If we lack motivation, it can help tremendously to start with EASY action steps. Today, I wanted to talk about 23 relatively easy things to declutter. They don’t take a lot of thought – we can simply declutter them.
1. Expired medicine
OTC meds can be tossed in the trash; controlled substances can either be mixed with coffee grounds and thrown away or taken to a local pharmacy to dispose of.
2. First-aid items
How many of us purchase a first-aid kit and leave it sitting in the car for years – do the bandaids still stick? Are the ointments still effective?
3. Grocery bags
I know in some areas, single-use plastic bags are no longer allowed, but in many areas, they are still used, and if you’re like me and don’t want to throw them into the trash, they build up. We do use them when we take the dogs for walks and clean out the little box, but if you have an abundance, let’s get rid of them. Some grocery stores will accept them for recycling, and in our area, the homeless shelter will take them, as well as the women’s prison, because they run a dog training program.
4. Expired makeup
Did you know makeup expires? If you look at the labels, you will find how many months they are good for after they are opened. Because I don’t wear makeup often, it stays in the drawer forever, and then I realize how it’s five years old; I probably shouldn’t be putting that mascara on when my eyes are already sensitive.
5. Unmatched socks
I had socks from when my kids were babies. If we found the missing one, no one could wear it anyway.
6. Worn-out underwear
we all deserve better than to wear nasty, worn-out underwear.
I will keep receipts sometimes. When I mail a package, I keep the tracking receipt until I know they’ve been received. But as a general rule, I throw receipts away as soon as I know an item works – I try on the clothes, etc. Here’s what I know about myself: I HATE running errands. If I have a bad apple in my bag of apples, I will simply throw the bad apple away and eat the rest. I do not want to bother with running around town to make sure I get my $2 back. I view my time as valuable, and since I absolutely hate running errands, I consider that a price I am willing to pay.
8. Extra Tupperware
building up a collection of food-saving containers is easy. But they can take up so much space, and we don’t actually need that many of them. I keep about 10 of various sizes, and when we run out of containers, it’s my cue to know we need to have a leftover night for dinner.
9. Expired condiments
I’ve purchased dressings, only used them once, and then let them sit in the fridge for two years. Let’s move those things along. If we don’t like it, we don’t like it.
10. Stale snack foods
Just like the condiments, some of those chip bags get put back into the pantry and forgotten about.
11. Sample packets
Ketchup, salt, pepper, mayo, shampoo, soaps, supplements, toothpaste – if you’re not in the habit of using them up, there is no need to hold onto them. (Homeless shelters will often take soaps/shampoos/toothpaste if unopened.)
from conferences, churches, banks, etc. We don’t need a pen from every bank in town, and how many book bags can we use?
13. Newspapers/sale flyers
right in the recycling, that’s where they belong.
14. Old candles
Candles don’t last. I know it’s tempting to keep them for when the electricity goes out, but after a few years, the candles may not burn. I kept some to use on a “special occasion” and then 15 years later – I finally decided to light them, and they wouldn’t stay lit! I had to throw them away.
15. Christmas cards
I know it seems uncomfortable to throw away something that a friend or family member mailed to us, but they don’t expect us to keep them forever – we can let those go.
especially promotional magnets – keep the magnets on the fridge that you enjoy, and toss the ones from the lawn service that you didn’t hire.
17. Toiletries you don’t like
If we don’t like the smell or the function of something, there is no point in holding onto it – we’re not going to one day decide we like it. If it’s barely used – offer it to friends or in a buy-nothing group. People often enjoy testing out products without having to spend money to do it.
18. Broken things
I learned long ago that I don’t fix things. My kids would bring me a toy, and I knew I was capable of super-gluing it together, but it would just sit in the junk drawer for YEARS. Finally, I acknowledged that I shouldn’t make promises I wasn’t going to keep. So I started being honest: I am not going to fix it. It’s ok, it doesn’t make me a bad mom, I’m actually a better mom than I used to be because now at least I’m honest instead of giving my kids false hope that I would fix it.
ok, I know this is necessarily “EASY,” but if we have empty boxes lying around that we haven’t used – we can see that we don’t need them, and we can let them go.
20. Packing supplies
peanuts, bubbles, etc. I know I get packing materials and think, “Oh, maybe I should save this for when I mail something.” The truth is I only mail things at Christmas. So If it’s November, it makes sense to save SOME packing materials, but I don’t need to save them up all year to ship out 2 boxes of things. All those “just in case” items are consuming too much of the space in our homes.
21. Cleaners you don’t use
Just like toiletries, we can’t force ourselves to let something, and it doesn’t work to force something to work for us. It’s ok if we have preferences, and this item isn’t one of them. We’ve already spent more emotional energy feeling bad about spending money and then not liking it – it’s not going to give back the money or the energy by continuing to sit in our cupboards.
22. Duplicate kitchen items
How many cans can we open at one time? Then why do we have 2 different can openers? Let’s pick the one that works best and let the other go – it’s that way with all our kitchen items. They’re just supposed to serve us, and if we only need one at a time, pick the best one. It’s enough to have one.
23. Things waiting for that “garage sale”
Ok, so I know this isn’t always EASY, but you’ve already made the decision to let these items go. If they have been sitting for more than a year and you haven’t had a garage sale, save yourself the headache and take them to the donation center. Garage sales are like having to declutter 3 times – first, there is when we make the decision “I’m going to get rid of this” and then when you are laying everything out and pricing it you have to make that decision again, “Oh look, I liked this item, am I sure I want to get rid of it??” and then you either have to watch it get sold for way less than what you think it’s worth, or you have to pack it up for the donation center, making the decision a final time. And do you make money from garage sales? After adding up all the fees and the time invested, the last time I had a garage sale, I made $5/hour. If that’s the case, I’d rather spend my hours doing other things.