The new year is the perfect time to bid farewell to the things that no longer serve us, and set new goals for a fresh and productive year. And if one of those goals is to declutter your home, you’ll probably want to know where and how to begin.
Tackling the never-ending clutter in your home can often be overwhelming — especially if you’ve put it off over the years. However, before you go about decluttering your home, it’s always best to take small steps. This is by simply knowing the common things that we have lying around the house, and getting rid of them immediately.
Not only will it keep your home tidy, more organized and free up space, but you’ll also feel less overwhelmed by your environment. Once you’ve decluttered, you might need top tips on how to clean every room of your home, to create a spotless, minimalist space.
In the meantime, these 7 things are cluttering up your home right now. And it’s a great time to declutter!
1. Out-of-date pantry items
We often use our pantry or food cabinets on a daily basis, but when was the last time you gave it a good clean-out? Typically, these "out-of-sight" areas can easily get forgotten, but these are key things to declutter right now.
First, take everything out and go through the expiration dates. Get rid of anything past their sell-by dates, and empty any items that are almost finished. Once you’ve decluttered your pantry items, give the shelves a good clean before putting everything back. Plus, you’ll be surprised to see how much extra space you’ve made!
Storage is just as important when decluttering, especially if you want to maximize on space. Get rid of ugly cardboard boxes or plastic packaging and invest in BPA-free food storage containers or organization bins with dividers like these ClearSpace Plastic Pantry Organization ($39, Amazon), for a clutter-free pantry. These will make things easier to see and locate quickly.
If you want more clever tips and tricks for organizing your pantry, experts also suggest categorizing and grouping similar items together such as condiments, grains, cereals, etc to make life easier!
2. Receipts/takeout menus
If you’re decluttering your kitchen, there might be a stack of takeout menus, expired coupons or grocery shopping receipts lying around. Even if you think they will come in handy, these easily accumulate to create clutter — so be sure to throw them out right now.
Nowadays, you can find menus online, or if not, buy a specific folder or storage box to store away. The same applies to old receipts and expired vouchers that pile up. Throw away any old ones that you don’t need, and file the important ones.
In addition, most stores give the customer the option to have email receipts, so if possible, try and keep your home paperless as possible. This will avoid the build-up of clutter and make your space tidy and manageable.
What’s more, if you have loose paperwork with personal information, you can buy shredders of different capacity to suit your needs, and ones that can even cut credit cards like this Bonsaii Paper Shredder for Home ($31, Amazon). This is important for security, and keeps you protected from potential identity theft.
3. Excess clothing
Our closets are the most obvious places to declutter. Trouble is, these tend to get full again — especially after the holiday sales. Rather than replacing old things, we simply add to the increasing pile.
But before you even get to organizing your wardrobe properly, you’ll need to know the things you need to get rid of in your closet. It’s so easy to accumulate ‘stuff’ over the years, only for it to end up at the back of the closet. Not only do these items take up precious space, but it will make it almost impossible to find anything in a hurry.
The best way to start is to create boxes or piles to ditch, donate and keep any closet items — these will help you with the sorting process. Then, get rid of any damaged, stretched or worn clothing, taking up precious closet room. Check with your local area if there are any Freecycle or other places to recycle old clothing. The Vietnam Veterans of America clothing donation service will even pick up clothes at your house.
If in good condition, donate clothing that no longer fit you, or haven’t worn for years — this includes uncomfortable shoes that you’re not likely to wear. Once you’ve decluttered your closet, you’ll be amazed at the amount of space you have. Just don’t go filling it back up again with new things!
Also, if you have piles of footwear by the front door however, try these 9 space-saving ideas to organize shoes in your entryway.
4. Old greeting cards
Whether it be heartfelt birthday cards from family, anniversaries, graduations or even holiday cards, these can all clutter up space over time. In this case, there’s no need to collect generic greeting cards that you’ve had for years. Plus, you’re not likely to read through a pile of old cards anytime soon!
Instead, recycle, donate, or repurpose greeting cards for any craft projects. And if you have a few of sentimental value, file them away in a nice scrapbook, or even frame the most treasured ones. Less is more, after all!
5. Unused bedding and linens
Another thing that we forget to declutter are our linen/bedding closets that are often overflowing with excess bedding. If you can’t close your closet doors or storage box properly, it’s time to cull those blankets, sheets, throws and any other items you never use.
Similar to hoarding old or ratty towels, you can recycle or donate unused bedding to charity, or animal shelters where they’ll be put to good use. What’s more, if you have a few, cozy favorites, you can always repurpose them as picnic blankets, or for children to sit and play on the grass in the backyard.
6. Shopping bags
Many of us are guilty of hoarding plastic or shopping bags for those multiple grocery store trips. But how many do you need? If your bags are taking over precious cabinet or drawer space, then it’s time to throw them out.
Keep one or two, heavy-duty shopping bags of varying sizes, folding them neatly to take up less space. Plastic bags can be made from different types of plastic materials, so check first if these can be recycled or donated. You could also repurpose old plastic bags as trash can liners, or pet waste bags — which are always handy.
7. Expired medication
Whether you have an illness, or have stocked up on supplements for the winter, it’s common to store what remains of the medicine in the bathroom cabinet. However, the cabinet can easily get cluttered with all types of tablet boxes and liquids that they can easily be forgotten about — for years.
Like most products, medicine comes with an expiration date, and will no longer be effective. What’s more, if you take medicine which has passed this date, it could lead to serious health risks.
Go through the cabinet to declutter any expired medication and organize your medicine cabinet. Throw away any items which have expired and make sure what remains in date can be easily seen and accessed, so you will use it first before buying more.
The same applies for old toiletries and cosmetics, along with these things you’re hoarding, which you should throw away right now.
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As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features.
Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.
With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!