
When I ride back home triumphant, you will ride beside Me then.”

Christ walks the world again, new-bound on high emprise,
With music in His golden mouth and laughter in His eyes;
The primrose springs before Him as He treads the dusty way,
His singer’s crown of thorns has burst in blossom like the may,
He heedeth not the morrow and He never looks behind,
Singing: “Glory to the open skies and peace to all mankind.”

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Was never man lived longer for the hoarding of his breath;
Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain...
When If we perish in the seeking... why, how small a thing is death!"

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Matt Himes

Matt Himes

Managing Editor, Align

Matt Himes is the managing editor for Align.
@matthimes →