Decluttering Your Home Room By Room – A Time to Cast Away
“To every thing there is a season… a time to keep and a time to cast away.” -Ecclesiastes 3:6
How many of you didn’t know there was a Bible verse about decluttering your home? Yes, even in the Bible there is a verse that says there is a time to get our acts together and get rid of things.
Our emotions are so wrapped up in our stuff that decluttering your home can be a stressful task. One might think we’re being asked to throw out a child instead of just tossing a book, blanket, can of paint or some old spices. I say this halfway joking but decluttering your home really can be serious for some people – no, for most people. We come up with all kinds of excuses and explanations about why we need to keep these things:
Grandma gave it to me.
If it isn’t an important family heirloom or you don’t use it or like it then toss it. It isn’t as if you are tossing out grandma or that you don’t love her. Stop dealing with these things emotionally and be practical. Don’t you think grandma loves you enough that she would rather you get rid of something that is simply cluttering your life than be miserable having to store, clean and continually rearrange something you don’t use? Trust me, grandma is wiser and she would toss the things she didn’t use or like in a heartbeat.
I paid good money for it.
We hate to throw things away because we paid so much money for them and we feel like we are wasting money. Please! We don’t give a second thought to buying another drink from that convenience store, having our hair done, going to a movie, playing golf, paying unreal amounts of money for a smart phone to play and text with and on and on. We waste a lot of money on things we really don’t need without batting an eye but when it comes to tossing something we never use or that is worn out, we suddenly become so noble and frugal that we refuse to toss it. Decluttering your home often involves letting go of past mistakes.
I might need it some day.
Really? You are 60 years old and you’re saving the bikini you wore at 20? What about those jeans you wore pre-baby 10 years ago? If you ever get into them again they will be too outdated to wear. What about that coffee pot you got for your wedding? No one in your family drinks coffee, and you don’t know how to make coffee so exactly why do you think you will need it some day? I once knew a woman who had gotten a coffee maker 10 years earlier at her wedding and kept it sitting in a box on the counter of her very small kitchen. This may seem like irrational behavior but look around you. Most of us do this all the time with our own “coffee pot” things.
I could go on and on. We keep mounds of clutter– books we never read, 15 of baby’s first stuffed animals that won’t mean anything to him when he grows up, sacks of silk flowers we might use some day and 10 sets of dishes when we can’t even keep the ones we are using washed. The list is unending but let’s be brave, clear our heads, take the bull by the horns and start clearing and decluttering your home and life one room at a time.
Here’s a list to help you get started decluttering your home room by room. Either toss or give away things but get them out of the house. Start with one shelf, closet or room at a time and just do it. It will be hard but once it is decluttered it will feel so much better. I have never heard one person who decluttered tell me they wish they hadn’t done it and their life is so much worse with the clutter gone. It is always the opposite and they usually say “Why didn’t I do it sooner?”
Things to Get Rid Of When Decluttering Your Home:
Decluttering the Kitchen
- Spices, canned goods and food you don’t use or are outdated.
- Small appliances you never use or use only once a year. Why keep a blender you only use once a year when you could make that same recipe with your food processor or hand blender?
- Extra dishes you never use. I kept 25 Christmas glasses thinking I would use them one day. I have good crystal I could use if I needed it and for the past 10 years we have either used Christmas paper cups or not had Christmas at my house. Why am I saving them?
- Casserole dishes and plasticware. How many 1 1/2 quart dishes have you ever used at one time? 4-5 tops? Maybe you could get rid of the other 5. Get the plasticware under control. You really don’t need 10 containers of one size for an average family.
- Junk drawer. Most of us can get rid of half of what lives in the junk drawer and we don’t usually use the half we can use because we can’t find it in the mess.
- Cleaning supplies. Toss anything old. If you have 5 cans of furniture polish, each of which has only been slightly used, quickly use them or get rid of them. Consolidate containers of things and boxes of things when you can.
- Sort through your kitchen linens. We are so fussy about not wearing ratty or torn undies which, more often than not, nobody sees but we don’t hesitate to have dingy, torn dish towels and dish rags on display in our kitchens. I really hesitate to eat off of some people’s dishes when I see the nasty dish rags they have used to wash their dishes.
- Get rid of anything that is broken, chipped or doesn’t work.
Decluttering Family Rooms and Living Rooms
- Get rid of old magazines and newspapers. Not only do they clutter your home, they are a fire hazard!
- Knick knacks and odds and ends that don’t add to the beauty or use of the room but only clutter it.
- Kids’ games- board or electronic ones. If games are missing pieces or don’t work, toss them.
- Get rid of DVDs, video tapes, CDs and other collections you rarely use or don’t work. If you listen to it once every 5 years, toss it. You can download it or borrow it from somewhere if you really need to see or listen to it later. These are some of the hardest things to toss because we have spent so much money on them. Many of us felt a little guilty when we bought them knowing they weren’t something we needed. Now, 5 years later, we feel even worse because they have become so unimportant we forgot we even had them but we still want to keep them. Learn from your mistake, move on and think twice (ten times?) before you buy the next time.
- Be ruthless with your clothes. Toss anything that is old, torn (and you aren’t going to mend), you don’t wear, is outdated or too small.
- Do the same with accessories like jewelry, purses, shoes, scarfs and ties. Be ruthless. So many of these things are outdated or just not “you” anymore. Move on. Many of them don’t fit my lifestyle anymore so I need to face that fact and toss them.
- Get rid of anything in your bedroom that you don’t use for sleeping and dressing. Don’t use your bedroom as a spare room or catch all room. Your bedroom is especially important when decluttering your home.
Decluttering Linen Closets
- Toss old bedding, pillows and towels. Get things down to a minimum. You don’t need 6 towels per person or 5 blankets for each bed unless you live in Alaska or only do laundry once a year. Why are you saving that comforter you used in your bedroom 15 years ago? Even if it wasn’t so outdated, it doesn’t fit any of your beds now.
- Toss outdated medicines. This could be dangerous if you don’t. You don’t need 6 half full boxes of band-aids. Put them in one box or container together. Try to put all like items together in the same area or container: first aid items, stomach medications, pain medications, etc.
- Toiletries. Be realistic. Do you have 25 bars of soap when you might use one a year? Get rid of a few. Once again, consolidate partially full bottles of things. To make life easier, start using shampoos and soaps the whole family can use when possible.
- Make up. Oh boy, this is a fun one. We pay so much for makeup and when we don’t use it, we feel so much guilt about tossing it. Toss outdated things and things that look awful on you. Do you really need 20 different tubes of lipstick? Do you know how much simpler you life would be if you looked in your drawer each morning and only had to make the choice between 5 lipsticks, rather than digging through the clutter of 20 tubes all mixed together to find the right one?
Decluttering the Garage, Basement And Attic
- Toss excess tools or tools you don’t use. This is hard for most men to do but when was the last time you used 5 of the same kind of pliers at the same time? Half the time you can’t find your tools because you have so many tools you don’t really need cluttering your space. Make a small tool bag for the car, one for the junk drawer in the house and then carefully weed out things to keep on your work bench.
- Toss old paint, cans of oil, containers, newspapers and boxes. Out town has a place that accepts donations of paint, oil and chemicals that they check and then give away to someone else who might actually use them. Keep only a small number of boxes and newspapers if you use them for projects or packing. Once that area or shelf is full, don’t keep more than your allotted amount.
- Sell that old exercise equipment. If you haven’t used it by now, you won’t use it. Just go for a walk. That will help you get some exercise and give you a nicer looking basement that isn’t cluttered with unused equipment.
- Go through those boxes of memories. Sure, those old tintype pictures from the 1800’s look cool but if you don’t have a clue who those people are get rid of them. (These might be good items to sell on eBay.) Do you really need the ticket stub from the first play you went to see in the 5th grade? It must not mean that much to you because you have kept it stored in a box for 30 years and have forgotten all about it.
I hate to sound ruthless but you really need to start thinking about how to make your life easier. You’ll be surprised how much decluttering your home will improve your life!
Oops! I just saw the time! I really must go and start practicing what I preach. : ) I hope the sun is shining where you are and the spring cleaning bug has hit you, too!
For more helpful tips to make decluttering your home, organizing, cleaning and laundry easier, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.
Photo By: davidd