Does stuff fall out of your cupboards as soon as you open a door?
Is your home accessorised with VHS tapes and old college textbooks?
Have you repurposed your dishwasher into a makeshift filing cabinet because your actual filing cabinet is bursting at the seams?
OK, maybe not that bad. But sometimes when we get overwhelmed by clutter at home, it's difficult to know where to start.
If you want to start decluttering but have no idea where to start, this post is for you.
I’ve put together a list of things that you can purge from your home without much effort, guilt or recriminations from family members. You won’t end up living in an empty minimalist white cube, I promise, but working through this list will certainly kick off your decluttering campaign with a bang.
What do I do with all this stuff?
I have deliberately not called this list ‘X things to throw out’.
No I have not.
Please make a note of that.
There’s an environmental cost to everything we discard. So what can we do with our unwanted items?
If you’re wondering where to dispose of your items, I recommend you take a look at this Mega List by the wonderful Sarah over at Early Bird Mom. There are lots of ideas for donating and recycling.
You could also try re-purposing/reusing some items. Pinterest is your friend here. I challenge you to find something that hasn’t been re-purposed by someone. But please be reasonable. While some old towels are useful to keep, having too many becomes a burden. You be the judge of what works for you.
How do I use this list?
However you like.
I’m not going to tell you to purge 4 or 27 or some other random number of things every day. You know best because it’s your home.
Similarly, please bear in mind that everyone’s list will be different.
You might swoon in horror at some of the items listed here. But someone else will be cheerfully tossing that same item into a donation bag as you pick yourself off the floor. If you don’t want to purge it, just read on and find something else that you’d like to purge. It’s not rocket science, my friend.
Shall we get started?
1. Belts you haven’t worn for ages
2. Scarves and pashminas you no longer wear
3. Handbags you haven’t used in the past year, and handbags that are damaged
4. Suitcases with broken handles, zips and straps
5. Backpacks that you haven’t used in ages
6. Ties you no longer wear or don’t wear on a regular basis
7. Old prescription glasses (I believe you can donate these to the Lion’s Club)
8. Watches broken beyond repair
9. Broken sunglasses
10. Excess pairs of gloves and hats and scarves.
11. Pajamas that have seen better days (look out for textile recycling bins)
12. Uncomfortable or ill-fitting bras, and lingerie you never wear
13. Lingerie you wouldn’t be caught dead in (you know what I mean.)
14. Socks without a pair
15. Stockings with runs (if you know how to turn hosiery into a makeshift cam-belt for your car's engine when it breaks down, feel free to keep them otherwise maybe recycle them...just sayin').
16. Clothes that you don’t wear because they require special cleaning
17. Clothes that have needed repairing for more than a few months (if you haven't done it now, you'll likely never do it).
18. Clothes that were once trendy but never will be again (no, not even in an ironic 80s way)
19. Clothes that are made from sweat-inducing man-made fibers
20. Jumpers that are made from itchy materials (you know the ones I mean)
21. Any item of clothing you have to spend half the day adjusting (it is not lady-like to be hitching up your trousers every 10 minutes)
22. Shirts that gape at the chest
23. Skirts and dresses that you don’t wear because they’re too short and tops that are too low for you to be comfortable
24. Any white skirts or trousers that are see-through (unless you're happy to invest in some kind of lining or underskirt)
25. Excess winter coats (be a darling and donate one to someone who really needs it)
26. Clothes that crease the minute you put them on (so you spend half the day being self-consciously careful about sitting down)
27. Shoes you don’t wear regularly (someone could really use those shoes, you know)
28. Everyday shoes that are uncomfortable (stop torturing yourself)
29. Sky scraper heels that you can’t actually walk in
30. Battered and worn out sneakers (these are bad for your knees and back)
31. Gym clothes you don’t wear
32. T-shirts from sports events that you never wear
33. Swimming costumes and bikinis that you know have seen better days
34. Old participation medals from sports events (unless it was a particularly proud moment)
35. Trophies from sports events you aren’t 100% thrilled to own anymore
36. Single earrings (if you have literally no idea where its mate is)
37. Cheap earrings that make your earlobes green
38. Costume jewelry that’s broken
39. Jewelry you no longer wear
40. Old bridesmaid dresses
41. Your wedding dress.
‘What the heck, Lois! This is supposed to be a list of things to declutter effortlessly’.Ok hear me out…
It takes up a lot of space and you’re never likely to wear it again.
So If you want to keep it, perhaps for your daughter or granddaughter, please wrap and store the dress properly.
No pressure, but if you’d like to consider donating it, there are many worthy causes. Just check out Sarah’s list. Here’s the link again.
Either way your wedding dress does not deserve to hang out in your closet getting creased.
42. Hangers from the dry-cleaners (why not just take them back to the dry cleaner?)
43. Surplus hangers (I imagine charity shops always need these)
44. Surplus buttons that match nothing you currently own (unless you're keeping them for a craft project?)
45. Sample bottles from hotels you aren’t going to use this week (great to donate to homeless shelters and the like)
46. Samples of products you picked up but never opened
47. Any product you haven’t used in the last 6 months. No exceptions.
48. Old toothbrushes
49. Makeup you haven’t used in the past 6 months
50. Mascara past 6 months old (otherwise you're just asking for an ugly eye infection. Your Choice).
51. Dried out bottles of nail varnish
52. Make up brushes with the bristles falling out
53. Old and gunky sponges that don't look entirely sanitary even when you've cleaned them.
54. Perfume you don’t wear
55. Hair curling irons and straighteners you never use
56. Hairdryer attachments you don’t use
57. Surplus toiletry bags
58. Nasty hairbrushes and combs missing some of prongs
59. Surplus manicure kit (nail scissors, emery boards)
60. Surplus brushes and combs
61. Old candles (hello, dust catchers)
62. Hair bands that are all stretched out of use
63. Moldy bath toys
64. Excess bath toys
65. Moldy sponges and loofahs
66. Out-of-date medicines (please dispose of these according to local advice which in the U.K. means back to the pharmacy)
67. Out of date vitamins
68. Medicines you no longer even take (see number 66 above)
69. Expired sunscreen (no reason to take a risk with this stuff)
70. Sunscreen with an SPF lower than what you and your family need
71. Duplicate utensils
72. Utensils you haven’t used for ages
73. Extra sets of knives (what are you, a serial killer?)
74. Those weird looking attachments for your food processor that you don’t actually know how to use and have no intention of ever trying to find out
75. Excess pans and baking tins you don’t use regularly
76. Small appliances you haven’t used in the past 12 months (cake pop maker anyone?)
77. Tupperware with missing lids (where do they go?)
78. Pestle and mortar if you never use it
79. Recipe books you’ve never used one recipe from
80. Duplicates of any type of dish, unless you know you use it regularly or can justify its presence in your home
Please remember that if you know any students heading off to college or university this year, they would probably appreciate any home-ware items in good working order.
81 Chipped crockery (if you can afford to replace soon)
82. Surplus mugs (one per person plus an extra one or two for guests. Unless you regularly host full football teams)
83. Surplus drinking glasses
84. Expired herbs and spices
85. Chopsticks you don’t use
86. Varieties of tea and coffee you never drink
87. Plastic cutlery you never use
88. Packets of condiments (ketchup, soy sauce) you know you aren't going to use in lunchboxes etc.
89. Travel mugs that don’t actually keep the liquid warm or have an insecure lid so you spill hot liquid over yourself (*ouch*)
90. Bottles of dodgy liqueur someone brought you back from their holiday (if you're feeling game, drink it. Otherwise toss it)
91. Any alcohol bottles with just a thimble sized amount of liquid left in the bottom
92. Come to think of it, any bottles with just a thimble sized amount of liquid left in them (sauces, condiments, etc)
93. Any specialty glasses you don’t use. Own a set of port glasses but never drink port? You know what to do.
94. Any novelty bottles of marinade or sauce that is too hot for human consumption unless you’re a masochist. I’m not judging.
95. Any expired cans of food
96. Glass jars you’re hoarding for a yet undefined project, keep a couple, recycle the rest or donate to a school art department
97. Takeaway menus (they’re online anyway)
98. Most of your stockpile of plastic shopping bags (even better if you can replace with reusable bags and remember to take these to the store when you go shopping)
99. Holiday souvenirs gathering dust (that tiny Mexican hat that seemed such a great idea at the time. Hasta la vista, baby)
100. Surplus sheets and bedding. I’d say 3 sets per bed is an absolute maximum
101. Old, stained towels, any towels that have lost their absorbency
102. Surplus wash mitts or wash cloths
103. Unused table linen
104. Unused baby towels (they’re too small anyway)
105. Extra sets of net curtains and bet curtain rings you haven’t used in ages
106. Extra sets of curtains you know you won’t use
107. Anything you were given that is not your style (crocheted table runner and doily, I’m looking at you)
108. Flat pillows (yuck)
Children's Bedroom and Playroom
Ok, this is supposed to be a list of things you can purge effortlessly.
So stick to looking for things you can cheerfully declutter from your home and save the more sentimental items for another decluttering session. Remember, we’re looking for quick wins here so no tears allowed.
Everything on this bit of the list could be followed by the words ‘if the children are happy to let it go’. It’s a great way to combine lessons about decluttering and generosity.
109. Toys they no longer play with
110. Cheap plastic toys from fast food restaurants or party bags
111. Toys, puzzles and games with missing pieces
112. Unloved stuffed animals
113. Coloring books they’ve finished with
114. Books they no longer read regularly
115. Dried up felt tip pens
116. Clothes they’ve grown out of
117. Hand-me-downs they aren’t going to wear
118. Clothes they have been given but won’t wear (I’m looking at you ugly Christmas jumper)
119. Pram accessories you never use such as rain covers or clip-on pram toys
120. Baby slings and carriers you no longer use
121. Non-sentimental baby goods such as a sterilizer, bottles, and baby bath that are no longer needed
122. Mystery cords and chargers. If you don’t know what those cords are for, give up and get rid of them
123. Chargers for phones you no longer use
124. Old phones (recycle responsibly)
125. Technology literally from another century: floppy discs, mini discs, VHS, anything
you’ve already upgraded
126. CDs for computer software you no longer use
127. Anything that doesn’t work (printer, scanner)
128. Last year’s calendars, diaries and planner
129. Travel brochures
130. Puzzle books that are unlikely to be ever used or fully completed
131. Greetings cards you’ve received with no sentimental value (although if you’re a craft type I’m sure Pinterest can help you re-purpose these)
132. Phone books (tell me you don’t reach for the internet when searching for a number).
133. Instruction manuals for things you no longer own
Better yet, download all the instruction manuals from the manufacturers’ website and store in Evernote.
134. Flyers, junk mail, magazine inserts,
135. Coupons past their use by date (I’ve heard that if you’re in the US, you can donate these to the military who can use them up to 6 months after their expiration date. If you’ve got a link, I’d sure appreciate you sharing it in the comments box below.)
136. Supplies from a hobby you no longer do you no longer use (Maybe the art department of a local school could use these supplies)
137. Supplies from a hobby you thought you might take up ages ago but so far haven’t (see point above)
138.Collections you’ve lost interest in
139. Any half-finished project you know you won’t finish
140. Business cards (take a picture and upload to Evernote). Actually, my son loves playing with an old wallet stuffed with business cards. Keeps him amused for ages. Perhaps an idea if you have little ones
141. Old paperwork you no longer need to keep on file
142.. Old bills and receipts you no longer need
143. Finished notebooks you no longer need
144. Duplicate office supplies such as hole-punches, staplers and rulers – keep one of each
145. Supplies of stationery you don’t actually use eg thumb tacks, paperclips, erasers
146. Anything that doesn’t work, pens that are out of ink etc
147. Surplus pencil cases
148. Dried up glue
Anything in good working order would probably be appreciated by local schools. But I’d recommend asking before you send stuff in.
149. Course notes from a course you finished ages ago
150. Stuff from a job you no longer do (eg manuals, lanyards, paperwork, useless bags with company logo on, coffee cups )
151. Mystery keys (what exactly does this key unlock?!)
152. Gift bags and wrapping paper that have gotten creased or ripped
153. Books you've already read and don’t want to read again
154. Textbooks for courses you’ve finished. You’re unlikely to ever want to refer to them again
155. Old magazines
156. Old newspapers
157. Cleaning products you don’t use
158. Home décor items that don’t match your style anymore
159. Ornaments and wall hangings you were given but don’t love
160. Unneeded empty boxes: shoe boxes, tv boxes etc
161. That organizing item you had high hopes for but were disappointed
162. Surplus vases (how many bunches of flowers are you likely to receive at any one time?)
163. Unwanted gifts (you know you’ve been itching to throw that ugly thing away for ages)
164. Party supplies for parties you’ve already had
165. Dried up shoe polish
166. Special shoe polish for shoes you don’t even own anymore
167. Candles with little wax left
168. Dead plants (you know it’s not coming back to life, right?)
169. Broken ornaments
170. Coin currency from foreign holidays that can’t be exchanged (this can often be donated, check at your local bank)
171. Store cards you no longer want
172. Used gift cards
173. Old air fresheners
174. Old paint (please dispose of responsibly.
175 Old paintbrushes past their best (bristles falling out, etc
176. Most of those paint rollers
177. Tools you no longer use
178. Power tools that don’t work or aren’t used anymore
179. Any unidentifiable screws, nuts, bolts etc
180. Gardening gloves that have seen better days or are missing a mate
181. Gardening equipment you no longer use
182. Any sporting equipment that isn’t used anymore or that children have outgrown
183. Unused exercise equipment
184. Hardware left over from a finished projec
185. Camping equipment you don’t use
186. All but 1 or 2 of those funny keys from flat pack furniture
187. Christmas lights that don’t work
188. Tacky Christmas decorations, unless that’s your thing.
189. Sets of encyclopedias (they’re all online and the books take up so much room)
190. VHS tapes
191. DVDs you’ll never watch again
192. DVD cases of DVDs you do want to keep (just file them in a media box for amazing space saving ingenuity)
193. CDs you no longer listen to
194. CD cases
195. Remote controls to electrical items you got rid of ages ago (and definitely any remotes where you can’t even remember what they’re for)
196. Console games no one plays with anymore
197. Broken or unused handheld controllers
198.Throw cushion inserts past their best (flat)
Phew, that was a long list.
We all know that decluttering is not easy physically or emotionally. So please be gentle with yourself and strive for progress not perfection. I do not live in an empty white cube and I don’t expect you to either. But if you’re being weighed down by clutter, I hope this list gives you a start. Just try 5 minutes a day and you’ll soon turn the tide.
Don’t forget to click HERE for your free printable version of this list.