Two plastic storage boxes

10 Things You DON'T Need in Order to Declutter Your House

It’s so easy to put off tasks that seem unpleasant. Which is why you might put off exercising until you’ve joined the gym, or bought nicer workout clothing, or found the perfect trainer. 

Or possibly you’re procrastinating on that job hunt until your boss is out of town, the economy is better, or the kids don’t need as much of your time.

Or - fill in the blank. 

It’s different for all of us, but if there’s a task or project you’re putting off it’s likely that you’ve convinced yourself that you need something that you do not currently have in order to get it done.

If you’ve been dragging your heels on decluttering your house, you may have come up with a ton of things you think you need before you get started. I’m here to tell you that you do not need a single thing except the desire to live a simpler life.

But in case you don’t believe me, I’ve made a list of 10 things you absolutely DO NOT need in order to get going.

1. More time

If you’re thinking that you’ll wait until you can set aside a whole weekend, think again. 

Don’t mind me chuckling over here, I have a lot of admiration for anyone who would willingly devote an entire weekend to getting rid of stuff, but I know how unlikely it is.

The fact is, if you spend 10 minutes per day collecting things you don’t need anymore, and an additional hour each month disposing of them, you’ll have a LOT less stuff in just a few months.

Because clutter looms so large in our minds it seems like a Herculean task. But you do not have to muck out the Augean Stables - you just have to go through your sock drawer! And then your coffee mug collection. And then your vitamins. 

Trust me, Hercules wishes he had it so good.

2. Plastic bins

I will try to keep this short, because I could spend days on this particular soapbox. 

While plastic is terrific for storage, Instagram organizers have erroneously convinced an awful lot of people that every single thing you own should be kept in its own individual plastic box. 

This includes taking food out of the nicely labeled containers it comes in and putting into plastic containers! Because… Why? I don’t get it. Same with shoes. Same with cleaning supplies, craft supplies, first aid supplies…

Use plastic containers when it’s the most practical option, but for the love of Mother Earth PLEASE do not buy dozens of them in order to organize your stuff. The goal here is to have LESS stuff. 

Extra points if you can actually get rid of some of the plastic containers you already have.

3. Label maker

I’m not dissing label makers. They can be useful, particularly if you live with people who can’t seem to put things away properly. 

But just as you don’t need to buy a new Athleta outfit just to go for a brisk walk, you do not need a fancy pants gadget to start tidying up your life. If you must label right off the bat, use masking tape and a sharpie and put that label maker on your personal gift registry.

You have one of those, right?

4. More shelving

I agree that it’s handy to have high-quality shelving. It keeps stuff off the floor and makes it more visible so you can find what you want when you want it. But again, the idea is to rid yourself of stuff rather than provide more options for holding on to stuff. 

See what you can discard, then decide how much shelving you really need. It might be a whole lot less than you think. Really nice metal shelving isn’t cheap… And that's what you should be using.

5. Drawer dividers

It’s tempting to avoid delving into the junk drawers to clean them out when you know you have no way to keep them organized once you’re done. In an ideal world, you take everything out, decide what to keep, then put it back such that the drawer will never turn into a black hole again. 

So, yes, some kind of organizing system is useful.

This is where your recycling bin is magically transformed  into a store house of treasures! Here are some of the things I like to use for drawer organization: jars, iPhone boxes, tea tins, stationery boxes, ramekins, business card boxes, berry boxes, Brie boxes… 

Honestly, any small container made of metal, glass, clay, fabric, wood, tin or cardboard is perfect for keeping your drawers, both large and small, beautifully organized.

You do NOT need to visit Target, IKEA, or The Container Store before you get started. #sorrynotsorry

6. Help from your partner/kids/roommates

I hope you DO get help from one or more of these sources; it would certainly make your life easier. But sometimes the best way to motivate people is by modeling the behavior you’d like to see.

Best case scenario, your partner grows jealous of your tidy closet and manageable shelves, and decides to follow your lead. 

Worst case, you manage to rid yourself of a bunch of stuff that’s been weighing you down. It’s easier to get dressed in the morning! You spend less time looking for your stuff! You revel in your moral superiority!

There’s really no downside. So don’t wait for anyone else to get on board. Just, as the very well-paid athletes exhort us, do it.

7. Plastic bins

I know, I already mentioned this, but SERIOUSLY, look at these pictures! The ocean is crying. Also, Instagram is evil.


8. A truck

You may be thinking that you’ll never be able to get all this discarded stuff off your property without an F150. Au contraire! 

There are lots of donation outlets that will send trucks to pick stuff up. And if you put things up for free on a site like Freecycle or Nextdoor, there are loads of people who will be willing to come get it.

If what you’ve got is truly useless and destined for the dump, there are still a couple of options. UHaul rents pickup trucks for a very reasonable fee. Perhaps someone owes you a favor? Or call a hauling company and pay someone to take the stuff off your hands! 

You can also get a dumpster, if you really have a LOT of stuff that’s destined for the dump. Maybe your neighbors will go in on it with you. Your trash hauling company would be thrilled to drop one in front of your house.

Long story short, this is not a good enough excuse to keep from starting.

9. A plan

If you’ve got a lot of clutter, it might seem like you need a solid plan of attack. I’m not saying that a plan won’t help - I’m just saying you can start without one. 

When I got serious about eradicating my clutter, I decided to do it by getting rid of five things per day. I was totally haphazard about it, which is more or less my M.O. 

One day I’d find five things in the bathroom, the next day I’d find five items of clothing.

You may be more successful with a somewhat more consistent strategy. (I advise starting with the bathroom and moving on once you’ve really pared down as much as possible there, then moving from room to room.) 

But honestly? If coming up with a solid plan is standing in the way of starting, forget about the plan. You can spend ten minutes decluttering whatever part of the house you happen to be sitting in right this minute. 

There’s plenty of time to make a plan once you get going. In fact, getting started might be the thing that will help you come up with a long-term strategy.

10. Expertise

Honestly, this isn’t rocket science. I’ve got TONS of advice for you, and I love to dig into the emotional attachments we have to our things, which can make it hard to let them go. I can help when the going gets tough.

(Have questions? Email me!)

But decluttering can be as simple as finding a few things every day that are no longer adding value to your life, and putting them in a bag. When that bag is full, take it to your local thrift store.

Boom! Done.

So stop making excuses and get going!