You finally decided enough is enough and you are ready to declutter your home. However, you are not quite sure what to do with the stuff you have been saving and collecting for so long. I mean, you paid good money for this stuff. You can’t just get rid of it, can you?
Is it trash? Do you sell it, donate it, or give it away?
I remember standing in my living room, with bags full of items after decluttering, and I was absolutely overwhelmed with what to do with it next.
Some things even had price tags on them, or they had only been used a couple of times. It was heartbreaking to even part with the things, knowing I had wasted the money and the guilt associated with it.
What was I supposed to do with the stuff I decided to declutter? How could I deal with the guilt associated with it?
I want to share with you the things I learned when we decluttered our home, and how I dealt with getting rid of things after decluttering with as little guilt as possible.
If you haven’t started decluttering yet or need an extra push, please join the FREE 5-day decluttering challenge, and I will give you small, actionable steps to get you started!
What to do with all the stuff after decluttering?
First, throw away the obvious. Go through your home with a trash bag and throw away anything that is truly trash.
- Broken appliances beyond repair
- Clothes beyond giving away, selling, or upcycling/recycling
- Broken toys
- Old cords that don’t match up with anything
- Anything expired
There is no reason to hold on to trash, and once you start to recognize it, you will be better about managing it as soon as it comes into your home or even preventing it from ever entering your home.
Ask yourself these questions when deciding if it is trash:
- Is it broken?
- If it’s broken, why are you keeping it?
- Do you plan on fixing the item?
- When do you plan on fixing it?
- If you do fix it, will you use it once it’s fixed?
Guilt associated with items that really are trash
Sometimes we hold on to things because we feel guilty for not fixing them.
I can sew pretty well. For years, I had a bag of clothes that needed quick repairs. I finally got rid of them all. (There are clothing recycling options available.)
Say goodbye to the guilt for not repairing something that’s been hanging over you.
If you really will fix something that’s broken, commit to doing it this week (next week at the latest). If it’s not fixed in two weeks, let it go.
One of two things will happen: You will let go of guilt for not fixing something or you will finally have an item back in use you’ve been meaning to fix for a really long time.
Recycle or upcycle
Declutter and recycle your paper
When going through any trash when you declutter your home, look for items that can be recycled as well. More often than not, that was paper for our family.
We had paper stored in outrageous amounts. Recycling the paper made it a little less painful.
When going through papers I wanted to save, I snapped a quick photo of them with my phone, and I saved them to an online storage cloud. We use Shutterfly for most of our pictures. You can also scan them and save them to an online storage cloud like Dropbox.
We had at least five large plastic storage containers packed to the rim with saved school papers.
This would be one thing if it was a master thesis or something monumental, but I’m talking about preschool worksheets completed with a smiley face sticker.
We looked at them, smiled, and then recycled them. There were a couple of newspaper articles from high school.
I snapped a picture and saved them all to a digital folder to archive for another day. It was slightly painful, but the space gained was amazing!
Declutter and recycle the plastic junk
When we decluttered our home, there were also a lot of plastic toys and other “junk” items that could be recycled.
You know those toys that come home in goodie bags from every child’s birthday party or toys found in fast food meals? Time to toss them if they are not actually played with regularly!
My children NEVER played with this plastic junk. They provided a thrill the moment they received them, and then they ended up in a basket of toys to never be touched again.
If this is the case in your home, time to toss the plastic junk in the recycle bin. No one at a donation center wants your free toys that are really nothing more than junk. It is ok to let them go.
Feel guilty over the impact of tossing them? Learn a lesson, try to prevent them from entering your home going forward, and let it go!
Upcycle what you can to prevent from buying more “useful” stuff
When you are decluttering your home, you can look for items that can be upcycled.
For example, you can use mason jars you empty from your fridge as cute storage solutions for pens and markers. I found baskets that worked as great toy storage solutions in the playroom and kids’ rooms.
Get creative. Just don’t fall into the trap of keeping things you can’t use right now after decluttering. You don’t want to create more clutter for items you will upcycle “one day”.
If you plan another use for an item, complete that project this week if additional work is required. However, if you are just saving something for “one day”, let it go today. The free space you create after decluttering will thank you!
After decluttering, give unwanted but useful items to a friend
One of my favorite things to do after decluttering my home was to give no longer used items that were still in good shape to a friend that would love it!
I gave old DVDs to friends that loved romantic comedies, a brand-new comforter we used only once to a friend who couldn’t afford one for her daughter and a rice cooker to a new couple who wanted one for their kitchen.
Giving is so much fun when you give useful things to the people you care about! Don’t just pass on junk from one place to another, but if you have something truly valuable, share it with those you love.
***While thrift stores and donation centers are closed, please DO NOT leave your stuff outside their place of business. Store it in your garage, a closet, or somewhere out of the way. Don’t be THAT person littering by leaving your stuff outside.***
After decluttering my home, I took six full minivan loads to the local Goodwill over the course of three months.
There was a little bit of panic each time. What if I need this item again? What if my kids are not really done playing with this toy?
Trust me from my experience, it is not worth the panic!
I believe in the two years since we decluttered our home, I have regretted letting go of two things. Two things out of multiple van loads of excess stuff. And you know what? Those items were easily replaced. However, I didn’t replace them.
You see, when you learn to live with less stuff, you get a lot more creative with the items you still have in your home. You make do with what is left, and you learn, you really don’t need as much as you thought. Less stuff can make you happier!
Track your donations!
There are some amazing donation centers out there. We took most of our items to Goodwill, as it was the closest. Know you are helping people by donating your items, and you are also doing yourself a benefit by getting back space in your home!
My biggest piece of advice for donated items is to track them.
We donated everything from a crib and mattress to unused clothes. Download the ItsDeductible app today. It is so easy to use, and it will save you a bundle at tax time if you do a big cleanout when decluttering your home.
I was so impressed with our tax deductions just from a year of getting rid of some good stuff that we really did not use.
Do you sell your stuff after decluttering?
This one is tricky.
In your mind, everything you are getting rid of is valuable, or why else would you have saved it for so long?
When touching items in your home and deciding whether or not to keep them, ask yourself if an item is really valuable. If it is, then sell it!
When deciding to sell your items, weigh the benefit of what you would get from the item to the time you will need to invest in actually selling it.
Sometimes, it is absolutely worth the effort. Other times, it is best to donate or give something away and move on with the possible tax deduction you will get out of it.
Decluttering your home is hard enough. Knowing what to do with all the stuff after decluttering your home can be just as hard as the decision process when clearing the clutter.
In summary, you can trash, recycle, upcycle, give away, donate or sell your items.
Whatever you choose for your items after decluttering, do it with confidence and do it without the guilt! You deserve to enjoy the space you live in, and you deserve to get rid of the clutter overwhelm that is stressing you out.
Being a mama should be fun. Stop spending your days cleaning up stuff no one really loves. Start enjoying your home and spending your time where it matters.
This post is part of the Happy Clutter-Free Home series. You can achieve a decluttered home once and for all. You don’t have to settle for cleaning all day, stress, and general clutter overwhelm. Being a mom is hard already.
Don’t let clutter make it feel impossible. Get back time and reclaim the joy in your home.
This is the last post in the Happy Clutter-Free Home Series.
If you missed any, here are the previous posts. Please check them out!