Decluttering is often seen as a mighty organization task, but I find that carrying out smaller, and more regular sessions, used to get rid of mundane items helps me to stay on top of my clutter better than massive but infrequent purges.
I have found that many decluttering tips are geared towards completely refreshing a wardrobe or purging a kitchen back down to its basics, meaning that small household tasks such as clearing out old, unusable pens or unread books are often forgotten about. Ironic, I think, given that it is almost always these smaller items that cause the most issues when it comes to home organization ideas.
As a result, I took it upon myself to go around my home in one day with a few large trash bags and quickly declutter all the useless items collecting dust that we often forget about. Here are 15 of the less thought-about things I recently got rid of in my home that you can quickly and easily declutter yourself – without any help.
1. Expired pantry items
When organizing kitchen cabinets I often um and ah about food that is close to or past its best-before dates. Now, if an item is past its use-by date I would certainly throw it out, making sure to empty containers and recycle it if possible. For items that could still be okay for a while I ask myself whether or not I will feasibly use them in the next month, if not, I will remove them from my cabinet.
It is worth checking your local food bank donation guidelines before getting rid of food that is still edible to see if it could go towards helping somebody else.
2. Old grocery bags
Although I usually use my reusable shopping totes whenever I do my weekly grocery shop I somehow have a build-up of plastic and paper grocery bags in my entryway closet. Holding onto them ‘just in case’ just doesn’t make sense if I will never gravitate towards them when leaving the house.
I was amazed at how much more organized it made my entryway closet ideas look.
3. Broken things I have not repaired in over two months
Now, I am always looking for more ways to be sustainable at home, and repairing broken things is one of the ways I like to go about it. I am far from perfect, however, and I often simply leave things on the edge of my kitchen counter to fix ‘at some point’.
Admitting that I do not have time to fix everything is not something to be ashamed of, I have learned, leaving something on the side collecting dust for four months, is (I am looking at you, sneakers).
4. Bed linens I never gravitate towards
I love a comfortable bed and I am very particular about what linens I use on my bed to make my bedroom cozy and coherent. Because of this, there are old linens piled up that I simply do not use on my beds anymore.
Getting rid of sets I do not gravitate towards anymore, keeping one or two for emergencies, has freed up so much space and helped with organizing my linen closet. Now I have the space to buy more.
5. Old jewelery I never pick out
Decluttering jewelry is much easier if you think of accessories the same as you do clothes, I have learned. Using some closet decluttering tips I stole from professionals helped me to purge my jewelry collection of pieces that I have either replaced recently with higher quality metals, have tarnished beyond repair, or are no longer quite my style.
The result is a much more pared-back collection of only my finest luxury pieces that I know I will always wear and will last me a lifetime.
Let’s face it, all takeout menus are online nowadays – when was the last time you called a restaurant with a paper menu? I have been trying to tackle my kitchen ‘junk drawer’ for months and getting rid of these useless paper leaflets has made a huge dent in my hoarding problem.
What was a menu from a place that closed down two years ago doing in there anyway?
7. Old medications
I have a medicine cabinet in my house that is simply overflowing with medications that I either do not need anymore but has prescribed once or half-used packets of Advil that are overflowing from my attempts at organization.
This was a much simpler task than I thought it would be, simply taking out anything that had passed its expiry date or medications from old illnesses that I didn’t need anymore. I also took the time to lump all my half-used pain receivers together by type so I would reach for a half-used packet before opening a new packet altogether.
Always make sure to dispose of your old medications carefully and correctly when doing this, however, as sometimes they cannot go in your regular waste bin.
8. Books that I never read in the end
I love the idea and look of books, however, I hardly get the time to read them anymore. What’s more, I certainly used to be guilty of buying a new book just because the cover looked pretty rather than being interesting in its content.
In order to relieve some of the stress I have put on my bookshelf ideas around my home I made it my task to remove any books I bought over two years ago that I have never thought about reading and left only the ones I loved most behind. This has certainly helped in organizing a bookshelf and has allowed me to donate a load of belongings to people who would love them better than me.
It is all well and good to buy the newest or most novel kitchen gadgets if you are going to use them, but I was suckered in with the belief that the half-lemon saver pod would actually be useful only to never use it. If I am honest, I didn’t even get it out of the packaging.
Given that I have a tiny kitchen and struggle with my kitchen storage ideas, getting rid of useless gadgets that have no place in my space was a no-brainer (even if it did sting a little knowing I had essentially thrown money away).
10. Old containers that have seen better days
Old kitchen containers build up quicker than anything else in my kitchen. Old plastic take-out containers, lunch boxes, and organizers have caused a minor plastic mountain in my cabinets and made it a battle to get anything out at all.
I started by pulling them all out to see what I had before separating off the newest and best, throwing everything else into the recycling.
11. Excessive cleaning supplies
I am a stickler for keeping a clean house, but it has meant that the cabinet under my sink has become stuffed full of cleaning products and supplies such as cloth and sponges that have either seen better days or have been so well hidden I forgot I owned them.
I took the time to pull everything out, just as I did my containers, and separated my favorite and new products to go back in storage from the half-used products and things I have never touched. I made sure to ask family and friends if they were in need of things before disposing of leftovers and unwearable clothes.
12. Moisturizers that have long since expired
Much like make-up, there are some unexpected things in my home that have expiry dates. Given that I do not moisturize half as much as I probably should, alternating between phases of strict routine and neglecting it altogether, I have more than enough half-used moisturizer bottles laying around, some of which have turned into thick pastes.
Although it took me longer than I like to admit I collected all of the bottles from my bedroom and bathroom before testing every single one to see their condition and decide whether or not I still liked the scent.
I gifted many of the new unused bottles to my mom, who is much better at sticking to a routine, and made sure to leave older bottles that were still good in a visible spot so I would reach for them after a shower. Any bottles that had ceased ultimately went in the bin.
13. Old paperwork and mail
I do not have a shredder in my house, meaning that important letters and paperwork build up very quickly on my sideboard. While I gathered it all up and put it in a large envelope to take to my parent’s house in the holidays to burn on their log fire, it is simple enough to use some scissors to cut up addresses and important details if needed – it might just take a little longer.
14. Tripe that no longer work
It is almost shocking to admit that I hardly use pens anymore with everything being online and me always having my phone on hand to make notes. Despite this, they are always useful to have laying around – as long as they actually work, that is.
I was tired of reaching for a pen quickly when I did need one and it failed to work, leaving me to try and scrape details down when on the phone to somebody, lying to say ‘of course, I have a pen’.
This quick decluttering task was simple enough to do while watching TV, quickly testing each pen from around my house and throwing any that had dried up into a trash bag.
15. Store cards and coupons for places I don’t shop at anymore
I don’t think there is anyone out there that doesn’t love a good deal, which is why so many of us seem to have an absurd amount of store cards and coupons that we collected just to never actually use. Whether that is because we have only been in the store as a one-off or because we always forget to take them with us.
Cleaning my bag out of old expired coupons and getting rid of cards from my vanity drawer just made sense.
How do you get rid of a lot of stuff fast?
To get rid of a lot of stuff fast it is best o have a plan and be in the right mindset to declutter. Make sure to allocate yourself a set amount of time to purge old or unused items and start out with a few trash bags or large boxes to easily sort items as you take them off of shelves or out of cupboards.
What should you not do when decluttering?
The main thing you should always avoid when decluttering is starting a big project without a plan. When starting a sizeable decluttering task determine before you start what your goal is – do you want to get rid of just a few items and re-organize, or do you want to purge items and leave only the necessities behind?