I’m on a decluttering binge this year. I’ve had ENOUGH of too much stuff. You know when you just get to that point? Where every time you try to shove more stuff into a cupboard where it doesn’t fit, or trip over those extra storage tubs in the Walk-In-Robe that you haven’t got around to putting away, or waste time looking for something because it’s lost in all the clutter, a little something inside you gets more and more impatient and frustrated until finally you’ve just had ENOUGH? Yep. That’s me too.
It always amazes me how much STUFF we manage to accumulate. We’ve moved house seven times in our 15-year marriage, and each time we have a massive cull and, usually, hold a garage sale as well. For our last move, we filled an entire double garage wall-to-wall with stuff to sell. It was an epic garage sale, and I got rid of HEAPS of stuff. We also sold lots of furniture, and made thousands of dollars all told. Anything left over went to charity.
And yet even still, we ended up with a storage unit full of boxes and furniture that won’t fit into our temporary, smaller house… and a messy garage that we can’t seem to tame… and I am struggling on a daily basis with too much stuff in my cupboards and drawers.
I know I’m not alone in hating clutter, but feeling unable to tame it. So I thought I’d get really practical today. I tend to be fairly ruthless when I do a cull, because I love the feeling of relief and space and simplicity that comes from paring back possessions. It gives me a real rush. The more garbage bags I manage to fill, the lighter and more accomplished I feel at the end. But I know not everyone feels this way. For some, getting rid of stuff is a real challenge. You know you have too much and you WANT to pare back, but you don’t know how to start or what to toss.You know you have too much & you WANT to pare back, but you don't know how to start or what to toss. This is your list!Click To Tweet
That’s what this post is all about. I sat down and listed out all of the things I toss when I go through my home. Use this as a guide, and you’ll find yourself burning through the cupboards and drawers as you metamorphose from packrat into decluttering goddess.
Now, when I say “throw away”, I’m admittedly being a bit dramatic. I’m not advocating sending perfectly re-usable items into the world’s landfills. Items can be sold, donated, recycled or tossed. I have different bags for different categories as I sort. But once something is bagged, it does not come back inside your home.
Tackle one zone at a time, instead of little bits here and there, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel will skyrocket your motivation.
Let’s get started!
Pssst – want the printable version? You can download the full set of checklists as a PDF file using the box at the top of this post!
- Excess caps
- Novelty hats
- Old belts
- Handbags you haven’t used in the past year, or bags that are cracked / damaged
- Broken luggage
- Duffel bags and backpacks that don’t get used
- Excess pyjamas (keep a maximum of 3 pairs for summer and 3 for winter)
- Uncomfortable or ill-fitting bras, and lingerie you never wear
- Stained or holey clothing (if you haven’t mended it yet, you’re never going to)
- T-shirts that have lost their shape
- Clothes that don’t fit. Keep one inspiration outfit and toss the rest.
- Clothes you don’t wear regularly: if you constantly pass it over when selecting your outfit, you don’t love it enough to keep it.
- Clothes you wouldn’t buy if you were shopping today: things that are out of fashion, things that don’t flatter your body shape, things you never really loved or have grown tired of
- T-shirts with faded, worn or cracking print
- Old bridesmaid dresses (will you wear it again?)
- Scarves you never wear
- Shoes you don’t wear regularly or that are marked or broken
- Uncomfortable shoes that you avoid because they give you blisters
- Too-high heels
- Uncomfortable jeans
- Scratchy jumpers (sweaters)
- Clothes made of cheap synthetic fabric that make you sweat
- Clothes that cut into your underarms
- Dresses with hemlines that are too short and make you feel self-conscious
- Clothes you don’t wear because they’re dry clean only or require special care
- Excess gym clothes: keep one week’s worth
- Socks without a pair
- Swimming togs that didn’t get worn last season
- Novelty items such as Christmas T-shirts
- Highschool jerseys (it’s time to move on)
- Dozens of ties if you don’t actually need to wear a tie to work
- Single earrings, earrings missing their backs, cheap earrings that make your ears sore
- Jewellery you haven’t worn in the last year, jewellery that was given to you that you don’t like, anything that needs repair, costume jewellery that is looking worn or tarnished, anything that looks cheap or tacky
- Stockings with runs
- Your wedding dress. It’s bulky to store, you’ll never wear it again and you have beautiful photos to remember your special day.
- Hangers from the dry-cleaners
- Flimsy wire or plastic hangers – get a set of sturdy wooden ones and toss the rest!
- Broken watches
- Old prescription eye-glasses
- Out-of-fashion sunglasses
Did that feel good? Awesome! Now you have a simplified wardrobe of clothes you actually love, that fit you beautifully and flatter your body shape. You’re on a roll. Let’s keep going.
- Sample bottles from hotels
- Expired makeup: anything cracked and crumbling
- Makeup you haven’t used in the past 6 months
- Mascara older than 6 months (due to risk of eye infections)
- Dried out bottles of nail polish
- Perfume you don’t wear
- Hair curling irons you never use
- Hairdryer attachments you don’t use
- Old toiletry bags
- Gifts-with-purchase – those miniature sized beauty products that you never use and just add clutter
- Duplicate grooming products (eg nail scissors, nail files, brushes and combs)
- Used-up bottles of lotion
- Novelty “gift” products such as face masks or foot scrubs that you haven’t used in the past year
- Multiple bath products such as bath salts, bubble bath and bath bombs. How often do you have a bath, anyway? Keep your favourite couple of items and replace them if / as needed.
- Crumbled bath bombs
- Hair product you haven’t used in the past 6 months
- Dusty candles
- Duplicates of everyday supplies. Keep one each of what you use daily, and replace it when it’s finished.
- Extra dental floss dispensers
- Excess scented body lotions. Keep one.
- Stretched-out hair elastics
- Shower caps with loose elastic
- Old contact-lens cases
- Old toothbrushes
- Cakes of soap if you don’t actually use them (we use body wash instead)
- Kids bath toys that are mildewed
- Squeezy bath toys with holes (they get mouldy inside and can’t be cleaned). In future either don’t buy these at all, or use a hot glue gun to fill the hole as soon as you purchase the toy.
- Broken scales
- Mouldy sponges or loofahs
- Duplicate utensils
- Novelty appliances you haven’t used in the past six months (eg slushy maker, crepe maker)
- Broken appliances
- Unused jars
- Multiple serving platters
- Plastic containers / Tupperware that are missing their lids
- Cracked containers
- Excess baking dishes (cull it down to the essentials – how many can you fit in your oven at once?)
- That mortar and pestle you never use
- Old recipe books
- The cheap pans that burn your food
- Wonky tongs that don’t meet in the middle
- Anything rusted
- Excess egg rings (keep three and move them as your eggs cook – less washing up that way)
- Chipped plates / crockery
- Novelty mugs (get rid of those excess mugs!! How many cups of coffee is it possible to drink per day, anyway?!)
- Extra salt and pepper shakers
- Specialty shaped birthday cake tins that you’ve used once but will never use again (consider hiring next time)
- Excess salad bowls
- Expired herbs and spices
- Lunch boxes with broken zippers
- Excess stubby coolers
- Divided plates and containers that don’t stack and are difficult to store
- Expired coupons
- Takeaway menus you never use
- Chopsticks if you don’t actually use them
- Travel mugs that leak
- Bottles of liqueur that have been in the back of your pantry forever
- Wine decanters if you never use them
- Multiple cooler bags – keep two sizes and toss the rest
- Twist ties – how many do you really need?
- Rubber bands – as above!
- Freezer bags if you always use find yourself using containers instead
- Christmas themed serving-ware: instead of storing something that will only be used one day a year, use a nice platter year round
- Plastic shopping bags – limit to one bag full and cull the rest
- All those extra attachments for your food processor / juicer / mixer etc that you never use and that just add clutter to your cupboards.
- Excess sheets. You don’t need more than 2-3 sets per bed.
- Old towels
- Unused table linen
- Anything stained or holey
- Kids hooded towels or baby towels that they’ve grown out of
- Baby quilts
- Crocheted doilies or anything that is not your style
- Extra pillows. Get rid of any that are lumpy, thin, stained or uncomfortable. If you wouldn’t give it to a guest or use it yourself, why are you keeping it?
- Old quilt covers that you’ve hung onto since upgrading to a new one
- Too many extra blankets. If it’s freezing, you’ll use the heating anyway.
- Toys they no longer play with
- Cheap rubbishy toys from Happy Meals and party bags
- Battery-operated toys where the battery compartment has corroded
- Toys missing parts (eg the remote control car with no remote)
- Multiples such as tea sets – keep one favourite
- Toys that are too bulky to store, and don’t get used enough to justify the space they take up
- Stuffed animals – keep one or two favourites and toss the rest
- Toys they’ve outgrown (eg baby and toddler toys)
- Technology they’ve outgrown or no longer use (eg Leap Tags, kiddy tablets)
- Games with missing pieces
- Clothes they’ve grown out of
- Excess clothes. If you’ve been given lots of hand-me-downs, cull the ones you don’t need – you don’t have to keep everything you’re given. What do they actually wear?
- Clothes that are faded, stained or holey
- Outgrown shoes
- Colouring and activity books they’ve completed
- Broken chalks, crayon nubs and dried-out felt pens
- Bulky 3D constructions from cartons and cardboard tubes – display for a few days, then take a photo
- Dress-up costumes that no longer fit or don’t get used
- Old sets of trading cards that have lost their appeal
- Discarded collections of rocks, shells etc
- Puzzles with missing pieces
- Baby powders, oils and creams you were given as gifts that you won’t use
- Pram accessories you never use such as foot warmers or rain covers
- Duplicate baby supplies
- Bulky and unnecessary baby goods such as the baby bath – use a bath rest inside the big bath instead
- Baby bassinet once baby has moved into a cot (crib)
- Cot (crib) bumpers – they’re against SIDS safety recommendations
- Nappies (diapers) in the size they’ve grown out of
- Baby items you no longer need once the baby stage is over
- Cords that don’t fit any known electronics in your house
- Duplicate cords
- Chargers for items you no longer use
- Old phones and tablets (sell or recycle them)
- Out-of-date calendars
- Old diaries / day planners
- Scrapbooking supplies you no longer use
- Old receipts
- Old bills (take your banking online to stop unnecessary paper coming into your home in the first place)
- Duplicate office supplies such as hole-punches, staplers and rulers – keep one of each
- Outdated business cards
- Pens that are out of ink
- Stubby pencils
- Sticky note pads (keep one or two)
- Old paperwork you no longer need to keep on file
- Old notebooks
- Excess paperclips / thumb tacks
- Anything that doesn’t work (the broken-down scanner, photocopier etc that’s gathering dust in the corner)
- Old photo albums. Can you amalgamate them? – streamline those bulky albums by scanning favourite photos into photo books?
- Empty albums
- Film canisters
- Packets of old negatives
- Old school work from when you were a kid
- Essays you wrote in university
- Old textbooks
- Resources from a job you no longer work (eg teaching resources, company manuals)
- Old name badges
- Bags and lanyards from past conferences
- Conference packs and notes that you’ll never refer to again
- Books you’ve never read
- Books you read and didn’t love
- Old magazines (clip any favourite images, and toss the rest)
- Old newspapers
- Travel brochures
- Unused puzzle books
- Promotional goody bags from expos, trade fairs etc
- Letter openers (have you ever actually used one?)
- Stamps or mailing stickers personalised with your old address
- Kids artworks and school memorabilia. Cull the excess and display the favourites in a memory box system like this.
- Gift books of the sentimental or “coffee table” variety that serve no purpose once read
- Old birthday and Christmas cards. Keep a handful with meaningful messages in a memory file, and toss the rest.
- Half-finished craft projects
- Redundant technology such as floppy discs, cassettes and video tapes
- Redundant electronics such as VHS players and cassette players
- Old electronics you’ve kept since upgrading (includes TVs, laptops, stereos, computer monitors)
- Outdated computer software
- DVDs you’ll never watch again
- X-Box or Playstation games your kids don’t play or have outgrown
- Phone books (the majority of people search online for local businesses now)
- Remotes that don’t match with anything
- That CD collection that has been replaced by your iPod
- Extension leads – keep only what you need and use
- Electronic gadgets you don’t use or that don’t work
- Instruction manuals for appliances you no longer own
- Trophies from when you were a kid – photograph them and move on
- Old sheet music
- Board games you don’t play
- Multiple decks of cards
- Mailing tubes and boxes you’ve been hanging onto for years “just in case”
- Incoming invitations and school paperwork: write down the information in your planner (or scan and store in Evernote) and toss the paperwork
- Cleaning products you don’t use
- Out-of-date medicines and vitamins
- Expired sunscreen
- Junk mail
- Home decor items that don’t match your new home
- Leftover themed party supplies from that birthday party you threw two years ago
- Empty boxes: shoeboxes, product packaging boxes, nappy (diaper) boxes
- Unused picture frames
- Excess coasters
- Knick-knacks you don’t love that are just collecting dust
- Cheesy travel souvenirs
- Potpourri – just don’t even
- Unused oil burners or tea-light candle holders
- Gift bags that are creased or worn
- Spare change – use it up for lunch money or take it to the bank
- Keys of unknown origin
- Keyrings that are not being used
- Excess vases
- Old posters
- Fridge magnets – you don’t need a whole collection
- Old baskets that you’re keeping “just in case”
- Packing boxes, bubble wrap, paper and packing tape left over from your last move
- That teddy bear signed by the kids in your graduating class – photograph it and move on
- Shoe polish kits – keep one
- Leftover curtain rings and hooks after you’ve finished hanging your curtains
- Ugly decor items you’ve never liked
- Unwanted gifts
- That unused instrument you haven’t played since high school and likely never will again
- Therapeutic devices (crutches, slings etc) that are no longer needed
- Old X-rays
- Old paint (to dispose of it properly, paint it onto sheets of newspaper and then throw out)
- Empty or near-empty spray cans
- Rusty tools
- Power tools that don’t work
- Unused flower pots that are just collecting cobwebs
- Gardening gloves without a pair
- Bikes you don’t use or that the kids have outgrown
- Duplicate or broken sporting gear
- Blow up swimming pools that leak
- Outdoor toys (such as the water play table) the kids have outgrown
- Unused bulky recreation gear such as kayaks, surfboards, boogie boards, ping pong table. Be honest with yourself and keep what you actually use – sell or give away the rest.
- Leftover building products such as tiles
- Leftover hardware supplies from a finished project
- Dried out super glue / construction adhesive
- Hardware gizmos you can’t identify
- Broken drill bits
- Swimming flotation devices that are unsafe or the kids have outgrown
- Air beds that leak
- Old camping gear that you don’t need since you’ve upgraded (or never use)
- Fairy lights that don’t work
Phew – how did that feel?! I’ll be posting updates of my decluttering progress over the weeks ahead. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been up to!
Let’s chat: What else would you add to this list? What do you find the hardest to let go of?
Megan Duesterhaus (The Homes I says
Karen, this list is AMAZING!!! How did you come up with so many things! We are getting ready to move (7th home for us!) and it always awakens in me to get rid of ALL THE THINGS! Am going to be referencing this often!
Karen Schravemade says
Thanks, Megan! I don’t know how you cope with moving so often – you’re totally my hero! But yes, it’s a great opportunity to declutter. Silver linings! All the best with the move, my friend! xo
Sandra Garth says
This is a huge list! I must admit I am a pack rack and getting rid of lots of things in these zones would be difficult. However, I am willing to start small and tackle a few of them. This is an excellent post and very useful. We would love for you to share it at Celebrate Your Story link party. Here’s the link: http://www.thesweetsensations.com/welcome-to-celebrate-your-story-link-party/. Hope to see you there!
An inspired list of things that are “going, going, gone” candidates. I’m pretty good at letting go, but you’ve given me even more to consider to lighten the load. Thank you!
Karen Schravemade says
You’re so welcome! xo
Allison Walker Oguma says
Oh my goodness…it’s like you’ve been in my ENTIRE HOUSE and GARAGE and have seen the nightmare amount of “extra” things I have stored up! I was laughing so hard as I read through your list because I swear, I’ll bet I have at least 225 of the 250 things you recommend tossing. I am so looking forward to getting to work on this because it is insane the amount of “stuff” I’m keeping for really, no apparent reason! I have an ENTIRE BAG filled with the hotel samples. That I have never. Ever. Use. I just keep thinking “well, maybe SOME day I’ll need them…” HA!
Thanks so much for this list and for your very entertaining blog.
Karen Schravemade says
LOL, I hear ya, Allison! So glad you’re feeling inspired. Happy decluttering! xo
Selling or recycling old electronics like phones and tablets might be good to earn extra money, but it’s also one of the biggest privacy mistakes people make. Unless you’re positive all the memory in the device has been taken out and destroyed, I would not recommend it. Because electronics may also contain back up memory inside the device itself, unless you’re tech savvy and know exactly what to extract from a particular device, it’s generally best to simply destroy and then dispose of any device you’ve used that had personal data or can be traced back to you in anyway (even through your phone provider). You’d really be surprised what people can find out about you from old electronics that you think have been wiped clean, and how often people buy used computers and phones with the intention of identity theft. Be safe and skip selling or recycling these type of items.
Brigitte Desormeaux says
I have been doing this for years, it is great to live clutter free. (always manage to find clutter and I can’t figure that one out, has to be the clutter gremlins) but I manage to get rid of it.
Judy Powell says
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’m giving one of these to each of my listing clients!!
su carey says
not sure I can but I am going to give it a try- I envy my friends who move- it is the ultimate clearing out solution, I have not moved in 40yrs. Have to say It is a tight squeeze in my closets and garage! need to clean out soon.
Karen Schravemade says
I agree, we’ve moved a lot in 18 years of marriage and it definitely does motivate us to have a good clean out each time! Good luck with your decluttering!
Thanks for sharing! I love to get more ideas for decluttering!
Karen Schravemade says
You’re so welcome, Vanessa!
This was a good read! I think the wardrobe pointers are the most helpful. It can be hard to decide what you actually use regularly.
Karen Schravemade says
Thanks, Suzanne! I agree, culling clothes is hard! xo
A good use fir all those small hotel samples if lotion, shsmpoo, etc., is to donate to a homeless shelter. Good, too, for unneeded blankets.
Karen Schravemade says
Great idea Lyn!
I would add that to stay clutter-free you set up a rule for yourself. Something like for example, clothing, if you buy something new get rid of two. Because we all know it doesn’t take long for the Clutter to come back.
How can I print these lists? I have entered my name and valid email address then get redirected back to the original site and no printable list! what am I doing wrong??
Karen Schravemade says
So sorry about the hassle Nancy! You should have received an email from me asking you to confirm your subscription, then the printables will be delivered to your email inbox. It may have been caught in your junk folder.
MarySue Carl says
I just moved to a new state after retiring. I have been very good at getting rid of many things but I have two boxes of rusted tools that need to go. My problem is I don’t know where I can responsibly get rid of them. Any ideas?
Karen Schravemade says
Hi MarySue! Hmmm, if it was me I would just take them to the dump! I guess every area is different, but our local council compacts and recycles scrap metals. You can also sell scrap metal and perhaps even get a little cash back for it – there are collection points all over the place. If you Google it you may turn up one nearby. There are several in my local area and I live in quite a small regional centre. Good luck!
Thank you for writing this! I know my house is over cluttered but I really struggle with it, this list is far more extensive than others I’ve seen and I’m guilty of so many of them! Thank you for taking the time to write this and help others out, the one that made me smile was the party supplies, my daughters 5 and still have some of her first party stuff lying around despite multiple declutterings!
Karen Schravemade says
Oh I hear you girl!! We all have our problem areas… mine is craft supplies for sure! ?I’m really glad you found this helpful! xo