Guide to Spring Cleaning and Organizing Your Bookshelves

It’s time for spring cleaning! While you’re decluttering and organizing the rest of your home, don’t forget your trusty bookshelves. Now’s a good time to go through every bookshelf you have, no matter how small, and give them a deep cleaning and purge.

Your bookshelf definitely deserves a spot on your spring cleaning checklist and can be done in a single day. Read on for our organizing and decluttering tips and get ready to spark some joy à la Marie Kondo!

Destash Your Bookshelves

Destashing Your Bookshelf

We’ve talked about this before but the key to decluttering is destashing! Gather all your books (even the ones on your nightstand) and put them in one central place like your living room. Go through them one by one and create three piles: keep, donate and gift.

The key is to not overthink this process and go with your gut intuition. You’ll know what books are your favorites, which ones you probably won’t ever read, and which ones you know your friend will love.

After you sort through all your books, pack away all the ones you need to donate and figure out when/where you’ll drop them off. Check out women’s shelters or libraries for a few ideas.

Then, take stock of all the books you designated as gifts and use a post-it note on each one to write who you had in mind as the recipient! This way, you’re organized for the next gift-giving holiday or “just because” occasion. Now, all you’re really left with are books to rehome onto your shelves.

Clean Your Bookshelves

Clean Your Bookshelf

Next up, grab some cleaning supplies and give your bookshelf a deep clean. Our cleaning products of choice are as simple as dish soap, water, a sponge and a microfiber cloth. Mix a tiny bit of dish soap with some hot water and dip a sponge into this solution and start wiping down each shelf. Use your microfiber cloth to dry each shelf as you go—this is not the time to air dry as water shouldn’t be left on wood for too long!

You should also give the books you’re keeping a good dusting at this time. Make sure to also vacuum around your shelves and clear off and clean the very top of your shelves. This spot is often overlooked but it’s worth getting out the stepladder. Follow these cleaning tips once a quarter to make sure your bookshelves are in tip-top shape.

Organize (and Style) Your Bookshelves

Organize and Style Your Bookshelf

Here comes the fun part. Start organizing your books and putting them back onto your shelves. You can sort your books in a variety of ways including alphabetically (by author or title), by genre, or even by color. Whatever the case, choose a system and stick with it.

We recommend sorting and categorizing your books on the ground or on a table at first then placing them on the shelves after you’ve decided on your order. This way, it’s easier to make swaps and also see if there are any places you need to include some decorations (remember: you hopefully got rid of some books in the first step!). Psst…if your shelves are a bit too bare, check out the rest of our blog for book recommendations!

We’re big fans of styling your bookshelves as they can become the focal point of any room in your home. Pick up some fun accessories and décor to complement your books. Think outside of the bookend box (so to speak) and use vases, vintage knickknacks, string lights, framed pictures, and more.

Don’t be afraid to inject some personality on your shelves. You can even showcase some books (how about your personal best books of 2020?) by propping something underneath them and displaying them with their covers facing you.

There are so many opportunities to make your bookshelves something truly special and unique to you. Check out Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration and ideas. You can even consider swapping out some decorations for the holidays (we’ve got a guide for that, too!).

We hope next time you’re decluttering your home, you won’t hesitate to take a stab at your bookshelves. Your books will thank you… and it’ll certainly be one of the more enjoyable chores on your list.

And, let us know in the comments, what’s your go-to tip for making your bookshelves looking their very best?

4 thoughts on “Guide to Spring Cleaning and Organizing Your Bookshelves

  1. Please, don’t tell people to take old books to the library! Library patrons want NEW books. Old books don’t circulate, just take up space and time. Unless a public library is a designated conservatory, they must do their own purging on a regular basis. Steer people instead to women’s shelters, jails and prisons, and organizations that match books with on-duty military personnel or emerging nations.
    Whatever you think about doing, please call ahead to make sure they want your books….otherwise all you’re doing is passing the buck! Thanks for listening. (From a retired public librarian).

    1. Many libraries have Friends of the Library and they want old books for their annual book sale which brings in good money for them.

    2. Hi Nancy,

      Good point! Some libraries in communities can point you to places where you can donate books, if they’re unable to take them. It always helps to call ahead to find out what’s available to you and where people can benefit from your books!

    3. My library holds a weekly sale where they get rid of books. It’s run by Friends of the Library, and has a rotating selection. They love getting new books donated!

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