Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Thank you for signing up to Homes & Gardens. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
It took me a few years before I finally realized that I don't have to purge my entire home every time I wanted to declutter my spaces. It turns out that (for me at least) doing smaller decluttering sessions every few days helps me to stay on top of my junk better than infrequently purging.
I found that many decluttering tips were geared towards completely refreshing a wardrobe or purging a kitchen back down to its basics, meaning that small household tasks such as clearing out old, unusable pens or unread books are often forgotten about. Ironic, I think, given that it is almost always these smaller items that cause the most stress when it comes to home organization ideas.
As a result, I took it upon myself to go around my home in one day with a few large trash bags and quickly declutter all the useless items collecting dust that we often forget about. Here are 20 of the less thought-about things I recently got rid of in my home that you can quickly and easily declutter yourself – without any help.
1. Mismatched socks and accessories
When I finally got around to buying a drawer divider much like this on Amazon I quickly realized just how many odd socks were lurking at the bottom of my dresser drawers – and who knows how long they have been without the matching garment.
Now I can finally see the bottom of my dresser, I have made it a policy to get rid of odd socks (and odd earrings too, for that matter) that I cannot find the matching sock for. Occasionally, I may bundle up odd pairs together for wearing inside boots or around the house, but this helps to keep my drawers clear.
This goes for any pairs of socks with holes in the toes or worn out bottoms too, even if they are some of my favorites.
2. Scratchy bath towels
As much as I try to learn how to soften towels and keep them soft, some of my oldest linens are just beyond saving.
After months of them clogging up my bathroom storage ideas, I finally decided that every time I reached for a fresh towel to find it more of an exfoliator than a fluffy spa-like towel it would go to the bin or be relegated to a towel for wiping down surfaces after cleaning a bathroom.
I also took the plunge and invested in some high-quality Egyptian Cotton Towels from AMARA to really boost the look and feel of my bathroom.
3. Redundant cables and charging wires
Now, this is one I know that we are all guilty of. Keeping surplus cables from phones we don't own anymore (my original IPhone 4, for example) or throwing cables we don't know the use of in a drawer together 'just in case' we figure out a way of using them in the future. Now, getting rid of some of these was not the easiest task on this decluttering list that is for sure – I did have to make sure that they were cables I no longer needed after all, but once the bulk of the obvious ones were out of the way it was much easier to get rid of other cables I was less sure of over time as I found myself never getting them out of my organizer.
I bought this cable organizer on Amazon to help get my unruly tech drawer in order and I have never had to battle with tangled cables since.
4. Batteries that have long-since died
Changing batteries is something that I rarely actually do, or at least not until I absolutely have to. Why would I bother to swap out my TV remote batteries when hitting them a few times seems to get them to work again anyway.
When I do find myself changing them out, however, I just toss the old ones back in my kitchen junk drawer and leave them for another day. In my quick decluttering rounds this is an easy task that I can knock off the list in a few minutes as I dig them out (thanking myself for keeping the old batteries separate from the new ones) and dispose of them at last.
I am also looking at getting some rechargeable batteries such as these on Walmart so I never have this problem again.
5. instruction manuals for appliances I no longer own
I had lost count of the number of instruction manuals I had kept a hold of so I barely noticed that I was hoarding manuals for old appliances I had long since gotten rid of or donated, as well as instructions for furniture that I built years ago and have never taken apart since.
Much like old take-out menus, recycling these old pamphlets was simple, especially considering I can find many of them as online PDFs nowadays anyway.
6. Expired pantry items
When organizing kitchen cabinets I often um and ah about food that is close to or past its best-before dates. Now, if an item is past its use-by date I would certainly throw it out, making sure to empty containers and recycle it if possible. For items that could still be okay for a while I ask myself whether or not I will feasibly use them in the next month, if not, I will remove them from my cabinet.
It is worth checking your local food bank donation guidelines before getting rid of food that is still well within its use-by date that you may have bought on a whim, or have found no use for, to see if it could go towards helping somebody else.
7. Old grocery bags
Although I usually use my reusable shopping totes whenever I do my weekly grocery shop I somehow have a build-up of plastic and paper grocery bags in my entryway closet. Holding onto them 'just in case' just doesn't make sense if I will never gravitate towards them when leaving the house especially now I own some heavy-duty reusable Grocery Shopping Bags like this Amazon set.
I was amazed at how much more organized it made my entryway closet ideas look.
8. Broken things I have not repaired in over two months
Now, I am always looking for more ways to be sustainable at home, and repairing broken things is one of the ways I like to go about it. I am far from perfect, however, and I often simply leave things on the edge of my kitchen counter to fix 'at some point'.
Admitting that I do not have time to fix everything is not something to be ashamed of, I have learned, leaving something on the side collecting dust for four months, is (I am looking at you, sneakers).
9. Bed linens I never gravitate towards
I love a comfortable bed and I am very particular about what linens I use on my bed to make my bedroom cozy and coherent. Because of this, there are old linens piled up that I simply do not use on my beds anymore.
Getting rid of sets I do not gravitate towards anymore, keeping one or two for emergencies, has freed up so much space and helped with organizing my linen closet. Now I have the space to buy more like this King Sized Linen Duvet Cover Set from H&M that I love falling into every night.
10. Old jewellery I never pick out
Decluttering jewelry is much easier if you think of accessories the same as you do clothes, I have learned. Using some closet decluttering tips I stole from professionals helped me to purge my jewelry collection of pieces that I have either replaced recently with higher quality metals, have tarnished beyond repair, or are no longer quite my style.
The result is a much more pared-back collection of only my finest luxury pieces that I know I will always wear and will last me a lifetime.
11. Takeout menus
Let's face it, all takeout menus are online nowadays – when was the last time you called a restaurant with a paper menu? I have been trying to tackle my kitchen 'junk drawer' for months and getting rid of these useless paper leaflets has made a huge dent in my hoarding problem.
What was a menu from a place that closed down two years ago doing in there anyway?
12. Old medications
I have a medicine cabinet in my house that is simply overflowing with medications that I either do not need anymore but has prescribed once or half-used packets of Advil that are overflowing from my attempts at organization.
This was a much simpler task than I thought it would be, simply taking out anything that had passed its expiry date or medications from old illnesses that I didn't need anymore. I also took the time to lump all my half-used pain receivers together by type so I would reach for a half-used packet before opening a new packet altogether.
Always make sure to dispose of your old medications carefully and correctly when doing this, however, as sometimes they cannot go in your regular waste bin.
13. Books that I never read in the end
I love the idea and look of books, however, I hardly get the time to read them anymore. What's more, I certainly used to be guilty of buying a new book just because the cover looked pretty rather than being interesting in its content.
In order to relieve some of the stress I have put on my bookshelf ideas around my home I made it my task to remove any books I bought over two years ago that I have never thought about reading and left only the ones I loved most behind. This has certainly helped in organizing a bookshelf and has allowed me to donate a load of belongings to people who would love them better than me.
14. Novelty kitchen tools I shouldn't have bought in the first place
It is all well and good to buy the newest or most novel kitchen gadgets if you are going to use them, but I was suckered in with the belief that the half-lemon saver pod would actually be useful only to never use it. If I am honest, I didn't even get it out of the packaging.
Given that I have a tiny kitchen and struggle with my kitchen storage ideas, getting rid of useless gadgets that have no place in my space was a no-brainer (even if it did sting a little knowing I had essentially thrown money away).
15. Old containers that have seen better days
Old kitchen containers build up quicker than anything else in my kitchen. Old plastic take-out containers, lunch boxes, and organizers have caused a minor plastic mountain in my cabinets and made it a battle to get anything out at all.
I started by pulling them all out to see what I had before separating off the newest and best, throwing everything else into the recycling.
16. Excessive cleaning supplies
I am a stickler for keeping a clean house, but it has meant that the cabinet under my sink has become stuffed full of cleaning products and supplies such as cloths and sponges that have either seen better days or have been so well hidden I forgot I owned them.
I took the time to pull everything out, just as I did my containers, and separated my favorite and new products to go back in storage from the half-used products and things I have never touched. I made sure to ask family and friends if they were in need of things before disposing of leftovers and unwearable clothes.
17. Moisturisers that have long since expired
Much like make-up, there are some unexpected things in my home that have expiry dates. Given that I do not moisturize half as much as I probably should, alternating between phases of strict routine and neglecting it altogether, I have more than enough half-used moisturizer bottles laying around, some of which have turned into thick pastes.
Although it took me longer than I like to admit I collected all of the bottles from my bedroom and bathroom before testing every single one to see their condition and decide whether or not I still liked the scent.
I gifted many of the new unused bottles to my mom, who is much better at sticking to a routine, and made sure to leave older bottles that were still good in a visible spot so I would reach for them after a shower. Any bottles that had ceased ultimately went in the bin.
18. Old paperwork and mail
I do not have a shredder in my house, meaning that important letters and paperwork build up very quickly on my sideboard. While I gathered it all up and put it in a large envelope to take to my parent's house in the holidays to burn on their log fire, it is simple enough to use some scissors to cut up addresses and important details if needed – it might just take a little longer.
19. Pens that no longer work
It is almost shocking to admit that I hardly use pens anymore with everything being online and me always having my phone on hand to make notes. Despite this, they are always useful to have laying around – as long as they actually work, that is.
I was tired of reaching for a pen quickly when I did need one and it failed to work, leaving me to try and scrape details down when on the phone to somebody, lying to say 'of course, I have a pen'.
This quick decluttering task was simple enough to do while watching TV, quickly testing each pen from around my house and throwing any that had dried up into a trash bag.
20. Store cards and coupons for places I don't shop at anymore
I don't think there is anyone out there that doesn't love a good deal, which is why so many of us seem to have an absurd amount of store cards and coupons that we collected just to never actually use. Whether that is because we have only been in the store as a one-off or because we always forget to take them with us.
Cleaning my bag out of old expired coupons and getting rid of cards from my vanity drawer just made sense.
How do you get rid of a lot of stuff fast?
To get rid of a lot of stuff fast it is best o have a plan and be in the right mindset to declutter. Make sure to allocate yourself a set amount of time to purge old or unused items and start out with a few trash bags or large boxes to easily sort items as you take them off of shelves or out of cupboards.
What should you not do when decluttering?
The main thing you should always avoid when decluttering is starting a big project without a plan. When starting a sizeable decluttering task determine before you start what your goal is – do you want to get rid of just a few items and re-organize, or do you want to purge items and leave only the necessities behind?
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
Items to store on your nightstand for better sleep, according to experts
These are the items to consider keeping on your nightstand for a beautiful space and a peaceful night’s sleep, according to experts
By Camille Dubuis-Welch Published
'Oddities, interests, hopes, and habits' is what designer Tess Twiehaus believes is at the heart of all good interior design
We spoke with Cali-based designer Tess Twiehaus on the importance of creating homes that reflect personal style rather than the ever-changing trends
By Hebe Hatton Published