Sometimes instead of a long list of why to declutter or decluttering techniques, you just need a straightforward list of things to declutter. While decluttering can feel like an impossible task, sometimes a big glass of water, a fun, let-it-go playlist and a very specific list of things to declutter can get things started with more fun and ease.
The best part about a list of things to declutter is that it removes most of the decisions you have to make. If you get stuck with decisions about what to do with the stuff you declutter, simply box it up and get it out of sight for now. Slow progress is still progress.
You get the water, I’ll give you the list!
Declutter These 52 Things From Your Life Today
If you want to enjoy your favorite things, only own your favorite things. The LA Times has reported that the average American home contains more than 300,000 items. It’s impossible to have 300,000 favorite things! This list of things to declutter starts with easier things and ends with more complicated things to declutter. If this isn’t enough, check out this list of 120 things to declutter when you finish.
If you feel stuck, stop thinking about what you are getting rid of and instead consider what you are making space for. Make space for laughing, resting and connecting. Make space to show up for your life. Make space for what matters to you.
When you aren’t sure what to do with the stuff you are decluttering and wonder if you should donate it or sell it, make a rule. For instance sell anything worth more than $100 and donate anything else.
Turn these 52+ items into a decluttering checklist when you feel clutter creeping back in.
It’s so interesting and frustrating how clutter can sneak up on us. From belts we don’t use to tupperware, condiments and take out menus we never use to old computers and their cords, phone boxes, magnets and manuals, stuff always seems to be building up.
Even though I decluttered a big house and downsized to a space that was 1/2 the size and stopped bringing extra things in, I’m still surprised by clutter. When I walk in my laundry room and find towels I never use, or extra things that I bought as back up for the pantry that never get used, I remember the saying, out of sight, out of mind. Now, before I buy anything new, I ask, Do I really need more things to declutter?
Start by decluttering duplicates and extras (especially in the closet and kitchen).
You always use your favorites, but still have extras for a variety of reasons. You bought it on sale. You are holding on “just in case” or someone gave it to you. P.S. We may have to stop giving each other coffee cups! Or maybe you just thought (see #41) you were “supposed” to have more. You get to determine how much is enough for you, maybe it’s one or none or less or more.
1. coffee cups and water bottles
2. measuring cups & spoons
3. wooden spoons & wire whisks
4. random lids and containers that don’t match
5. the same shirt in different colors
6. handbags (yep, I went there)
8. beauty products
These are some of the easiest things to accumulate and because we use some of them, we don’t always think they fall under the category of things to declutter. If you are wondering how to declutter when you are overwhelmed, I recommend starting with these items because we often have more than we need. If you feel nervous about letting go right away, remove the items for a few weeks and see if you miss them or if you enjoy the new space more.
Declutter things that make you feel bad
If you want to feel good, stop surrounding yourself with things that make you feel bad. We hold a lot of emotions in our stuff so if there is stuff hanging around that makes you feel bad or sad, you get subtle reminders all day long. You’ll feel lighter with less of the bad stuff.
9. sentimental items that remind you of things you don’t want to remember
10. mean things people said about you
11. old journals from a hard time
12. the news
13. clothes you spent too much money on
Sometimes these items can be hard to let go of even though you know they make you feel bad. If you struggle here, consider an experiment or challenge around the items you are working on. For instance, if you aren’t sure if the news makes you feel bad, remove it for a week and see if you feel better. If you don’t want to let go all the way, consider an email digest like The Skimm so you can get a brief daily overview instead of non-stop breaking news.
With clothes or other items you spent a lot of money on, consider that you’ve already gotten your money’s worth AND that you have paid enough. Why continue to pay for the item with time, space, energy and emotion. Let go instead.
The next list of things to declutter includes the stuff you don’t use.
If you are holding on thinking, “it’s not hurting anything,” reframe and ask yourself how it’s helping and contributing to your life. If it’s not, you don’t have room for it. With everything that is vying for our attention, there simply isn’t room to hold everything … not in home, not in drawer and not in a life.
14. random spices and sauces
15. uncomfortable shoes
16. old makeup and other beauty supplies
17. clothes that don’t fit your body or your lifestyle
18. empty frames and other containers
19. exercise equipment
20. outdated hobby stuff
21. books you’ve already read or never plan on reading
22. junk drawer things (or the whole thing)
24. freebies (when you bought things you didn’t need to get things you didn’t want)
25. gifts (yes, if you don’t want them, you are welcome to let them go)
This category sounds easier but these are things that build up because they come into your home with little resistance and then they decide to live there forever. That is until you say, “enough.” Once you thoughtfully remove these items, you’ll notice their red flags before you bring them back moving forward.
Declutter the digital things too.
You don’t have to save it all. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The stuff we can’t see like digital things to declutter is still taking up space in our lives. Clear it out and spend less time on your phone (so you have more time in your life).
26. podcasts you don’t listen to
27. music you don’t enjoy
28. documents you saved and never access
29. email you don’t need
30. subscriptions you aren’t using
31. people on social media you don’t want to follow anymore
32. apps that drain your time and energy
33. social media platforms you don’t enjoy or care about
Before my big home decluttering, I had two filing cabinets. I carefully stored everything I could think of. I saved pay stubs, receipts, recipes, checklists, manuals from small appliances, sheets of paper from old notebooks and journals, cards and letters and more. When I decided to clean out the filing cabinets, I realized I had rarely looked at any of the saved things. I never used them. I did not need them. I try to approach the things I’m saving digitally with the same lens and I before I “save” instead of “trash” I ask, will I ever look at this again? Usually, the answer is no.
Declutter photos and paper.
With paper and photos, it’s not about getting organized. It’s about saving less. If the piles keep growing, ask these two simple questions. Most of these things to declutter are things that feel important but also things you never go back to.
34. photos that are duplicates or similar to others from the same event
35. blurry photos
36. photos of things you don’t remember or don’t want to remember
36. coupons or mailers you aren’t using
37. bills, statements and receipts you can get online
38. old newspapers and magazines
39. children’s artwork and homework (save some but not all)
40. anything you’ve ever ripped out of old magazines
Saving photos and paper has become a secret hoarding project for most of us. How many photos do we need on our phones? How many photos do we need of our cats? This story of what I did with photos of my grandparents helps me remember that when everything is important, nothing is.
When you are ready make space in your heart, soul and mind.
This is the clutter you can’t see. It’s the hard stuff, the stuff that’s holding you back. And it’s yours to let go of when you are ready. It’s probably the hardest things on this list of things to declutter and probably makes the biggest difference when you let go. It is going to take some time so don’t expect to drop it all overnight. Give yourself lots of grace as you move through these items slowly and gently.
41. believing everything you think
42. other people’s opinions
44. apologizing for things you don’t need to be sorry for
45. being normal
48. old goals and expectations
49. diet culture
51. the past
52. anything that keeps you up at night (except your kids, pets, partners)
You may not have to declutter all of these things. Some of these things to declutter may not be an issue for you or maybe you already removed them. Simply remove the things that remove you from your life. Do what is best for you.
Other decluttering challenges to help you enjoy letting go of things:
- 30-day Minimalism Game
- Decluttering Burst: Let Go of 100 Things In an Hour or Less
- Anti-Procrastination Decluttering Challenge: 10 Spaces, 10 Minutes, 100 items.
More motivation when you are thinking about things to declutter:
- Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things
- How To Simplify your Life (Podcast Episode)
- Decluttering 101: 10 Rules To Help You Live With Less Stuff
When you start decluttering things because you want to create more space in your life (and your mind), surround yourself with things that inspire you to simplify. Otherwise, it’s easier to lose motivation or to get overwhelmed. Use our free resources, read books about simplicity or declutter with a friend.
Consider your decluttering pace
To avoid decluttering burnout (it happens), consider your decluttering pace. Decluttering can have a positive effect not just on your personal living space but on your mental health too. If you are feeling overwhelmed, creating a calm, soothing space with less stuff will give you a sanctuary where you can relax, unwind and not feel so distracted and pulled to deal with too many things at once.
When you begin decluttering and are trying to figure out the best place to start, think instead about your time and energy availability. How can you approach decluttering in a way that works well for you. Would 10 minutes a day serve you better than spending an entire weekend getting rid of things? When you don’t feel well enough to declutter the kitchen, do you still have the energy to declutter digital photos and files? Instead of measuring your decluttering success by how many items you get rid of, give more attention to how you feel. Usually tiny, consistent steps work best for big decluttering projects.
Once you finish decluttering things from this list or a room in your home, celebrate. Take a walk, call someone who makes you laugh or make a delicious cup of coffee or snack and recognize your progress. Big change is a result of hundreds of tiny steps and they all count. I’m cheering you as you continue to simplify your life.