The start of a new year is a perfect time to refresh your space, and learning how to declutter is a great place to start. Getting rid of items that you no longer need or want can free up extra space, make rooms feel bigger and ensure that cleaning is that little bit easier. But decluttering can also feel like a daunting task, with years worth of items to sort through in multiple rooms of the house. In this blog post, we’re going to take a look how to declutter with handy tips and tricks to make the process simple and more manageable.
- For each section, I find it’s good idea to gather every item you own in that category and set it out in one place. This will give you a better idea of your starting point and make it easy to see how much you have managed to get rid of.
- If learning how to declutter feels a bit overwhelming, you might like to start with just one category and tackle the others over the coming weeks or weekends.
- Before you start, designate an area (it can be on the floor!) for items you will give to charity, items you will sell and items you will throw away.
How to Declutter Clothes
We’re all guilty of sometimes buying clothes that we never end up wearing, and the wardrobe is a great place to start decluttering. Not only will it clear out some space, but it will be much easier for you to see what you have when picking your outfit in the morning. When sorting through your clothes, keep the following guidelines in mind if:
- You haven’t worn it for more than a year, then chances are you won’t wear it again.
- It is no longer your style or doesn’t fit you properly, then it’s time to donate it.
- You think you will be tempted to keep more than you need, try setting yourself a limit for the number of items you want to keep. (e.g. 3 coats, 5 pairs of trousers.)
If there are clothes that you do want to keep but won’t be wearing for a while, like summer outfits, then you can store them in a way that takes up less space. Vacuum bags are a great way to keep clothes well-protected and out of the way. Compressing items to just a fraction of their original size. Once in the vacuum bags, clothes can be easily stored on a shelf in the wardrobe or even put away in the loft until you’re ready to use them. When the seasons change you can simply swap them over, for instance bringing out your summer wear and storing away your heavy coats and jackets.
It’s all too easy to fill up our bathroom shelves and drawers with free samples, gifts and toiletries we stocked up on ‘just because’. But the average person only uses a handful of items, leaving the rest to take up space and gather dust. First, separate the items that you use every day, or at least on a regular basis. These can go in your ‘keep’ pile. For everything that’s left, try and be honest with yourself about if you will ever actually use them (this includes all those free samples!)
We can sometimes feel like we should keep an item just because we spent a lot of money on it. But if you’re never going to use that expensive face cream, you’ve already lost the cash you paid for it. If you don’t feel right throwing it away, you could always give it to a friend or donate it to a charity that accepts gently used items.
If you do find other items you would like to keep, be sure to check the expiry date to make sure they are still ok to use. For makeup that’s been opened, liquid products should be used within six months, while other products should be kept for no more than a year.
How to Declutter Kitchen Items
The kitchen is another area where gadgets, ingredients and containers end up thrown in the back of a drawer or cupboard. With plates, bowls, glasses and mugs, take stock of what you really need. It’s fine to have a few extras, like a couple of additional glasses for when you have company, but you don’t need endless spares of every item.
For things like herbs and spices, throw out any that are past their expiration date or that you have only used once or twice. Getting rid of bulky kitchen gadgets that you no longer use can clear up a huge amount of cupboard space, making more room for items that are genuinely useful and that you reach for most weeks.
If your cookbook collection is getting out of hand, this is an easy area to simplify. For books where you only use a couple of recipes, write them down and store them in a binder or take photos of the pages on your phone and then donate the book. If you hoard recipe magazines, you can also rip out the pages you use and put them in the binder.
We all have those drawers or cupboards that are used for collecting those random bits and bobs that don’t fit anywhere else. It’s all too easy for the mess to build up, safely tucked away in the drawer. Take a look at the contents and be realistic about if you are ever going to use them (not if they might come in handy ‘one day’!) If you find items and you’re not even sure what they’re for, then it’s definitely time for them to go in the bin.
There’s nothing wrong with having a junk drawer, but it’s well worth making it a bit more organised so the mess doesn’t get out of hand. Sort the leftover contents into general categories, like DIY supplies or stationery. Use storage boxes, baskets or drawer dividers to separate them out. Creating a little bit of order will make your junk drawer feel a lot more manageable and will make it much easier to find what you are looking for.
How to Declutter Paperwork
As with cookery books, this is another area where digitising can make a world of difference, though there will be plenty that can be thrown away too. Start with your oldest paperwork, where you can be more confident that it can be shredded or recycled (no one needs to hang on to a 10 year old electricity bill!) This should get rid of a sizable chunk.
Once you’ve moved on to newer paperwork, if in doubt, simply scan it onto your computer. That way it is there if you need it but not taking up any precious room in your house. To make sure it is safe, you might like to save it to the cloud, where you can still access it even if your computer stops working. For physical papers, try and keep only the most important, like those that are considered legal documents.
Going forward, to help reduce paperwork clutter you should see if any of the companies you use offer paperless billing. It’s usually really easy to switch over and will go a long way in preventing your papers from accumulating.
With what you buy your children along with the huge piles that accumulate for every Christmas and birthday, toys can build up lightning fast. Many children have more toys than they will ever play with, and the remainder is left to make a mess and take up space in their bedroom. You may feel a bit mean getting rid of kids toys, but you may even find that once you have purged them then the toys that are left get a lot more use. Fewer toys can also encourage children to use their creativity and imagination, and will also help them value the toys they do have.
This is a great project to teach your children how to declutter, though you may have to do so in short bursts. To help guide their decision making, you can always offer up a choice of two toys, asking them which they would like to keep and which they will get rid of (this is especially useful for toys in the same categories, for instance toy cars).
For other things like games, puzzles and sets, one easy way to see if it should be thrown away is to check whether it has all of its pieces. If it’s no longer complete it’s no longer useful and can definitely be discarded.
Learning how to declutter isn’t always easy, but it’s a great project for the start of the year that will benefit for months down the line. We hope that we have given you some useful tips for cutting down your junk and setting you on the right path for a tidier, more spacious home.
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