A lot of the time, clutter accumulates not because you have too much stuff overall, but because you have too many of the same thing clogging up your home storage.
Because of this, usual decluttering tips sometimes miss some common clutter spots that continue to build up without us paying them much mind. This then makes everyday life more difficult and leads to you feeling overwhelmed.
These are the eight everyday items you probably have too many of – and why you should get rid of them for an easier daily routine.
Things you own too many of
Although these categories are all home items professional organizers say you’ll regret throwing away completely, cutting them back to the essentials is the simplest way to streamline your day-to-day life and reduce the stress on your home storage.
Here’s where to start:
1. Mugs and bottles
One of the most common offenders for things you have too many of are mugs and bottles, begins Juliana Meidl, professional organizer and founder of Serenity At Home Detroit:
‘An area where we see a lot of extra items is in the kitchen. People often collect a lot of coffee mugs and water bottles. Whether we get extras as gifts, giveaways, or souvenirs people generally have so many coffee mugs and water bottles and only use a few.
‘We often suggest to our clients to consider how many they use and may ever need and donate the extras, making sure to organize coffee mugs efficiently so you can see what you have.’
Juliana Meidl has been a professional home organizer for many years, having found that they key to a serene home was perfect organization that works for the family.
2. Kitchen utensils
‘We also see a lot of duplicates in kitchen utensils. It truly is not necessary to have several sets of measuring cups, multiple can openers, or a drawer full of spatulas. We work with our clients to sort through all the multiples they have, select the best ones they have, and donate the rest.’
Brenda Scott is passionate about home organizing, decluttering, and creating a safe home. At Tidy My Space, she helps people to keep their homes tidy when life gets busy. Brenda shares useful tips and gives practical help with sorting and editing her clients' spaces, leading them to feel less stressed and bringing the luxury of time to be spent with family, friends, or on themselves.
3. Reusable bags
Reusable bags are a great way to cut back on plastic waste, but it is certainly possible to have too many, says Raychel Klein, home organizer and founder of RayBayBay Home Organizing. ‘These accumulate so passively that you barely realize you own too many until someone points them out, especially if you don't store tote bags properly.
‘I recommend reviewing this once or twice a year, making sure each bag has a purpose (grocery, lunch, beach) as well as sparks joy. This ensures that even if you grab a bag blindly, it's one you love using and is functional.’
Raychel Klein started her home organization business in 2020 with the mission of helping people escape the vicious cycle of clutter. She is a certified KonMari consultant based in Seattle, Washington.
So many people have too many books,’ begins Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson, professional organizer and author.
‘Yes, as an author this is terrible to say, but we all have more books than we need. You only need to keep personal favorites and the books you will read over and over again. Every other book you own falls into three categories: books you've read, books you started reading but lost interest in, and books you have not read.
‘To declutter books you have read, consider passing them on to a friend, or dropping them off at a donation center/charity shop.
‘If your TBR pile is bigger than you could ever read in a lifetime, consider weeding through and selling some off. You won't miss them.’
Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson is the author of Stop Buying Bins & other blunt but practical advice from a home organizer. She was the principal of Bonnie Lia Interiors, a home organizing and interior decorating firm with clients in MD, VA, DC. She has also held positions as a senior national media buyer, museum store retail buyer, and home decor account manager. Since 2020, she has focused her attention on writing full-time.
It is great to have a few sets of bedsheets lying around in case of emergencies and for guests, but you should limit your collection to two or three of your best bed sheets to avoid unnecessary clutter, Brenda Scott, professional home organizer, believes.
‘This is also true of towels,’ she adds. ‘Again, the key is to go through all the items you have and only keep the ones you know you use. We often replace items with something new but don't get rid of the old ones.’
6. Makeup and bath products
Decluttering makeup and skin care can be tricky when we have splurged money on them, but duplicates are often one of the main causes of bathroom clutter, Raychel Klein, home organizer, shares.
‘Product samples are perfect for on-the-go use, trying new products, or having on hand for guests who forget items, but the issue is when you stock up on samples that you would never use - think about those hotel amenities where you didn’t like the smell or samples included with an order (which wasn’t your choice).
‘I’m here to say it is 100% okay to discard any samples that you don’t foresee yourself (or someone else using); they do expire after all. Editing samples is something I recommend be done annually to keep the quantity under control.’
7. Holiday decorations
Holidays are usually a great excuse for spending a little extra and picking up the cutest of decorations from the store as we pass. This usually means you end up with too many to fit in your home storage, says Brenda Scott, professional home organizer.
‘As the years go on our tastes in decorations can change or as our kids grow we do less decorating but don't always get rid of what we no longer use. We suggest that after each holiday take note of what you used and donate what you didn't,’ she suggests.
The best time to do this is when you are organizing Christmas decorations for storage, or switching between seasonal decor throughout the year.
8. Cords and cables
Organizing cables and cords can be a nightmare, usually because we have so many of them and no idea what each of them is for. As a result, this is a category worthy of cutting back on,’ says Robyn Reynolds, home organizer and founder of Organize2Harmonize.
‘When we buy an electronic, it usually comes with cords and wires. However, we already have the wires from the last item. We also have excess power cords to what, no one knows. If you needed it, it would be attached to the item you are using. It is ok to get rid of that miscellaneous box of cords and wires. It usually sits for years without ever being looked at anyway and they can easily be replaced if you get rid of something you need later down the line.’
Robyn started her professional organizing company in 2008, and has since helped hundred of clients from busy stay-at-home moms to business executives and celebrities.
Why do I feel like I own too much stuff?
You might feel like you own too much stuff if you are struggling to find things easily or feel overwhelmed when opening a cabinet or closet. Having too much stuff can also make it difficult to keep surfaces clear and your house difficult to clean. If that feels like you, then it might be time to start decluttering.
Why do I always end up with clutter?
You might end up with constant clutter if you are decluttering but not putting practices into place to avoid bringing more stuff into the house right after. Implement a one-in-one-out policy to avoid adding to growing piles of clutter before you have a clear-out, and set up some home storage that works well for you to avoid things being left out on tables and counters. Putting things away as you use them is the best way to prevent clutter from building up around your home.
Once you have decluttered these commonly overflowing categories, it is important to focus on home organizing to keep the clutter to a minimum. Place them in storage containers that limit how many things you have so you are not at risk of squeezing more unnecessary items in, such as a utensil tray in the kitchen, or some storage baskets in the bathroom for hygiene products. Only buy more when you run out, or an item needs replacing.
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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.
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