Purge Household Clutter
It seems like the tides are finally changing and it’s the cool thing now to live a minimalist lifestyle. Whether or not you’re ready to jump on that bandwagon, there are huge benefits to purge household clutter down to only the things you actually use and love.
If you feel like you’re constantly drowning in a sea of clutter and you have no idea where to start, I have two very important things to say to you.
#1 – You’re NOT Alone
The vast majority of people living in first world countries simply have too much stuff.
#2 – It’s NOT Your Fault
We live in such a consumer society that there is a product for literally every problem you encounter.
There’s a gadget for every task.
There’s marketing quite literally everywhere – even in bathroom stalls – telling you what you need to buy and how your life just won’t be as good without it.
We’re all so overwhelmed that it seems easy to throw money at a problem just to be able to focus on something else.
It isn’t until much later that we realize the result of buying all of that crap is an extremely cluttered life with no down time and closets that are bursting at the seams.
Let’s take a deep breath, take a step back, and talk about how we can quickly and painlessly get rid of some of this stuff so we can finally breathe!
Here are some purging tips and tricks to use when you start your own purging process:
First, just start!
I know it sounds ridiculous, but if you’re ever going to get anywhere, you have to take that first step.
I always tell myself the same thing – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Weird analogy I know, but it works!
No, I don’t mean room for more stuff, I mean room for the actual work of decluttering and purging.
Decide right now that you’re going to completely declutter and purge your home.
This is your mindset for the next few days or weeks.
During that time, I highly recommend you only use disposable bowls and plates, plastic silverware, etc.
We’re going to avoid a sink that’s overflowing with dishes that demands your attention.
Pick up, or make, some frozen meals.
No time for cooking while we’re going crazy with purging!
Let’s get onto the actual purging tips!
Dump It Out
Take one drawer and go through it – be ruthless!
The thing you’re probably doing wrong with decluttering is that you look at the drawer and pull out things you know you don’t want or need.
Instead, dump out the entire drawer and only put back things you love and use.
Believe it or not, you’ll keep less than 50% of what you would have kept if you just went through the drawer without emptying it completely.
Get rid of absolutely everything you don’t need or use on a regular basis. Put everything back neatly so you are staring at a beautifully organized drawer full of only things you need or love.
Your whole house can look just like that! Let’s move on to the biggest problem areas for most people. Remember, one bite at a time!
If you don’t know what it is or think you’ll use it someday, just get rid of it.
I promise you, the percentage of things you’ll actually use one day from all of the things you’ve thrown away is TINY.
This was a big one for me. I had way too many clothes in my closet, dresser drawers that were overflowing, and still more clothes in storage.
Here’s a great tip.
Turn around all of the hangers in your closet. Only turn them the right way when you’ve worn, washed, and re-hung the item.
At the end of the season, any hangers still facing the opposite way contain clothes that can be donated.
If anything has a stain, hole, a missing button…get rid of it.
If you haven’t fixed it by now, you probably don’t value the item enough to put the time into repairing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for repairing the items you have so you don’t end up buying new ones.
The truth is though, that you probably have way too many clothes anyway and those stained t-shirts are better used as rags than as space-thieves in your drawers.
You don’t have to wait until the end of the season to purge your clothes!
Anytime you’re putting away laundry is a great time to grab a couple of things that you no longer wear to pass on to someone who might need it.
We keep a simple garbage bag in our closet to fill with clothes to be donated. You’d be surprised how quickly it fills up just because we have somewhere to put it!
I realize now that I avoided donating clothes for so long because it was too much effort to grab it out of my drawer or closet and then find an out of the way place to put it until I could take it to the car…it was just easier to let it take up space in my closet. Now that there’s a temporary home for all of my unwanted items, I find something almost every day that I feel like I can live without.
Socks too! If they don’t have matches, they become rags or they get thrown out!
Get rid of all duplicates
I don’t know how it happens, but somehow we end up with multiples of everything.
The amount of measuring cups I’ve managed to collect in my life must be some kind of record.
The kitchen seems to be the place we end up with the most duplicates in our house. How many pieces of silverware do you really use at once? Better yet, how many Tupperware bowls with no matching lids do you really need?
My husband had the great idea of getting rid of all of our extra plates and bowls.
Now, we keep only four of each and store a couple more for when we have guests.
This has DRASTICALLY cut down the amount of dirty dishes we have. Instead of grabbing a new one if there’s a dirty one in the sink, we have to wash a bowl to use one. This makes my post-dinner dish washing go so much faster.
Go through your house with a critical eye and get rid of anything you have more than one or two of.
This doesn’t just work in your kitchen. I recently got rid of a white sundress because I had two others hanging in my closet. If ever I am in desperate need of a white dress, I’m pretty sure I’ll only be wearing one at a time anyway.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
If something doesn’t have a place in your home, it must go. Actually hold an item and ask yourself where it makes sense for this to go. If you truly can’t think of a spot for it, let it go and donate it to someone who may need it.
I do this every single time I tidy up our house. If I have to really think about where something goes, it probably shouldn’t go anywhere but the donation pile.
Banish single purpose gadgets!
Get rid of gadgets you don’t use often.
We recently gave our Keurig to my mom because we never ever use it and the thing is huge!
It took up way too much precious counter space. Also, immediately make a rule that things that serve only one purpose should be exiled and never allowed back into your house.
This includes things like donut and donut pop makers, soft pretzel makers – anything that really only serves one purpose that doesn’t get used often at all. Unless you’re using these appliances on a regular basis, it’s probably not worth the space to store it.
If you use makeup, chances are, you have too much. Go through all of it and get rid of or donate anything that you don’t actually use.
I used to have at least 50 nail polishes. Almost all of them separated into that nasty yellow oil and had obviously not been touched in years. I now own maybe 10 – maybe. I could still probably purge this down even more.
Stop storing things you don’t actually use! Get rid of any makeup that is the wrong shade for you or that you’re keeping just because you found it on a good sale (this is absolutely a huge weakness of mine!)
If I have extras that I know I’ll actually use, I put them in a plastic shoebox and pull them out to replace items that I’ve used up. I only keep the makeup in my bathroom now that I use on a daily basis. Everything else is stored neatly in a closet.
Related: Conquer Paper Clutter
Ruthlessly purge paperwork! Don’t even put mail down on the counter when you bring it home.
Go through it over your garbage can or recycle bin and throw away every piece of junk mail, every coupon for stores you don’t go to frequently (even if it’s a GREAT coupon…Are you really going to use it before it expires?), throw away every advertisement.
What you’re left with should be statements and miscellaneous bills, maybe some cards if you’re doing this near a holiday or birthday. Quickly make a plan for each one and make a stack of “to file” and “to pay.”
I know you’ve heard this tip before.
It’s an oldie but goodie that takes about 2 minutes of our time every day. It has made the biggest difference in paper clutter in our home. We no longer have stacks of paper waiting to be sorted. Every piece of paper we have now is either to be filed or requires some action on our part (like paying a bill).
Put all sentimental “paper” like cards and pictures into a storage bin of their own. Be picky about what you keep, but some sentimental items are simply irreplaceable.
Still drowning in paper?
Use this stupid simple tip.
Grab a box, basket, or bin and dump all of your paper clutter into it.
Literally carry it from room to room and throw each and every paper, receipt, flyer, in.
Go ahead and trash the papers you know to be junk, but everything else goes in this bin.
Now, you have all of your paper clutter centrally located so you know exactly where to look when you need something.
No filing required.
We can file papers later when the house is looking completely decluttered!
Go through your refrigerator and cabinets on a regular basis and check expiration dates. Don’t be afraid to donate items that are still good that you know you’ll likely never use.
A good time to do this is anytime you go grocery shopping.
Come home and before putting any item away, spend about 5 minutes scanning through your refrigerator for leftovers that have been shoved to the back and forgotten about or condiments that are now past their use by date.
Do the same thing with your cabinets and dry food storage!
Purge any item that isn’t likely to be used within the next month. If you don’t value it enough to cook it up in the next few weeks, you don’t value it enough to give it valuable cabinet space.
One completely unexpected perk of always going through your pantry and cabinets looking at expiration dates after you grocery shop is you’ll start to build a mental inventory of things you have on hand.
Just becoming anal about expired food has led to us buying far less duplicate food items just because I’m not sure while I’m shopping whether we have a particular ingredient.
If you have little ones, you know how quickly their toys and equipment can take over your home.
Implement a toy rotation system.
It doesn’t have to be crazy or highly organized.
You just need less toys available to your kids at one time.
Believe me when I tell you this is a huge game changer.
They’ll play with toys for so much longer, will be excited to see their old favorites when you rotate them back in, and it’s so much easier to see what they play with and what they don’t.
Donating or selling toys is so much easier when you can clearly see which toys are just not getting any attention.
- Get determined to stop letting your “stuff” control you by simply having less of it. Less is more!
- Go through all clothes and keep only what you wear and love
- Get rid of all mismatched socks and clothes with imperfections
- Get rid of all duplicate items
- If an item doesn’t have a space in your home, either find one or it must go!
- Get rid of all single-purpose gadgets and novelty items that you don’t use regularly
- If you have make-up, go through it and keep only what you use on a daily basis. Get rid of all excess
- Open mail over the recycle bin and deal with it immediately. Recycle all ads and junk mail immediately before they take over. They will if you let them – I promise. We’re still recovering from the paper avalanche that was my early twenties. Don’t be like us. Get rid of it all now!
- Every time you grocery shop, come home and purge expired food or food items that you know you aren’t likely to use before you put your new groceries away
- Donate toys and books your kids are no longer using or put them away for future children
- Don’t ever stop! Purging is an ongoing process, but it’s so worth it!
That’s it! Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?
I can’t stress enough that the only way to purge is to actually start purging.
If you’re inundated with excess stuff, there’s never a good time to simplify it down to just what you need because there’s just never enough time. You are never going to have enough time to start such a massive undertaking.
That’s why you give it 5 minutes a day or every few days until one day you wake up and your house is completely purged of everything you don’t use and love.
We’re finally at the end of our purging journey and I can promise you it’s so well worth it!
Our house is now a haven that we look forward to coming home to and we always compliment each other on a job well done reorganizing and putting together the home that we love.
Your homework for today is to spend 5 minutes purging something. Anything! Pick a drawer, a corner, or a whole room if you have enough time, and get rid of as much as you can!
Have you ever purged your home of things you don’t use? How do you keep your possessions from getting out of control again? Share your tips in the comments!