28 things you can declutter today

Things you can declutter today include mugs

Things you can declutter today – just pick one and get started

KITCHEN things you can declutter

1. Old food

This is an easy place to start, because best-before dates are there to help.

And yes I know best-befores are just a guide, but if something has gone past its date and you have no foreseeable use for it (i.e. a plan to use it in the next week) then say bye-bye. Food can be aspirational because it’s nice to dream about being the perfect baking mumma with an apron and rolling pin, or the healthy version of yourself who eats loads of chia and almonds. But if it’s not happening now, get rid of the clutter.

What you can do:
Give it to someone you know who will eat it. Also, some suburbs have local community pantries for edibles. You can find out about these via community Facebook groups like Good Karma and Buy Nothing. Otherwise, your green waste bin will be perfect for the contents of the packs.

2. Appliances you never use

Another aspirational area, because making pies with the pie maker or popcorn for movie night seems like a good idea, but after the first couple of uses you realise the appliance is more trouble than it’s worth. 

And now it just takes up space and makes you feel guilty. I know you paid money for it or accepted it as a gift, but it’s ok to let go if it’s not serving you.

What you can do:
Many op shops take electricals, and you can also try your local Buy Nothing or Good Karma network. 

3. Shopping bags

Do you have a bag of bags? Or multiple bags of bags? They accumulate faster than dust on the mantle. Keep a couple in your car and a few spares in a convenient spot, but that’s usually all you need.

What you can do:
Food charities and some op shops like them, and also try your local Buy Nothing or Good Karma network. If you have donations from the rest of this list, of course the bags can be used for those.

4. Mugs

A popular default gift, hence we often receive more than we need. Get rid of the chipped and the ugly, and if you are not sure where the low-hanging fruit is, check the depths of your cupboard where you are not inspired to venture. The popular options will be at the front, and they are probably all you need. The same goes for glassware.

What you can do:
Op shops if they are intact, smash rooms if they are not, and the last resort is the bin.

5. Duplicate utensils

Are you guilty of buying a new vegetable peeler and keeping the old one ‘just in case’? There is no such thing as an emergency peeling situation, so please cull the multiples. And don’t get me started on corkscrews – barely used ever, so you definitely don’t need more than one of these relics.

What you can do:
Op shops take most things if they are in decent condition.

6. Tupperware orphans

You have containers with no lids and lids with no containers, right? Do an audit, match everything up and store the pairs with lids on, then get rid of the orphans. This has two benefits: (1) You can grab what you need super fast with no fossicking. (2) You reduce overall volume. And yes I know the lids-on approach is more space-hungry, but it’s worth it.

What you can do:
Unfortunately, this type of plastic is currently not recyclable, so the bin is probably the most viable option. Some Tupperware bases can make good drawer organisers, but if you won’t be deploying them in the foreseeable future, ditch them.

OFFICE things you can declutter

7. Receipts

Supermarket receipts from years ago can be binned, as can most of your receipts except for major appliances. Check your expectations for tax (usually you need to wait five years from the date you lodge your tax return) and chuck the oldies. 

What you can do:
Receipt paper generally has plastic on it and most council facilities don’t recycle it. So it’s a bin situation.

8. Email subscriptions (especially for shopping)

Unsubscribing from all that automated info you don’t need, takes you out of the consumerism firing line and removes temptation and FOMO. 

What you can do:
Just hit unsubscribe – so easy and zero waste! 

9. Pens

These are not used as much as in previous years, so you don’t need many. Keep a few faves and be sure to test them. A pen which works intermittently can be even more frustrating than a complete dud. 

What you can do:
Did you know Officeworks recycles old pens and markers? You can find a collection point in the foyer of your local, which means you don’t even need to go in and be tempted by all the lovely stationery. 

10. Notebooks

Refer to the above – stationery with its pretty colours can be very tempting, but there are only so many we can use.

What you can do:
Blank notebooks are op-shoppable, or you can bulk list some on your local Facebook group.

BEDROOM things you can declutter

11. Shoes

Who’s got time for uncomfortable shoes any more? And shoes are annoying to store. Get rid of the too-tight and too-high shoes, and those you don’t wear.

What you can do:
Op shops accept shoes, and you can also look at the Tread Lightly program for worn-out kicks.

12. Clothes

Let me guess – one day you will get back down to the size which enables you to wear all these old faves. But the reality is: (1) Actually you may never get back to that size (and that’s ok) and if you do, your shape and tastes are likely different from 20 years ago.  (2) In the meantime they are taking up valuable space in your cluttered home AND telling you you’re a failure. Are they worth it?

What you can do:
Op shops for nice pieces and various textile recycling options for unwearable garments. 

13. Jewellery

Clunky, jangly items are often not on the agenda even though they were many years ago. Do a cull and keep only the high-use pieces. 

What you can do:
Op shops love these.

14. Sock orphans

The odd socks that have been (literally) kicking around for years, may never find their long-lost love. Let them go.

What you can do:
As per old clothing, there are multiple options for recycling fabrics.

BATHROOM things you can declutter

15. Old makeup

If you won’t eat food that’s five years past its use by date, neither should you be putting old cosmetics on your lips and face. 

What you can do:

16. Old toiletries and freebies

As above, there is no justifiable reason to keep sunscreen from ten years ago, unless you want a nasty sunburn. Those little sachets that come free are also just clutter.

What you can do:
Items still in date and sealed can go to the op shop, be listed on a Facebook community group, or taken to a community pantry. Local drives like Blessing Bags may be taking donations.

17. Expired medication

Antibiotics from many years ago, niche products you once needed but now don’t, and grubby bandaids from the back of the cupboard – they all need to go.

What you can do:
Pharmacies can dispose of medications properly to keep them out of waterways.

OTHER things you can declutter

18. Towels and bedding

You know that weird old bedding smell? Get it out of your house by culling the old and unused items. You won’t want to keep them for guests, and there are only so many rags a house needs.

What you can do:
Vets and animal rescues like towels and some bedding for the animals. Not doonas or pillows though, they need to be binned.

19. Christmas decorations

There is so much landfill we feel compelled to buy at Christmas and I am here to say don’t. But if you have, wait until next December and whatever is not used in your decorating process should be removed.

What you can do:
Op shops accept Christmas decorations from about November onwards. Don’t try to donate them in January, you will be met with a cold hard stare from the shop assistants. 

20. Old calendars

So you still have the 2006 nature calendar because you like the pictures and plan to make a decoupage? If ten years have passed with no activity, let go. 

What you can do:
Your recycling bin will probably be fine for these, better still if you can rip off the binding. 

21. Dead batteries

If they are rolling around in your junk drawer, the batteries are probably no good. If they are rechargeable and you don’t have a charger, be realistic and let those go as well.

What you can do:
Batteries are accepted for recycling by some supermarkets and libraries, and most recycling centres. Officeworks as well. Easy! 

22. Merchandise and freebies

The hat and squeezy ball from the community fair with logos emblazoned on them seemed like a good idea at the time – and they were free after all. But if you aren’t using them, let them go. 

What you can do:
These are a tough sell due to the logos, so are probably for the bin or maybe fabric recycling. Just say no next time, to reduce future demand for this landfill. 

23. Old greeting cards

These can build up at an alarming rate. You don’t have to get rid of all of them, but the ones that just say “to xxx, from xxx” are not personal and are low-hanging fruit for discarding.

What you can do:
Cards are perfect recycling bin fodder. 

24. Books you won’t read

Aspiration clutter lives here. Lots of people think they will read that tome “one day”. And that getting rid of books they once enjoyed, removes a part of their identity. Mate, your friends don’t care if you have read War and Peace or not – feel free to remove this status signifier and all the dust on it.

What you can do:
Op shops usually take them, and if not they can go to a community library. Anything time-sensitive like textbooks are probably best in the recycling bin. 

25. Magazines

Maybe there is an article you loved and want to revisit, but will you actually find it (or even look for it) amidst five years’ worth of issues? Also, mags are very topical, and themes that were relevant at the time, may not elicit the same response in you today. 

What you can do:
Hairdressers and the like don’t want these any more, as we have all moved on. We have smartphones instead. Thank goodness for the recycling bin! 

26. Instruction manuals

Have a flick through. Do you still have that VCR machine from 1990? Do you need instructions for your Soda Stream? Nope, I didn’t think so. 

What you can do:
Assuming all paper, into the recycling bin they go.

27. Empty boxes

You think they’ll be handy for all the eBay sales you’ll probably never do, or for the house move you don’t have planned. They are better off in the hands of someone who can use them than taking up your precious space. 

What you can do:
If they are great moving boxes, list them on your local Facebook group. Also, if you are in Melbourne check out The Box Hub on Facebook. 

28. Cables and technology

With every device comes more cords and cables, many of which are unnecessary and tossed into a drawer. Pro tip: If you are finding cords which you don’t recall and they are in their original wrapping / zip tie, they are superfluous.

What you can do:
Similar to batteries, small e-waste is collected at some supermarkets and libraries, and your local council drop-off point. Also Officeworks. The metals in them are recycled.

For all other recycling and donation options, check this post.

How to help a hoarder

How to help a hoarder

Now that I have your attention, ‘someone who hoards’ is a more respectful way to address them. Be mindful of your language AND your actions. Decluttering behind their back can actually make the problem worse. Take baby steps and let them retain control.

Read More »
Has Marie Kondo gone rogue

Has Marie Kondo gone rogue?

Marie Kondo the queen of clean let slip that since the birth of her third child, shit has gotten real at home. She has had to reprioritise her time, which is totes understandable.

Read More »
space invaders season 3 - Cherie, Peter Angie

Space Invaders Season 3

Space Invaders Season 3 features Peter Walsh, Cherie Barber and Angie Kent waving their magic wands on cluttered homes across Sydney, and transforming lives in the process.

Read More »
Grouping Like with Like - a jar of colourful pens

Grouping Like with Like

Grouping Like with Like helps with decluttering, so you know what you can safely cull. It helps with organising, so you can find things easily and intuitively. And it helps with maintenance, so you don’t keep buying duplicates.

Read More »