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Ah yes, de-cluttering. The opposite of buying stuff and junk and things we love and allowing them to sit and take up space, get dusty and broken and lost.  Lets talk about how to go about De-cluttering.

Every time I think about De-cluttering I think of a friend I had many years ago.  Her home was so CUTE.  Stinkin’ cute.   She had walls full of old general store signs, kitchen tools, pictures and cutesy stuff. Her living room was crowded but cute. There were doilies on everything that sat still for a few minutes, silk flowers, grapevine wreaths with bows, wooden boxes and shelves and it all coordinated perfectly! She could have given Cracker Barrel lessons in decorating.  It was so….CUTE! Actually her house looked more like a store selling country decorating items than a home.

After she’d been moved in for a while, and after about 3 months of continuous hammering of decorating nails and placing of doilies, her house started to get dusty.  I wondered if she and her family noticed the dust. Then one day she mentioned that she was cleaning the house one room at a time.  It took her weeks to complete one room, dusting and cleaning and polishing and putting everything back. Then she would move to the next room.

I am sure you can see the merry-go-round she was on. No sooner was the cycle done than she had to repeat it. I was so glad that cute house wasn’t mine. Her whole life revolved around cleaning her house and keeping up with her collectibles. I don’t want to be controlled by my STUFF.

The first rule of De-Cluttering is – get rid of the stuff that controls you.  Have only things in your house that are useful or that you consider beautiful.

A few tips:

  • Don’t keep every school paper Junior or Juniorette brings home. Take some pictures of the big stuff like projects and keep a few representative papers from each school year. Then you’ve got the makings of a good scrapbook.
  • If you keep newspapers and magazines, at least find a way to keep them neat and tidy.
  • Keep the nicnac population in your home down to a bare minimum. You don’t really need a nicnac to remember a person. The memory is what is important, not the stuff.
  • Consider keeping all those family and other portraits in a large photo album or having one table in your home where you can show off all your framed pictures.  If you have frames hanging all over the wall, someone has to dust them and straighten them. Regularly.  Guess who?
  • When you decide to bring another thing/stuff/collectible/item into your home…. be wiling to get rid of something else in its place.

The Basics of De-cluttering:

  • First pick up the room and put things that belong in the room, away where it all goes.
  • Get yourself three baskets, boxes or large trash bags.  This isn’t a new method. I first saw this method in a very old Better Homes and Garden magazine. So people have been dealing with clutter for a long time.
  • Label the boxes or baskets or bags:    KEEP ….  THROW AWAY …..  GIVE AWAY
  • Put everything in the room into one of those boxes. The only things that won’t go into one of those boxes are things that actually go in the room you are de-cluttering. And those things should be put away where they go. Now.
  • Take the three boxes out of the room, we’ll deal with them in a few.
  • Now look around the room. What can you live without?; Get rid of it and put it in one of the boxes. What needs to be in another room?; Take it there.
  • The room is now ready to be cleaned, so dust, wash, clean and mop to your heart’s content.
  • Now its time to do the hard stuff.  Take that GIVEAWAY box and put it in your car, right now. Take it to the local Goodwill or other thrift store. NOW. And while you are at it ……
  • Take that box marked THROW AWAY and put it in the trash outside, or take it to a dumpster.
  • Are you back?  Good, now you can take the box marked PUT AWAY and put everything away that is in it. These are things that don’t go in the room you were de-cluttering.

The room is done! You can start on the next one now. And maybe its the last time you will have to be on this particular merry-go-round.


  1. Ginger G

    Thank you. It’s an ongoing battle. Once I get one room totally done, there is another waiting in the shadows. It seems like my house has more and more rooms every time I look up! My biggest problem is overcoming the craft materials that I use but don’t have a room for. I end up with fabric and yarn, sewing machines, thread, cutting tools and unfinished projects all over the house and the garage. The tips are time-honored. Thank you.

  2. Sylvia

    Good additions, Kay!

  3. Kay

    I would add a fourth and maybe a fifth box to the three you mentioned. I would have one I would label sell. This would be an item I’m planning to sell on ebay or a garage sell. Another box would be labeled recycle. This is stuff I’m planning on taking to the recycle bins.