How to know what to throw away and what to keep while spring cleaning

Spring cleaning. Those two words have either put you into an anxiety-filled spiral or have you already reaching for your cleaning supplies. For us, it has us ready to get back to our minimalistic roots. You naturally accumulate things over time. Especially during the winter when all of those holiday gifts add up.

Don’t feel overwhelmed when you open that extra closet and see that it is, in fact, stuffed to the top instead of empty. Don’t stare at your closet and wonder if you’ll ever wear that bridesmaid’s dress again. Answer: You won’t. We are here to help you. Don’t stress if you don’t know what to throw away and what to keep. Let’s get into spring cleaning: Keep-it-or-toss-it edition.

Make a list

First thing’s first—make a list. This might seem silly, but what if you completely forgot to check drawers? Did you go into that guest bedroom and check that closet? You don’t have to write down every drawer in every room. A basic list will be helpful, though.

If you go into spring cleaning blindly, you could wind up with a complete tornado of a mess. Even if you wrote out which rooms you think need it the most, that’s fine. It’s always better to be prepared, and a list will help you be more mentally prepared for this.

A couple is deciding what to do with an item in their house.
Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

The last time you touched it

When was the last time you attempted to put on those “pre” jeans? How long has it been since you used that massage gun thing your aunt got you a few Christmases ago? If you can’t remember when the last time you touched something was, it’s time to toss it.

This won’t apply to things you aren’t supposed to mess with all of the time, like signs, books, or other items that you can look at but not use. Items that are meant to be taken out and worn or used are the focus. That means those costumes from your college days need to go.

Would you notice if it disappeared?

Along those lines, would you even notice if it wasn’t there? If that food processor were to up and walk away, how long before you would even know it was gone? If an item could be taken away (or hidden by a child) and you can’t tell what use to be in that spot, it’s time to get rid of it.

These are things that would be great to donate or sell. Ask your neighbors if anyone needs a coffee grinder when you won’t give up your pods. That adorable tea set might look cute on a shelf, but if your kids took it to play with and you still haven’t realized it, it’s time to give it to someone who would love it.

Time matters

No matter what you are going through, clothing, beauty products, or the good old junk drawer, think about time. It might be nice for sentimental purposes, but do you really need the hospital bill from when you had your finger stitched up five years ago? If the bill is paid off and the taxes have been done, put it in the shredder.

When cleaning out your fridge, check the date on your items. If it’s been expired for a minute, toss it. Check the date on things from your face masks to your sunscreen. If it’s getting close to the expiration date and you know you won’t use them, send a text to the neighborhood chat and see if anyone wants them.

A clean and organized room.
Huseyn Kamaladdin/Pexels

Double, double, toil, and donate

How many pasta strainers do you need? How many decorative owls does one room need to have? If you have more than one of the same items, donate or sell them. Obviously, you need more than one pair of shoes, but do you need three pairs of black boots? If they are all the same length, the answer is no.

People forget and might buy you the same thing for your birthday or Christmas. That’s fine. We do it all of the time. There’s no need to feel bad about getting rid of one. Pick your favorite and move on.

Things you should hang onto

There are items that, even if you haven’t touched them in years, you should still keep. No, not your prom dress. What is that still doing in there? We mean things like important documents like your tax returns. The first edition of that book that you absolutely love? Well, no, we would never say to get rid of that. The first coffee cup you bought yourself when you got that new job. Keep all of that.

You need to find your comfortable clutter level and get back down to that. Don’t take everything out of every room. Go like-item by like-item, or drawer by drawer. Take it slowly and go at your own pace. As long as you finish with at least a bag (or two) of stuff to donate or sell, then you’ve done a good job. Take a deep breath and have fun (or at least don’t cry) while playing keep-it-or-toss-it in your home.

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