61084789-22120330Kathy Van Mullekom has gardened all her life. Today, she and husband Ken care for about an acre in York County, Va., where most of her plants are native species meant to attract bees, butterflies and birds. She picks plants for their multi-season interest. Kathy has taken landscape design and other horticulture-related classes at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. She’s also remodeled, decorated and built almost a dozen houses in the Hampton Roads area. Kathy writes “Diggin’ In,” a home and garden column for the Daily Press in southeastern Virginia, and for MCT national wire service.  Find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and RoomandYard.com

I’m a cleaning nerd … always have been, always will be.

To me, clutter in a room is like clutter in the brain.  Use what you need and get rid of what you don’t need.

Here’s how I keep my home in year-round order:

1. In my pantry, cans and boxed goods are lined up with the  labels facing front. Food with the nearest expiration dates are placed in the front, while recent purchases are placed in the back. Weekly, I look to see what may expire soon so I can plan to use it and not waste food and money.

2. In my master closet, clothes are hung according to styles and colors — black pants together, white tops together and so forth.  In my out-of-season closet, I keep the same routine. When I take out clothes for a season and put back clothes for a season, I decide if some items should go to the thrift store, and keep a bag handy for dropping items off. I don’t have skinny and fat clothes; instead, I wear clothes that can flex a pound of two with me and still look stylish.

3. Once a month, I damp dust what few knickknacks I have. Instead of lots of knickknacks and trinket stuff, I decorate my home with a few one-of-kind art pieces that speak to our travels or interests. Furniture and accessories are kept to a minimum for easy cleaning.  Between damp dusting, my husband uses a Swifter to do baseboards and tabletops.

4. Tile and other hard surface floorings are damp dusted weekly. No harsh cleansers are used, only mild water. Harsh cleansers ruin finishes, plus the smells and ingredients can be toxic to allergies and other scent sensitivities.

5. Window treatments are simple and easy to clean — vertical blinds at large windows and plantation shutters are smaller windows, making each easy to dust with a Swifter.


Basically, I find housekeeping easy and simple when you stay with it and don’t let things get behind.  We pick up after ourselves and have a place for everything. Fortunately, my husband is neat, too, so our home is easy to keep and maintain.

– Kathy Van Mullekom


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