Ever felt like you are literally drowning in “stuff”? Do you find yourself complaining that you’re not really enjoying your home because you “need more space”? Do you buy more and more storage but the mess is still there? Yep, I totally know where you’re coming from but let me tell you something: the space IS there, you just need to get rid of things you don’t need for you to be able to see it!
I genuinely believe that the thing that holds a lot of people back when it comes to decluttering their home is overwhelm. You look around you and all you see is chaos. You start wondering how on earth you’re ever going to tackle all this, you realise that it’s going to take a little while and what do you do as a result? Instead of formulating a plan and tackle one bit at a time, you just give up before you’ve even started. Sounds familiar? That’s what I used to be like for many things in my life, not just the organisation of my home.
So here is some truth: the longer you put decluttering off, the worst it’ll get.
But let’s not dwell on the negatives and start focusing our efforts on the positives: turning your home into a clutter-free and organised space for you and your family to enjoy is easier than you think. I promise you. Just like with most “big” goals, it’s just a matter of breaking it up into small, manageable chunks as Sarah Knight likes to remind us in her best-selling book Get Your Sh*t Together (which I highly recommend if you fancy an unconventional, no-nonsense self-help book).
I will be blogging about all sorts of decluttering and organising techniques in the next few months so that you can find a system that works for you but today I wanted to start by sharing a very basic list of 60 items that you can easily get rid of with ZERO regret.
Now let’s be clear – when I say “get rid of” I don’t mean throw them away.
Sell, donate, recycle and, in some cases, re-purpose – try and be a bit more mindful regarding what you send to the landfill and only bin an item if really necessary.
So let’s get started. Download my free printable checklist and start tackling each category one day at a time.
1. Expired food
Pretty self-explainatory. Remember there is a difference between Best Before (still edible, but quality may not be as good) and Use By (they really need chucking away).
2. Old spices
We tend to eat a lot of stuff that’s gone past its Best Before date (see above) but spices are one thing that you want to get rid of as they really lose their freshness and flavour.
3. Cooking utensils, especially if you have multiples
Not so long ago, while I was tackling my kitchen cupboards, I found out I owed 3 rolling pins. No idea how but there’s really no need to keep multiples, especially if they’re things you rarely use (such as rolling pins. Doh.)
4. Supplies that you will never use again
Orange food colouring you bought to make a Halloween cake 3 years ago that’s still sitting in the cupboard? That sushi rice that you purchased a few months back when, in all honesty, you don’t even really like sushi? Things like that have got to go. (Those items might or might have not been in our cupboards, you guess).
5. Plastic bags
Easy to recycle and getting rid of them might give you the kick up the bum to start using reusable bags.
6. Those condiments that have been sitting at the back of the fridge since 2014
7. Unused mugs
You know which ones I’m talking about. List them on Gumtree or on your local Buying/Selling group on Facebook and see if anyone will have them.
8. Tupperware without a lid
Recycle or repurpose (a large container makes a great storage solution for all those lids)
9. Takeaway menus
They keep landing on your doorstep. Off into the recycling bin they go.
10. Gadgets you don’t use
Not really a gadget, but I’ve recently got rid of a tagine pot I hadn’t used for years. It’d survived a house move and it’d been sitting, unused, in one of the cupboards taking up a huge amount of space. I listed it in my local Buying/Selling group on Facebook and within a couple of days it found a new loving home.
11. Empty bottles
I used to keep some, thinking that one morning I’d wake up full of crafting sparkle and turn them into something amazing, just like on Pinterest. Guess what? It never happened.
Recycle or see if someone wants them.
12. Tea/coffee never drunk
I admit we still have a tea problem in this house. My husband and I are both coffee drinkers (read: addicts) but for some reason we have a cupboard full of tea and herbal infusions that still needs tackling.
13. Food you don’t like
Throwing food away is something I reeeeally can’t stand but life’s too short to eat things you don’t enjoy. Just like that time I bought a stir fry sauce and realised (thankfully before using it) that it contained fish sauce (I’m vegetarian).
However, you’ll find that there’s always someone who will happily have it or, failing that, you can always donate cupboard items to your local food bank.
14. Items your child doesn’t like/no longer uses
We had 6 sippy cups in a drawer that my daughter just didn’t like (if you have a toddler you’ll know what I mean). They only needed a good wash so I gave 2 to friends and another 4 to another mum who lives in the village whose child is almost ready for weaning. The difference this made in that drawer of hell is huge!
15. Empty jars
Same as empty bottles. If you haven’t used them up until now, chances are they will stay in your kitchen gathering dust until the end of time. Recycle or donate.
16. Old magazines and newspapers
Recycle, donate or optimise. What do I mean by “optimise”? Well, I used to buy lots of cooking magazines and the “collection” had started to get out of control and take up a lot of room. So I got a binder, a pack of plastic sleeves and cut up and filed only the recipes that took my fancy. What was left went into the recycling bin.
17. Books you don’t enjoy
Support your local charity shop and take these in.
18. Old/unused DVDs
19. Old/unused CDs
20. Old/unused videogames
Make some cash (albeit not much these days!) or donate.
21. Old paperwork
If you haven’t got one already, invest in a good shredder if they contain private, confidential or sensitive information.
22. Junk mail
I get this through my letterbox pretty much every day. Have a quick scan to see if there’s anything of interest and recycle the rest.
23. Old calendars/diaries
Again, be mindful of fraud and shred any document containing personal data.
24. Loose change
Gather it all up and get it changed into notes. You might be surprised at how much you can find.
25. Unusable candles
You know – when there’s just a little left… Watch this video to see what you can do with leftover wax.
26. Clothing that is too big, too small, or damaged
This probably deserves a blog post by itself but, trust me, having a good old wardrobe clear out is liberating! If this is a particularly problematic area for you, break it down into categories (dresses, tops, trousers, etc.) and tackle one at a time. Sell, donate or recycle.
27. Worn out socks
Say bye bye to anything that cannot be mended.
28. Coat hangers
Keep the good ones and donate the rest.
29. Jewellery you no longer wear/damaged
Recycle or sell
30. Worn out bras and underwear
You know exactly what I’m talking about!
31. Old accessories
Handbags, purses, scarves, hats, gloves… You’ve most likely kept things that are worn out or you no longer like. Get those in a bag with your unwanted clothing and pass them on.
32. Bits and bobs at the bottom of your handbag
Whatever is hiding in there – receipts, rock hard chewing gum (just me?), train tickets, pens without their cap and half eaten snacks (blame the toddler!) can all go, they won’t be missed.
33. Worn out bedding
The stuff that’s been through far too many washes.
Aside from those women who genuinely love and wear a different pair of shoes every day, most of us fall in one of two categories (or sometimes both): the “I’ll keep these incredibly uncomfortable heels just in case I have a special occasion to go to” (Me!) or the “But these shoes are so comfy, I don’t want to let go of them. EVER. Despite the fact that they’ve really seen better days to say the least” (also me!). Before you know it, you have quite a few pairs of shoes you never wear and one or two that you wear to death. Sort it out.
35. Out of date make up
36. Out of date skincare products
It’s very important to keep track of these dates as old make up and skincare can cause skin irritation and infections.
37. Empty toiletries
Recycle whenever possible.
38. Expired medicines
Very important so that you don’t accidentally take something that’s no longer safe to use.
39. Worn out towels
Some animal rescue centres will accept these so double-check before recycling.
40. Gloopy nail polish
I’ve read on a few blogs that apparently you can revive it by putting it in a container full of boiling water. I haven’t tried this myself but it’s worth a shot before getting rid.
41. Sample-sized toiletries
If they’ve been there for over 3 months and you haven’t touched them, then chances are you never will. Ask friends or list them on Facebook.
42. Old receipts
Only keep them if there’s any chance you might want to return the item.
43. Loyalty cards you simply don’t use
If you’re like me, you’ll probably find you only really use 2 or 3 (in my case – Nectar card, Tesco and Boots).
44. Expired vouchers/gift cards
Whenever I’m given a voucher at checkout, I always stuff it in my wallet…and totally forget about it until my purse is full of paper.
45. Wrapping paper scraps
Recycle or get crafty and turn them into something useful – like pretty gift tags!
46. Unwanted gifts
You know what I’m talking about. Should you decide to donate, be careful who you give them too or it could get very very awkward.
47. Pens that no longer work
They’re the ones you normally grab when you’re on the phone and you really really need to jot something down.
48. Instruction manuals for things you no longer have
49. Paint you no longer need
Dispose of it by taking it to your local skip. If it hasn’t gone off (trust me, you’ll be able to smell if it has!), most recycling centres have a donation point for paint – it is re-used by volunteers rather than recycled.
50. Old notebooks
Remember to shred sensitive information.
51. Old electronics and chargers
Sell online or recycle at your local skip (remember to delete personal info and remove SIM/memory card).
52. Toys not played with (by your children or pets)
Children’s toys are especially easy to pass on and, if you’ve watched Toy Story 3, you’ll understand why I’m a believer that toys should be played with, rather than stored in a box.
Selling on local Facebook groups is quick and hassle free. Failing that, there are also preloved fairs (if you have a fair bit of stuff that makes getting a stand worthwhile), charity shops or the usual Ebay and Gumtree.
I once picked up a toy that was missing a part for 50p and my daughter absolutely adored it so don’t be put off donating. As long as the toy is in good condition, kids don’t mind if it’s missing something, especially the little ones who are just happy pressing buttons.
53. Boxes (things you thought you were going to keep)
A bit like with empty bottles and jars, you probably don’t really have the time to get crafty if those boxes have been sitting there for months.
54. Charity bags (the ones they put through your letter box)
Return them or recycle.
55. Old, unused batteries
Dispose of safely at your nearest recycling point.
56. Unused craft supplies
Donate donate donate.
57. Sports equipment you will never use
Have a good honest talk with yourself – is that actually going to get used at some point in the next 3 months while it’s been sitting there for the past 5 years?
58. Excess kids artwork
There is only so much stuff you can keep or stick on the fridge door.
59. Greeting cards
It’s easy to get sentimental about these but there are only so many to keep.
60. Worn out cleaning cloths, sponges
See if they can be salvaged after a good wash. Should you need to replace them, I highly recommend E-cloths to get you started with chemical-free cleaning. They last for ages and come out of the washing machine good as news.