We’ve got plenty of ways you can get rid of all the stuff you don’t want, need, or even like.
Getting rid of all the stuff you no longer need is a surefire way to keep a home clean and organized. As we all know, clutter will hold you back in your home life more than just not being able to easily find things when you need them.
Whether it’s because of sentimentality, worrying that we might need it again someday, or just out of pure laziness, most of us still have things that we never use anymore, but we need to clear away all the old stuff to make room for the new.
Now, you don’t have to go for ascetic minimalism and throw out everything you own. The goal here is to let go of all the unnecessary stuff that’s taking up your home and your life. By the end of this post, you should have the resources and confidence to recycle, donate, and toss your way to a decluttered home and simplified life.
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Getting Started with Decluttering
Especially if you’ve been around for a while, you know that you’ve accumulated quite a lot of stuff over the years. Having a vague idea of just how much clutter you own can make decluttering your house incredibly overwhelming before you even begin.
Maybe that’s why you’ve been putting it off for so long, eh?
It helps to have a plan, as with any other major (or sometimes minor) undertaking. So, instead of jumping right in trying to wade through a random mess and throw things away, start by sitting down with a pen and some paper and maybe a stiff drink.
Plan your attack.
Imagine that you had to move into a hotel room all of a sudden. What are the few things you would absolutely want to keep? What if you lost everything to a natural disaster? Think of the things you have now that you would immediately go out and buy again.
Make a list of all these “must-have” items; these are the things that you will definitely not be getting rid of when decluttering. You don’t have to get rid of things you love or need, but it helps to know what those things are before getting started.
Assess the situation.
Starting with one room but keeping the whole house in mind, go from room to room and write down what each one is used for, what activities take place in them. Now make a list of items needed for each of those activities, even if you don’t have them.
If there are any things in the room that aren’t on the activities list, take them out and put them where they belong or into a central sorting pile for the house.
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Getting Down to Business
It’s important to pace yourself so you don’t go crazy or get hurt. Before starting, it makes things much less overwhelming if you come up with a plan of which areas and when you’ll clean, declutter, and organize.
Give yourself a deadline far into the future so you can work a tiny bit at a time instead of burning yourself out with laboring for hours a day.
Clear everything out.
It’s time to pull everything out and get mean. Dig up all the random pieces of paper, mail, and magazines laying around. Empty your closet and all your drawers. Brave all the storage spots to get everything out.
Bring out everything that’s not on your list to keep and set it on tables, desks, or any other workspace where you can see it clearly. Once you have it all out in the open, designate some areas for different piles.
Sort everything into piles.
Next, you should sort your giant pile into 3 separate piles: Keep, Donate/Sell, and Toss.
You want your sorting piles to be in a large, clean area so that you can see everything clearly and organize it easily. That’s not always possible, especially when living in a small space, so do the best you can.
While sorting through and deciding what belongs where, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I love this item? Does it “spark joy” for me?
- Do I use this item often? Will I use this item within the next 3 months?
- Will I miss this item if it’s gone? Does it have sentimental value for me?
Take your time going through all the piles and don’t rush through a single drawer or cubby. Decluttering your home is not going to be done in a day.
Depending on the severity of your clutter situation and your emotional attachment to it, this process can be days to weeks to months long. If you can, get a good friend or family member whom you trust to be your “declutter buddy” and be there to help you and offer moral support.
Organize & put everything away.
You may want to go through the main 3 piles a second time and further sort them into subcategories that have to do with the main pile it’s in. For example, you may want to sort the Toss pile into Recycle Bin, Garbage, and Hazardous Waste piles.
After you’ve finished the sorting process, take another look at what you have placed in the Keep pile and go through it again if the pile seems too full. You often realize that you don’t need an item after all when you give it a second look.
Put away the things you’re keeping in a way that makes sense to you and the way you use the things. When it comes to storage, try to think “up” instead of “out” with things like wall shelves and filing cabinets.
If your heart has a hard time letting things go, you can always take a picture with your phone or digital camera so you can keep the item and its memories without any of the clutter. Just remember that all those wonderful memories live in your heart and mind, not in things or photographs.
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28 Ways You Can Start Decluttering Now
If you’re not looking to go deep into decluttering your home and would rather do a quick and dirty version, there are plenty of odds and ends you can get rid of right now.
It may not transform your home into a minimalist wonderland, but it will definitely simplify it a little.
- Outdated Formal Wear. While you probably shouldn’t toss your wedding dress, your old bridesmaids dresses, awkward-fitting suits, and other fancy dress clothes can do more good in a charity shop than the back of your closet.
- Old Shoes. They’re cracked, scratched, stained, or losing the sole. You’re never going to wear them in public again or have them repaired. Just let them go.
- Unworn Clothing. Go through all of the pieces that rarely or never get worn now. If you would buy a piece again, keep it and put it back into rotation. The rest can be consigned or donated.
- Clothing That Doesn’t Fit. I know you really really really love those jeans and just wish they fit right, but if you can’t have them altered, it’s time to let someone else love them.
- Lonely Socks. Face it. That sock’s mate is gone forever, so why drag out the inevitable?
- Freezer Burned Foods. If you’ve got a few frozen chunks of who knows what from who knows when, it’s probably time to let it go.
- Expired Foods. This is one that I like to do every couple of weeks when I go grocery shopping. All that useless food just takes up space and can make other things go bad at a faster rate.
- Unwanted Cookbooks. Many of us have collected several random cookbooks over the years that we rarely open. Keep any recipes you like or still want to try by taking a picture or scanning them, then donate or recycle the books.
- To-Go Menus. Most restaurants have an online menu identical to that trifold piece of paper that just clutters up your kitchen. If you can’t find an online version, scan it or take a picture. Bonus points for sharing on Google or Yelp.
- Condiment Packets. We all have that one drawer. It’s good to empty “the packet drawer” at least once a year and throw everything away. Personally, I like to mix the condiment packets in with a bowl of candy to give trick-or-treaters a little trick with their treats.
- Plastic Storage Containers. Save yourself all the aluminum foil and that 5 minutes wasted every time you need a container with a matching lid by throwing away any stained or mismatched tupperware.
- Appliance Manuals. Most appliance manuals can be found online. Unless it’s super important, recycle it. If you can even find the thing, that is.
- Rarely Used Appliances. This one hurts my heart because I love to cook as a hobby, but that chocolate fountain and that sous vide aren’t doing anything but clogging up your cabinets. Sell it, donate it, or give it to me.
- Stale Spices. Most spices technically don’t ever expire, but they do become stale and lose their potency over time. Go ahead and replace your “vintage” spices with a fresh set.
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- Partially Used Soaps. You shouldn’t be holding onto them in the first place, and you know it. Throw. Them. Away.
- Expired Makeup & Toiletries. Believe it or not, things like makeup, facial care products, hair products, and lotions go bad or lose their effectiveness after a while. If you still have stuff you bought over a year ago, throw it away.
- Old Travel Sizes & Samples. I love getting (and stockpiling) free samples from beauty stores, but I also have a hard time getting around to using them. If you’re the same way, let your beauty sample hoard go, as they’re likely no longer any good.
- Expired Medication. If you have any expired or unidentified medication lying around, throw it away but DO NOT flush it or throw it in the trash. Contact your local solid waste authority to find out where you can drop off discarded medication. An alternative is to crush everything up and mix it with kitty litter, sand, or used coffee grounds before throwing in the garbage.
- Old Receipts. Receipts that are older than 3 to 5 years can be shredded and recycled. Keep and file away receipts for important purchases and items under warranty.
- Outdated Maps. Older maps don’t reflect current boundaries and geographical observations, so they can be recycled. Plus, Google Maps exists. If you have any favorites, frame them or use them for crafts.
- Business Cards. Why are you still holding on to that box of 500 business cards from that job you left 20 years ago? Keep 1 or 2 if they’re sentimental, but the rest can likely be recycled or used for notes.
- Unneeded Chargers and Cables. We all have a giant tangle of mystery cords somewhere. These are considered e-waste and need to be recycled with other electronics, so don’t throw them in the trash. If you know what any of them goes to, give them away or donate.
- Unused Craft Supplies. I’m so guilty of this one. I have way too many boxes and bags of fabric scraps, beads, scrapbook paper, and random craft items. Go through and save only the things still in good condition that you’ll also likely use in the near future. Give away, donate, or sell anything else (as hard as that will be).
Around the House
- Outdated Gift Wrap. If it’s obviously old, faded, yellowed, or ripped, recycle it. Anything that makes the cut should be neatly stored in a gift wrap caddy.
- Old Greeting Cards. Greeting cards that were given to you on occasions past should be recycled, unless they’re extra special to you in which case you can take photos of them or frame them for display.
- CDs & Cassettes. You can cut an immense amount of clutter by getting rid of your massive CD and/or cassette tape collection and replacing it with digital copies.
- Old Paint. Any old paint you’ve got collecting dust likely isn’t any good anymore and needs to be taken to your local hazardous waste collection site for proper disposal.
- Stale Potpourri. After a while, potpourri loses its scent and just becomes a dust collector. Throw it away and try replacing with something more modern, like a reed diffuser.
You Can Declutter Like a Pro
Decluttering your home can seem like an impossible task, but if you start out with a plan and take your time following that plan, it’s a process that you can conquer and come out feeling better about your home, your life, and yourself.
When it comes time to handle all the stuff you decided to toss, recycle, or donate, you can skip all the work and hassle of getting rid of it all by giving LoadUp a call.
When you book a pickup with LoadUp online or over the phone, they’ll pick up all your unwanted junk and haul it away to dispose of it in a way that’s good for the environment at a price that’s typically 20-30% lower than most other licensed and insured junk removal companies.
Get professional, honest, and upfront junk removal as the finishing touch to your decluttering project when you give LoadUp a call or book a pickup online today.