Everyone has a spot in their house that desperately needs to be sorted, and likely contains numerous items on this declutter list, but it always gets overlooked. It goes by a few names; the junk drawer, the storage closet, the spare room with the perpetually closed door. Ring a bell?
Things tend to disappear when they arrive here. It’s a catch-all for clutter and broken items that could still be useful. It is that unmentioned location where you tuck away spontaneous purchases in order to buy yourself more time before telling your significant other. Cough.
Well, no more! It is time to take back that valuable real estate. You are going to tackle the chaos and declutter! With this list, you can quickly work through some trouble zones and gain some control over the mess. For reals this time, I have your back.
Set Up For Success
You have the majority, if not all, of these items stocked up in your storage spots. There is no need to give these items any second thoughts. Chances are you have held onto them for far too long as it is. We are going to do a quick purge in the form of this declutter challenge to get the ball rolling. Once you have this under your belt, nothing can stop you!
You know just as well as I do that the intention to sort through everything has been on your to-do list for the past 6 months. Okay, the past year. I get it, you have a busy schedule! And the idea of trying to completely empty out the area, sort through everything, and decide what to put back is daunting.
Today you are just going to focus on weeding out the definite Got To Go’s. But before we hit the list, let’s set up a sorting system to help you see this purge through to the end.
Grab 3 bins, or boxes, or garbage bags even. If you find yourself thinking about going out to buy taller baskets, STOP. Be honest with yourself, you are only trying to distract yourself from the task at hand.
Don’t fret, just move on to the next step: labelling. Label each of the boxes: Toss, Donate or Keep. Nothing fancy is required, they are here to serve a purpose on your decluttering journey, not win Instagram Model of the year. I am an advocate of recycling and repurposing though so please donate what you can.
20+ Items To Toss Right Now
1. Old Pens:
There is no need to be ashamed. Now is the time to move on. The dead and broken pens can go in the garbage. When you weed out which pens still work you can decide which ones you like using, and donate the rest.
When you buy a pair of shoes they often come with an extra set of laces. That you’ll never use. Your shoes are bound to wear out before you need to replace the laces so go ahead and donate those.
3. Old Greeting Cards:
Unless it’s really sentimental, chances are you are not going to look at old birthday cards again. You won’t even miss them. You will feel relieved once they leave your house courtesy of your recycling bin.
I rip out the pages- gasp!- of images or recipes I like and then recycle the magazine after having perused it. It served its purpose by entertaining me for a short while.
5. Toiletries You Don’t like:
Donate! Women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and transitional homes can all use your half-empty shampoo bottles and body washes that you no longer use! Please find one in your area to donate to regularly.
6. Old Charger:
Technology updates so quickly, that unless you are keeping an old phone for backup, you won’t likely use those chargers again.
7. Craft paper/ wrapping paper scraps:
I had a container filled with paper scraps to use so I wouldn’t waste a perfectly good sheet on a project. Then my perfectly good sheets would just sit there instead of getting used. Recycle your scraps and feel good about actually using your pretty paper stock!
8. Bad photos:
Unless you are keeping them for incriminating evidence at your kid’s wedding, you will never do anything with the pictures that make you cringe every time you glimpse them. Some things are best left unseen.
9. Old notebooks, work notes:
I came across my notes from college. Not necessary. My sketchbook may be a keeper but my miscalculated math problems are not. The same goes for yours. Handouts from work conferences can be recycled too since you aren’t using them if they’ve been tucked away here.
10. Junk mail:
I sort this right away and don’t even let it take up countertop space. I have a recycling bin ready to go and these find their way there as soon as they come through my door. The newspaper gets recycled too as soon as the new one arrives. Don’t let this monster breed!
11. Plastic bags:
Invest in some good quality, reusable bags with pretty prints! By spending a bit of money on them you will feel obligated to keep them in your vehicle and use them! It’s a worthwhile investment because they will last longer and you’ll enjoy carrying them around when they look great. It is awesome for the environment too! Less plastic pollution! If you like this tip you should check out my other ideas for Going Green!
12. Gift Bags:
I always seem to hoard gift bags, then go out and buy a new one on my way to the party anyways. If you do the same, then go ahead and recycle most, if not all of them.
13. Business cards:
With business search engines right at hand, most business cards don’t get looked at past the point of the initial hand out. Unless there is a recipe, discount code, or the business is otherwise unlisted, declutter and recycle these. While you’re at it, declutter your fridge magnet business card collection too. Consider it my bonus to you!
14. Spare buttons:
You and I both know you don’t have the spare time to mend buttons, and you’ll either toss the item or take it to a seamstress. You may as well bring her your button stock!
15. Old batteries:
Batteries do expire, and as they get closer to that date they are less likely to work and more likely to leak. Don’t risk it. It’s also not a good idea to mix new and old batteries.
I am a box hoarder. This goes hand in hand with the gift bag collection. I save empty boxes of odd sizes that could work for presents. Usually, I just wind up with a large pile of empty boxes taking up too much space for too long. Cut them down and recycle them. This goes for plastic containers too. Then step back to admire how much extra space you now have.
17. Takeout Menus:
How many of your favourite places have their menu online now? I consider these junk mail and just recycle them as they arrive. Chances are the menu has changed too from what your flyers show.
18. Unpaired Socks:
It never fails to amaze me how often we lose one sock. There is a bag in the laundry room for single socks to go in, and it is purged frequently. If I come across one in a random location, it’s mate has probably already been tossed too. Do these lost socks turn into extra container lids?
We tend to receive vases that are the same shape, height and colour. I keep a few that I enjoy in various heights or colour, but if they are the standard ones from the flower shop, I donate them. Some flower shops will take them back as a donation, otherwise, you can take them to goodwill or just recycle them.
20. Broken Items:
If it wasn’t important enough to fix right away, then it’s not going to be making the top of your to-do list any time soon. Toss it and let the guilt trip go with it too.
Do you have an overabundance of blankets? Me too. Everyone tends to hang on to every single blanket they’ve ever owned instead of getting rid of the old ones or ones they no longer like and use. Give it a new life, an important life! Donate your blankets to animal shelters and sanctuaries. These poor animals can all use some warmth and comfort.
Lost Is Found
You may find lost items in your catch-all space that are needed elsewhere (hi there misplaced Christmas presents!). That’s why you made the Keep box too. Your ultimate goal, however, is to declutter and remove as much of the chaos as you can, but some treasures do make an appearance. Act on it though! Don’t let them stay in the Keep box and collect dust! Move these items to their new homes right away so they don’t get forgotten again.
Take these same actions with your Toss box and your Donate box. Take out the garbage items right away! They don’t need to take up any more of your time and space. Put those donate items in the back of your vehicle. Please don’t drive around with them in your trunk for the next 3 months! Write it on your calendar to drop them off at their designated locations within the next two weeks! They aren’t doing anyone any good by making your car their second home.
Declutter Challenge Complete
There! You completed the declutter! Do you feel invigorated? Strike while the irons hot and do more if you want! Or sit back and pat yourself on the back for taking on this monster. Did you uncover some really cool treasures among the junk? I’d love to hear how many bags you removed and what you are going to do with your new-found real estate. Drop me a comment with your results!
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Great post! Happy to see we got rid of most of the items on your list in our latest purging efforts. Will need to revisit my pile of saved gift bags from my baby shower. We totally found a few hidden Christmas presents lol Are there bonus points for knowing that they were hidden somewhere? Or is that worse than forgetting about them entirely??
Sara-Lynn Houk says
Congratulations on your clutter purge! There are definitely bonus points for finding the hidden Christmas presents! I know all too well how those “safe hiding spots” work! They are very deceptive haha!