Just in time for the new year: the cure for clutteritis

Consider these amazing facts:

  • There are 300,000 items in the average home.
  • One quarter of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park their cars inside them.
  • The average 10-year-old has 238 toys but plays with just 12.
  • The average woman owns 30 outfits — a century ago that was just nine.

The message? Our homes are packed to the rafters with a whole lot of stuff! Yet most of us feel so overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling our bad case of clutteritis that we pretend the problem simply doesn’t exist.

But, with a new year on its way, maybe it’s time to clean up our mess. Right? Here are four simple ways to start decluttering right now:

  1. Take 30: Attempting to declutter your entire home is too big a mountain to climb. Start in one place, like your bathroom, and dive in for 30 minutes. Pull everything out of your medicine cabinet and on to the counter, throw out any expired prescriptions, ditch almost empty bottles of moisturizer or perfume or any items you haven’t used in over six months. Wipe down the empty cabinet and re-place your selected items. Sit on the floor, and repeat for the cabinet under the sink. There, that isn’t so hard, is it? If you’re excited and inspired, move on to the drawers or closet in your bedroom. Or tackle the pile of newspapers or magazines in the den. If you’re exhausted, set a reminder for next week and take on one room or closet at a time.
  1. Bag it and take 5: Grab two big trash bags and prowl around. Fill one with old newspapers and magazines, boxes and wrappers, used candles, orphan mitts and socks, and items that, let’s face it, you’re never going to use again. Fill the other with five toys your kids don’t play with anymore, five articles of clothing you don’t wear anymore, five books, CDs or DVDs you’ll never read, listen to or watch anymore and bring this bag to Goodwill or any nearby charity that accepts used items.
  1. Super bowl: No, this has nothing to do with men in helmets and tight pants. Set down a medium sized bowl wherever you enter your home and designate it as the receptacle for keys, sunglasses, gloves, wallets and loose change. Your days of dropping sundry items throughout the house are over!
  1. Teachable moment: If you’re a parent, enlist your kids. Instruct them to spot items of theirs scattered throughout the home — shoes, Game Boy or Nintendo, smartphone, books, clothing, half-eaten snacks, unidentifiable items — and take them to their rooms, or the kitchen or laundry, as the case may be. And warn them that, from now on, if it’s not in their room within 24 hours it disappears forever!

What decluttering tips work best — or worst — for you? Please share your ideas in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!


Did you know: The Ikea effect

Even as the price of furniture has dropped, we’re spending more on more of it. Yet the rate at which we’re throwing it out has risen only 1/13 as fast — in other words, we’re just hoarding it. (Source)

92 thoughts on “Just in time for the new year: the cure for clutteritis

  1. I have a bag in my clothes closet for the “give away” items I put on and take right off. You know the ones I mean. The too small or too large things. I also have a trash bin close by for stained, torn, pilled, need repair things that I would never give away. Any time hubby says something negative about an outfit, into one of the “out” solutions it goes. PS: I follow a “one in, two/three out” rule for clothes”. Yes, everything fits within my closet and drawers when everything is clean, but I’d like to have ROOM for future unplanned purchases.

  2. For the person who starts cleaning then moves to another without finishing the first room get a laundry basket or box and put the things for another room in it then after you have finished the room you are working in carry all the things in basket to their home places. Works for me.

  3. Get a grip, people. If you haven’t used it in five years, it definitely should be gone. You can claim donations of useful stuff as a charitable donation on your taxes and save tax money potentially. And books? Libraries generally collect them and have annual/semiannual sales that support the library. And you can’t believe the $$ I have saved by reading the library’s books for free. Get on-board and free yourself!

  4. I am a horder, and I am terminally ill, in lots of pain, and very tired most of the time. I originally lived in a 4bdrm house, with full basement and garage. I had to move to a smaller place. Of course when I packed to move, it was basically, just throwing everything in boxes. I didn’t have time to go through anything. I am so overwhelmed with all the stuff. I don’t really have the room at new place, I feel like buried. When I bought and lived in my house, I had a child under 18. I also had my daughter and her husband living with me and my ex husband also. So it was nice to have a bigger place, but then more stuff, and furniture. I now live by myself, I really don’t have anyone that can help me go through stuff or move it around to get it orginized. My son left when he was 18, and he is real mixed up with drugs, and making bad choices. So of course I can’t get him to help me. My daughter has her own place, works alot and has 2 kids. When I moved out of my house, my boyfriend at the time, was who helped with the packing and moving only. My friends I have are all my age or older, working too, so really can’t help me much either. I ended up with a infestation of bed bugs, and roaches so I had to have an exterminator come to house, of course with that is alot of work, going through stuff and more cleaning. I do keep up my kitchen, bathroom, and not leaving dishes around my house and trash. I was able to get a few people out to help with the prep, and before I started my medical treatment, I was able to get rid of all bugs but I am real sick, and tired most of the time, I am desperate need of help, to get rid of stuff, any more suggests, programs that can help me. Or any business that can help. Please reply back.

  5. I have been collecting all sorts of things for the past 10-15 years convincing myself I will use all of it. I have used some , but a very small portion. I lost my mother a few years ago and I think this is a void I am trying to fill. I have been very unsuccessful in getting rid of a whole lot. I feel bad about giving something away that someone close has given to me. Now I am torn between what I need and what has sentimental value.
    All I have done is make an absolute mess of my house! Any suggestions will be appreciated. thanks

    1. Start one space at a time. First you have to accept that You need and deserve to live in a space that reflects you as a person now. Picture your dream room in your mind. List the 3 – 5 absolute musts that need to be in that room that are already there. Remove everything else that doesn’t fit your dream room. Multiple collections: Reduce down to the top 3 things in a collection and make a focal display of the item. Sell, give away, remove from the home the rest. Box and auction (ebay) if necessary. Take pictures of hard to get rid of items. Make a digital scrape book of how you enjoyed the item but note that it is time to let it go so you can focus on a new vision or path for your life. I’ll bet some of your collections would be welcome in a nursing home, rehab facility, women’s or children’s shelter, Salvation Army, Vet’s home, etc. Give someone else the gift of enjoyment of the things that once gave you pleasure to collect. These items no longer “fit” the person you have grown into being. Rejoice in the new you. Start now, today, this minute and move into your glowing future dream vision. PS: Music, a timer, and trash bags or boxes work wonders on collecting “take out”.

  6. 8 months ago I downsized from a 4,000+ home in Plano, texas. It has taken me so long to reorganize into smaller quarters. I still have 20 or so pictures to find a place for, The garage is coming along slowly. I love the new house in Arizona. I never have been a “neat freak” but this experience has put me to the test.

  7. I have found lots of ideas that I think I can put to use. I am a hoarder too and get attached to things and find it hard to turn loose. I’m really looking forward to getting started one pile at a time. Thanks, Ruth

  8. I should have read Charlene’s December 15 post before I posted the first time . I would have realized I am not the only person in the world who cleans the way I do. I think the last time my home was totally clean and cleaned was when our two sons were little and as they grew up. Why was it easier with four people in the house than it is now with two? What is wrong with this picture? Maybe I just got lazy! = I

  9. We’ve lived in the same 3-BR/2BA mobile home for the past 18 yeas, although we’re now in our 3’rd location. Along with the mobile home, we also have 2 storage sheds that are full to the top with boxes of everything from canning jars to gardening tools to camping gear, among a variety of other items. Our most recent move was last October, & we were required to box up much more than ever before. One of our organization ideas was to use dollar store duck tape in various patterns & colors to denote which room each box came from. Also, I made a “master list” showing which tape belongs in which room. That way, when the boxes came out of our rented storage units to be put back in our home and/or storage sheds, we knew exactly where it went.
    My problem now, is getting up the motivation & energy to go through the boxes & put the contents away. We were soooo exhausted from the actual move, that there just seems to be no energy left. It doesn’t help that our furnace isn’t working, & we found out it can’t be fixed. It’s difficult to get energized when the interior of the home is under45-50*f during the day. We don’t have the funds or credit to replace the furnace.

  10. I think the older I get the more I collect. I use to have a place for everything and in order. Now I hang my keys when I walk-in and the rest is a maybe

  11. As hard as I try to declutter my husband has learned how to use a smart phone and Craigslist, freebies. He watched YouTube and comes up with money making ideas like scraping or knife making. Now he’s collecting things but hasn’t done anything with it. I should have never showed him how to use the phone. Thank god he still giant use the Internet alone.

  12. I hate clutter so much. I try one room at a time. but never stick to it. been asking my other half to buy plastic hangers, they aren’t out now. your kidding? I try to clean, paint. sometimes plumbing. there`s always so much to do. wish someone would send me an easy solution, I`m always seeing more that needs done. I get depressed, upset, and frustrated! yeah I thought this winter I can accomplish a lot inside. liar,liar. maybe summer!!

  13. I cannot move this stuff, I am disabled and cannot stay on my feet very long or walk very far or lift very much, can anyone help me? Oh, I am a widdow.

  14. I am seriously TRYING to do this any chance I have to be home. I need it badly! Clutter makes me crazier than I already claim to be! It causes insomnia and lack of restful sleep

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