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If you have a tendency to hold onto things then the thought of decluttering can be a little daunting. You might want to start streamlining your belongings and living a clutter free life, but when it doesn’t come naturally it can be hard to know where to start. The best thing to do in this situation is start small and find easy things to declutter.
Once you’ve started and you start to see the results of your efforts, the motivation will snowball – and you’ll soon be a decluttering pro. Before we look at the list of easy things to declutter though, lets think about the benefits of doing so.
The reason most of us want to start getting rid of stuff is because we’re feeling suffocated and overwhelmed. Our homes should be the antidote to stress, not the cause of it. Having less clutter means more space and a calmer environment to relax in.
Sure there are some people who enjoy cleaning, but for a lot of us it’s just one of those thankless tasks we have to do. An added bonus of decluttering is that you’ll have less to clean. Clear surfaces collect less dust and are quicker to wipe down than moving and wiping around things.
“Look around, all that clutter used to be money”
I don’t actually like this quote too much as it makes you feel guilty about past decisions. BUT it is true. The clutter was money at one point, so why not try to sell the item and recoup a little bit back? You shouldn’t declutter with the aim of making stacks of cash, because you might wind up disappointed. But a bit of money is an added bonus.
Before you start, it can be helpful to have a few bags or boxes to sort items into. Usually a designated box for selling, donating and trash. Wherever possible I would try to first sell the item and then donate, with trash as a last resort.
A lot of people are put off decluttering because they think it’s wasteful and they don’t want to contribute more stuff to landfill. But there are more conscious ways of decluttering than just filling bags and taking straight to the dump.
Ladies toiletries and clothes to Women’s Refuges
Children toys and books to hospital wards, nurseries and playgroups *
Linen and blankets to animal shelters*
You can drop food (in date) at supermarket donation stations and homeless shelters*
Specific charities are happy to receive Bras
Old socks can be sent to Donkey charities
Anything you’re getting rid of – there’s probably a charity or organisation that could make use of it. Google it and you’ll get a tonne of hits. *Always check with your local organisations whether they’re accepting donations first.
Depending on why you’re keeping receipts in the first place, these should be pretty easy to just bin.
Expired Membership Cards
While we’re going through handbags and purses to clear out receipts, check your card slots too. Get rid of expired bank cards and memberships you no longer have or use. I recently found my Uni ID from 2013 when I cleared out an old purse…
Does anyone else keep old magazines with the intention of going back to something and never do, like me? Just recycle them once you’ve read them. If you really want to keep something tear the page out or snap a picture on your phone.
Recycle them the minute they’re pushed through your door. Keeping them only encourages you to order a takeaway when you might not otherwise think about it. Plus if you do want to order one, chances are you already know what you’re having or you can access the menu on an app like JustEat
They come with everything but how many times have you actually looked at one? I can only recall two occasions when I’ve needed a manual – when my old boiler turned itself off and when my washing machine had weird lights flashing on it. We didn’t have a manual for either of these – yet I had a whole box file full of manuals for other things.
I just needed to google the appliance name and model number to easily find a copy online. And as a result I recycled the entire contents of that old box file.
I know some people get quite sentimental about these things and keep every card they ever receive. Then there’s people who put them in the bin the day after their birthday. I sit somewhere between the two. I have kept all our engagement and wedding cards, new baby cards, Elise’s 1st Birthday cards, plus any fathers/mothers day cards and birthday cards from Elise. (I’m much more sentimental about anything with Elise’s name on!)
Everything else gets recycled. Except Christmas cards which I like to cut up and keep for gift tags first. Only do this if you have the intention of making and using the gift tags – otherwise just bin.
Make sure you have a home for sentimental keepsakes like this so that they don’t get out of control.
I was very much a ‘just in case’ person and would keep every single letter from whoever and whatever company. Now I’ve set up online accounts for as much as possible and opted for paperless billing. Scanned anything I think I might need in future and shredded everything else. I honestly got rid of two carrier bags full of old papers. To date I haven’t looked up any of the letters I kept digitally but they’re all stored safely and backed up on my external hard drive just in case.
Have a look in your cupboards and junk drawers – or anywhere else clutter accumulates and I bet you’ll find a piece of junk mail. Get rid. Put them straight in recycling as soon as they come through your door.
I honestly didn’t even realise these were still a thing until one dropped on my doormat the other week. It went straight into recycling. If you need a number, you’ll find it online.
Clothing is a hard category to declutter because we make sentimental attachments to lots of outfits for various reasons – “it cost a lot of money”, “I’ll lose weight and fit into it”, “I wore it on our first date”. etc so I’m just going to focus on the easy items.
If you’d like help decluttering your wardrobe, I wrote a post all about that here – How to Overhaul Your Wardrobe Once and For All
Go through your socks and get rid of any that are odd or have holes in. If you have socks which you know you never wear (looking at you Hello Kitty socks) just let them go.
Anyone else have clothes in their wardrobe they keep hanging back up even though everytime they go to wear it, they notice that massive stain down the front? Yup, guilty as charged. Just toss and if you really love it that much, treat yourself to a new one.
Clothing that needs repairing
I challenge you to gather up all the clothes in the house that need a new button, a hem stitching or a hole repairing. Put them all into a basket and give yourself a week to deal with them. I guarantee at the end of the week they’ll still be sat in the basket. If they’re not – well done you! If they are. BIN!
Not the most gifted seamstress but can’t bear to part with that pair of trousers with the loose hem? Wonder web it! Seriously, this stuff is amazing!
Another easy one. Go through your cupboards and throw away anything that is out of date. Yes, some foods are still okay to consume after their ‘best before’ date has passed, but do you seriously want to risk that 2007 tin of sardines?
Food You Won’t Eat
Is there anything lurking in your cupboards that has been there a while but you just don’t fancy it? Sometimes we buy things we usually wouldn’t but end up consuming the same old meals and the new item sits there, untouched. If you know you’re not going to use it give it to someone who might or donate it (as long as it’s in date). We had a giant box of Shredded Wheat unopened in our cupboard for months on end, so I finally took it to work and left it in the kitchen with ‘EAT ME’ in big black letters. It didn’t hang around there as long!
Go through your medicine cabinet and get rid of anything that is out of date. If you no longer have the box it came in, the blister packs have the expiry date punched into the edge. Also if you’ve got left over medication from an ailment you’ve recovered from, get rid of that too – it’s probably not enough for another course of treatment and you shouldn’t take it if it hasn’t been prescribed anyway!
Don’t just throw in the bin though, take it to your pharmacy so it can be disposed of properly.
Excess Plastic Bags
Since the supermarkets have clamped down on plastic bags (Asda no longer deliver food in bags and Lidl no longer sell 5p bags), we have accumulated a lot less. If you have an excessive amount, buy a bag holder and fill it then get rid of the rest. I reuse any plastic bags we get as bin liners.
If you have lots to get rid of supermarkets have bag recycling points and sometimes charity shops will take them off you too. You could also keep some in the attic with your car boot loot ready for when you next go selling (or give to a friend who’s planning one).
I riled a few people up when I shared on Instagram how I stored my tupperware BUT it makes sense, trust me. I store mine with lids ON. This way I’m never searching for which lid fits which container and I have a limited amount of storage space for it. Yes storing without the lid frees up space BUT it also encourages you to store more… and there’s only so much tupperware any family needs!
Go through yours and put all the lids on (even if you’re not going to store them that way). Any containers that are cracked, warped or missing it’s lid – get rid.
If you’ve got more than one of any kind of kitchen tool, why? Do you really need multiple whisks, bottle openers or tin openers?
Go around the house and gather up all the pens – they get everywhere! But there’s usually a good 20 or so in any junk drawer. Test them all and throw away any that don’t work. Then pop one in your handbag, one in the drawer with a notepad and one near you’re noticeboard/shopping list. Get rid of the rest. You don’t need 100 spares.
Out of Date Diaries
If you’re a stationery fiend like me, you might find it difficult to part with any pretty notebook. But if it’s dated 2015, are you really going to use it? Chances are probably not. Quite often we buy diaries with good intentions to get organised and they go to waste barely being written in.
If that sounds like you, why not try buying an undated diary so that you can just pick up from where you left off next time.
Old Study Notes
If you don’t know what they’re for, are you ever going to use them? Maybe you do know what they’re for, but the gadget itself is already long gone. Surprisingly, random cords sell in bundles on ebay. Why not see if you can sell yours?
You can see what other rubbish sells on ebay in this post: Rubbish You Didn’t Know You Could Sell on Ebay
Why do we keep these? I had a broken hair dryer, a broken vacuum cleaner and a broken iron lying around my house at some point.
If it’s broken beyond repair, look up your local recycling centre and get rid of it there. If it can be used for parts, consider selling it on ebay BUT clearly mark your listing as broken and for spares/repairs!
There are so many websites you can sell your old mobile to now, even if it’s broken. Try a site like Sell My Mobile to compare prices- they have a best price guarantee so you can get the difference back if you’re offered more money elsewhere.
o2 also have a recycling scheme o2 Recycle – use promo code WAITADD5 to receive an extra £5
Ready to tackle some more? Check out these posts for more help and guidance:
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!