The weather’s finally (finally!) starting to turn toward the warmth, the sun is shining for longer and longer every day, and little green shoots and leaves are finally appearing in our gardens. You know what that means— spring is here! And with this lovely season comes something not so very lovely: spring cleaning.

Now, don’t get us wrong; we love the way our homes feel after a good, thorough spring cleaning. They’re fresher, lighter; they smell better. The air always feels crisper, somehow. But as much as the end result is worth it, getting there always feels like a bit of a headache— if not a full-blown crisis!

Based on our totally unscientific survey of friends and family, it seems like the hardest part of spring cleaning is knowing where to start. After all, that list of items you only need to clean once or twice a year can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re hoping to tackle them all over one springtime weekend.

Husband and wife cleaning out garagemonkeybusiness via Deposit Photos

So we went looking for some simple tips to calm us down and make the whole process a little less daunting, and we found it in the form of some words of wisdom— from the one and only Joanna Gaines!

You know Joanna, of course, from hosting the hit HGTV series Fixer Upper, along with her husband, Chip. Over the past 12 years they’ve flipped over 12 houses in central Texas, so you know they’ve got some really deep cleaning experience. What’s more, they regularly spring clean their own home, a farmhouse in Waco, so this tip is one where you know the advice-giver actually practices what she preaches. And after all, you know it’s good advice if it’s coming from the down-to-earth designer Joanna!

So what’s her advice? It’s actually so simple, it kind of surprised us: Throw stuff away. A lot of stuff. As Country Living explains, “The best thing you can do is identify things you don’t need anymore and throw them away for good.”

On her blog Magnolia Market, Joanna explains why this tip – which does, when you first hear it, seem a little overly simple and maybe even a little obvious – works so well:

This spring cleaning is a perfect opportunity to rid your home of the “stuff” you can live without. I can’t stress this enough—your whole family will feel the benefits of rooms and spaces that can breathe, so before you even start the cleaning, get five trash bags and start filling them with items your family has outgrown or no longer needs. If you don’t love it, toss it. Trash anything that is broken and serves no purpose and donate items to local shelters and you’ll feel much better before you even start.

When you consider it, starting with a big possessions purge makes a lot of sense. You can’t properly organize a dresser drawer or a closet if you’re trying to cram in stuff you don’t actually need. And who hasn’t experienced the frustration of trying to vacuum and dust around objects that only seem to exist to get in your way? Starting by getting rid of things helps you to see your home as the canvas you really have to work – and live! – with all year long.

Another tip from Joanna that we love? She starts her day of spring cleaning by “getting in the zone”— and she does that by lighting a candle and turning on a special playlist! To read more about it, and to get a free printable copy of Joanna’s very own spring cleaning checklist, visit her blog.

What do you think of Joanna’s simple-but-so-smart strategy? Do you start your spring cleaning with a big purge? How often do you get rid of unneeded items in your home? Share with us, and share your own spring cleaning tips, too!

P.S. Don’t know where to start with your purge? We’ve got you covered! Check out our lists of 13 Items to Clear from Kitchen Cupboards and 10 Items You Should Get Rid of Today.