Posted by: Jeanie F | August 17, 2010

How to Clean a Big Bookcase from Real Simple Magazine

One of the things on my “to do” list since retiring in June has been to clean and organize the bookcases in my home. My husband and I are both avid readers and book buyers, so there isn’t a room in the house that isn’t over-run with books. At least once a week I wake up with the determination that “today is the day!” Then I look at our bookcases, find a beloved book I haven’t seen for a while – or a purchased book I’ve forgotten about – and . . . well, if you’re reading this blog, you know what happens next. Needless to say, two months into retirement no progress has been made on the cleaning and organizing (but I have found a number of books I thought I had lost!).

This morning my “Real Simple” magazine arrived and included an article on speed cleaning a large bookcase. It’s a pretty reasonable system (does require purchasing a few items if you adhere strictly to their recommendations, but you probably have an adequate substitute somewhere in your home). “Real Simple” posts their articles online so, if any of you are thinking that this is the summer you’re going to get it done and aren’t “Real Simple” subscribers, you might want to check out the online article.

This article is good for cleaning, but I’d love to know if any of you has a good system for keeping your books organized. Alphabetically? By topic? Purchase date?

(DISCLAIMER: The bookcase in this photo comes from Google Images. It’s not mine – it’s what I hope to have! This photo is from the Memoir Mentor blog which, by the way, is a pretty cool blog. You might want to visit!)


  1. I am highly organised! And for some reasons my books are in a random order.

    However all my coffee table books, are sort of organised in theme e.g. all the books about television, all the dictionaries, reference books etc.

    The truth of the matter is if I had the bookshelves then they would be sorted alphabetically by author!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. Hey – just hoppin’ by! I started the hop on Friday, but had to leave, just now getting back to it. Hope you had a great weekend! Stop by The Wormhole and say hi!

  3. that’s a pretty great article, except I’m not that organized. Sure, I run a swiffer over my bookshelves now and again, but I ain’t getting out the hairdryer. I guess i’m lazy.

    Orgazined books? I wish. Once, when we had a 900+ sq ft apt with build in bookcases, we had everything organized, all the fiction together by author, all the non fiction together by subject. Now that we’re in about 600 sq ft with no built ins, everything is pretty much just crammed onto bookcases and tables, wherever there is space.

    • I know – I’ll probably never do it, either, but if I decide to, at least now I know how!

  4. Hello! My boyfriend and I organized our books more or less by topic. We did it when we moved in originally. We have so many books that we’ve built a huge wall-length and ceiling height bookshelf in our last two apartments.
    All the ficiton novels are together, the history books, political science books, the text books, the art books, cooking books, architecture books, travel books, comic books, children’s books…
    So far, it has managed to stay organized and it makes a lot of sense! We can always find everything right away. At least I can say this for my bookshelf- my room, my clothes, my shoes are a disaster!!!!
    If your books are very disorganized, maybe you could do it in phases. For example, scan through your books and pick out all of your history books. Clear out a spot where you want those to go. Maybe this would work little by little rather than trying to clear out and reorganize all your books at once which would surely be very overwhelming.

    • I’m so jealous that you could be so organized! Thanks for the tips!

      • Hehe, if I could do it, you can do it. Take it from a chronically disorganized and scatterbrained history teacher!

        Maybe labelling some cardboard boxes with the topic and putting the books in there till the bookshelf clears up would be a good idea, too. That way, you can decide how much space each topic needs when you see the amount of books in each box.

        I love my bookshelf because it feels like a library. People notice that it goes by topic, too. You can do it! The hardest part is beginning!!

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