For the last couple of years I have been ruthless in trying to declutter. My last garage sale was a success in that I got rid of a lot of stuff that I simply don’t use or need anymore. What didn’t sell went straight to a donation station.
Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of stuff that has sentimental value or is unique. I get that. The sentimental stuff gets stored in the attic. I always give unique or unusual items a second look before I toss them. Can I use them in a different part of the house or even in the landscaping?
When I go garage sale-ing I notice a lot of unusual things in people’s yards. One person had an old rusted gear system from a tractor. If I’d seen it sitting in a garage I would’ve called it junk, but this person put it in among his pansies and it looked startlingly impressive. It had presence, a massive piece of metal among dainty flowers.
Aside from these there are a lot of things that simply are clutter. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the extra glasses, cups, towels, clothes, cleaners, and makeup that you never use anymore. They just take up space.
What I do when I’m on a rampage for decluttering is go room by room. First things first, make sure everything is in the right room to begin with.
Then this is where the work begins. Room by room start gathering the things that have become useless, broken, innumerable, or irrelevant.
I keep no more than two sets of sheets for every bed. That’s it. One for the wash and one for the bed.
• electronics: This includes clocks, remotes, and lamps.
• dvds and cds (for those of you (like me) still use them.)
• pillows: Use what you need, not what looks fashionable.
• Toys, of course. Best to remove them when they’re not around. If they’re older, it’s a good learning lesson to teach them to choose which toys to keep.
• clothes that no longer fit or are worn.
I’m all for teaching kids early how to organize and store their stuff. Buy them their own storage bins and teach them to put their things away.
I bought something similar to this organizer (left) at a garage sale and I use it in my potting shed. Fun shelving–Not just for kids anymore. Click the pics for more info.
• prescription drugs: Check the expiration dates. If they’re several years old, chuck ’em.
• makeup: Yes. I’m guilty of this. I always keep this stuff too long.
• towels: While we use towels for more than just bathing, don’t go overboard in storing towels you’ll never use
• clothes. You know which ones just hang there year after year.
Kitchen–This is a biggie.
• duplicate kitchen gadgets and utensils
• specialty small appliances you haven’t used in over a year
• duplicate pots and pans. Unless you have a huge stove and cook for a family of twelve, you’ll only need one of every size–if that.
• drinking glasses: Keep only what you use regularly.
• coffee cups: Everyone is guilty of this one.
• dishes: A service for 12 is all I ever need for us and company.
• plastic storage (Tupperware) I avoid plastic for the most part, but a few pieces are handy. More than that and you’ll be drowning in plastic bins, forever looking for their lids.
• old magazines
• pens: Confession: I am a huge pen thief. Not on purpose. I unconsciously pick up pens wherever I am and keep them. My thievery is fruitless though because these pens will freeze up and stop writing long before I ever get around to using them. I make an effort to go through my drawers and check my pens regularly. If they skip or stop working, out they go.
• paper. I still write myself endless notes and reminders, but most of my paperwork is now digital.
• books. Oh, I know. That’s sacrilege to some of you, but you must choose your battle with books. Which will you reread? Which are precious to you? Which ones are just taking up space?
• cleaners/detergents: All of us at some point have bought a cleaner that either didn’t do the trick or you didn’t like. They gather dust like relics.
• chemicals: These include insecticides, additives, and assorted witches’ brews that you may have used once but never used again. Open your cabinets and take a peek. What hasn’t seen the light of day in a long time?
I don’t tackle everything all at once. Just take one room and scrutinize it for clutter. With practice, it gets easier to spot what doesn’t belong. If things still look cluttered what you might really need are proper storage containers.
One of the best things I ever bought was one of those bars that hang all your brooms, mops and dusters. I love it. I keep one in the laundry room, the garage, and my potting shed. No more tripping over long handled tools.
What one thing do you think clutters your home the most? For me, it’s dvds. I really need to go through my library and get rid of what we don’t watch anymore.