Small apartment dwellers or residents of a large house will come to the same conclusion: the task of decluttering your home is a behemoth. It typically involves blocking out time in your calendar and planning a course of action far in advance. From large rooms to tiny corners, there are so many spaces to tackle and it can be mind-boggling trying to figure out a starting point.
When life feels particularly messy, there are actually a few items you can aim to get rid of right now that'll instantly make your home feel less cluttered. To know exactly what those things are, we spoke with a professional organizer to explain what can go without any second thoughts—items that may help your small session snowball into a good deep declutter around your home.
Meet the Expert
Kenika Williams is a professional organizer and founder of Tidied by K.
Closet clutter can be one of the more difficult things to deal with, especially if you're short on space. One way to help is to rid your wardrobe of wire hangers. "They create more of a mess in your closet because they're harder to keep neat," explains Kenika Williams, professional organizer and founder of Tidied by K. "Not only that, they can add additional wear and tear to your clothes by adding indentations when not used properly." Search out hangers and organizers that are built for the clothing you want to store to make your closet look cleaner and help your favorite sweaters, tops, and trousers last longer.
Food Containers With Missing Pieces
It's time to put a stop to your food storage container avalanche once and for all. That cabinet that's bursting with plastic tubs isn't doing you any favors when it's filled with mismatched pieces. "When your Tupperware sets aren't together and bottoms/lids are missing, it increases your time in the kitchen when trying to tidy up or store food away," says Williams. "I always recommend keeping pairs or sets together. That way you know everything is together and when you're ready to use them, the process is so much easier."
The bin of wires and old electronics you have hiding on a shelf is likely only causing you stress. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking "what if I need this down the road?" but Williams has a great solution. "These things tend to take up valuable space and keep people in limbo with what to do with them," she says. "If your reasoning is to hold on to them because you want to gather the data/photos off of them, I encourage you to either dedicate a specific day and time to get it done. Or two, think about how much time has gone by since you've thought about getting it done." Here's your sign that it's okay to just let them go. "Optimizing your space may hold greater weight than spending your time and or money to pull old info from old electronics."
Excessive Water Bottles and Mugs
Two items that seem to silently accumulate over the years are mugs and water bottles. Your collection may be fun and eclectic, but if it's causing unnecessary clutter, it might be time to go through and pare it down. "Kitchens are easily one of the most difficult spaces in the home to organize and for many, water bottles and mugs add to the dysfunction and disorganization," says Williams. "People tend to buy or accumulate them in excess and they easily can take over spaces in your home."
If it's time to free up some shelf space, Williams has a tactic that'll help. "My rule is that you only have water bottles and mugs that you absolutely love, use, and/or need," she says. "If they don't fit within one of those categories, then you should toss them."
Expired Makeup and Cosmetics
Bathroom drawers and shelves full of old eyeshadows and shampoos tend to be forgotten until you need the space. While you may think it'll come in handy down the road, Williams says it "can pose to be a problem for folks who wear it." Back-up cosmetics are one thing, but expired formulas are a no-go. "Not only does it add to the physical clutter in your space, but it can pose health risks from using products that have expired," she says.
Old Towels and Sheets
"Old towels (and even linen) should be tossed out every few years," says Williams. "Over time they start to lose their absorbency, so it's good practice to replace them around the two-year mark." You can upcycle these to some extent by using old towels and sheets as cleaning rags or bedding for pets. That being said, there are only so many old bath towels and top sheets worth holding on to, so clearing them out is a worthwhile task.
Broken Appliances and Gadgets
Clutter often originates when you have items that aren't in mint condition but you keep them anyway with the intention of getting them fixed down the road. It's not worth falling into this cycle if you tend to put these tasks off. "This is probably stating the obvious, but anything that's broken with slim to no chances of being repaired in a timely manner should be tossed," explains Williams. "It takes up valuable space in the home, can be an eye sore to look at, and is a constant reminder that there are 'to-dos' in the house... even if you know that 'to-do' isn't going to get done."