Tips for Purging Excess Stuff

tips for decluttering

As part of the Spring cleaning theme I’ve had going lately, I decided to talk about purging. This is also known as decluttering, cleaning, getting rid of crap, etc. In other words, look out hoarders, here comes Kristen!

When I was growing up, I will admit, I was a hoarder. I had so much stuff, never wanted to get rid of anything, and my room was never clean. Just ask my parents…

In my 20’s, that all changed drastically. My ex-husband was in the US Navy so we moved a lot. Northern Michigan. Chicago. Charleston. Guam. Back to Michigan. Back to Chicago. I know this seems obvious, but moving is stressful ya’ll! The one good thing about all of the moving was that I was forced to evaluate the material items in my life every 1 ½ to 2 years. And, since I didn’t want to move a bunch of crap all over the world and back, I got really good at purging. So good, in fact, that I ended up moving to the other extreme – getting rid of everything.

Since settling into the Chicagoland area for good, my habits have equalized quite a bit. I’m better at keeping truly sentimental items, but still good at getting rid of stuff that – as Marie Kondo would say – doesn’t spark joy. Haha!

It can be overwhelming to look at your entire household and know where to get started on your purging journey. We all tend to have things that we hang onto for way longer than we should (i.e. old nail polish – #guilty). Many items we don’t even think about. So, I’ve put together a list of item categories that I recommend purging on a yearly basis. And, if you’re having trouble getting rid of things, take a look at the 10 questions to help you get rid of crap that I’ve compiled at the end of this blog!

When deciding what to purge, also determine what you are going to do with it. Organize your get-rid-of items into 3 categories:

  1. Donate
  2. Sell
  3. Throw Away

Where to Purge: A Room-by-Room Guide

In the Bedroom

  • Clothing
  • Intimates (throw those old nasties out!)
  • Linens
  • Costume Jewelry
  • Belts & Scarves
  • Shoes & Purses

In the Bathroom

  • Make-up
    • Mascara is good for 3-4 months
    • Blush is good for 12-18 months
    • Lipstick is good for 12-18 months
    • Foundation is good for 6-12 months
    • Eyeliner is good for 18-24 months
  • Nail Polish
    • Only good for up to 2 years
  • Towels
  • Expired Medicine
  • Travel Samples

In the Kitchen

  • Expired Spices
  • Expired Fridge Items
  • Expired Pantry Items
  • Frosty Freezer Food
  • Small Appliances (How long has it been since you used that waffle iron?)
  • Kitchen Gadgets
  • Containers

In the Office

  • Books (this one is especially painful for me)
  • Magazines
  • Receipts
  • Stacks of Paperwork/Old Files

In the Living Room

  • Electronics
  • Decorations
  • Knick Knacks
  • Candles
  • DVDs/Blue-Ray Discs
  • CDs (Do people still have those? I used to have a wall full!)

Other Miscellaneous Items

  • Pet Toys
  • Kids’ Toys
  • Gift Bags
  • “Sentimental” Items

How to Purge

Now that you know what to purge, how do you get over that “but I may need this someday” hump? Ask yourself these 10 questions to help part with the things that you really don’t need.

  1. Is this something I use on a regular basis?
  2. If not, is it something I truly love?
  3. Am I keeping this out of obligation?
  4. Am I keeping it because I think I should love it?
  5. Am I saving this “just in case”?
  6. Do I have multiples of the same thing?
  7. Could something else that I own and love do the same job?
  8. Am I holding onto a broken item to fix “one day”?
  9. Is this item worth the time I spend cleaning and/or storing it?
  10. Could I use this space for something else?

Happy purging – decluttering – cleaning – getting rid of crap!


Tips for Purging Excess Stuff


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