Decluttering Tips: Help with the Difficult Questions You’re Going to Face

Decluttering is one of those things that seems like it’s a no brainer, right? But we could all use some decluttering tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

If you need a good overview of how to declutter, I’ve got you covered, but these decluttering tips are more for some of the nitty gritty questions that might come up along the way as you’re tossing things out.

Like, what about sentimental things? Or old prescriptions? What do you even do with that stuff?

Decluttering Tips: Your Burning Decluttering Questions Answered

While you’re going through the house happily throwing away all the crap you know you don’t need, you’re going to come across something that you get stuck on.

Either because you don’t really want to get rid of it even though there’s no purpose for it anymore or because you will feel bad about getting rid of it or because you just don’t know HOW to get rid of it.

I’m going to tackle some of those questions for you and give you my best decluttering tips to get past these little roadblocks on your way to a completely decluttered home.

The One Question You Need To Always ask YOURSELF

Before we get started, I want to give you the one question that is going to help you the most on this journey. Whether you follow Marie Kondo or any other organizing guru, they all have a similar version of this question:

Would I buy this again if it were in a store in its current condition?

Decluttering Tips - A Woman asks herself, Would you buy this in a store in it's current condition?

That question is similar to Kondo’s, “Does it spark joy?”. It allows you to say “Yes or No” very easily to pretty much every item you’ll come across in your decluttering adventures.

Especially the sentimental things, which we’ll start with.

What About Sentimental Things?

Sentimental things fall into two categories.

  1. Sentimental things you can’t bear to part with
  2. Sentimental things you want to get rid of but you’ll feel guilty if you do

This is where my question comes in. Would you buy it again in it’s current condition in a store?

I can’t bear to part with it.

If it’s a #1, you can’t bear to part with it, then this question allows you to keep that item. The dress I wore to my sons Christening falls into this category.

I loved that dress, it is sentimental to me, I will never fit into it again, but it is special to me. So I kept it (until I lost it in a freak decluttering accident where the wrong bag went to Goodwill).

I would buy that dress again because of how it still makes me feel. If anyone sees a cotton navy blue dress with tiny white polka dots and red piping at their Goodwill, let me know.

I’ll feel so guilty if I get rid of this.

If the item falls into the 2nd category, you’re only considering keeping it because you’ll feel bad if you part with it, then you have to put your big girl pants on and let it go.

Decluttering Tips - The tacky chair someone willed to you?  Get rid of it.

I can assume that you’re holding on to it because someone gifted it to you or willed it to you. That person loved you and would not want you holding on to that thing if it is causing you strife.

OR, they gave it to you exactly so that you would be burdened with it for the rest of your years because they knew you would feel guilty for giving it away, in which case, GET RID OF IT! And all the bad karma Aunt Betty left you.

If you’re really on the fence with a sentimental item, consider taking a picture of it and keeping it an album or a frame. I personally think this is kind of lame and you should just rip the Band Aid off and get rid of the thing completely, but it is an option.

What Do I Even Do With This?

This is a really tough question. There are a lot of things in your home that you can’t just throw away in the trash.

  • Electronics
  • Batteries
  • Almost empty paint cans
  • Chemical-y stuff
  • Old medicine/prescriptions
  • Bulky items like furniture

Some of the things on this list you can toss. Some of the stuff on this list is ILLEGAL to toss. So you’ll need to do your research for your community and see what you can toss and what you can’t.

But I’m Going to Fix This One Day

Broken Piano - Decluttering Tips - You'll never fix that thing.

No, you aren’t. I mean, really. If you’re here reading this, you could be fixing it right now. And you’re not.

So you’re never going to fix that thing. And what’s worse is that you are letting that broken thing sit in your physical space AND your mental space, nagging at you constantly.

If you have broken stuff around the house, I hate to tell you, you’re going to need to throw it away. You can’t donate it.

It’s not going to feel good to throw it away, I know. You care about the environment and you don’t want to add to the landfill. But unless you can commit to SERIOUSLY fixing it or upcycling it in some way, toss it.

OR you can try to get creative with repurposing it. I used to volunteer my time at a shelter that collected clothing and anything that was ripped, stained or otherwise unwearable could be donated to a local artist who made art with it.

What Do I Do with All of This Stuff While I’m Decluttering?

You get rid of it. You donate it, you throw it away or you move it to the room that it belongs in.

You do NOT, I repeat, you do NOT make a pile of stuff that needs to be donated or re-homed within the house in your Master Bedroom or other out of the way, only to be seen by you room of your home.

Not even in the basement.

If you do, it will stay there. For a long, long time.

Decluttering Tips - Don't keep a pile of junk in your house. Donate or get rid of it by some other means.

So, if it’s getting donated, schedule a pick up and get it OUT OF THE HOUSE. Or drive it to the donation place THE DAY YOU DECLUTTER.

(If you’re looking for a charity that will come pick up your junk, check out this article from My Move).

Am I loud and clear here? This is the biggest, secret problem of decluttering. Actually getting the stuff OUT of the house.

And leaving it in the trunk of your car doesn’t count as OUT OF THE HOUSE!

The stuff that you’re keeping but belongs elsewhere needs to be put away, too.

This Will Take, like, a Weekend, Right?

No. And no.

If you want to go through the WHOLE house in one big clean sweep, it’s probably going to take longer than a weekend. It’s a lot of work, especially if you aren’t keeping on top of things and ESPECIALLY when you add in the time it takes to actually get the stuff out of the house.

So plan accordingly.

And the second No is because you can’t just do this once. Decluttering needs to become a part of your cleaning routine and you need to do it daily, weekly or monthly.

But don’t do it once and think you’re done. Unless you plan to never buy anything or be gifted anything ever again.

A Final Decluttering Tip

Remember when I mentioned the tragic decluttering accident in which my precious dress that I wore to my son’s Christening was accidentally donated?

Decluttering Tips - Would I buy this again in it's current condition in a store?

Be mindful of where you are putting the things you are keeping and the things you are donating. In my case, I thought it was a good idea to put out of season clothes in a white plastic trash bag on the same day I was putting clothes to be donated into white plastic trash bags.

Then they all got donated.

I lost my dress and I had to buy a whole new summer wardrobe.

So it wasn’t a complete loss.

Are Your Decluttering Mysteries Solved?

Do you feel like you can finally tackle decluttering now that you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re never going to fix that broken toaster?

Or that it is in fact OK to gracefully donate Aunt Mildred’s orange china set from 1964 (actually, I’ll take that if you really want to give it away).

I’m glad to have helped you with that. I hope your home is more peaceful with that stuff properly cared for.