25 Comments

  1. Wowww, that’s insane that your friend was even able to touch every item in her home. I know minimalism is all the rage right now, but it’s not for me personally. I do like hanging onto things that may come in handy in the future (case in point: my old espresso machine is now being used regularly!). It’s on my to-do list this week to do some ruthless decluttering actually. My thing is that if it isn’t an heirloom or has significant sentimental quality and I haven’t used it in a year, out it goes!

    • I know. At first, I was so put off by that statement, and then I realized what an actual accomplishment it is. The only way I’ve touched most of our items was to buy them and drag them home in the first place. Whoopsie.

      And I’m the same way. I can’t ever go full minimalist because the only thing that makes me more bananas than clutter is having to run out and spend $20 on cough medicine that I know I could have gotten at my convenience on sale.

  2. I know exactly what you mean! I think that I don’t have junk because I’m really good at purging the things I use all the time (my clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff). But then I open a rarely touched drawer or storage box and always have a ‘where did all this crap come from?!’ moment. I too need to take the time and touch everything I own and decide what’s really worth keeping…but that’s a winter job (aka I’m procrastinating).

    • It’s hard to stop now that I’ve started. I don’t know what’s more overwhelming. Know the stuff is there and trying to ignore it…or actually trying to do something about it.

    • I just realized how selective I am with what I purge. I definitely need to make more sweeps throughout the whole house!

  3. For us, decluttering happened (and continues to happen) little by little. When we strip away one layer of stuff, the next layer emerges for review. We’re treating the decluttering process like an archeological excavation in which we carefully remove each layer until we get to the layer we’re fairly sure is the layer that we really want to study. I find that tackling decluttering at the beginning of a new season also makes the process easier. 🙂

  4. Alli

    Here are my tips, both of which I’m pretty sure came from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project:

    1. When decluttering a closet or drawer or whatever – you have to completely empty it out, and only put back in what you’ve intentionally decided you want. You will get rid of a lot more that way than if you just stand in the closet moving things along the rack. I now do this with my closet once a year or so, and I did it recently for a very large junk drawer. (when something was unidentifable to either myself or husband or son, it got tossed!). Next up is my cedar chest; not looking forward to that one – who knows what lies within!? 🙂

    2. Don’t save stuff for “someday” because it’s too precious. I’d had a tablecloth in a cabinet for at least 15 years, given to me by a favorite relative who has since passed. I’d never used it because I thought it was too good to use! I started using it regularly several years ago, and not only does it make me happy, but we haven’t even managed to ruin it yet. (there was that time a whole glass of red wine was spilled on it, but Oxyclean got that right out).

    Good luck on the decluttering mission. I feel like emptying a drawer now. 🙂

    • Alli

      OK, I just realized my second tip might be sort of anti-decluttering, but the point is you need to use it or lose it. Don’t just keep it shoved in a cabinet.

      • Alli,

        I love both of these! The first one definitely speaks to my problem about my clothes and all that. I just peel away at the easy items instead of confronting it all. Thank you!

    • Joan

      Cover “good” table clothes with heavy duty clear or pretty printed plastic. Yes, I realize that’s what our moms or Grandmoms did.

      But let’s be honest, could you quickly replace with a similar substitute today?? And if you’re lucky to find one, would it be the same quality? Please don’t let me get started as to the replacement prices! lol

      • We had glass tops cut for our furniture. It’s surprisingly inexpensive, and I don’t have to go into a tizzy when entertaining.

      • kddomingue

        I’ve been doing that for some years now. It’s wonderful! I can use my pretty vintage and hand crocheted tablecloths and not worry constantly that my family is going to ruin them. I love my family but they’re all klutzes, lol! Murphy’s Laws are in full effect with them. A glass topper for my dining table would be too awkward for me to move by myself although I do have a couple of glass toppers for occasional tables. I change the clear plastic tablecloth a couple of times a year and hand the old one off to the guys to use in their shops or in the garden. We try to use it until it can’t be used any more.

  5. My wife and I did a minor amount of decluttering and then fell off the wagon. That was more than a year ago, and while I did some more decluttering for our yard sale a couple months ago, I really need to get started again. The one tip I have is for sentimental items that you’re keeping for sentiment only. Take a photo and then toss the item. You can always look through your photos for that emotional bond, and the digital footprint will be a lot less than the room the item is taking up.

  6. kddomingue

    Use it or lose it is absolutely applicable with linens handed down or inherited or purchased at an estate sale. I had a pair of beautiful pillowcases that my grandmother had embroidered and added a hand crocheted edging to. I saved them for “special” because I was so scared of them getting messed up. When I finally pulled them out to use years later I found them dry rotted and completely ruined. I never got the joy of seeing them on my bed or sleeping on them. Use your beautiful things and take joy in them. Eventually they will become worn out but you’ll have had the pleasure of using them.

  7. For me, I need to feel a sense of accomplishment when doing anything, so I tend to pick one area and declutter it fully rather than doing a gradual decluttering of my whole home. Most recent was my bookshelves, which I am somewhat continuously decluttering and didn’t think were too bad. Ha! In about 15 minutes, I managed to fill two very large grocery bags with books.

    Another thing I will do is have a “transitional” purging area. If I come across something that I haven’t used in a long time but am afraid to get rid of “in case I need it”, I’ll put it into a box and give myself a certain amount of time to use it before it has to go. Usually after something has sat there unused for a month or two it’s much easier to get rid of.

  8. Sometimes life crises can be hidden gifts too. I left home hurriedly in high school and took only the absolute essentials. Everything else was disposed of for me– soccer trophies, cat posters, and all.
    Many people also move out during a divorce, and the one left behind has to deal with both people’s clutter, while the one who left gets to start fresh with only his/her favorite items.

    Sometimes packing for a long trip feels like moving again. I take what I care about most, and if everything else burned to the ground while I was gone it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

  9. Marie

    I spent last spring (maybe four months or so) going through our entire house and removing everything that was deemed either unnecessary or unloved. It took a long time and several layers to get through. Each time I donated another car trip full of stuff I would be able to think more clearly about the other things in my house that I wasn’t yet sure about. I’m happy to say that our house is 95% there-decluttering wise. That being said, I do NOT think we’ll ever get to 100% as I think the decluttering process is more of a journey than a destination.

    An important thought for AFTER you’ve decluttered is finding ways to stop the inflow of items into your house to begin with. That’s where the magic really happens!

  10. spiffi

    I did really well earlier this year – I came up with 3 carfuls of stuff to donate to the goodwill store. Cleaned out a whole closet that I had dumped stuff into 6 years ago when I first moved into this house and then…never looked in it again!

    I’ve lost the momentum – this post reminded me that I need to pick back up and continue!

    • I’m so guilty of that, too. I find one good “hiding” spot…and then the stuff just multiplies! I just tackled the cabinet above my desk that I let be a catch-all for everything. So much happier now that it’s empty!

  11. Chelsea

    I’ve moved every 4-24 months for the last 5 years, and only have as much as will fit, albeit tightly, into a bedroom and shared kitchen, so I think I’ve got the touch everything covered several times over. However, I definitely have a room at my parents’ filled with who knows what that could definitely use that treatment.

    • That’s fantastic that you have such a solid system for moving and keeping track of all of your stuff. And I hear you on the things I left behind at my parents’ house. My dad finally dropped off a giant box that I still have to finish sorting. Whoops!

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