I have been trying to catch up on doing a lot of cleaning lately. I have tried a couple of methods, like Swedish Death Cleaning and even Digital Spring Cleaning.
People have been asking me what exactly I am getting rid of, and any other tips I have, so here are some thoughts.
For one, a lot of my strategy has changed. My new focus: live in the present. I am in my 40s now and we have accumulated a lot of stuff. I still often have the mindset of “Oh, we might use that some day!”, I think that is a lot of what gets us in trouble. Don’t save all these things you might use someday! For example, I had a big bin of yarn from back when I knitted things in college, and kept thinking I might pick up knitting again – but it has been 20 years. While some things are worth keeping from a financial standpoint, if I truly want to pick up knitting again, it will be ok – I can spend $20 on yarn.
But there are also a lot of things it is finally time to get rid of. My mom passed away in 2005, and when she passed, we boxed up all her stuff and I stored it. 15 years later, I am still getting rid of things. It is ok to hold on to things for a while, but at the same time, I had that realization that things sat in boxes for 15 years. It isn’t always easy to confront my past and go through old things, but dozens of boxes of dishes and books and everything else need to be consolidated, and a lot of it I got rid of. Choose things that you feel most sentimental about or that you want to pass on to your children.
Same with my childhood things. For example, I had a couple dozen ribbons from horse riding shows. I am keeping a couple, but my kids are not going to want to save dozens of ribbons. There are so many other things, like art projects from when I was a kid or even school work or a program from my school concert in 5th grade. A smaller sampling of these items is much better!
Be selective, and decide that you are going to pare down to a box or so of something like childhood memories, and downsize.
Another general strategy is to take everything off a surface – like my dining room buffet or fireplace mantle – and be selective when you put things back. Not all the extras need to be tossed, but the goal is to cut down on clutter too.
Things I am currently getting rid of (throwing out or donating, as I hate to see things go in the landfill):
~ Old towels and linens ~
We have accumulated lots of towels, linens, and blankets over the years. The reality is, you can use a couple of extra for emergencies, guests, etc. However, you don’t need closets overflowing with linens. Think of how many sets you actually need, and weed out any that aren’t great that you don’t really need.
Right away, I got rid of sheets that are pilled and scratchy. We have plenty of nice sheets, and if we run short, it gives me something to put on my wishlist, which is great considering I literally never know what I want for my birthday/xmas/etc.
I got rid of towels that weren’t good – for example anything with stains or were unraveling.
I got rid of blankets we don’t use, after making sure we have enough for guests, sleepovers, etc.
~ Things from my childhood ~
Again, my kids don’t want dozens of ribbons I got as a child, or every art project I did from preschool to high school. Time to be super selective and toss most of those. I am keeping a box of stuff, but there is no need for me to keep multiple boxes.
~ Partially used crafts ~
Now that the kids are older, it is time to toss those half-done crafts, or crafty odds and ends around the house. Maybe they got a craft kit last year and started it, but never finished it. If months have gone by and they don’t want to do it right now, toss it.
~ Worn out shoes and clothes ~
I saved some old flip flops, shoes, and clothes, thinking I would use them for things like when I do yard work, hiking, or other messy projects. Honestly, these just sit around. If clothing was stained or had armpit stains, it got tossed. Old shoes, like flip flops that had gotten thin on the bottom and I find myself tripping in – toss. If you actively wear these items for working out or messy work, that’s great! But if you are not using them, get rid of them now! Also – back to living in the now – get rid of those clothes you haven’t worn in 5+ years!
~ Antiques ~
So I am keeping SOME of these, a few that have sentimental value. But all the fancy antique glasses and other stuff that doesn’t get used, is going.
~ Old photos ~
I have a TON of photos from when I was a kid, plus others that were passed down to me. I am VERY selective about what I throw away, but I went through all the photos and did throw some away. Photos have changed so much over the years now that we have digital photography. But back in the day, we took lots of photos to try to get the best one, so I threw out a lot of those multiple photos, weeding out ones that were blurry, had a finger over the lens. As a kid and even into college, I took a lot of pictures of animals, plants, and landscapes, and not all of those need to be saved. This generated a small amount of trash, but I feel more organized in the sense that my big bin of photographs is more organized and easier to go through when there aren’t so many junk photos.
Everyone is different, so these are just my strategies. Just remember to do what is best for you!
Sounds like you have been really busy. I cleaned the closets out last summer but I still have a lot of things I need to get rid of.
I’ve got so much stuff to go through and declutter! I’m terrible about keeping every little thing. I get so sentimental and just can’t throw things out. I’m planning to get my daughter to help me go through everything, since she tends to be more practical about what to keep and what to toss.
This is such a liberating exercise. I did it last year – did a ruthless clean out of so much stuff. Now we can see everything in the cupboards and actually USE it all!
This is great. I am such a sentimental person, but I know I really need to go through storage and closets. It’s sooooooo hard for me.
It’s the sentimental things that are the hardest to part with. Thanks for being specific in what you let go of!
This is great you are getting rid of so much stuff! I have too many things that hold sentimental value to get rid of it!
I neeeed to do a digital cleaning!!! And I’ve not heard of the Swedish Death Cleaning…it sounds intriguing! Your post here makes me want to spring clean asap.
I declutter my house every month. I just don’t like leaving unused things around. It just drives me nuts.
I struggle with decluttering and getting rid of things, but I know they are crowing my mind as well as my house. Thanks for sharing your ideas!
My own strategy is, ‘If I haven’t used or thought of this item in the past year, it should be gone.’ I don’t know about others but it works for me. I declutter once every two months. So say it’s July, I dig up stuff in the closet or storage boxes, and see if there are things that I haven’t touched since July 2019. Your strategies are pretty spot on for me too, Marysa. Thank you for sharing your ideas!