How to Get Rid of Stuff: 10 Steps to Help You Let Go

Don’t we all dream of coming home to a beautiful, tidy home each day? Sometimes keeping your house clutter-free can seem hopeless. After all, as the years go by and your kids grow, it’s easy for old clothes or toys to pile up around the house.

Suddenly, your closets are stuffed with things you don’t use and your garage has a pile of things you don’t know what to do with. 

Need more ideas? Check out: 12 Amazing Garage Storage Ideas You Can Do Yourself and The 10 Best Organizing Products for a Quick Win

Getting rid of clutter can be overwhelming. For many of us, decluttering seems like an impossible task. But for the sake of you, your family, and your home – decluttering is a necessity. 

Here are some of my best tips on how to get rid of stuff.

What is decluttering?

Decluttering is when you get rid of all the stuff in your home that you don’t need anymore. When people think about clutter, they often think of those old magazines they haven’t thrown out yet or the knick-knacks that have piled up over time.

While those things are definitely cluttered, there are lots of other items that can be contributing to your overflowing house as well!

Now, I’m not here to tell you that you need to throw everything out or get rid of every item that isn’t useful. You might really want to keep that trophy you got in fifth grade or the blanket you slept with as a child. That’s okay!

Preserving memories doesn’t mean you’re going to have a clutter-filled house. But you need to find the line between holding on to special things and keeping items that are just creating a mess in your home. 

Why is decluttering so hard?

Decluttering isn’t very much fun. It’s a lot of work, it takes a long time, and sometimes it’s hard to part with things that you’ve had for such a long time.

Decluttering can be physically exhausting, emotionally draining, or both. If you’re feeling overwhelmed while decluttering – don’t worry. That’s very normal.

But, as hard as it is, decluttering is extremely important. 

Why is getting rid of stuff so important?

Have you ever felt out of control in your own home? Like the mess inside is just getting the better of you? 

Sometimes, even when our home seems clean on the surface, extra clutter and poor organization can make you feel overwhelmed and suffocated. When we are surrounded by a jumbled mess of extra items we don’t use or need anymore, it can actually affect our emotional wellbeing. 

Several studies have shown that clutter can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health! Stress levels tend to be higher in people that live in a cluttered home, and that clutter can leave you feeling nervous, anxious, or depressed. 

The children scattered their toys and other belongings in their room.

The process of decluttering is important because it doesn’t just make your home beautiful… it can also be a form of self-care. 

When you spend time going through items in your home and deciding whether to keep it, get rid of it, or give it away, you take back control of your life and your home.

It can be a very therapeutic experience as you spend time creating a home that is organized and clutter-free. 

So, now that you know how important decluttering is, you might be wondering how to even start. You might not know how to get rid of stuff, but it’s a straightforward process.

One of the first steps in decluttering is to find your why

Find Your Why

Ask yourself:

  1. Why do I want to declutter?
  2. What goals do I hope to achieve when I declutter?
  3. How do I think decluttering will improve my life?

Asking these questions and finding answers to them will help you stay focused when the decluttering gets hard (and it will). 

If you know why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve, then you’ll have an easier time keeping your eye on the end result and not getting too frustrated as you declutter. 

How to Get Rid of Stuff

The easiest way to begin the process of decluttering is to grab four laundry baskets from your laundry room or find some big cardboard boxes. Using a trash bag would also work!

Then designate them in one of the following categories and label it to help you keep track of everything.

  1. Keep
  2. Donate
  3. Trash 
  4. Give to a friend

Having these four bags will help you streamline the process and keep things orderly as you declutter each area of your home. (You can also combine the donate and give away piles so you only have three piles if that’s easier.)

It’s important to keep things as orderly as possible because decluttering and organizing always makes your home messier before it gets better. I think we’ve all had those moments when we decide to organize the kitchen and realize we have to get everything out of the cupboards before we can even really start. So, streamlining that process will help you clean and organize as you go. 

After you’ve got your 4 bins, it’s time to get started decluttering. Look at each item as you pull it out of the closet and decide what bin it needs to go in. Spending time putting things in the appropriate piles might seem tedious, but it’s the best way to declutter.

Sometimes it helps to think of giving an item that you no longer need to someone that you know and love. Then you know your item isn’t getting wasted or thrown away, it’s just starting a new life with someone else. (And who doesn’t love free items that are also useful!) For example, if you have old sporting equipment like a hockey stick or golf clubs that you never use, give them to a friend who enjoys that sport!

Even if you don’t have a friend, neighbor, or family member who will enjoy it, remember that someone at a thrift store or local charity might love or enjoy it more than you currently are. Donate things that are still usable and work properly. Items you don’t use anymore might be exactly what someone else needs.

So, if it’s in good shape but you’re not using it, always consider giving it to a friend or donating it! 

Obviously, for anything in bad shape, just toss it!

Roadblocks to Decluttering 

There are many roadblocks to decluttering. It’s easy to come up with excuses so that you don’t have to go through all that work, but no matter the roadblock, there’s always a way to move past it. 

1. You don’t know how or where to start.

Looking at your clutter-filled linen closet, overflowing bedroom, or messy home office can be really overwhelming. You don’t know what to do or how to even begin to get rid of stuff. The good news is, you can take things slowly! Get out your four bins and take it just one item and one room at a time.

Take breaks as needed and remember that even though decluttering might make your room seem even messier, once you start getting rid of things, your home will be a more organized and peaceful place. 

2. You have a lack of motivation.

Again, take things slowly. Seeing all the clutter piled up in front of you can be exhausting. Do the work in batches instead. Start on one part of the room, then reward yourself with a little break. Treat yourself to some dessert or a few minutes of your favorite TV show.

Decluttering will be easier to get through if you motivate yourself with little rewards along the way! Pace yourself so you don’t feel burnt out from going through all those things in your home.

3. You don’t have the time.

This is a really common problem for most people – there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want to do! Sometimes it’s really stressful to even think about decluttering the entire house when your day is already filled with work, errands, parenting, or a million other things! 

Start small. You don’t have to declutter and reorganize your entire house at once. Start with a small project like your junk drawer (we all have them), an office desk drawer, or your bedside table. Make decluttering goals that you can easily reach.

If you tackle just one tiny drawer or shelf at a time, it’ll be much easier to handle no matter how busy you are. 

4. You have a hard time letting go. 

For some of us, it can be really difficult to let go of items you have in your home. When you’re having a hard time letting go of something, just remind yourself of the “why.” Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve?

Keep asking yourself those questions when it gets hard to let go. When you focus on your goal, you’ll remember that you need to get rid of some of that extra clutter to achieve it. Then it’ll be a little easier to stay focused and make those difficult decisions.

5. You’re holding on to items out of guilt.

We all have those items that were given to us by a family member or close friend, and even if we don’t love or use them anymore, we feel bad getting rid of them. So instead of just throwing it out, consider giving it to someone who might enjoy it more. 

That guilt of giving away something a friend gave you might not completely go away, but I doubt your friends or family members really want their gift sitting in a closet untouched for years. Sending it to a new home is the best option and that’s nothing to feel guilty about. 

You also might be holding on to something because you paid for it, so you don’t want to rid of it even though you never use it. If it’s practically new, then look into selling it – that way you can get some of your money back. 

If that’s not possible, then give it to a friend that would use it. Sure, you paid for it, but now it’s a nice gift for a friend or neighbor who will actually enjoy it. Now your closet has a little less clutter and you’ve scored some brownie points for being a good friend! It’s a win-win.

Try not to feel guilty about getting rid of any unneeded stuff. After all, if you donate items to someone who needs them more, your stuff or clothes are going to people who truly need them.

6. You don’t want to get rid of any sentimental items.

This roadblock is a big one for most people. We all get attached to certain items and can’t even imagine getting rid of them. But here’s the thing… how often do you go back through all your sentimental items? Probably not that often. 

I’m not saying you need to get rid of every sentimental item you have, but try to only what you absolutely love. With everything else, just take a photo of it before you discard it. You can keep those photos on your computer or a USB, and then you can preserve the memory without having boxes of old items in your garage. 

7. You’re keeping hobby supplies you haven’t used in years.

Did you decide to take up knitting a few years ago? Or you went through a phase where you bought tons of watercolors because you wanted to teach yourself to paint? That’s great! Unless you never actually use any of it.

Only hold on to the supplies for hobbies you’re actually working on. If you have piles of art supplies that you haven’t touched in years, then it’s time to get rid of them. Those supplies aren’t doing you any favors by just sitting in the closet.

8. You don’t know where you take the things you are getting rid of.

Maybe you went through the whole decluttering process and now you have 4 bags of things to donate but you have no idea where to take them. 

Look up thrift stores nearby your home that accept donations, like Goodwill or Deseret Industries. You can also look into homeless shelters, women’s shelters, or local shelters. You can always call and ask first, but I’m sure clothes, toys, or supplies that are in good condition are welcome at most shelters. If you have old pet supplies you no longer need, donate them to local animal shelters.

You can also reach out to your friends through social media. Post online about things you don’t need anymore and ask if anyone nearby would like them! Facebook Marketplace is perfect for this. You might not find takers for everything, but it’s nice to know that some of your items might be just what your friend or neighbor was looking for. 

Questions to ask yourself as you are getting rid of stuff:

Sometimes it’s hard to know when you should throw something away and when you should keep it. There might be something in your closet or on your shelf that you’ve seen every day for the past few years, so it feels weird to throw it away. 

To help make the process a little easier, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. If I saw this at the store today, would I buy it?
  2. When was the last time I used it? 
  3. Do I like it enough that I would take it with me if I were moving? 

If the answer to any of those 3 questions is no, then get rid of it! Decluttering can seem tough sometimes – like you’re getting rid of precious memories or throwing away money you spent – but if you don’t love it enough to buy it now or you haven’t used it in a while, then just throw it away or donate it. 

If you got something a year ago or longer, and haven’t thought about it since it’s time to get rid of it. Trust me, you won’t miss it for long. 

20 things you can get rid of today!

While some items will be up to your discretion, here are some easy items that everyone can get rid of while decluttering. You won’t need any of these items in the future – I promise. 

  1. Product manuals. If you really have a question in the future about a certain product, you can just Google it. Manuals are all online now, so you don’t need to hold on to physical copies. 
  2. Old makeup or sunscreen. Sunblock and makeup degrade over time. Toss it when it gets too old.
  3. Expired spices, pantry items, or condiments. 
  4. Mismatched food storage containers. Getting matching food storage containers will bring unexplainable joy into your life. Trust me on this one. 
  5. Phone charger cords that don’t match anything. If you have any charging cords that don’t fit into any adapters, get the appropriate parts you need or throw out the cords you don’t use.
  6. Old cell phones. I know lots of us are guilty of holding on to old phones, but you really don’t need them anymore. Transfer your old pictures and then throw it away.
  7. Expired prescriptions. Go through your medicine cabinet and get rid of anything that has passed its expiration date.
  8. Dried out pens and markers. This sounds like a no-brainer, but have you ever actually gone through your desk drawers? Check your office supplies. I guarantee you’ve got some pens lying around that need to be tossed. 
  9. Old receipts. You don’t need extra paper clutter in your file cabinet! Take a photo for a digital copy if you really need to hang on to it.
  10. Expired coupons.
  11. Greeting cards without sentimental value. I’m all for keeping cards with nice messages, but if you’ve got any old cards that don’t have a thoughtful message inside, then just get rid of them. 
  12. Old towels, sheets, pillows, and blankets. If they are getting worn out and you don’t really use them anymore, then throw them out. 
  13. Shoes that are worn out or don’t fit.
  14. Missing or mismatched socks. If it’s been 3 months and you can’t find the other half of the pair, then it’s time to cut your losses and just rid of the lone sock you’re holding on to.
  15. Broken glasses or sunglasses.
  16. Any accessories that are broken or that you don’t wear.
  17. Travel toiletries.
  18. Board games with missing pieces or that you don’t play anymore. If there’s a game you don’t like or play anymore, then donate it or give it away. If it has missing pieces, then throw it out if you can’t replace them. 
  19. Kids toys that are no longer used. Again, if it’s in good condition then give these away if you can. Otherwise, just toss them.
  20. Old newspapers, ads, magazines, or calendars. 

Of course, there are tons of other things you can find in your home to get rid of, but that’s a quick and easy list to help you get started. 

Clutter builds up gradually, so when we finally notice, it seems impossible to get rid of. Just remember to take things slowly. You don’t have to organize and declutter the whole room at once. Start small and work methodically through each room, table, drawer, and closet.

And once you get your house into the nice, organized oasis you always dreamed of, just take a few moments each day to make sure you’re not piling more mail on your kitchen counter or throwing rubber bands haphazardly into your junk drawer. 

If you get in the habit of keeping clutter out of your house, your home will become that happy place you always wanted. I really hope that this post has been helpful to you and will inspire you to declutter and get rid of the extra stuff in your life that you simply don’t need.

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