Did I mention we were in college?

Steam-cleaning carpets should have been really low on the priority list.

On the flip side, another good friend (whom I also lived with in college) once left her unbelievably cluttered, fairly disgusting car sitting in her parents’ driveway all winter and it became a halfway home for mice.

If I haven’t worn it in a year, it’s out.

On the cleanliness scale, I fall somewhere in between. I leave (lots of) dishes in the sink, and abhor doing laundry, but I’ve never accidentally created a Promised Land for rodents. Come spring, however, I get into cleaning mode. It starts with de-cluttering the ephemera that accumulates in my house over winter.

I consider it a badge of honor that I can keep my wardrobe pared down. Except for a few freebies (like the waytoo-expensive Italian leather slingbacks I bought in London and a hideous gray cheerleading T-shirt), I have a strict policy when it comes to clothing and shoes: If I haven’t worn it in a year, it’s out.

Spring is a great time to dig through drawers and cull things from the back of the closet. Bag up everything in good condition and drop it at any of the 18 Goodwill Industries donation centers around the metro.

What about the stuff you want to keep? I love unique jars and tins to keep all my baubles, buttons and odds ’n’ ends out of sight. At French Cowgirl (4514 N. Western; 604-4696), there’s a huge variety from which to choose, whether quirky and girly or country chic. One thing’s for sure: Everything will look lovely lined up on open shelves or atop dressers.

I loved the ceramic boxes and cups by Bangkok artist M.L. Chiratorn Chi rapravati for Tozai Home. Perfect for the bedroom, the white ceramics are painted with whimsical illustrations of cartoon girls and bright patterns. They go perfectly with the pretty, glazedceramic, open-lotus flowers (great for keeping rings) in colors like sky blue, red or buttery yellow.

Also at French Cowgirl, check out the different sizes of glass jars. I use several clear jars in my tiny bathroom to hold Q-tips, cotton balls and makeup brushes.

In Northpark Mall, the cute Room 22 (12038 N. May; 607-0902) carries lots of interesting ceramics, jars and vases, all in an effortless girly style.

For the kitchen, check out the French Bull containers in heavy plastic — bright, bold and perfect for holding kitchen utensils. I also loved the small bathroom and bedroom wastebaskets and (perfect for a bling-type girl) clear glass soap dispensers by Lux Fragrances decorated with large silver and crystal emblems.

With everything organized and stored away, you just need to actually clean. Being a bit of a greenie, I tend to go for the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products, which are earth-friendly and have seriously great packaging. Pick up a range of Mrs. Meyer’s goods at Forward Foods (5123 N. Western; 879-9937).

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