Most of us crave a more organised home but, even with our best intentions, going through the decluttering process can be tricky.
A lot of the time it’s because we simply don’t know what to get rid of. ‘But what if I need it?’ is a common refrain among those sorting through piles of clutter in their homes.
We decided to ask professional organisers who help people sort out their homes for a living what we could all get rid of immediately to make our living space feel cleaner and clearer.
Here’s what they told us…
1. Old mobile phones and their chargers. Got your old handset and about 10 unindentifiable chargers hanging around? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – but getting rid of them is an easy way to free up some space. Find out how to recycle or even sell your old phone here.
2. Outdated electronics like VCRs, cassette players, remote controls and leads that are no longer being used. Technology has moved on so far than few of us have the hardware for these items any more, but still we insist on clutching on to them. Be realistic with yourself and lose the items you’ll never use again.
3. Magazines. You keep promising yourself you will read them, but if you’re honest, you never will. Take them to the local hairdressers or doctors’ surgery, or just put them in the recycling.
4. Excess pens. For some strange reason, most households contain far more pens than they will ever need to use. Let go of any that are lidless, and streamline the remainder down to a sensible number.
5. Old laptops, computers and hard drives. These bulky items can end up cluttering the house for years, usually because we’re not sure what to do with them. According to Good Housekeeping’s resident tech expert, Carrie-Ann Skinner, you need to remove the hard drive from laptops and computers, then take them to your local electricals recycling unit to be processed. Hard drives should be destroyed – Carrie-Ann suggests smashing them up with a hammer, which sounds enjoyable!
6. Anything you keep saying you are going to sell, but never have the time to list. Let’s be honest, are you really going to sit down and put it on eBay, or would it be better off just going straight to the charity shop?
7. Out-of-date paperwork. It’s time to tackle that scary pile of papers and decide what you need to keep, what needs actioning and what you can simply get rid of altogether.
8. Negative items. AKA, anything that makes you feel sad, such as study notes from a course you didn’t complete or items belonging to your ex-husband or wife. It’s important to surround ourselves only with possessions that add value to our lives.
9. Old clothes, coats or shoes you never wear. For advice on how to declutter your wardrobe, click here.
10. Unwanted gifts. Any gift given to you that you really don’t like and have hidden at the back of a cupboard would be better off going to someone who’ll actually get enjoyment from it.
11. Paints and felt pens that are dried up and no longer work. This is a great way to reduce your kids’ stash of stuff.
12. Towels that are scratchy, threadbare or stained. We all deserve the pleasure of soft, thick towels!
13. Manuals. People struggle to get rid of these because they’re worried an item will break down and they won’t know how to fix it, but you can find any manual easily on the internet these days. Make an Excel spreadsheet noting the serial number of devices and you’ll be able to find instructions quickly online.
14. Plastic bags. Since the 5p charge came into effect, people are really hoarding these, but you only need to keep the maximum of bags you would ever need for one supermarket shop, not a whole kitchen cupboard of them.
15. Popcorn/ice cream/bread/yoghurt maker (unless you genuinely do use it). I’m sure there are exceptions, but generally the size of these items versus frequency of use doesn’t warrant the space needed for storing them. Kitchen space is precious, and surfaces should be kept as clear as possible.
16. Excess crockery and cutlery. Declutter down to the maximum number you would need if you had guests. Don’t worry about keeping enough for a party – that’s what hired or recyclable versions are for.
17. Tupperware. This is bulky and a challenge to store, so get rid of any you don’t use, plus any mismatched lids and containers. Invest in a set where the containers neatly fit into each other. The lids can then be stored in an old CD rack or something similar.
18. Old make-up. It’s worth remembering the general rule that liquid products only last 6 months and non-liquid items a year. It’s common for make-up to lurk around for years, or even decades!
19. Out-of-date medication. Time flies quickly, and you can end up with some really old products lying around at home. A quick cull of your medication is a good idea.
20. Odd socks. Round up all the odd socks floating about in your drawers, have a pairing session, and put any that still don’t have a partner in the clothes bin.
21. Travel guidebooks. If these are more than a few years old they are probably useless; you don’t want to risk turning up at a foreign museum that closed years ago!
22. Spare duvets. We tend to hold on to these ‘just in case’. They are bulky and take up a lot of space, so it’s best to get rid.
23. Duplicates of anything. Two is one too many of any item, so why not donate one to charity or a friend?
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