The cleaning bug has bitten me. Hard. Which is right on schedule for this time of year. After winter has long lost its charm, that’s when I usually start itching to “switch things up” in my house. This usually includes throwing away or thinning out a good number of my material possessions, decluttering, and reorganizing. When it’s so muddy and dark outdoors, feels like a fresh breath indoors, ya know?
Rather than get overwhelmed by the notion of downsizing your entire house, I find it’s nicer to stick to a list. This list! If you’re looking to unload, here’s what to throw away or downsize, room by room.
Skip the room you want to downsize first:
1. Movies you haven’t watched in the past two years
2. Excessive knick-knacks: I’m all about accessories, but more stuff = more to dust. Thin out the herd.
3. Books you’ll never read again: take an honest look at your bookshelf and donate the ones you’re unlikely to crack open again.
4. Junk mail
5. Newspapers: News expires fast. Recycle those old papers!
6. Old magazines
7. Used-up candles: Even if you love the scent or the jar is pretty, it’s not useful if you can’t light it anymore.
8. Dried-up fragrance diffusers
9. Dead, dying, or ugly houseplants
10. Games you don’t play: Maybe you loved playing Clue as a kid, but you don’t now. Donate the games with all their pieces, and recycle what you can from incomplete puzzles and board games.
11. Ugly wall art: If you hate it, why is it on your wall in the first place? Make room for something you love.
12. Toys your pets don’t like: Fido knows best. No one else in your house is going to play that squeaker toy.
13. Overzealous collections: No need to toss whole collections of things that bring you joy, but maybe try thinning them out.
14. One-use kitchen gadgets: Unless it’s your coffee grinder, good kitchen tools should have multiple purposes.
15. Mismatched containers
16. To-go containers
17. Chipped, cracked, or stained dishes
18. Extra cups: Why do mugs seem to multiply behind cupboard doors? Thin out your collection by donating or recycling mismatched, chipped, or ugly cups.
19. Extra hand towels: I firmly believe tea towels are the new mug when it comes to gift-giving, and chances are you can downsize the buildup.
20. Specialty dishes you don’t use: You don’t really need both hi-ball and low-ball glasses.
21. Condiment packets
22. Plastic cutlery
23. Plastic shopping bags: Yes you use them to line your tiny trash cans, but I’ll bet you have way more than you’ll ever use!
24. Old spices: Old spices lose their favor. Do your tastebuds a favor and purge to make room for fresher herbs.
25. Expired anything: Dig into the depths of your cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator and toss everything that’s too old to eat.
26. Food you won’t eat: On that note, toss/donate foods you know you don’t like but somehow ended up with.
27. Extra reusable shopping bags
28. Extra refrigerator magnets
29. Takeout menus: All that info? It’s available on the internet.
30. Unused cookbooks: Again, the internet.
31. Duplicates of tools: You’re literally never going to use two can openers at the same time.
32. Cleaning products that don’t work
33. Old jars and vases
34. Orphaned socks: Or socks with holes in them.
35. Ill-fitting clothing: Stop subjecting yourself to feeling uncomfortable in your clothing. If it doesn’t fit right, get it out of here!
36. Uncomfortable bras: Same. You should feel happy in your clothes.
37. Your least favorite pair of shoes: Unless they’re necessary to your job or everyday life, you can afford to let them go.
38. Clothing you haven’t worn in over a year
39. Clothing you haven’t mended yet: Either mend it or toss it.
40. Excess coat hangers
41. Clothing with unintended holes in them: Not ripped jeans, but those leggings with a tiny hole in the backside.
42. Promotional t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, etc.
43. Scratched sunglasses and eyewear
44. Worn-out shoes
45. Unnecessary duplicates
46. Yellowed t-shirts: You know what I’m talking about – those undershirts that have deodorant stains that are never coming out.
47. Excessive accessories: Thin out your collection of jewelry, scarves, and hats. Get rid of anything that you don’t love.
48. Orphaned earrings
49. Broken jewelry
50. Stuffed animals
Work and Creative Spaces
51. Supplies for a hobby you’ve abandoned
52. Projects you know you’re not going to complete: It’s time to face the music, folks.
53. Scraps of fabric, ribbon, or trim
54. Scraps of wrapping paper
55. Extra bubble wrap: Save a little in case you need to ship something, but don’t save too much.
56. Used tissue paper: Recycle the whole stash!
57. Dried-up pens: Go through your desk and test all your pens. Toss the ones that don’t work, or don’t work well enough that you’d use them.
58. Promotional notepads
59. Cords that you don’t use: You can’t figure out what it goes to now, you’re not going to be able to figure it out later.
60. Old electronics
61. Greeting cards you’ve been given: If it’s too hard to let go of something this sentimental, you could scan them into your computer first before letting them go.
62. Business cards: Log the info into your phone, then it’s into the recycling bin.
63. Old bills and receipts
64. Rubber bands: Rubber loses its elasticity over time, so there’s no reason to hold onto a huge stash of them.
65. Expired coupons
66. Paperweights: Is it breezy in your office? Probably not.
67. Extra headphones: You really only need one or two pairs.
68. Bookmarks: Keep one or two, and toss the rest.
69. Calculators: Unless you’re doing math in your office on the daily, just use your phone!
70. Expired makeup
71. Almost empty bottles
72. Testers and samples: If you feel wasteful tossing testers, try this: Put them in a bowl, put the bowl within daily eyesight, and use one every day until they’re all gone.
73. Lipstick you hate
74. Slivers of soap
75. Old towels: Sometimes you can donate old bedding and towels to your local animal shelter, which is a much better place for that frayed towel you never use.
76. Dried-up nail polish
77. Perfume you hate the smell of: Even if it was a gift.
78. Gift basket lotions and soaps that you don’t like
Storage Spaces and Closets
79. Excess linens and blankets
80. Cardboard: Hold onto a box or two (for shipping), and recycle everything else.
81. Old product boxes: Why do we feel the need to hold onto these? Can you really imagine a scenario where a manufacturer would void a warranty because you threw the product’s box away? Yeah, me neither. Junk ’em!
82. Broken storage tubs: If an item can’t perform its only job, it’s gotta go.
83. Product manuals: Almost every manual is available on the internet!
84. Bolts or screws that you’re holding onto “just in case”
85. Seasonal decor you haven’t used in two years
86. Broken seasonal decor
87. Overly-specific seasonal decor: If you can only use it one day out of the year, it’s just not worth it taking up space the other 364 days.
88. Mystery keys
89. Expired batteries
90. Textbooks: I know they cost a fortune when you bought them. But when was the last time you actually opened one?
91. Instruments you no longer play
92. Extra picture frames
93. Doubles of photos
94. Gag gifts: They were “ha ha” at the moment, but what’s not funny is how much dust they’re collecting now!
Garage and Tool Shed
95. Broken power tools: If you were going to repair them, you would’ve done so by now, right?
96. Rusty hand tools
97. Duplicate tools: Some duplicates are okay, but you certainly don’t need more than one of a lot of tools. Keep the best, and donate the rest.
98. Sports equipment you no longer use
99. Empty paint cans
100. Old or unused chemicals: You’ve been procrastinating trying to figure out how to dispose of them safely – now is the time.
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You won’t be able to tackle your whole house in one day, so plan it out. Pick one room per day (or two) to work on, and before you know it, your home and your life will be feeling lighter.