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It’s that time of year – spring house cleaning. Not feeling it? Yeah, us too. We went in search of books to help us get going. And surprisingly, there are lots of different ways that people around the world get motivated to declutter, dust, and maybe even re-design their living spaces. Here are 12 of the best books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning and decluttering, including why, when, how, and how often different cultures commit to home cleanup.

how can we get inspired for spring house cleaning this year?

You might think of over-consumption and the resulting clutter as being a uniquely American problem. It’s fascinating to discover that almost every culture around the world has a philosophy about organizing your living space. Why you should do it, how you should do it when you should do it. And how often?

We think finding the core motivation for cleaning up is key to the entire process.

mental health benefits of spring cleaning

There are proven mental health benefits from spring cleaning. “Cleaning and organizing can help us feel mastery over our immediate worlds,” Marni Amsellem, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Smart Health Psychology, says in a recent Vogue interview.

The best books to get inspired to do spring house cleaning this year.

The best books to read to get inspired to do spring house cleaning this year.

There are also cultural traditions and family obligations that can fuel our desire to tidy up.

Whether you’re doing it to spare your loved ones from having to do it after you’re gone, or because you think it will lower your stress level or increase your creativity. Because you’re hoping to use your house as the star of your Instagram feed, or because your in-laws are coming over for dinner in two weeks. Because you have a new baby, or because you’re committed to reducing your consumption to save the planet, tap into that energy and let it fuel you.

spoiler alert: women tend to be the clean-up experts

We also feel obligated to note that the vast majority of authors on this list are women. While normally, we’d applaud that, in this case it feels like further proof that cleaning up our interior living spaces is still “women’s work.” Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, we hope that this list will inspire you to get up and get started on your mission, dear reader. But even if you spend all the time you’ve allotted for cleaning up to reading these books, we think your mind will at least be less cluttered when you’re done.

12 of the books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning.

12 Best Books to Inspire Spring House Cleaning

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning

Unless you’ve been living under a pile of dirty laundry, by now you’ve heard about “the KonMarie Method.” In her best-selling first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, the author became the O.G. of spring cleaning (sorry, Martha Stewart).  Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. It’s all based on determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t). The book itself has sparked a Netflix series and a follow-up tome on how to keep your office tidy for maximum productivity at work.

BUY NOW – $12.87.

2. Clutter: An Untidy History by Jennifer Howard.

books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning

Sometimes, getting motivated can be sparked by deepening our understanding of the history behind whatever tiresome chore we’re delaying. Besides, what better way to procrastinate than to pause and read about spring cleaning, rather than actually doing any spring cleaning?

In Clutter: An Untidy History, we get a lively and detailed account of just how the developed world came to be so cluttered with material consumer goods. From the the Sears & Roebuck catalog to the birth of the Container Store, it’s all here. The author spent two years cleaning out her late mother’s home before penning this book. You’ll never think about clutter quite the same way again.

BUY NOW – $11.24.

3. Let It Go by Peter Walsh.

books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning

Like the song says, sometimes you just have to let it go. As in Frozen, so in spring cleaning, according to the author of Let it Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life. After going through the process of downsizing his childhood home and dividing his late parents’ possessions among his family, Walsh realized that this is almost always an emotional and overwhelming chore. This is a cri de cour to declutter and prioritize possessions now. It can make for a happier life today and also be a valuable gift you leave behind for your loved ones.

BUY NOW – $14.36.

4. Project 333 by Courtney Carver.

books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning

Alright, we’ll admit it. We’re pretty disciplined at tossing out almost every other category of household or consumer item. But we really hate throwing out our beloved apparel and accessories. Because we might need that brooch (scarf, dress, pair of boots . . . ) again in the future! For people like us, there’s Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More. In search of a way to pare back her expensive shopping habits, lack of satisfaction with her purchases, and ever-growing closet, the author challenged herself to wear just 33 items for 3 months. Take her challenge and you may find that you can actually live without a lot of the stuff in your closet. And that’s when you know its time to call the RealReal!

BUY NOW – $12.49.

5. Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin.

Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness offers a spring cleaning motivation that is pragmatic and easy to understand. Getting control of our stuff makes us feel more in control of our lives. By getting rid of things we don’t use, don’t need, or don’t love, we free our minds (and our shelves) for what we truly value. Written with a sense of fun, and a clear idea of what’s realistic for most people, she offers manageable steps for creating a more serene, orderly environment.

BUY NOW – $13.35.

6. The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin.

In The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals, two Instagram-sensation home experts (whose fan club includes Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow) offer their inside tips. They provide a room-by-room guide to establishing a new order in your home. Orderly eye candy, organization porn – call it what you will, for a lot of people the drive to create the ideal background for social media seems to be all the motivation needed when it comes to decluttering and spring cleaning.

BUY NOW – $13.16.

7. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter is a fascinating look at one motivation behind spring cleaning and decluttering. In Sweden there is a kind of de-cluttering called döstädning. meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage. But one should do it sooner rather than later. Before others have to do it for you.

BUY NOW – $13.19.

8. Beautifully Organized by Nikki Boyd.

In Beautifully Organized: A Guide to Function and Style in Your Home,  a professional organizer shares her best advice for how to create an organized, beautiful, and welcoming home. Her method is based on five essential steps. First, assess your living space. Then de-clutter and curate your possessions. Clean with efficiency, making it as much fun as possible. Organize so you can find what you need. And finally, beautify to create a space you love. Simple, no?

BUY NOW – $18.71.

9. Organized Enough by Amanda Sullivan.

Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting–and Staying–Organized is for those who want to strike the balance between happy and reasonably organized. As the author notes, it’s for people who “want to be able to find matching socks in the morning but don’t want a color-coded sock drawer.” It focuses on the lifelong habits of the organized. It then utilizes seven concepts to help you define your goals and seven essential habits to keep clutter at bay.

BUY NOW – $15.43.

10. New Order by Fay Wolf.

Can a de-cluttered space fuel a creative mind? In New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) the author shares basic rules for saying goodbye to “stuff,” and hello to new habits that free us up for the things we’re passionate about. And she swears it can all be done in as little as a few minutes a day.

BUY NOW – $14.08.

11. Maid by Stephanie Land.

We felt that this list of possible motivations and inspirations to get us going on cleaning up our homes would be incomplete without this book. This book will help keep all of our angst and emotions about spring house cleaning in perspective. Living in a home and having the luxury of thinking about how to keep it clean is not a lifestyle that everyone has access to. And the back-breaking work of house-cleaning for other people’s homes is not a subject that usually gets much ink.  Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is a memoir from a single mother who turned to housekeeping to make ends meet. It serves as a sobering reminder of the privilege of even having a home of our own.

BUY NOW – $15.61.

12. Laundry Love by Patric Richardson and Karin B. Miller.

new novels and non-fiction book releases, including essays, and what to read of the best new books this March 2021.

We close our list of books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning with a treatise about laundry. In Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore we can find inspiration in even this most mundane of tasks. After years of running Laundry Camp at the Mall of America, Richardson is sharing his tips, tricks, and hacks.

BUY NOW – $15.39.

books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning this year

That’s our roundup of 12 of the best books to read to get inspired for spring house cleaning and decluttering this year. We love the intriguing insights on why, how, and when to clean up based on cultural values. And personal health and wellness goals.

What say you, dear reader? Does any of this help motivate you to tackle that pile of clutter you’ve been meaning to sort?

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.