10 things you can get rid of right now


Guest post by Dootsie Bug
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By: CC BY 2.0

We all have a surplus of stuff in our lives. Some stuff is clutter that's continually in the way, yet we're just waiting on some sign from the heavens that it's time to let it go. Other stuff is junk we're hanging onto because we're lying to ourselves about why it's still here.

Well friends, you have your sign… I'm giving you full permission to get it the heck outta your life right now. I'm telling you that your lies are no good here: it's time to de-clutter that stuff.Here are ten things you can get rid of right now…

Something in your shower

Maybe it's a bottle of shampoo that didn't exactly live up to its promises. Maybe it's a shower poof that you never scrub with. Maybe it's the sad sliver of soap withering away under a fresh bar. Either commit to using it now or get rid of it already.

Whatever's on top of the fridge

If it's up there, you probably don't use it all that often, if ever. Even if it's just a dust bunny, I bet there's something on top of your fridge that you don't need.

That pair of shoes you hate

They pinch your toes. You still cringe when you think of the blisters. They're kinda ugly. I don't care how much you spent on them, it's time to donate or trash 'em.

Paper

You've got too much paper in your home, guaranteed. Recycle a stack of old magazines, shred some old bank statements, turn your newspapers into fire starters (okay, that's reusing, but still.)

Like, half of your mugs

Do you expect to entertain the entire neighborhood at a coffee party? If not, you're dealing with a surplus of mugs. (If so, couldn't they just bring their own mugs? And also, will you tell me where you live because I wanna come?)

Books

Wait, just hear me out before you rage-close the site! You probably have some books that you didn't love and will never touch again. Wouldn't they be more useful in the hands of someone else?

That can or box waaaay in the back of the cabinet

You clearly don't want or use whatever it's holding. So long as it's not expired (and let's be honest, it probably is), donate it.

Basically your entire junk drawer

Get real with yourself. A "might need it someday" is an 95% likelihood of "ain't ever gonna need it". Is it truly something you couldn't do without? Is it truly something you couldn't improvise around?

"It has a hole in it, but…"

If you've got an article of clothing that has a problem (stain, weird boob gaping, wrinkly, too long, broken zipper), then get it out of your house. You're not going to fix it.

The What Even IS This thing

We all have one. This thing in our lives that's of a mysterious origin, that does… well, something? You have no idea what it is or what it does, but you've just been hanging onto it, assuming that one day, alien visitors will tell you its purpose. Sorry, Mulder. It's time to let it go.

Ahh, doesn't that feel better? What else can we get rid of right now?

  1. I love this. It's so true – we all need some decluttering in our lives!!

    I would add – under the bed. It gains this mystical ability to reproduce odd socks and old suitcases full of damp Christmas decorations. Don't give the monsters things to hide in.

    • I put my bed on the floor and I've never looked back. My roommate boxed her under-bed area in and swears by it. It's not for everyone–that storage space IS handy–but it's been a game-changer for us. Can't lose/stash/hide/forget about stuff under there if you can't GET under there.

      • We have a bed like that – it's on a platform. it's like 2" from the floor, so nothing is fitting under there anyways! Never looked back!

    • This made me laugh because my dog likes to sleep under our bed (I hate that he does it, but he loves sleeping under there) because our bed is really tall, and sometimes he takes old pajamas out of the hamper and sleeps with them. So I find so many socks, bras, pjs, you name it under the bed.

  2. YES!!! We're are doing this right now but I always need the extra encouragement!! We're moving interstate in two years and I refuse to pay to have crap moved but thankfully have so much time to get rid of everything, 2 car loads to charity bins over the weekend and we still just have so much stuff

  3. So true about the books. I have a couple of bags of books that need to be donated right now, and probably lots more on my shelves that could stand to go too. Like a lot of people, I have an emotional attachment to certain books, and there are maybe 20 that I want to keep forever, but most of them need to get out of my house!

    • give books to your local library. they usually accept donations and will either shelf them or put them in a fundraiser sale.

      • Also, your neighborhood probably has a Little Free Library somewhere- check out the LFL site and drop off your books there! Someone in your community will directly benefit from your old books 🙂

    • My life changed when my friend – who moved internationally multiple times as a kid – said her father taught her, "The library keeps your books for you for free so you don't have to move them or dust them." I have a few that I want to keep forever, but otherwise I get my books from the library. It's not for everyone, but it works for me! 🙂

      • My viewpoint is "if I bought every book I ever read, I wouldn't be able to afford anything else." When I was a tween/teen, during summer break, my mother took me to the library every week, and I binge-read more stories than I can remember. I only buy and keep books that I know I will reread. But when it comes to most books, I prefer to catch and release.

      • That's what my mother always said and why she would almost never buy me books. While I can see how that works for some people it just doesn't for me. I'm a re-reader and I read quickly so I have a completely different experience with books than my mom who reads slowly and struggles to finish books most of the time (she has undiagnosed issues that make it easy for her to get distracted). While I do use the library for books I know I probably won't want to read more than twice it's important to me to have instant access to my books and to be able to lend them out to people.

        I've been reading "The life changing art of tidying up" or whatever it's called and she completely lost me on the chapter about books. She claims that a tiny fraction of people re-read more than a few books and that it tops out at about 50 books reread and that's basically only people who have PhD's in that subject. I counted and I hit 100 books that I'd read at least twice on shelf 7 (of about 40) in my library so clearly I'm a freak.

        • I'm also a re-reader, but it's true that I only read (let alone re-read) a fraction of the books that I own. I have a 5m long wall covered in shelves, which used to be stuffed with books in two rows, and I threw out about half of them, which felt SO good.
          That said, I still remember stories from books that I'd like to re-read, but since I had only borrowed them from the library, and it was years (decades, really) ago, I can't remember the title or author 🙁 It's a shame, really…

          About the coffee mugs – actually I do throw tea parties regularly, which means I have around 20 weird people that I dearly love stacked in my living room, and they all bring food and we drink dozens of different kinds of tea. If you're ever in Munich (Germany), let me know 😉

    • We raided a publishing company to save their library from the incinerator. We have so many books we will probably never read. But that's why I bought a house with a library, I suppose. I still purged out the Glenn Beck books my partner got from his mom and the outdated Comp Sci books. Yet we still have 3 copies of human physiology because I'm not allowed to get rid of any. 😛

      • YOU HAVE A HOUSE WITH A LIBRARY?????!!

        Do you need a roomie? A bat-obsessed still-alive ghost in the attic? A weird neighbor who knows how to open your windows and replace your books with baked goods while you sleep?

  4. I love the after of de-cluttering, but it's always so daunting to start! Thank you so much for the specific encouragement- it's so helpful! Also helpful for me- moving every year for the past three years (and moving twice in four years before that). Still, every time we move, I have several moments of "OMG WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THIS???!!!" rage. Maybe this will finally be the move where my husband lets me throw out those five sweaters he never ever wears!

    • Omg, yes. I was finally able to convince my husband to at least move all of his old undershirts and t-shirts into a drawer that I moved into a spare closet, instead of keeping them all in OUR closet. Hopefully after another five years I can convince him that I can donate them…

    • I feel you so hard. My husband literally refuses to allow me to throw out an entire box full of unused 3.5" floppy disks. We might need them someday, apparently.

      One thing I've heard/found is that people are less likely to get rid of something if they touch it in the process. So when you need to clear out his stuff, hold it up and ask if you're throwing it out. Don't let him hold it to evaluate. Also, give him breaks. Bring in, say, five items and go through those five items. Then stop. Purging can be emotionally painful, and it helps to know there's an end in sight.

  5. nooooooooo!!! Last time I cleansed, I threw out a sock that hadn't had a match for a couple years. Then we hired cleaners to really clean the house, and they found the match hidden deep in the couch. One day too late. 🙁 And my junk drawer does come in handy, but I do need to keep it pared down to what might actually be handy, and only one of each thing.
    Anyway, this was an amazing post and great timing for some spring cleaning. Motivation, thy name is Dootsie Bug.

    • That sock needed to be free, man. Release the sock into the universe.

      If you need junk drawer motivation:
      – test the batteries. If they don't work, dispose.
      – test the keys. Label them when appropriate.
      – throw out all of the What Even IS This Things (Feel free to ask everyone in your household what the Thing is, but if no one can identify it AND how it might be used, chuck it.)
      – if something is exceptionally grimy, either clean it or toss it
      – gut check the age of that Chapstick/gum/lotion. Seriously.
      – ask yourself if a drawer is the right home for it. Shouldn't the twine be in the pantry, or with your garden tools? Could you put those papers in a filing cabinet?
      – separate stuff. Improvise dividers or use a utensil separator to just get some control over the junk. Maybe sort by hardware, home security, sentimental, repair.

      • Oh, huh, I guess my junk drawer is a bit different. Mine is more of a "we might eventually use this SOME day" drawer. So I keep old ribbons, pill bottles, keyrings, random packaging that things came in that is still sturdy, etc. And I have indeed used a ton of key rings and ribbons for things. And some really nice styrofoam packaging I was keeping in there ending up solving the bed-hitting-the-wall issue. I just need to make sure we stick to truly potentially useful objects in there. And when we have too many, tossing some out.

        Those are great ideas for a generic "not sure where to keep this" drawer, though!

        • Everyone's junk drawer is totally different, I find. My mom's junk drawer was always key rings, batteries, screws, putty knives, manuals, chapstick and then these random PIECES for machines and electronics. Mine is more pen nibs, check stubs, ooh piece of candy, tape, different tape, What Even IS This Thing, miniature flower pot?, oldass cell phone.

  6. Re: getting rid of books–my husband and I were both English majors, so we have a stupidly large collection. But we discovered a few used bookstores in our town that you can sell your books back to and get a credit with the store to . . . buy more books. Book consignment, basically. Plenty of books in our collection have sentimental value, but let's be real, we bought some books because they were trendy, and the used bookstores want these the most (unless the title, um, rhymes with "Schifty Shades of Schey").

    • We just went to our used/discount book store and they had these rubber band-bound collections of That Book Series for $2. Yiiiikes.

      This is a totally great point. If you need more motivation to get rid of some of your stuff, consider: MONEY. Books, gently-used clothes and furniture can all net you a little $cratch.

    • you could try donating 'those' types of books to a local library or putting in the Little Free Libraries in your area.

      • To be fair, with 50SOG and it's uber popular ilk, you literally can't give it away around here. Charity shops already have a dozen copies, the library doesn't have the shelf space. No one wants another copy when they can't shift what they've already got. The same thing happened with Da Vinci Code, too. The market hits saturation point, and that includes the second hand market.

        • A librarian friend of mine told me that 50 Shades is so cheaply produced that you can't even recycle the paperback copies because the glue for the binding is too cheap.

          So I use them for book sculptures and crafts. Even the most die-hard book lover agrees that we don't need a lot of copies of that series for posterity.

  7. I would add gifts you've never liked but feel guilty about getting rid of. Especially if (as in my case) the giver hasn't been to your house in years and will never know it's gone.

    Bonus points if you can re-gift it to someone who will like it.

    • Do you have any of those 'white elephant' gift exchanges in your group of family or friends for the holidays? Those are a great place to get rid of those random gifts that you don't really like, but someone else might think it is cool and like it at the gift exchange. (as long as the original gift giver is not in that group!)

  8. So I had to pack up all my stuff as my now ex and I split up. I have a box full of DVDs and bugger all to play them on. Debating getting rid of them but I used to occasionally watch them. I can't work out what to do

  9. Please be thoughtful and realistic when donating, especially to an organization that operates thrift stores. If the item is not resellable in its current condition, the charity will bear the cost of disposal. If you're not sure about an item, call! In my state, mattresses cannot be resold… tube TVs are costly to recycle… appliances that don't work or are missing pieces won't be discovered until the thrift store customer takes it home and tries to use it.
    If you wouldn't proudly offer it to your neighbor, it probably won't benefit the thrift store.

    • And think about what thrift stores are already swimming in. They don't need your Team Building Exercise 99 t-shirt. They don't need old-old TVs. They don't need cassettes, nameless books, What Even IS This Things.
      BUT. Local programs that furnish homes for the homeless? They might LOVE to get those items. Call and ask first.

    • thrift stores can donate clothes (like teambuilding 99) to other countries or homeless organizations. they can also use the appliances that do work. But, old TV's and electronics probably need to be given to an electronic recycling place or somewhere like best buy (usually for a small fee) or goodwill is supposed to accept them and properly dispose of electronics.

      • It is? Man, what to do with Etrash is a constant problem in our house. I don't donate things that don't work to Goodwill, but if proper disposal is part of their work …

      • Our goodwill hasn't accepted TV's (tube or flat) for years. I strongly suggest calling before you go because it's a total PITA to get a heavy TV in and out of your car.

  10. I LOVE L-O-V-E de-cluttering! I do my best not to drive my husband mad with my desire to CLEAR that shit out.
    I would live out of a few suitcases if I had my way.
    So do it. Dooooo itttt. It feels so wonderful when you see how clean an area of the house looks! It also feel amazing knowing you can pass along some items to someone else!

    • That's totally my mom. When I was living with her, she'd just randomly take these spells where she HAD to get rid of SO MUCH STUFF.
      To this day, I'll periodically get this awful feeling of being cramped and cluttered… oh, that's a Mom Declutter Impulse!

  11. I'm in the midst of trying to de-clutter (I read the Marie Kondo book, which had some good tips, although I wouldn't say I'm following it religiously) but the thing that always gets me is the wastefulness of de-cluttering. It's really difficult to try to find a way to reuse, donate, or recycle everything I don't need. Clothes in good condition? No problem, those can go to GoodWill. But when clothes are stained or holey– where do those go? My attempts to find places to recycle textiles, carpet, stuff like that have only resulted in Google answers going "you should recycle old textiles!" Gee, how helpful. And my mom has a ton of stuff that I don't want to just throw away or recycle– my grandma's handmade wardrobe of gorgeous clothes from the 1950s and 60s should be able to benefit SOMEONE, I would hope. My thought was "maybe a local theater could use them for costuming purposes" but I don't know how to FIND such a theater. Similarly, we have a gazillion pieces of old sheet music– too historically interesting to just recycle, but who would want them? A library somewhere? These are the kinds of things I run into as I de-clutter, and when I can't find something I could do with them that's more earth-friendly than recycle it (I HATE when de-clutter gurus say "just trash it". No! There is life left in a lot of things and I do not want to contribute to the landfill problems!), I just wind up keeping it in the hopes that someday I'll figure it out.

    Actually, an article on eco-friendly de-cluttering with resources for how to responsibly discard items would be fantastic on this site… or a service who would take everything and, for a fee, sort it for you. I would absolutely pay for such a service if I knew the items were going to places/people who could use them, or if they're absolutely at the end of their life, disposed of in the most sustainable way possible.

    • You could try putting an add in Craigslist for your grandma's wardrobe and the old sheet music. Someone might be intersted and use it.

    • For your less than great quality clothes, you can look for a local Planet Aid or similar type box. They either recycle, donate to local charity, or sell to resellers in developing countries, depending on the market/needs at the time. Its probably not the best option for your Grandma's wardrobe, but it might help with the lower quality clothes.

    • Don't forget to check with local schools or daycares. While the clothes might not be good for wearing in public, they might be good as paint smocks or for projects. This goes for the sheet music too. Well, maybe they won't make sheet music smocks…

    • I volunteered at Goodwill for a bit. They can and do use holey-gross clothes. They sell them for rags, and they make an amount per pound that still goes back into their job-building programs. So give it all to them!

      • Again, so good to know. I donated a bunch to Goodwill in the hopes they would find a textile recycler, but I felt kind of guilty passing that buck. Glad to know it's not just a burden on them!

    • You can also try selling the interesting stuff at flea markets. People go to those specifically to find older and or unusual stuff, as opposed to something like a yard sale. If you're willing to price reasonably (or low!) you could find them a home that way.

    • Most colleges and high schools have theater departments. Freecycle is also an excellent way of getting rid of odd stuff like that.

  12. We just had to do a MAJOR declutter, because the majority of our house is being renovated and all our belongings except large pieces of furniture had to be stored in the two bedrooms. We took three car loads of stuff to the local charity shop. We were ruthless with culling books. I even convinced my husband to shred all his old bank statements and pay slips from a decade ago!

    Once the renovations are finished (maybe this week? Fingers crossed!) we're doing a second declutter. We've lived without the majority of our stuff for five weeks now, so I think it will be easier to let go of things since we can obviously survive without them.

  13. Ohhhh the coffee mug situation in my house has gotten way way out of hand. The last time I counted I had (gulp) 52. They fall into 3 groups : ones I use every day ( which obviously aren't going anywhere ), ones I keep for sentimental reasons and ones I keep because they match my dishes but I don't use because they're too small.
    But you're right : getting rid of groups 2 and 3 will feel so so good.
    Thanks for the great suggestion, Dootsie!

    • Can I just say that set-matching coffee cups are trash? Like, why do we just accept that apparently, fancy dinner parties mean consuming only 3 fluid ounces of coffee? WHY, SOCIETY?

      • I drink tea out of pint jugs. However I do throw tea parties regularly (if you're ever in Munich, Germany, contact me), which means that 20+ lovely weird people get to use all my normal-sized mugs.
        I should, however, get rid of the actual "cups" (the one that have saucers) – I do use the saucers for putting paint or cat food on them. Not at the same time, obviously.

  14. I have been giving away books for years and I have never regret it. I'm down to 2 book shelves in my office.
    It was a long process and occasionally wrenching, I'm not gonna lie. Kindle has made it a lot easier because I honestly don't even want to read a book on anything else. (Never thought I'd say that!!)
    The way it would happen is I would need the space or feel like a room was too cluttered and just commit to vanquishing a bookcase.

    • Getting my kindle was permission to donate ten full large boxes of books to the local used bookstore– filled up my entire back seat and trunk, and was SO AWESOME.

      Of course now I have a ton of store credit that I can spend at said bookstore… and they have such a good selection…

  15. Since a lot of stuff is frankly not worth donating, recycle. Search http://search.earth911.com/ for where in your neighborhood to recycle the electronics, paper, clothing/shoes, & random weird things. Not everything can be recycled, but you might be surprised at what can.

    • There are sometimes awesome places that want random junk… Like the center for creative reuse that has everything imaginable for art projects and will take donations of seemingly random objects

      • Exactly. One place my family and I always used to donate to when I was growing up was community and school theater departments. They're always needing random things for props and set pieces: Victorian-style furniture for a production of "A Doll's House," dozens of sets of hair rollers for "Beauty School Dropout" in "Grease," a cow statue they can paint white for "Into the Woods," you name it.

  16. "Do you expect to entertain the entire neighborhood at a coffee party?"
    Maybe. You never know. What if all my neighbors came over for a spontaneous coffee and tea party and I had just given away all my mugs on the advice of this article, so I try to serve drinks in mason jars, but they are too hot and my neighbors all drop them and they all get 2nd degree burns on their bodies?! OFFBEAT HOME, ARE YOU TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE?!

    😉

    But seriously, not only do I have too many tea/ hot chocolate mugs that I never use (because I always use a travel mug, otherwise, I spill) but a lot of them are unreasonably small.

  17. Might I suggest the Buy Nothing project? It's a hyper-local gift economy where you can offer the things you're getting rid of as gifts to your neighbors. You never know what someone else would like (maybe someone just moved to the neighborhood and NEEDS MUGS!!), and it's a great way to meet people, be green, and be frugal.
    https://buynothingproject.org/

  18. The trick of course is figuring out the stuff you're saving because it seems wasteful to get rid of it and the stuff that may be genuinely useful someday. I have managed to complete so many projects at close to zero cost because of left over paint cans, salvaged lumber, piles of cardboard boxes, etc. Heck, I just finished building a garden box for blueberries and a fence around my vegetable plot (because our yard chickens want to eat my seeds, sprouts, and worms) with out it eating into my budget because of random lumber and the rolls of used chicken wire I moved from the old house.

    The critical difference of course, is having a place to put it. We bought a house with a woodshop, a garage, a basement, and a sewing room (and a library, so you can just hush about our books :-P). So when I finally find myself with a use for those felt clouds leftover from the costume belt I made 12 years ago I can go to the crafting shelves and just get them. All the left over paint that I used to make the "Batcave" in my son's closet, was sitting in a cabinet dedicated to leftover paint. None of this stuff is being tripped over or hard to find when I finally need it. The space it's taking up is space meant for that purpose.

    Clutter can be solved by purging, but it can ALSO be solved by organization. As someone else said, it can seem wasteful to dispose of so many things that might genuinely be useful someday, but if you want to keep them, you need to have a place for them. Imagine someone inheriting your home. They should be able to walk through it with an estate manager and just point to things they want to keep, trash, or donate, no crawling through boxes required. If you aren't using it, displaying it, or able to find it when you need it – then get rid of it. I have a lot of stuff, but I work really hard to not have a lot of clutter. "If you want to keep it, then find a home for it" is a constant quote. Also, "just because it's free, doesn't mean we need it (though usually we do)"

  19. Thank you for the inspiration! I just moved recently and I need to remember how much I hate packing up all my things–time to really confront everything instead of giving up and tossing it all into moving boxes to deal with "later." Our space is smaller and it really is nice when there aren't piles of extra things on the floor. We've already made a Goodwill run, a Craigslist post, and I've sold some old textbooks online. My dad sent me the last of my stuff that's been hanging around his house, and it was amazing how much I was able to let go (even after culling and culling again before he sent it).

    I guess it's like doing dishes, or laundry, or cleaning the counter–as long as you're still alive and like having things, you will never be done. One thing at a time, I guess!

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