A cup of coffee on a table, with Bakery and Ceramic

7 Common Clutter Problems and How to Solve Them

I have a theory that most of us would be more than willing to let go of the stuff that’s cluttering our homes if we knew these things would serve a worthwhile cause or help someone else—the good things, kitchen things—the highly useful possessions that we just don’t use. Check out these worthwhile solutions for most households’ seven biggest clutter problems.

 

A cup of coffee on a table, with Kitchen and Bakery

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Vases, baskets, containers

And anything else that held flowers you have received. If they’re cracked or broken, no one wants them. For the rest, take those which are in “like-new” condition to the closest flower shop to be recycled. You’ll be gratefully received.

Excess dishes and glassware

No matter how pretty or potentially useful, if you do not use those items at least once each year, sell them to an antique dealer, or give them to a local thrift shop or the church’s annual rummage sale.

Pots and pans

Offer them to family members, take them to the thrift shop, or see if your church kitchen or camp could use some decent cookware.

Clothing

Can’t bring yourself to dump your good clothes into a collection bin? Find an organization with specific needs.

Check out crisis pregnancy homes, battered women’s shelters, and drug rehab centers. They will be so grateful to get gently used clothing that their clients can wear to job interviews. Beyond gently worn? Toss them. Now.

Books

Go to Decluttr, input the ISBN number of that book or scan it using the Decluttr smartphone app. For those books Decluttr will buy, print out the prepaid mailing label, and get those books into the mail. Decluttr will send you a check. I’ve done it, been surprised by how quickly I got paid.

Got textbooks? BookScouter.com specializes in buying and selling textbooks. Same routine: Input the ISBN number at its website. Book Scouter helps you sell textbooks and used books for the most money by comparing offers from over 39 book buyback vendors with a single search.

Can’t sell them? Donate books to your local library. Those the library cannot put on the shelves will help raise funds at the next library book sale.

Bibles and church literature

Call a local church or two and ask if they want them. If not, take them to the thrift shop.

Furniture

Post your items on CraigsList.org to sell items you don’t need and are just taking up space. If you want to give the stuff away, post on the website FreeCycle.org. Another idea is to call up the next fundraiser auction that comes along and ask if they will pick up your items.

Another option is to join NextDoor.com to connect with neighbors in your local community. Post your items For Sale or for Free Pickup. If your furniture is generally desirable, it’ll be gone before you know it.

General organization tips

Because clutter and organization is a huge problem for many of us, here are my tried-and-true tips to help with the mess:

Everything in its place

Assign a “home” for everything you own, then put things away when you are finished using them. If something doesn’t have a home, perhaps it’s time to rethink that item.

Save it with a photo

If you are having trouble parting with something and you want to save the memory of the item, consider taking a photo of it for future reference. Wait. Don’t dismiss this idea so quickly! This may sound silly at first, but it will fulfill your desire to continue to enjoy it and declutter your life, too.

Organize your kitchen pantry

Group like items together so you’ll know what you have and what needs to go on the grocery list. Find out what’s lurking on your shelves and in your cupboards. If you do not use it regularly, either get rid of it or start using it.

Clear out meds

Go through your medicine cabinets twice a year (January and June are a good schedule) and dispose of all expired over-the-counter medications.

medicine in a bottle

For expired prescription drugs, take them to a local pharmacy that accepts them (most do and they may also accept your expired over-the-counter items as well), then make a list of items you need to replace.

Make sure you guard your ID with a permanent marker or this handy blackout roller stamp.

First published: 10–18-20; Updated 6-9-20

 

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21 replies
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  1. Jodie says:

    In addition to Facebook Marketplace, the apps LetGo and OfferUp are two other great ways to part with your unneeded items and make some money from them.

    Reply
  2. Ruth says:

    To sell unwanted items, use Facebook marketplace. There are usually a lot of local groups by you, and it works well for furniture, dishes, clothes, any item you want.

    Reply
  3. S. ROSE says:

    Instead of tossing old clothes, there are places that use the material for ‘textile recycling’. Google your area to find where to donate. They don’t want paint or oil on the materials though.

    Reply
  4. HALENA says:

    WHY IS IT, THAT, NO MATTER HOW OLD SOMETHING IS, AS
    SOON AS I THRASH IT, I FIND MYSELF NEEDING SOMETHING,
    JUST “LIKE THAT”??????

    Reply
  5. Sue in MN says:

    In our community curbside recycling is alive and well – we post the item “free” on NextDoor or Facebook and away it goes. If you don’t want your address out there, ask those interested to PM you their number, and you can make direct contact with the recipient. Also, in the nearby city where our kids are, it’s accepted practice to put out reusables next to your trash – the pickers come so fast it’s amazing.
    When decluttering, don’t forget all the totes, backpacks and duffle bags you have accumulated – who needs more than a few? Homeless shelters and transitional housing places LOVE to get these for their clients who must carry everything they own around with them. We also pick up reusable shopping bags whenever offered. If we have too many, we pack out donated items in them – they get passed on at the thrift shops.

    Reply
  6. Vonnie says:

    A very helpful column! When I go into the attic to get wrapping paper or decorations, I also get out at least one thing to toss. Now I need my grown children to clean out their childhood memorabilia.

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      Just don’t be surprised or disappointed when your children throw away those “treasured” memories. It’s happened across several generations in my family.

      Reply
  7. Suzanne says:

    When it comes to clutter I’m ruthless. If I don’t use it I happily say goodbye. But my husband and sons are the opposite. They refuse to part with things they haven’t even looked at in years. I wish there was a way to overcome their attachments to useless stuff.

    Reply
  8. Gudrun says:

    One of our thrift stores accepts any fabric item to sell to recycle merchants. It benefits their charity work. Great for clothes that can’t be sold.

    Reply
    • Maggie says:

      Gudrun – Thank you for posting the info about fabric recycling. In our area, Goodwill is a fabric consolidator; they even take clothes that other thrifts can’t sell. Also, some thrifts sell too-old clothes to garages, machine shops, etc., for rags.

      Reply
  9. Cris says:

    My favorite place to donate books is the Little Free Library. Small boxes around town where you can take or leave a few books. There are some guidelines (no religious/ proselytizing material) but I have donated and picked up a wide variety of books there. There is a website with maps of approved locations, but there are many that aren’t registered. Google “little free library”

    Reply
  10. Deb R. says:

    Oh I wish I had known about decluttr two weeks ago! I even had some autographed books that I dropped off at the thrift shop. (I know authors hate when we don’t keep their autographed copies, but really, does it do the author any good if the book never gets read by anyone else?) At least the place I left my books supports the Mennonite Central Committee with their proceeds, a ministry I am happy to support.

    Reply
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