/r/declutter

Photograph via snooOG

Advice, challenges, and discussion for reducing clutter, whether physical or electronic. This is not a sub for detailed "how to sell" advice.

/r/declutter

581,947 Subscribers

1

Disposal of books/magazines

Hello, how do you guys dispose old magazines and books? Do not want to simply throw them in the bin.

3 Comments
2024/05/20
14:14 UTC

5

What are your favourite decluttering strategies and principles?

I've been slowly decluttering what used to be a terribly organised and overstuffed apartment. I picked up a few strategies and principles along the way and I wanted to share them as well as ask for your own!

The clutter box
My favorite strategy to keep clutter low is less about removing clutter entirely and more about reducing ongoing clutter and preventing the growth of chaos. The clutter box is an easily accessible storage location in each room. The rule is that everything that is not in its proper place can be dumped right into the clutter box, and absolutely nowhere else. It's emptied once a week on Sundays, and everything that is not in its place is put back there, given a designated place, or trashed if it has no purpose.

The biggest advantage is that it becomes effortless to quickly reduce the beginnings of clutter without needing to stop what you're doing and think about where something belongs. Containing all chaos to the clutter box also prevents other drawers from becoming stuffed with the wrong stuff, which spreads chaos fast as their designations become meaningless.

Another great advantage is that it becomes so much easier to find stuff. Is it in its designated home location? No? Then usually all you have to do is look in the nearby clutter box.

Use it or lose it.
The mantra is used to prevent me from coming up with some bizarre possible usage for an old, rusty tin box that has been uselessly sitting in a drawer for years. Anything put on the "use it or lose it" list has to have a purpose and be in active use within a month, or it's off to the recycling park on the next trip. The same goes for old canned food I've never had the inclination to eat. I may not survive the apocalypse, but at least my storage room doesn't look like one.

Don't solve a problem you don't have
I used to have a terrible habit of spotting storage, household items, or Amazon gadgets and envisioning possible purposes or situations where they could be useful, only to find that those situations never happened. And even if they did, I could have just purchased the items when needed instead of letting them gather dust for two years first.

It turns out there are an infinite number of imaginary problems I could encounter someday, but only a limited amount of space to store these impractical solutions to theoretical problems.

So, unless it addresses an issue already on my list of problems when I come across the item, I don't buy that shiny new thing. (after reciting the mantra 25 times and picking it up and putting it down once or twice).

Surface area is precious; wall space is not.
This really helped declutter the kitchen in a way that made it much nicer to cook. Anything that did not pass the Use it or Lose it test and could be moved from the counters to the walls or hanging storage solutions has been relocated. For example, the knives were shifted from a wooden knife block to a magnetic wall strip. The additional counter space for cutting and preparing food is excellent. A decluttered surface is much easier to keep clean with less splatter and no hindrance to your wipe down.

Space efficiency is wildly overrated
Man, did I used to make things difficult for myself by "organizing" my stuff into space-efficient, completely unmaintainable storage solutions. All the Tupperware stacked into each other and the lids in a row from largest to smallest. Guess how long that lasted?

Here is my current system:
Each container has a designation based on how often the contents are used:

  • Very frequent use
    • Accessibility is the most important metric. Everything must be visible and accessible without needing to lift or move anything else. If the less frequently used items in the same container obstruct even slightly, they are all moved to a separate container.
    • Example: Tupperware drawer.
      • All the containers are in there with their lids already on them.
      • Only things that fulfil the exact same purpose are stacked (So you can just grab the top one).
      • The ones we don't use as much are moved to a long term storage location for special occasions.
      • Space efficient? No! Maintainable and easy, yes!
  • Medium frequency use
    • Visibility is the most important metric. Everything stored should be visible from a single picture taken from where you would most comfortably look at the storage.
    • In the storage room, my racks look almost barren compared to how they used to be stacked. I can take a quick picture from the door and refer to it when making my shopping list in the other room or when I'm in the grocery store. This finally stopped me from buying items I already have all the time.
  • Long term storage
    • Anything in long-term storage should have a very good reason to be there or be subjected to "Use it or lose it."
    • Here is the only place where space efficiency actually matters. Because you won't be taking these out often, it's okay for them to not be very visible and a pain to remove.
    • Very important, keep a list of everything in long term storage.
      • I have an iPhone, so when I place something in long-term storage, I say, "Hey Siri, note that the Christmas decorations are in the cupboard above the fridge."
      • Ten months later, I just ask, "Hey Siri, do I have a note about the Christmas decorations?"
    • If it's not worth writing down where it is, it's not worth keeping.
1 Comment
2024/05/20
14:00 UTC

2

Pre-moving packing guilt

Hello, my partner and I are preparing to sell our house and move across the country in the next few months and have begun packing important items that are not everyday-use to store elsewhere while we get our house ready to show. I gave a solid effort to declutter while we packed, but in order to meet our goals for the weekend, I definitely rushed a bit and now, with all my craft supplies packed away and stored across town, I can’t stop feeling guilty about how much stuff I could have potentially gotten rid of that I just threw into a box because I felt tired of trying to evaluate what I truly wanted to keep. I left some of the more difficult categories for last (books and knick knacks), so I’m hoping I can take my time more and feel more confident in my choices on the next round of packing/decluttering, but I am looking for some ways to reframe my guilt so it doesn’t weigh me down through this whole process (both emotionally and literally, with the weight of the boxes!). I had been thinking about this move as a good chance to start with a clean slate, clutter-wise, and it’s discouraging to think I’ve already “failed” after barely beginning.

6 Comments
2024/05/20
02:41 UTC

32

Forced minimalism - how I learned to love my 39" wide closet.

Oh to have a walk-in closet! All things in one place! Nothing in the attic to rotate with the seasons. A dream, but never a reality. With each place I've lived, my bedroom closet has gotten smaller. Not by choice. Currently in an older house, closet is 39" wide and a dresser for socks and undergarments. I've maxxed the heck out of my closet - slimline hangers, wall-to-wall shoe rack, tension rods, hooks, over the door canvas pockets, you name it. But it has forced me to really rethink what I wear. I have a kind of capsule wardrobe by default I suppose. And you know what? It took me a little while to appreciate it, but it's not a bad thing! I finally understand that a small closet creates clarity, fosters decision making, curbs spending/shopping, and inspires creativity in organization.

4 Comments
2024/05/20
00:39 UTC

260

What ideas or behaviors were handed down from previous generations that make it hard for you to declutter?

For me, my mother held every photograph sacred. So many images, saved in albums and scrapbooks. Of course the oldest images are special, because there were less of them, and it is family history that can't be replaced. But 100s of pics from Disney in 1990, oh boy. Not a rant per se, as the "flair" suggests, but I find that I have a hard time throwing out or deleting pics as a result though.

105 Comments
2024/05/20
00:14 UTC

17

Spousal clutter issues

My husband borders on being a hoarder, so much so that I have started daydreaming about just moving out to my own apartment.

I’ve been in the process of attempting to get a new job but have also been asked to move to my current job’s home office, so I outlined a plan for us to prepare to move. For about a month I dropped off a box at goodwill every week and filled the trash cans every week. I also wrote out a punchlist, which included a few things for each of us to do, including putting two couches and a coffee table on the curb during bulk trash pickup. I travel a lot for business and had to go away just before the trash pickup, and he assured me it was no problem and it would be handled.

I came home and none of the stuff that he promised to throw out was thrown out.

Ever since then I really am heartbroken. Our house is a mess and any surface I uncover is immediately covered again with, generally, small items that people don’t put up. The kitchen cabinets are always wide open, and the drawers are pulled out and nothing is put away. I am still doing a lot of basic daily cleaning, but nobody else is. I unloaded on my husband about this and he basically acted like I’m way overreacting. But like…I feel like I’m drowning. We have a cleaner who comes. She basically just beats back the chaos for a day.

Anyway, I feel like I’m at a breaking point here. Got any advice for me?

7 Comments
2024/05/19
23:58 UTC

0

Decluttering My Boyfriend’s House Unusual Hoard

So my boyfriend is downsizing which is great because he has a very large house and Parkinson’s. We are decluttering which shouldn’t be hard because the house isn’t really cluttered. One bedroom has a very large closet/storage room. In there are 6-8 cartons of brand new tshirts that were ordered by a woman friend probably 10 years ago and left in his house. He doesn’t want to contact her about them, and he will be putting the house up for sale in the next 2-3 months. The problem is that these are cheerleading women’s shirts with a strange name that was apparently a brand this woman was trying to start. Any idea what I can do with these?

11 Comments
2024/05/19
23:56 UTC

9

Type of hoarder - system type

I recently came across a decluttering advice page that discussed 4 different types of visual clutter or hoarder style but I clicked out of it and haven’t been able to find it since.

It really stuck with me as I was the out of sight out of mind type but I can see that others in my family like to have stuff on display. If anyone knows who this lady is I’d love to be able to fol

4 Comments
2024/05/19
23:12 UTC

19

Note on anonymous gift to not feel obligated to keep!

Hi, friends! My mom recently beat breast cancer (yay!) and she received a beautiful charity gift box filled with donations. I'm planning on making cut and tie throw blankets to donate to this group who then packages them with other donations and ships them to people who are fighting cancer. Here's my dilemma: I want people to feel free to throw these blankets away whenever they want. This blanket may go with people to treatment and may get dirty or just have bad memories attached. But so many people have a hard time getting rid of something that's a gift and that could be useful still. I want to attach a note that says basically "This gift is not precious. Please enjoy it and then get rid of it when it no longer has a place in your life." Is it wrong to tell a stranger what to do with a gift? Am I overthinking this? Help!

23 Comments
2024/05/19
21:38 UTC

93

Don't underestimate how much having a "helper" actually helps!

TLDR: College kid helped and what I thought would take 2 to 4 days and about 12 hours total took 1 day and less than 3 hours. Am now buying them lunch. :)

Talked my "home from college" kid into helping me tackle a "storage" room today. While I knew having help would make it easier to stay on task, I really only planned on spending a couple hours on it, and making it so that at least part of the room would be functional again so that we actually COULD store things in it while decluttering other rooms. (Hey, it's a process and a small house and a lot of life fluctuation right now.)

Instead with their help we made it through the entire room. Not everything is perfect, but everything got looked at, stacked neatly, sorted, things that had a home got moved to them, 5 bags of things were carted to the trash and 1 large box of give aways is waiting for pickup.

Went from a narrow path to the far door into a nice 8' x 10' of cleared floor ready for use (workout area) and all things belonging to their sib who moved out / is relocating are now in one large cabinet in the corner which will be taken by them next month. And we made one stack of small furniture that will go to this kid's apartment come August.

It's been a productive day!

6 Comments
2024/05/19
17:34 UTC

165

What was the hardest thing for you to get rid of, that you don't regret?

I'm a very artsy person and had a lot of art supplies. But most never got used, because they weren't good quality, and I didn't truly enjoy them (only kept them because it validated the identity of being an 'artist', if you get what I mean). Guilt of not using them caused a lot of art procrastination, which caused more guilt, cycle of piss and shit ensures. Put them on the kerb last month, someone else took them and is probably enjoying them more than I ever did, and now my energy is focused on only some specific mediums that I fully enjoy rather than distracted by many. Have drawn sooo much more since.

How about you?

76 Comments
2024/05/19
16:20 UTC

4

Decluttering Christmas Decorations in June

Is it ok to donate Christmas items to charity in the middle of summer? (Midwest USA) For several years I've told myself 'I'll take donate this in October or November" . I just want the stuff out. My understanding is most charity shops don't have much storage for 'out of season' things.

Thoughts?

EDIT: By OK, would it be welcomed or just create more work for them to put it in the trash themselves.

15 Comments
2024/05/19
15:44 UTC

25

I have the most clothes ever.

How does everyone decide what to keep when it comes to clothes? I have A LOT of comfy clothes…tees, pajama pants, hoodies. I dread doing laundry because I have SO MUCH. I don’t know where to begin. What has worked for you? I am open to any and all tips and tricks!

18 Comments
2024/05/19
15:42 UTC

1

Framed marriage license

So I'm cleaning out my parents house and I've found they have a framed marriage license. I've already decided that I don't want to keep it, but at the same time, just tossing it in the dumpster is a little, something. Any ideas for how to give something like this a respectful send-off?

14 Comments
2024/05/19
15:24 UTC

23

I have a lot of clutter and I’m super stressed out by it.

I could really use some advice here. I have a lot of clutter in a few room in my house. I can’t walk into my closets without moving things out. There is a small path to walk thru in my garage. My home is very clean, I just have too much stuff. My husband wants to put the things that we don’t truly need on the curb. I want to have a yard sale. I have been having a yard sale in my mind for about three years now. I would need to sort through everything in order to price and arrange things for this garage sale. I have two herniated discs in my lumbar spine and it’s very hard for me to do any kind of prolonged activity that involves bending, twisting, lifting, etc. Keeping my house clean and taking care if my beloved cats and dog is about all I can do. When I ask my husband to help, he won’t go through things, he’ll just throw things out. I get very stressed when I go in the garage or when I need to get to things in the closets. I have this warped mentality of thinking that I could make some serious money with a yard sale and honestly, we could really use some extra money. We have donated several yard bags filled with clothes. I try to sort a few things but end up moving baskets and bins with stuff from room to room to closets, etc. I’ve tried to sort things in the garage but I get overwhelmed and leave. It’s so stressful and depressing. Any suggestions or advice?

Edit. I should clarify that my husband wanting to put everything on the curb means on the curb for trash pickup.

32 Comments
2024/05/19
14:48 UTC

63

Only get matching totes and a good label maker

Edit: my tips are geared towards people who have already decluttered and are looking for ways to organize. I am not just moving useless crap to nice totes, that stuff gets tossed or given away. As I go through the old totes, the junk is moved to trash piles.

We are in the process of decluttering.

The two biggest things I've figured out is get only matching high end totes like the ones from Costco. The 27 gallon ones that can be on sale for 7-8 dollars each.

Lowe's and Home Depot also sell them but their brands are usually more money but they are great and come in different sizes.

The other thing is get a good label maker. I have two, a Zebra and a Dymo. The Zebra prints 4"x6" labels and the Dymo is set to print 1"x2" labels. I keep my laptop with me and just edit the labels and print away.

I can stack up to 7 of those 27 gallon totes on top of each other and labeling each one with contents makes a huge difference.

DO NOT GET A HUGE AMOUNT OF MISMATCHED RANDOM TOTES!!! Stay away from those cheaper Sterlite totes from Walmart. That was our biggest issue, having a huge amount of mismatched cheap totes that don't stack well and have tops that crack and crumble easily.

35 Comments
2024/05/19
13:49 UTC

42

Photo album success!

I went through all of my childhood photo albums (3 or so large ones, 7 or 8 small ones) and I wanted to share how happy it made me.

First I purged: Doubles, photos not of faces, landscapes, zoo animals, random neighborhood shots. That was like 60% of the photos. Then I curated (a word that helped a lot) those down into 4 small photo albums each covering about 5 years. Another 15 or so percent of total photos. In that phase I got rid of childhood friends whose names I did not recall, multiples of the same event, and photos that just werent great. Relabeled everything. Now they are pleasant to look through! It took a couple of days to do the whole thing.

9 Comments
2024/05/19
13:25 UTC

124

Eye opener for me! I love to listen to decluttering/hoarding podcasts while I am working on decluttering. I was listening to a hoarding specialist. She said the MAJORITY of her clients need to get rid of 50% of what they own! 😳

I took this straight to my heart. Truthfully if I don’t get rid of at least 45% of what’s in my house, I’m doing a disservice to myself. I’ve got a plan and I’ve been decluttering for about a month. By the end of the year, I hope to have gotten rid of/or donated, at least 30%-35% of what’s in my home. Eventually I will get rid of the last 15%.

🙌🏾✨🙌🏾

17 Comments
2024/05/19
06:51 UTC

31

How to get rid of clothes that I like and wear?

I have way too many. Some are more for work, some for free time, some for hobbies I have. Some comfy and tomboyish, some girly and pretty, then there is elegant or sexy or just perfect for being warm on winter etc and then not everything matches with everything in terms of style and colour - there you go, a super large collection. How do I select which ones I should part ways with?

29 Comments
2024/05/19
06:12 UTC

36

A place to get rid of art supplies and feel good about it

One of my biggest hurdles in decluttering is being a third generation crafter…..and third generation pack rat. I have my own craft supplies, plus those my mom has given me, and supplies I received when my grandmother passed. In addition I also have supplies from crafty aunts and well meaning friends. But it’s too much! And it’s also really really nice stuff in new or like new condition that I feel terrible throwing away or giving to a thrift shop. The thrift shop donations make me feel weird when it come to craft supplies because I feel like the shop won’t know what to do with the supplies and just toss them, or places like Goodwill will mark them up and then no one will buy them.

Then I found out about free art supply closets.

There’s one in my town, Sacramento CA, and there’s more popping up throughout California and some other states. Since I first started going there I have taken huge bags and boxes of stuff and they put it out in what is basically a free for all “store”. I’ve even taken some supplies others have donated that finally helped me complete projects I’ve been putting off. I’m the kind of person who feels bad just throwing things away, and I’m working on getting better at that. In the mean time though I highly recommend finding a local free art supply closet if you want your crafting supplies to be out of your life but not wasted. I’m even helping my other family members take trips there and it feels so good to de clutter multiple peoples houses while giving back to the crafting community

18 Comments
2024/05/18
23:43 UTC

10

Downsizing without a set deadline

Id like to downsize from to 2.5 closets to about 1 closet. The problem is that I don't need to do so for at least a year or so.

I'm kind of afraid to start the process. Mainly I'm afraid of empty space and having the urge to fill it back up. Or get rid of things only to rebuy them, like the weighted blanket I don't currently use.

Right now I have adequate space for a lot of extra things, like scratchy blankets that could be useful in a pinch and clothes 2 sizes too small.

Can someone suggest a timeline for decluttering and also how long does it take to adjust to the empty spaces?

Deep down im not psyched about the change but i know if i create the space it will spawn creativity and maybe reduce inertia. Thx

7 Comments
2024/05/18
23:09 UTC

4,559

In case you're me and need to hear these things from someone else:

It's OK to get rid of the blob of single lonely socks whose mates are long gone

It's OK to get rid of items from a hobby you no longer do

It's OK to get rid of items you no longer remember who gave it to you

It's OK to get rid of those just perfect cardboard boxes you keep around to ship things/store things (long story lol)

It's OK to get rid of the half dead strings of christmas lights

It's OK to get rid of worn out linens

It's OK to get rid of reusable shopping bags that are wearing through

All of these concepts I've had to process these past few weeks. And by "get rid of" it depends on the item - sell, recycle, donate, trash. Yep. It's OK to trash things. That's a hard one for me.

373 Comments
2024/05/18
23:07 UTC

164

We did it!!! Thanks redditors!

Hey everyone! My teen and I decluttered the storage unit in the basement today! I had been hanging onto lots of items “ for the future” I asked my kid if she would want X down the line she said no to everything except a good set of mixing bowls and an instapot. She was really on a role and said I don’t need all these planters either. We are gifting those to a friend. We got rid of the following

  • bag of old scarves that smelled weird
  • large box of plastic planters in various sizes
  • a high chair
  • a whole tote full of boy toys I was going to “ gift” to my nephew
  • old fall decor
  • old rug
  • last but not least I was able to fold up my bed frame that is not in use and put it neatly in the corner.

Thanks everyone again for your great advice and motivation! Now if we have to move or if I die it will be less burden lol

6 Comments
2024/05/18
22:56 UTC

25

Summer vacation declutter...picking up where I left off

As a teacher, I'm ready to head into another summer declutter. I got a good start last year, and lost momentum when I went back to work.

Some of my "undecided" piles have not moved since August. I think they can safely go. (They need to be dusted before I can donate them!)

2 Comments
2024/05/18
22:50 UTC

13

Reclaiming my mental space and time, away from digital clutter.

I don't like to store things online. It feels like everything could be automated or on autopilot but it really is deceptive. Recently I was trying to understand why this is so. In order to upload something this is what needs to happen:

  1. My old phone needs to have my battery charged. I am not interested in buying one and use apps minimally.

Or I could scan on my computer, but this requires my wifi scanner to be on wifi but since I am in a dense neighborhood, and several of my neighbors are hacked, I am loathe to put my scanner and printer on wifi. Computer is not an option.

  1. The app needs to be updated and might at any point stop working because my phone is old

  2. passwords stored in a password manager was hacked and lead to several days of panicked changing of passwords and restoring access. that has lead me to passwords that are stored locally, and must be retrieved

  3. must pay for storage since the usual free storage isn;t enough. i put it on a credit card... but credit cards expire and so you must pay attention to emails coming in.

I just want to store my darned documents without so much stress.

My solution ? PAPER

much to my surprise and delight, physical file folders binders and papers have been working wonderfully. I don't need to access my documents when I am not at home. I have a few important documents saved locally on my phone in case, but thats it. File system and boxes.

I have a simple workflow: look at incoming mail, seperate into recycle, shred/trash, and file.

Action and reference piles.

Action: I do stuff if i need to and file in the current files box or just file

Reference I leave alone. It stuff that is in a chronological order and thus far i have not needed to see it.

Once a year, current file box becomes last years box.

Life has been so much simpler. No digital clutter and surprisingly no paper clutter. I would never have said I could keep a paper system going,. but so far so good!

The key has been the reference pile. Things I don't know what to do with, that are clearly NOT IMPORTANT that I MIGHT need but worry about wrongly filing, I just put in the reference pile. I give myself permission to keep it around. It is a single box and my hoarding anxiety is calmed by knowing nothing is lost.

At some point I might be able to just dump the reference box because there is nothing VITAL in there.

5 Comments
2024/05/18
20:28 UTC

25

The Messy Middle of the Purge

I can see the floor of my closet now! But if I look to my right, there’s a bunch of stuff looking disheveled and disgusting. But it’s not that stuff’s turn to be processed yet.

Which is how I’m holding on to sanity.

To the hanging clothes in the closet, you’re next because I don’t want to start something I can’t finish today (the box I’m dreading). I have given up on weight loss so everything too small or just barely fitting, you’re out.

Now what should I do with a collection of cups that might be worth something, or nothing at all? It was a failed hobby, but now a sour reminder.

10 Comments
2024/05/18
19:33 UTC

161

Anyone else out there hate getting presents?

Birthdays, Christmas, Fathers Day, ugh! I don’t want and I don’t need any stuff. Ok, my socks and underwear get old, but how do you ask for that??? I just enjoy spending time with the family and friends that I love and care about. Anyone out there successfully transition away from gift giving? I hate that fake smile on my face why I graciously accept more stuff I don’t want.

57 Comments
2024/05/18
17:06 UTC

21

What to do with old books that aren’t worth anything

Cleaning out a relative’s house. Tons of paperbacks and obsolete How To books from the 1970’s. Like, thousands of books. Our city recently stopped taking books in paper recycling. I can’t picture any libraries or thrift stores wanting them books that old. Is there anything I can do apart from trashing them?

39 Comments
2024/05/18
15:57 UTC

33

How many dresses do you own?

Are 22 dresses too much? What's the limit one should own if space is not really an issue

114 Comments
2024/05/18
14:29 UTC

19

Outerwear: is it too much?

Greetings to all,

So I love clothes but am obsessed with covering every use AND not owning too many things with the same use.

Regarding outerwear, and not counting the sports/hiking gear, I have:

  • a warm and waterproof parka for winter, snow etc (khaki green)
  • a wool trench for autumn/winter, elegant and stylish (nut brown)
  • a short wool bomber for autum, winter and cold spring (forest green)
  • a raincoat for autum/spring (navy blue)
  • a raincoat for summer and warm spring, with no lining (light khaki green)
  • a spring/summer jacket (mustard yellow, sturdy cotton, workwear style)

A hardcore minimalist could reduce that, obviously, and I tried to, but I wear them all depending on the temperature and rain (or lack of).

What do you think ?

9 Comments
2024/05/18
10:03 UTC

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