How are you hanging friends? We are officially half way through our Unclutter Your Nest and Lighten Your Load Boot Camp! Can I get a “Oh Yeah!”? Truth time…my energy and enthusiasm started flagging a bit this week, but I'm forcing myself to get a little unclutter – ing done every day. This week should be a little easier than the last 2 weeks. There was just SO much stuff in our bedrooms, offices and kitchens in general. That being said, I'm not saying that a playroom will be a piece of cake. Since my ‘babies' are 16 and 19, it is much easier for me to get rid of lots of stuff that they have outgrown, but is still housed in their closets.
So grab your unclutter ‘kit’ and let’s get going. For each area:
- Bring a bag/box for TRASH, for DONATE , for RECYCLE, for RELOCATE and , if you really need it, for STORAGE.
See here for a list of places to donate your gently used items or recycle other items.
- Bring a dustbuster or vacuum, rags and cleaning solution.
- Put on your favorite Pandora station, CD or radio station
- If it motivates you, take note of what you toss and the weight of all the stuff leaving your home. My home is already breathing easier with some of the weight lifted.
- You can deduct the clothes you donate on your taxes. The discard list can also help to keep track of that. Just estimate values of the items as you go along.
One of the best things about my home is that I have lots of storage space. One of the worst things about my home is that I have lots of storage space. Built-in cabinets are clutter magnets! You put stuff in them, shut the door and bam…no more clutter. Until you open them. I completely forgot to take a before photo of what was hiding in my built-in cabinets in my den, but suffice it to say that it was not a pretty sight. This is how bad it was though…I had the neighborhood bylaws/directory from a neighborhood we left 13 years ago. And if that's not bad enough, I packed it up and moved it …twice. Needless to say, it is now ‘outa here'.
So open all the drawers and cabinets you have in these rooms, pick up each and every item and decide if it needs to stay in your home. Let the wise words of William Morris be your guiding mantra.
- Books I have donated almost 200 pounds of books (about 140 books) to our local library. But as I come across children's books, I'm setting those aside. I've contacted our local school system to find out what elementary school library could really use them most. My mom was a reading teacher and as a result, my children grew up with an incredible library of beautifully written and illustrated books. It will make my heart happy for these books to be in the hands of some new children.
- Toys, Games and Art Supplies In addition to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the places listed here, your local Boys & Girl's Club would probably love your gently used but still intact toys, games and art supplies. Every year that my children were in elementary school, we got the school supply list that included ‘colored pencils'. So here's 2 kids X 6 year's worth of colored pencils! I kept one of each color and donated the rest.
- Craft paper that you've saved that has really outlived its usefulness.
- Magazines that you might get around to reading. You can most likely find the articles that you've dog-eared on line and then pin them.
- Broken toys
- Cords that don't go to anything. You know you have a pile of them. I found a cord for a Verizon phone…we haven't had Verizon for 6 years.
Everyone keeps different stuff in their laundry room. My laundry room is the room that we most use to go in and out of the house and is really our ‘command center' Not only does it house our laundry stuff, but we have cubbies for the stuff we'll need when we walk out the door. It's an easy place to accumulate clutter. Junkmail easily gets stashed here, as does stuff that we just don't know what to do with.
We have had a hummingbird feeder for years. The feeder has 4 pieces to it. When I went through the kitchen I found 2 of the pieces, on in my junk drawer and one in a cabinet. When I went through my laundry room I found the other 2 pieces. See, it's that Christmas in January thing again!
- For many years I have kept a SWM (Socks without Mates) bin in the cabinet above my dryer. When a sock shows up without its buddy, I toss it into the SWM bin. Eventually, if both buddies end up in the bin, they will be reunited and returned to circulation. Every now and again, when I notice that several mate-less socks have been in the bin for an extended period of time, I'll bundle them up and put the date on them. After several months of no activity finding the mate, I'll consider them a lost cause and sadly dispose of the mate-less socks. It was with a heavy heart that I sent this bundle of mate-less sock to the trash bin.?
There's probably not a whole lot to donate in your laundry room, at least not in mine. But there a few things that I found to send to the Habitat Restore.
- Extension Cords Here's another item that we've accumulated way too many of over the years. In addition to the extension cords that are in use throughout my home, I had 11 extras! I went through them and kept one of each length in brown and white and donated the other 5. Truthfully, 6 cords is probably still too many, but I'm thinking Kate will need some next year. I wrote the length of each cord on the ones that I kept to make searching for the right length easier in the future.
- Donated 2 of the 4 lint brushes we had accumulated, as well as several unused tins of shoe polish.
- Combine your partially used bottles of the same cleaner and recycle the empty one.
- For some of you, this may be an item that resides in your bathroom, but in our home our sunscreen lotion stays in our laundry room so we can grab it on our way to the beach. According to the Mayo Clinic, most sunscreens remain effective for 3 years unless otherwise indicated on the bottle. Not all of my bottles were clearly marked, so here's what I found:
- Neutrogena products state the expiration on the bottle crimp.
- Banana Boat Products. The date of manufacture is stamped on the lid, with the year of manufacture as the first 2 numbers. For instance, my bottle was manufactured in 2014, on September 23; so it should be discarded in September, 2017 if it's still around.
- My Coppertone products did not have any way to tell the date of manufacture or expiration. When I called, I was advised that if I don't know when I bought it that I ought to trash it. Hmmm….think I'll stick to Banana Boat or Neutrogena until Coppertone starts providing that information.
- I emptied the contents of the bottles that were past expiration date and recycled the bottles.
- Those threadbare washcloths and towels you've held on to.
- The one pillowcase left from the set you had years ago.
- Towels that don't work with your decor or that you just don't use anymore. Someone out there will love them or need them.
Once you are through decluttering your linen closet, organize your remaining sheet sets by enclosing them in one of the set's pillowcases. I got that tip from Martha Stewart years ago.
Take all your coats out of your closet and decide how many you have that serve the same purpose? How many raincoats do you have? How many windbreakers? Decide which ones you really love to wear and which ones really serve a purpose to you and then discard the rest. I promise that there is a homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter that will gladly accept your coats, especially now that it's winter.
Look at your gloves, hats and scarves with the same discerning eye.
What else is in your coat closets? This is another area that can accumulate stuff without us really knowing it. What is in there that should be somewhere else, either in your home or someone else's?
- Coats, hats, gloves and scarves that are duplicate or just don't make you feel good.
- Miscellaneous stuff…we had 2 sets of binoculars and I can't tell you the last time we used them. One of the sets is going to goodwill. Our coat closet also housed our Camcorder and all its paraphernalia. That whole thing is going to Goodwill.
After the unclutter of my coat closet, all that remains are a few less coats, hats and gloves. And I got rid of all the stuff that accumulated there because I could shut the door on it.
So here's the tally of what has left my home thus far in the January 2016 Unclutter:
Bedroom and Bathrooms 206 pounds
Kitchen, Office and Craft Rooms 602 pounds
Den, Playroom, Laundry Room, Linen Closet and Coat Closet 157 pounds
965 pounds! ( Surely I can find 35 more pounds somewhere!)
- Catch up on all 4 weeks of the Unclutter Your Nest Bootcamp here:
Week 1: Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Week 2: Kitchen and Craft/Office Space
Week 3: Den/Living Room/Play Room/Coat Closet/Laundry Room
Week 4: Attic and Garage
- Other Decluttering and Organizing Posts:
Where to Donate and Recycle Your Discards
Freezer and Refrigerator Organization that Works
Wrapping Paper Organizer Cart
Personalized Kitchen Drawer Organization
Organizing and Storage Ideas for an Uncluttered Bathroom
Organized Closets and Cabinets
Organized Office and Craft Room
Clutter-Free Kitchen and Organized Linen Storage
Technology and Digital Declutter Ideas – Week 1
Keep it going friends. We are getting close to the finish line! Isn't your home breathing easier with X pounds of stuff taken out of it? Aren't you breathing easier just knowing you have fewer things to tend?
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Until next time…
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