9 Easy Items to Declutter Whenever You're in a Rut

Toss these items without a second thought (or lingering regrets).

Does it feel like your home is drowning in stuff? All it takes is a few days and suddenly there are stacks of papers, a pile of shoes at the front door, and counters that are so full you can't fix a cup of coffee. Some problems can be resolved by simply putting things away where they belong. But what if closets and cabinets are overflowing and there's just no more room for anything? It's time to declutter.

Decluttering can be very emotional because so much of what we hold onto has memories attached. In addition to the physical effort, it can be overwhelming if you think you must work on every cluttered area at the same time. That's usually when we just give up.

cosmetics in clear containers on a white shelf
Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty Images

But, here are nine easy, low-stakes items you can declutter with no regrets. When you're ready to get started, gather four plastic bags or cardboard boxes. Label them as Donate, Recycle, Trash, and Keep (be sure you have a place for the keep items). Try to finish each category in one session and then immediately take out the trash, place appropriate unwanted items in the recycle bin, and put the donate box in your car. Put away the items you decided to keep and you'll feel like an organizing expert and ready to tackle the next cluttered area.

01 of 09

Toiletries and Makeup

Start with the top of your bathroom counter and toss any outdated or empty containers. Move to bathroom drawers or cabinets and toss makeup and perfumes that seemed so right when you bought them but just don't work anymore (remember, these items do expire!). Donate extra unused and unexpired bath and personal hygiene products to local shelters.

02 of 09


Check the expiration date on over-the-counter medicines and half-used prescriptions. Follow the guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration for the disposal of the medications.

03 of 09

Junk Mail, Newspapers, and Magazines

Add to the recycle bin! You can find all the news and articles you might have missed online. If you're feeling ambitious, go online and unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs and mailing lists.

04 of 09

Cleaning Supplies

Start under the kitchen or bathroom sink or in the laundry room. Toss empty containers, expired products, or those that just didn't perform the way you hoped. If you have accumulated multiple brooms, mops, or dusters, keep only the best one or one for each floor of your home.

05 of 09

Expired Food

Work on one shelf at a time in your pantry. Check each package label and toss expired foods. Organize as you go and donate any items that are still fresh but that your family won't eat to local food pantries. When you finish in the pantry, move to the refrigerator and freezer and do the same thing.

06 of 09

Drinking Glasses, Water Bottles, and Mugs

Just how many plastic cups, mismatched coffee mugs, and water bottles do you need? Trash or donate them.

07 of 09

Desk Supplies

You may not be ready to go through all the paperwork on your desk but start with the supplies. Get rid of pens and markers that have dried up. Use a drawer divider to separate items like paper clips, notepads, and rubber bands.

08 of 09

Towels and Sheets

Start with one shelf in your linen closet. Separate worn-out towels, sheets, and bedding you no longer use. Fold and organize what's left so that it is easy to see and use. If you're feeling good, move to another shelf! Donate the towels and bedding to a local animal shelter.

09 of 09

Pet Toys and Supplies

Sort through pet toys, leashes, collars, and supplies, and toss damaged items. Separate toys your pet no longer enjoys (or never did) to donate along with unwanted (but still fresh) pet food.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles