Ceramic Bakeware, Ovenware. Bakery Kit. Ruffled Pie Dish

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—our highly useful possessions that we just don’t use. Check out these worthwhile solutions for most household’s seven biggest clutter problems.


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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.

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.


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.


If you’re keeping them for show, give it up. You are not impressing anyone. Go straight to Decluttr, input the ISBN number of that book or scan it using the Decluttr smartphone app. For those books they’ll buy, print out the prepaid mailing label and get those books into the mail. If not, donate books to your local library. What they 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.


Place an ad in your local paper or 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. Or call up the next fundraiser auction that comes along and ask if they will pick up your items. If your furniture is really as great as you think, 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 more tips to help with the mess:

  •  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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Go through your medicine cabinets twice a year (January and June are a good schedule) and throw away expired over-the-counter medications. For expired prescription drugs, take them to a local pharmacy that accepts them (most do), then make a list of items you need to replace.

Are you going to make it your mission to get rid of all your clutter? Do you have any more tips you can share? We’d love for you to do that in the comments section below.

The 7 Most Common Clutter Problems and How to Solve Them


How to Donate to Do Good and Declutter, Too

The Peaceful Easy Feeling that Comes with Decluttering

How Not to Feel Poor on a Fixed Income

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20 replies
  1. peggy
    peggy says:

    GM Mary, thanx for your column, u have saved me thousands over the years. i do not want to appear obtuse, but i did not get the tip about giving credit to a potential home buyer, instead of lowering the price. i tried to figure it out, but i cannot see the difference. RSVP. Peggy

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    In my area, there are “Buy Nothing” Facebook pages where you can offer up things you no longer need for free and can respond to ads from neighbors who are looking for homes for their possessions. You can only join one group, and it must be in your zip code. Lot of good items, and if you have kids there are always toys and clothes given away. I have gotten some great stuff from there, and it builds neighborhood connections.

  3. Toni Kenyon
    Toni Kenyon says:

    Never throw away drugs, prescription or over the counter. There is a National Drug Take-Back Day, which is coming up soon, October 26. Take your drugs to the collection site in your area, the Police Station or Safety Center.

  4. Susan
    Susan says:

    Here in North Georgia our church has a mission we started and support. It is an organization called “First Impressions” and is in Clayton, Rabun County, GA. It collects gently-used upscale clothing for free distribution to those who need clothing for job interviews, auditions, and such. All donations are tax-deductible. It really helps those who otherwise have no access to clothing suitable for the occasion.

  5. cheryl denbow
    cheryl denbow says:

    Please take/send Bibles, Christian literature to Love Packages in Butler, Illinois or Decatur, Alabama. You can google for more information. Thanks.

    • Vicki W.
      Vicki W. says:

      I second this. I send Sunday School materials, devotional and Bibles to Love Packages via the Postal Service’s media rate.

  6. Renee O
    Renee O says:

    Don’t forget “Habitat For Humanity” ReStore. Many restores are willing to pick-up large items like furniture and old working appliances. They accept lamps, dishes, sm. working appliances, usable building material, tools, paint.sinks and many items you have not thought of.It’s best to c. all your store to see what is accepted. Many folks bought home repair items after the last hurricane. All proceeds go to Habitat new home building and donations are tax deductible. Thanks, a volunteer.

  7. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    As with Sue I “accept” offered reusable bags and donate them to shelters, as most of our stores now charge for plastic bags (soon to be banned).
    This is a little off the “decluttering” topic, or maybe not…..I always gathered/collected the little soaps and shampoos etc. from hotel rooms. After all they are included in my rate. I’d use the shampoo, conditioner, and creams, but always had way too many soaps.
    I still collect them but now I give everything to a local street ministry group for their clients. I’ve even discovered they welcome shower caps for their clients to keep their heads dry in the rain or even a wind proof layer under a winter hat.
    Got a collection of greeting cards sent by charities you support? Extra playing cards, games you don’t play anymore, jigsaw puzzles? These can all be decluttered to a shelter or street ministry. Just phone first to see if they have too many. If they do, they’ll happily direct you to another organization in your area that can use the item(s).

  8. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    Even over the counter drugs should be returned to a pharmacy. There is also potential for harm to the environment/animals.

    • Linda Radosevich
      Linda Radosevich says:

      In our town, most pharmacies will not accept OTC or prescription drugs, but the Law Enforcement Agency will. I just drop mine by, and put it in the slot.

  9. S. ROSE
    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.

  10. HALENA
    HALENA says:

    JUST “LIKE THAT”??????

  11. Sue in MN
    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.

  12. Vonnie
    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.

    • Susan
      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.

  13. Suzanne
    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.

  14. Gudrun
    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.

    • Maggie
      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.

  15. Cris
    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”

  16. Deb R.
    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.


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