11 Things You Can Declutter and Give Away

Things to declutter

It’s time to declutter and give away the unnecessary in your life.

It’s a new year and everyone is focused on making a change. So here are my thoughts on small changes you can make in your home.

When does a few turn into too many?

Do things seems to multiply in your life? You may/probably have accumulated a few too many of these items. Check the list out and see if this is you.

  • Sheets – two or three sets is enough for each bed. Donate the rest to your local animal shelter.
  • Glasses – a different glass of each type of beverage? Pick a good quality multi-functional set and donate the rest.
  • Plastic storage containers – containers without lids or visa versa should be recycled.
  • Towels – keep only what you’d use in a week and take the rest (with your extra sheets) to the animal shelter.
  • Cleaning products – streamline your routine to include multi-use products and take the rest to a homeless shelter or recycle as hazardous material.
  • Makeup – it all has a shelf-life with freshest and germs, so toss anything you haven’t used in a year.
  • Books – save only your favorites and sell or deliver the rest to a library, hospital or nursing home.
  • Office supplies – buying in bulk and then not using? Donate to a school or thrift store for their use.
  • Candles – if your don’t use them, don’t collect them. Saving for a special occasion never work out. Donate to a thrifty store.
  • Vases – keep only a couple of those freebies that came with flowers. Donate or repurpose the rest.
  • Hangers – pick one type of hanger and use exclusively for a neater look. Take any wire hangers to your dry cleaner for recycling.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.

14 Comments

  1. Seana Turner on January 11, 2021 at 8:20 am

    It is pretty amazing how much space you can free up getting rid of some of these. I worked with a client just before Christmas clearing out old vases and pots. Seems that the previous homeowner had left many when she moved out. My client hadn’t had time to declutter them when she moved in, and years later, they were still there. It was pretty empowering to finally remove those, and clear a significant amount of space. It wasn’t even hard, it just took taking some time to go focus on it.

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      You are soooo right. It’s the time it takes. I even notice things around my house and think I don’t need that anymore, but I don’t do anything about it. If I’d move it out I’d have more space.

  2. Kristin Zucaro on January 11, 2021 at 8:33 am

    I’m inspired by this to review my home library and donate the books that haven’t been cracked open in years, also to streamline our cups situation (again, I feel like we did this just a couple of years ago, what happened?!), and to finally get only one type of hanger. Thanks!

    And a thought on the sheets and towels – many veterinarians will accept those donations too! (I’m 30 minutes away from the closest animal shelter and only 5 minutes from the closest vet so it’s super convenient to be able to donate these items nearby!)

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      Good to know. Thanks for the veterinarian tip. I swear, some of the things you mentioned multiply at night while we are asleep.

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on January 11, 2021 at 10:22 am

    It is important to do the “one in one out” method when the new item comes in, so your items stay under control. In small homes, it is essential. If you decide, you do not want to move. This is the key to keeping things (collections) under control.

    Thanks for the great list of ideas and what to do with the excess.

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      I think small spaces do keep you honest about what you really need. We’ve gained space as our kids moved out, so we really need to work on decluttering.

  4. Diane N Quintana on January 11, 2021 at 10:37 am

    I love giving those extra sheets and towels to the local animal shelter. You are so right in saying we can all do well with less.

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 3:58 pm

      Diane, our next community service projects is to collect for our local animal shelter. They always need sheets and towels.

  5. Linda Samuels on January 11, 2021 at 11:05 am

    This is an excellent list of those things that seem to collect when we’re not looking. It feels like I reviewed my vase collection recently, but the space I keep them is getting crowded again. So maybe it’s time for another review? This past week I had the “makeup” conversation with a client who wanted to do some editing. I sent her a guide for the shelf life of makeup to help her make choices. I think we often keep makeup for way beyond their expiration dates. For example, Mascara should be tossed after three months, which I’m guessing is something most of us don’t do. Thanks for the nudge to review some of these categories.

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Linda, I don’t wear a lot of makeup, so things like mascara don’t get complete used in 3 months. I can see why people would want to waste it.

  6. Julie Bestry on January 11, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    What a super list, and a great guiding force for helping people figure out where they can cull. One left out? T-shirts, especially message t-shirts and those from events, like concerts and fairs. They seem important at the time, but so often they just pile up in the bottom of a drawer or the back of the closet because those iron-on parts are rough and sticky. Personally, I’m still working my way through hangers; when I changed careers 20 years ago, I stopped dry cleaning almost entirely, so I no longer have wire hangers coming in and only use tubular ones, but yeah, I’m still culling!

    Books, however, are a different story. I’m as guilty as my clients. I have split the difference, though. I only keep fiction if I think I’ll reread it or lend it often. (So Jane Austen, Bill Bryson, and Jasper Fforde stay, and almost every other novel goes.) But non-fiction is so filled with potential knowledge that my best best is to only keep as many books as I have ample bookshelf room to store them. (And that’s why I love my public library!)

    • Janet Schiesl on January 11, 2021 at 7:10 pm

      Oh I love the library too. I call it free shopping. I miss going there. We can order and pick up at the door, but that’s not the same. I like walking the aisles. I understand your thoughts on the printed t-shirts. I had a long term client many years ago who bought every t-shirt she ever saw with a cat on it. Many she had never worn. Such attachments are hard to break.

  7. Melanie on January 11, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    I NEED to do this! Post Christmas, I try to go through my biannual purge by February. I’ve been staring at my bulging closet for a few weeks now and it’s driving me a little nuts. You’ve inspired me to think of some additional items to add to my purge list. Thank you!

    • Janet Schiesl on January 12, 2021 at 6:32 am

      Great! I find it easy for me to identify “one thing” that is cluttered and I attack that and purge a lot. I use the motivation to really get rid of a lot. I did this with vases not long ago. It just popped into my head that I’m not using most of these, so I let a lot of them go.

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