Getting Organized: Decluttering!

As I mentioned the other day, I’m dedicating the rest of January to decluttering, cleaning, and otherwise starting the process of getting organized.  February will be “Closets Month” so I’ll tackle the organization part later.


A reader brought up a great point in a comment though….where do you start? 

Yeah.  Yuck.  Where DO you start? 

I always start with the question “Keep or toss?”  I’ll pull stuff out of all the usual hiding places.  Then I’ll decide what to keep or toss and group what’s left into categories like décor, cleaning, food/kitchen, office, etc so it can be organized into the right area of the house and not be spread out over multiple closets, etc.

There are three major areas I want to make sure I tackle: décor stuff, electronics, and clothes.

Décor Stuff

Décor items are a pretty big clutter culprit in my house, and they tend to be stored in the weirdest places.  I need to bring all the décor together and figure out what to keep.  If an item is recyclable (like a glass vase from an old arrangement) I throw it in the recycle bin to make the Goodwill load a little lighter.  It gets recycled either way.  Here’s the beginning of the pile-o-clutter:


Electronics (aka E-Junk)

E-junk makes up a pretty decent amount of our clutter, too.  The guilt associated with throwing out a piece of high-tech plastic means we have a small pile going at any given time.  

What to do with old electronics?

As far as I know, there are a few options for what to do with old electronics: 

1)  Sell it to a recycling company online. and are both places I’ve tried out.  Just find your item in their huge database and they’ll tell you if they want it and how much they’ll pay.  They’ll also recycle your items for you if you want to pay the shipping to send the stuff in.  Ipods, computer equipment, cameras, cell phones….you name it….they might take it.

2) Put it out on Craigslist or Freecycle, but don’t expect much (if anything) if the websites wouldn’t take it. 

3) Recycle it.  Our city recycling center takes old electronics, computers, TVs etc for free or for a small fee.  We recycled a huge load of electronics last summer and our fee for all of it (which only applied to a couple things) was $6.  $6 to recycle electronics rather than throw them in the landfill is fine by me! 


Easy way to sort clothes for donation

Last year I turned all my clothes hangers around backwards on the rod.  As I wore an item, I’d hang it back up the normal way.  Anything still hanging backwards now (a year later!) is going to consignment or charity.  If I haven’t worn it in a year, it can go. 

I also realized recently that I have several items still in my closet from high school.  They’re in good shape….but it’s time to graduate already!  Remember the Old Navy fleece “tech vests”?  I think that was circa 7th grade for me…..and HERE IT IS!


I’ve kept it because a fleece vest is a good basic to have around…but the truth is I can’t remember the last time I actually wore it.

I also have a habit of never getting rid of threadbare or holey socks.  It’s just too easy to take them off at night and throw them in the hamper before you remember how holey they are.  But it does get a little embarrassing when we’re hanging out with company and I realize the bottoms of my socks are threadbare.  I can afford to buy new socks, I promise.

So I moved all my socks to another drawer.  Every day I choose a pair from that drawer (even if it means wearing Halloween socks in January like I’m NOT doing today….Happy Halloween!), and at the end of the day, if one or both socks is holey or threadbare, they go in the trash.  If not, they go in the hamper to be eventually put away back in the sock drawer.  I’ve sorted out a ton of nasty old socks that way.

Other random areas where I found stuff to get rid of:

  • Plastic food storage containers:  Do you have the same amount of lids and containers?  I didn’t.  I had a BUNCH of extra lids that went in the recycling bin.
  • Cleaning supplies:  An old bottle of “no scratch” cat spray that hadn’t been used in at LEAST 5 years…  extra ratty sponges from the cleaning kit… a flimsy sweater drying rack that collapses with wet sweaters on it…  all gone, along with a bunch of other junk.

It seems like small stuff, but it really piles up.  As I organize closets in the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll find more junk.  But for now, I’m making good progress toward Step 2:  Organization!

I’m already getting excited for organizing…the ideas are building!


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