frustrated woman with cleaning.

Things to Declutter: Simplify Your Life and Create Space

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in your home, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with excess belongings, leading to stress and disorganization. Fortunately, decluttering can help you regain control of your space and improve your overall well-being. Simple living looks to minimize things and maximize experiences. 

Starting Your Decluttering Journey Getting started can be the most challenging part of decluttering. It’s easy to feel swamped by the sheer amount of stuff you have, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. One helpful strategy is to start small, focusing on one area or category of items at a time. This can help you build momentum and stay motivated as you work through things to declutter.

Key Takeaways

  • Decluttering involves going through your belongings and deciding what to keep, donate, sell, or throw away.
  • Starting small and focusing on one area or category at a time can make decluttering feel less overwhelming.
  • Letting go of items no longer serving you can help you regain control of your space and improve your overall well-being.

Understanding the Basics of Decluttering

Decluttering is the process of removing unnecessary items from your living space. It can help create a more organized and comfortable home environment, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. However, decluttering can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to stay motivated. Here are some basic tips to help you get started:

  • Start with a decluttering habit: Decluttering is not a one-time event but a habit you must cultivate. Set aside a specific time each week or each day to work on decluttering, and stick to it. This will help you to make steady progress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Declutter one area at a time: Trying to declutter your entire home at once can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on one area at a time, such as a closet, a room, or even a single drawer. This will help you to stay motivated and see progress more quickly.
  • Use the “one in, one out” rule: To prevent clutter from building up again, make a rule that for every new item you bring into your home, you must get rid of one old item. This will help you to maintain a clutter-free home over the long term.
  • Start with easy items: To build momentum and stay motivated, start with easy items to declutter. For example, you could remove expired food in your pantry or old magazines in your living room. As you build confidence, you can move on to more challenging items.
  • Stay motivated: Decluttering can be a long and sometimes difficult process, so it’s important to stay motivated. One way to do this is to track your progress by keeping a journal or taking before-and-after photos. You can also reward yourself for reaching milestones, such as decluttering a challenging area.

Starting Your Decluttering Journey

Decluttering your home can seem be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking it one step at a time can declutter your home and create a more organized and stress-free living space. It’s okay to start small and tackle one room at a time. You may try a decluttering challenge to declutter for 15 minutes daily for 30 days or to remove one item for every day of the month. Try using a checklist as you work through each room to make sure you don’t miss anything important. 

  1. Create a Plan

Before you begin decluttering, take some time to create a plan. This will help you stay organized and focused as you work through each room in your home. Start by setting realistic goals for each room or area you want to declutter. You can use a printable decluttering checklist to help you stay on track.

2. Start Small

It’s important to start small when you begin decluttering. Trying to tackle your entire home at once can be overwhelming and lead to burnout. Instead, start with one room or area and work through it methodically. This will help you build momentum and make it easier to continue decluttering.

3. Slow Declutter

Decluttering doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process. Instead, consider taking a slow declutter approach. This means taking small steps each day to declutter your home. For example, you could set aside 15 minutes daily to declutter a specific area or item in your home.

4. Use a Checklist

Using a decluttering checklist can be helpful as you work through each room in your home. A checklist can help you stay organized and ensure you don’t miss anything important. You can find printable decluttering checklists online or create your own.

5. Get Rid of Duplicates

One easy way to declutter your home is to get rid of duplicates. This includes items like kitchen utensils, towels, and clothing. By eliminating duplicates, you’ll free up space in your home and make it easier to stay organized.

6. Donate or Sell Unwanted Items

As you declutter your home, consider donating or selling unwanted items. This is a great way to give back to your community and earn extra cash. You can donate items to local charities or sell them online through platforms like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

Following these tips, you can start your decluttering journey and create a more organized and stress-free living space. Remember to take it one step at a time and stay focused on your goals.

Things to Declutter


  • Trash or items to be recycled
  • Anything that you don’t know what it is
  • Duplicates that don’t get used (keep your favorite and ditch the rest!)
  • Outerwear that no longer fits
  • Outerwear that’s in rough shape
  • Old home project or craft supplies
  • Holiday decor/dishes
  • Broken sports equipment
  • Duplicate or broken tools
  • Broken or worn gardening and yard tools/supplies
  • Unused decorations
  • Plastic bags or excess reusable bags
  • Worn out backpacks, duffel bags, and luggage
  • Unused or well-worn pet supplies
  • Equipment from old hobbies you won’t pick up again
  • Scraps of gift wrap, ripped gift boxes, ugly gift bags
  • Past party supplies
  • Old products and their boxes
  • New product boxes (unless you store them in there or plan to resell them)
  • Old air fresheners and candles
  • Cleaning supplies that don’t work the way you hoped


  • Clothing that no longer fits you (I bet you’ll want new clothing if you are that size again!)
  • Clothes you don’t actually like so you never wear it
  • Clothing that’s well worn or stained
  • Shoes with the same criteria as above
  • Broken glasses
  • Jewelry and accessories you no longer wear or use
  • Extra hangers
  • Alarm clocks (if you now use your phone)
  • Decorative pillows and blankets you don’t like or use


  • Excess bed linens and towels
  • Stained or worn bed linens and towels
  • Travel toiletries from hotels
  • Old beauty tools
  • Worn out or outdated hair accessories
  • Old makeup
  • Old toothbrushes
  • Hair and skin products you don’t like
  • Dried up or clumpy nail polish
  • Extra/duplicate tools like nail files
  • Expired first aid supplies (replace!)
  • Expired medication

Living Areas

  • Excess throw blankets and pillows
  • Entertainment electronics or accessories that don’t get used
  • DVD’s that don’t get re-watched
  • Video games that don’t get played
  • Games or puzzles you never play with (or are missing pieces!)
  • Books you didn’t like or read
  • Magazines you never look at anymore

Kids’ Stuff

  • Kids’ clothing that no longer fits
  • Clothing they don’t like to wear
  • Kids’ clothing with holes or stains
  • Broken toys
  • Games with missing pieces
  • puzzles
  • Outgrown toys
  • Obnoxious toys
  • Cheap toys like McDonald’s toys or party favors
  • Toys no one plays with
  • Duplicate toys
  • Arts supplies that are old/broken or never used
  • Old schoolwork or artwork and keep only the most meaningful pieces.


  • Mail you don’t need
  • Old school/activity information papers
  • Writing utensils that don’t work
  • Old Bank statements and bills
  • Tax Records (if older than 7 years)
  • Broken electronics
  • Extra cords and chargers
  • Unused folders/binders
  • Used notebooks and papers you never look at
  • Office tools you no longer need or use
  • Reference books that you now use Google for
  • Manuals for items you no longer own

Kitchen & Dining Room

  • Expired food
  • Broken dishes
  • Dishes without the set
  • Excess travel mugs and water bottles
  • Damaged or duplicate cooking utensils
  • Broken or ineffective small appliances
  • Cookbooks you never look at or use
  • Plastic containers with missing lids
  • Plastic storage containers in rough shape
  • Dish towels and rags that are stained or falling apart
  • Pots and pans in rough shaper or duplicates
  • Lids without a pot or pan
  • Duplicate measuring cups and spoons
  • Extra mixing bowls
  • Unused serving plates and bowls
  • Stained or ripped table linens
  • To-go boxes and utensils
  • Junk drawer items you never use
  • Items under the sink you never use or need to be replaced

Dealing With Sentimental Items

Sentimental items can be some of the hardest things to declutter. They are often associated with memories, people, or events that hold a special place in your heart. However, holding onto too many sentimental items can lead to clutter and overwhelm.

When decluttering sentimental items, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to let go of things without feeling guilty. Here are a few tips to help you through the process:

  1. Start small: Begin with items with less emotional weight, such as old greeting cards or small trinkets. This can help you build momentum and confidence to tackle more sentimental items later.
  2. Ask yourself why: When deciding whether to keep or let go of a sentimental item, ask yourself why it’s important. Discover the real reason you’re keeping things. Is it the item itself or the memory it represents? If it’s the memory, consider taking a photo of the item before letting it go. Don’t declutter sentimental items until you’ve dealt with everything else.
  3. Set limits: Keeping some sentimental items is okay, but it’s important to set limits. For example, limit yourself to one box of sentimental items or only keep items you can display or use. Only keep items that deserve a place in your future life.
  4. Donate or repurpose: Find gratitude for the items you must let go of. Consider donating or repurposing sentimental items that you no longer need. For example, old bridesmaid dresses can be donated to organizations that provide dresses to those in need, or old cameras can be repurposed into unique home decor.

What to Do With Decluttered Items

When you declutter, you may find many items you no longer need or want. But what should you do with these items? Here are some options to consider:

Donating Items

Donating your gently used items to a local charity or thrift store is one option. Not only does this help someone in need, but it also keeps the items out of landfills. Some charities even offer pick-up services for larger items like furniture. Before donating, check the organization’s guidelines for acceptable items.

Recycling Items

Recycling is an excellent option if you have items that cannot be donated or reused. Many communities have recycling programs for plastic bottles, paper, glass, and metal items. Some items, like electronics and batteries, require special recycling methods. Check with your local recycling center for guidelines on what can be recycled in your area.

Discarding Items

Discarding is the best option for items no longer usable or in poor condition. This includes broken or stained clothing, damaged furniture, and expired medications. Make sure to dispose of these items correctly, either in the trash or in a designated hazardous waste facility for items like batteries and chemicals.

Remember, decluttering is not just about getting rid of items…it’s about making space for the things that matter most to you. You can create a more organized and peaceful home by letting go of items you no longer need or want. So put away the things you love and donate, recycle, or toss the rest.

Avoiding Common Decluttering Mistakes

Decluttering your home can be an overwhelming process, but it can also be a rewarding one. However, many people make common decluttering mistakes that can hinder their progress. By avoiding these mistakes, you can make the process more manageable and achieve your desired outcome. Here are some common decluttering mistakes to avoid:

Not Having a Plan

Before you begin decluttering, it’s essential to have a plan in place. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed. Start by identifying the areas of your home that need decluttering and set realistic goals for each area. For example, you might declutter your closet and then move on to your kitchen.

Holding Onto Sentimental Items

It can be difficult to let go of sentimental items, but holding onto too many can clutter your home and make it difficult to organize. To avoid this mistake, limit how many sentimental items you keep. For example, you might keep one or two items from each family member or friend.

Being Too Ambitious

Decluttering your entire home in one weekend might seem like a good idea, but it’s not always realistic. Being too ambitious can lead to burnout and frustration. Instead, break the process down into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, you might decide to declutter one room per week.

Not Letting Go of Guilt

Many people hold onto items out of guilt, whether because they feel obligated to keep them or guilty about getting rid of them. To avoid this mistake, remind yourself that it’s okay to let go of things that no longer serve a purpose in your life. Focus on the benefits of decluttering, such as having a more organized and functional home.

Not Seeking Professional Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about how to start decluttering, consider seeking the help of a professional organizer. They can provide guidance and support throughout the process and help you develop a plan that works for you.

Keep Going

If you’re looking for quick wins, start with easy things to declutter, such as damaged clothing, uncomfortable shoes, and old magazines. Set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can get rid of in that time. You’ll be surprised at how much progress you can make in a short amount of time.

Don’t forget to donate or sell any items in good condition. Not only will you be helping someone else, but you’ll also be reducing waste and doing your part for the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Categories to Consider When Decluttering?

When decluttering, it’s important to consider various categories, such as clothing, books, papers, kitchen items, sentimental items, and electronics. These categories can be broken down even further to make the decluttering process more manageable.

What Are Some Items That Should Be Decluttered Before Fall?

Before fall, it’s a good idea to declutter summer clothing, beach gear, and outdoor equipment that won’t be used during the colder months. You may also want to consider decluttering any broken items or no longer serve a purpose.

What Is the 20/80 Rule for Decluttering?

The 20/80 rule states that we only use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time. This means we can declutter 80% of our possessions while keeping the items we use and love.

What Is the 5-Year Rule for Decluttering?

The 5-year rule suggests that if you haven’t used or worn an item in 5 years, it’s time to let it go. This can be applied to clothing, books, and other items that may no longer serve a purpose in your life.

What Is the 100 Things Decluttering Challenge?

The 100 things decluttering challenge is to declutter your possessions down to only 100 items. This can be a difficult challenge, but it can also be a great way to simplify your life and focus on the things that truly matter.

What Are Some Extreme Decluttering Checklist Items to Consider?

Extreme decluttering checklist items may include getting rid of duplicates, decluttering sentimental items, and downsizing your living space. It’s important to approach extreme decluttering with caution and only to get rid of items that truly no longer serve a purpose in your life.

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