Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to declutter your home? We’ve consulted some of the best declutter experts on the web to find a list of the top 29 things you should tackle first to toss, give away, or donate to jumpstart your decluttering challenge.
Choose one of these items to go through each day to (easily) jumpstart your decluttering challenge. Each project will probably take you less than an hour to complete (with a few exceptions), but at the end of the month you will have made MAJOR progress on your decluttering goal and will be able to take what you learned and experienced to perfect the final decluttering steps in your home.
Things to throw away or donate:
1 – Old magazines. You’re not going to read them again and unless you’re currently using them for a craft project, get rid of ’em (you’ll have more magazines by the time you want to start that project anyway).
2 – Old receipts, bills, and documents. You know which documents and receipts you need to keep for taxes and other financial purposes and which you keep simply because you have a little bout of paranoia. Let yourself release the unneeded documents (scan them if you’re worried about throwing them out).
3 – User manuals. All of them. Seriously. Every question you have about your television, dishwasher, and camera is answered online. In fact, the manuals themselves are available in online pdfs and that means they’re searchable which makes things SO much easier anyway.
4 – Books. If you haven’t touched the book in months, aren’t planning on reading it, or aren’t planning on rereading it, then donate them.
5 – Medicine and vitamins. Get rid of the medications that have expired, sat on your shelf too long, or anything you no longer used (make sure to dispose of medicines safely).
6 – Makeup and perfume. Did you know makeup goes bad and sometimes starts caking or stinking? You only need two shades of foundation — your typical winter skin tone and your typical summer skin tone.
“You only need the makeup you use on a daily basis and your go-to’s for evenings out or formal occasions. Own up to your makeup patterns and use it as an opportunity to downsize.”
7 – Jewelry. Dispose of broken costume jewelry (if you haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet, you never will). If there’s any jewelry you haven’t worn in two years, donate or make plans to sell it.
8 – Food. Go through your pantry and fridge. Clear out the expired, unused, and rotting food. If you keep stocking up on something only to forget you have it in storage and buy a new package or bottle, throw the extras out too. Decluttering is about recognizing your patterns and breaking them.
9 – Notebooks. If you have a stack of notebooks lying around, throw away the ones you no longer need.
10 – Old or unused electronics. And the phantom cords you can’t identify. If you haven’t used the electronic in 2 years, toss it. If you aren’t sure which cord or remote belongs to which electronic (remember you only need one of each cord), then toss it.
11 – Memorabilia. This is a tough one. While many organization specialists recommend tossing it all, we recommend picking 2-3 meaningful memorabilia to save from each person who is important to you.
“Keep one piece for decor or use, and pick one or two items to save in a safe or cedar chest. Offer the rest to a family member before donating it. Choose things that have real, true meaning to you — a sweater your grandmother used to wear every time you visited or your grandfather’s journal that shares the story of how he met your grandmother — something more than ‘This used to belong to _______.’ or ‘______ gave this to me.'”
12 – Sheets, Towels and blankets. You only need 2 sets of sheets per bed (so you can trade them out to wash), 1 blanket per bed, 2 towels per person, and 2-3 blankets leftover for tv rooms or reading nooks.
13 – Broken Toys. Unless the broken toy is among your child’s top 5 favorite and most-used toys, toss it. There’s no sense in holding onto incomplete puzzles that your child never wants to put together anyway.
14 – Old Kid’s Clothes. Many of us are known to hold onto our kids old clothes just in case we will be able to use them again in the future or if a relative may want to use them one day… If you can’t bring yourself to donate every piece, pick your favorite 5-7 pieces that are unstained and lightly worn clothes. Throw any stained or damaged clothes away, and donate the rest to someone who can use that help now.
“You or your relative are going to go on a new baby shopping spree no matter what, so save a few choice pieces that will ease the burden, but don’t fool yourself into thinking your stash of stuff will prevent the shopping from still happening.”
15 – Board Games. Go through your games and toss the ones that have missing pieces. If you have games that your family hasn’t used in at least 2 years, throw them away.
16 – Mixing Bowls. You only need 3. One big one, one medium, and one small one. Let the rest go!
17 – Kitchen Appliances. If you haven’t used it in the last 2 years, toss it. If you have something that serves a similar function (a George Foreman grill AND a panini press, for instance), get rid of one.
18 – Photos. Don’t panic. We don’t mean that you should throw out all your prints, but we do suggest you go through and get rid of duplicates or *almost* duplicates. Save the best pictures from each occasion. If you’re the sentimental type, keep prints of the discernibly great photos and then scan in the rest. Keep a version of the digital prints saved on the cloud and distribute digital copies to family so you know it will always be preserved, then you’ll (hopefully) have the confidence to toss.
19 – Specialty Pans. That donut pan was fun the one or two times you used it, but unless you use it at least once a year, it’s only contributing to clutter.
“Give the pan to a friend with the caveat that he or she will let you borrow it back when you get the urge to make baked donuts once every three years.”
20 – Serving Dishes. Which do you actually use on a regular basis and which do you have just in case? If you haven’t used it in 2 years, donate it (are we sounding like a broken record yet?).
21 – Serving Spoons, Knives, and other kitchenware. You only need a few serving spoons then one of everything else. Get rid of the extra can opener and that second garlic press.
22 – Old Toiletries. Some of us like to stock up on toothpaste or deodorant because we’ve all run into the occasion where we run out on the worst possible day. But that doesn’t mean you should hoard toiletries. Which toiletries do you use daily and run out of quickly (and with little warning)? Keep 1 extra bottle or tube around, and toss the rest.
23 – Tablecloths or other decorative linens. You only need as many cloth napkins as people you can seat at your dining room table — same with placemats. And if you use tablecloths, you only need 1 for formal occasions and 1 for casual.
24 – Dishes. How many people at most have you served at a sit-down, real dishes meal in your home in the past year? That’s how many dishes you need. No more.
“Unless you have an annual wassail party in the winter, keep your favorite mug and a few extra for guests. There’s no need to have a whole shelf full.”
25 – Cleaning Supplies. You only need one thing to clean each surface. Keep bathroom supplies in a basket or box that you can move from bathroom to bathroom, but unless you have multiple people cleaning bathrooms at the same time (we wish!) there’s no reason to keep more than one set of cleaning supplies around.
26 – Clothes. Anything you haven’t worn in a year, doesn’t fit you well, or that you change out of shortly after changing into it because it feels uncomfortable or looks unflattering should go. If you can’t remember the last time you wore it, that’s reason enough to put it in the “donate” pile.
“Keep 3-4 pairs of jeans in your current size, 2 in a size up and 2 in a size down (for regular fit fluctuations), but stop holding on to EVERY pair of EVERY size because you hope you’ll fit into them again one day.”
27 – Crafting Supplies. I know, I know. It’s hard to let go. If you have a current or planned project in the near future for supplies then keep those around, but give the rest to a friend or donate to a women’s charity.
“The only exception MIGHT be thread or paint. If you’re flawless at knowing which colors of thread or paint you have around, then keep one (ONE) of each color. But if you usually buy a new spool or bottle without ever checking your current supply, own up to your behavioral pattern and toss what you’ve got.”
28 – Office supplies. Keep reasonable office supplies (think a pencil, a couple pens, a pair of scissors and a roll of tape) in the 3 places you most often reach for them. Keep a small amount of extra office supplies (like paper clips or rubber bands) in a designated office area, and toss the rest.
29 – Coupons. Keep the 1 or 2 in your purse that you have legitimate, existing plans to use. Toss the rest.