Simplicity at Home, Part 1

One of the most challenging aspects of moving is packing up – you start to wonder how you’ve managed to collect so much stuff in such a short period of time!  As I’ve been packing up our boxes, I’ve been ruthless in getting rid of things I didn’t know I had, things I never use but always thought I’d need one day, and things that I don’t care for anymore.  I do this in reaction to our last move – we had a large moving van, but had to rent a trailer to go behind it, too, just to get everything in!

I don’t want to do that again.  I hate the idea that we are carting around items we don’t use, and I’d like to simplify!

I’m sure you have closets, cupboards, and basements full of stuff you no longer use.  It can be frustrating to look at the piles – where do you start?  What do you do with all the things you no longer want?

Today I want to explain my techniques for sorting out the clutter, and tomorrow I’ll tell you what you can do with that stuff!  Obviously, most of you are not moving and can’t just separate the “keep” and the “pack” as I’m doing (which makes it less overwhelming.)  But you can clean out one closet, or one shelf today.

Candice’s Super Easy Effective Decluttering

(Okay, this is  a pretty common technique – I can’t take credit for it.)  You’ll need to set aside at least a couple hours to do each area. If you don’t set aside enough time, you’ll end up with a bigger mess than before, and that’s very frustrating!

1. Choose a location – a closet, a corner, or a dresser, for instance.  I’m going to use a closet for my example.

2. Take everything out of the closet.  This will create a huge mess, but it will work best if you can separate types of items – put clothing in one pile, shoes in another, etc.  Now, if your closet is disorganized and everything is mixed in to start with, don’t worry about making piles.  The point is not to make decluttering take more time than necessary, and sorting things out isn’t as important as just getting on with it.

3.  While everything is out of the closet, take a damp rag and wipe shelves, baskets, drawers, and the top of the hanging bar.  Check for cobwebs in the corners – if they are there, get them out!  Vacuum or sweep the floor.

4.  Now start putting things back in.  This is your chance to be as ruthless as you want – do you really need 4 black raglan sweaters?  Do you ever wear that stretchy magic shirt from 2001? (Apparently these are back in style!)

Magic Shirt courtesy of

Magic Shirt courtesy of

Check the items you want to keep for missing buttons, for tears, and stains.  Put the items you want to keep back in the closet, but if they need mending or cleaning, put them in a separate pile.  You will also have two more piles:  donate/sell and throw.

Since we are trying to be green, hopefully your “throw” pile will be very small.  Or maybe you can title it “recycling.” The only things I could think of that might go in this pile are new shoe stuffings, shoe boxes, worn out hangers, etc.  Maybe you can think of other things?

Keep in mind that many places that accept donations – the Salvation Army, for example – will accept unwearable clothing.  If it’s not suitable for wear, they will recycle the fabrics into new products.  So worn out or stained clothing need not go in the trash!

Go through the entire contents of your closet, sorting into your two piles and the closet, until everything is put in one of the three places.  I’m of the mindset that if you can’t fit all your clothes in your closet, then you have too many! (And I’ve had some small closets!)

4.  Your closet is now much more organized!  Immediately throw or recycle the contents of the “Throw” box.  If you are planning a garage sale, your next task is to go ahead and price your “sell” items.  If you are like me, and just want to be done with it, drop your box of “donate” items off shortly after you finish cleaning.

You’re done!  See?  That wasn’t too hard, and now other people can enjoy the items that were languishing in your hidden cupboards and closets.  And you don’t have to worry about them anymore!

Tomorrow we’ll look at different options for donation – you’ll find you can donate almost anything if you know where to give it!


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