Chores,  Clutter,  Organizing,  Spring Cleaning

8 Simple Things We Can All Declutter and Donate Before Spring Cleaning Our Homes This Year

Lest you think I’ve mastered decluttering in my own home, let me assure you… it’s an ongoing battle. I mostly write these things to hold myself accountable, but I’m stoked you’re coming along with me today.

This of course is not a complete list of what could be decluttered before spring cleaning. It’s just a nudge to help you start. And clearly, to help me start again too since I found more things I could easily part with!

So here are my eight things to declutter instead of cleaning around them. Spring cleaning can happen next month. First, let’s work on getting rid of these….

1. Outdated Electronics

From VHS players to old cell phones, keeping them in a cupboard or your garage isn’t doing anyone any favors. If it works it still has value, so sell it or give it away.

No need to harm our planet by throwing broken items in the trash though; find an e-waste recycler and let them deal with it properly.

I got motivated today and listed a broken cell phone for parts. Even if I only get $50 for it, that’s better than leaving it in the cupboard earning zero.

2. Clothes You Never Wear

If comparison truly is the thief of joy, then I shouldn’t care how many clothes I own. Comparing myself to the fancy lady down the street does me no favors. And though I probably won’t ever have a 25-item capsule wardrobe, the idea of getting rid of items I keep ignoring is attractive. 

When decluttering closets for clients, most people start out not wanting to part with much. Once we move every item out to their bed though, they can see what they actually have and realize it’s excessive. So far every person has been surprised with the number of items they were willing to part with.

This week I got rid of five shirts, two sweatshirts, and a pair of shoes, and want to tackle my shorts next month. Having less clothing makes dusting and vacuuming my closet easier!

3. Plastic Grocery Bags

We line one trash can in our house with them, but I do our grocery shopping with reusable grocery sacks. So why have I been keeping a huge pile of plastic bags? No idea. 

When I read how some stores recycle them, I typed my zip code into and found quite a few places with these helpful bins. Between Sprouts, Target, Vons, and Kohl’s, my excuses got squashed. Out the door, into the car, and down the road I go….

4. Old Magazines

There aren’t many truly timeless basic periodicals worth any money or still relevant six months (or two years) later. Plus, the odds I’m going to read any magazine a second or third time is pretty slim, so out they go.

Of course, if you own a copy of a National Geographic pre-1905, then you’ll probably find an interested dealer willing to dish out some cash. But Vogue or Men’s Health from 2018? Not so much. Recycle those piles and take back your valuable real estate space!

5. Duplicate Kitchen Tools

Since cooking takes multiple tools, I am a big fan of having multiple sizes of spatulas and rubber scrapers. But four of the exact same size? Not necessary. If your crock and utensil drawer is overflowing and half the stuff in there doesn’t ever get used, the Salvation Army will be happy to take them off your hands. 

It’s much easier to clean out my drawers (and find things!) when they’re not stuffed to the gills.

6. Broken or Ignored Jewelry & Accessories

Yes, most women probably keep too many pieces of jewelry they don’t actually wear or like. But it’s not only females who hang on to such goodies. 

From old belts and ties to cufflinks and hats, most men have some excess too. So instead of ignoring or dusting all those old accessories, I propose we donate the good ones and toss the broken ones. Choosing what to wear in the morning feels much easier when you have fewer choices.

(Walking back to my closet now….)

7. Damaged or Tattered Sheets, Blankets & Towels

I love a good worn-in sheet that’s super soft and cozy. Sometimes I love them a tad too long and my foot goes through the fabric. I also have a tendency to hold on to worn-out towels a tad too long. Then I remind myself of two things: ripped towels can be cut to make good rags, and Costco’s towel sale every year is a crazy good deal.

Do you own old blankets you haven’t used in years? Feel the freedom to part with them. If they’re still in good shape, there are plenty of homeless or low-income people who would probably love to find them at your local thrift store.

I got rid of two today and made my linen closet happy!

8. Old Lotions, Shampoos, & Conditioners

I will forever be that person who takes the free sample sizes at hotels. No shame there, but my problem comes when they sit under my bathroom sink for years and I keep thinking I’ll use them. They come in handy ever so often, but for the most part, they’re not high quality and they just collect dust.

So I hauled them out, tossed 99% of them, and took back some valuable space. Hint: if you see separation or they smell a little off… adios.

Your turn. What’s another thing you can declutter before spring cleaning? I’m always interested in new ideas, so bring ‘em on!

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  • Therese Jepson

    Your blog always inspires me. I had such fun cleaning out kitchen drawers this week. Onto the bathrooms next week.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Glad to hear it! Kitchen drawers are great because they’re small and manageable. Good job tackling projects on a regular basis!

  • Tracy Steffen

    Wonderful article Carrie. Great tips! Jacob’s House in Temecula is a close 2nd to a Ronald McDonald House. Nichole takes my stuff once a month to Savers and gets some coupons to use in their store. It works for me, because I declutter but don’t actually have to throw anything away! (Which is so hard for me-I came from the generation where we even rinsed and reused our ziplocks. Not to mention every jar and box! )

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank you, Tracy. Jacob’s house is a perfect idea. I’ll have to keep them in mind for other things too. I’m guessing they’re in need of other toiletries? I hear ya on the throwing away part. I watched my grandma save twist ties, and those tendencies definitely got passed down. Kinda revolves around being frugal and wanting to be a good steward. And then we all blink and have wayyy too much stuff. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

  • Debbie

    Free sample sizes. If they are unopened, drop them off at the Ronald McDonald House! They really appreciate them+

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh, good idea! I didn’t know they wanted them. Unfortunately mine are usually always opened, but I’ll think about that next time. Thanks for the tip! Our closest one is in San Diego, right?

  • Libby Taylor-Worden

    When we married, our parrot cry way, “Merge and purge.” But until I was getting new paint and flooring in my office, and had to pack everything, did I realize how much purging I still needed to do. Granted, I had added to it over the last 15+ years, but even then I had kept far too much during my initial purge. I think I got rid of (thrift store or garbage) dozens of pens, at least a dozen pads of paper, over a dozen blank journals (I journal online now), and–wait for it–30 years of journals that I have never gone back to reread as I thought I might. Add to that nick-nacks, office supplies, and 12 boxes of books donated to the church and local library (still have 15 boxes). I can honestly say I can see the attraction of those who are minimalists. Less ‘stuff’ makes me want to be in my office more often. I get more work done and enjoy it more.

    • Carrie Talbott

      “Merge and purge.” Ha! I love it! Wow… 30 years of journals is impressive. So kind of you to donate all those books to your church and library! You’re right–there are parts of being a minimalist that look quite attractive. Less stuff is freeing! Crazy how it’s a constant battle though; I take at least one large bag to the Salvation Army every two months and STILL have more to go. Sheesh. Carry on, Libby, and good job!

  • Sherry Brinkerhoff

    There’s nothing like moving twice in one year to declutter! As I now start making our new (to us) house a home, I am gathering even more stuff that will not be useful so that I can take it all down to a thrift shop. The only trouble with being my age (75+)is apparently I made decisions before our first move in Feb. 2022 to get rid of some things that I didn’t remember doing. Now, as I unpack the last box, I am wondering where those items are! Maybe there is a box in hiding secretly hoping I will leave it in peace!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Ohhhh glory. I legit despise moving. The ONLY good thing about it is the process of getting rid of stuff. Good job continuing to declutter and donate. May you find what you truly need and forget about the rest! 🙂