It’s finally January and bringing home all of the new stuff we’ve acquired has got me itching to declutter my home once again and strive to get closer to a minimalist lifestyle. For me, it is an ongoing process. Since ruthlessly decluttering my home nearly two years ago, I’ve been much more intentional about what I bring into our home, but things still accumulate. My decor style changes, and I have to continually evaluate my stuff to decide if it stays or goes. So here is my best advice for minimalist living: what to get rid of.
Tips for minimalist living:
Start with something attainable.
A good place to start is with something small that packs a lot of punch. For example, you probably won’t have much trouble throwing away tons of stuff from your bathroom cabinets or donating misfit clothes from your closet. Start with something easy so you get excited about clearing things out and build momentum for the rest of your home. Also, maintaining a minimalist bathroom isn’t as difficult as maintaining your whole home. How much stuff can you really fit in there anyway?
Take your time, but be consistent.
There is no way to properly declutter your home in a day. But I also think it’s easier if you keep consistently decluttering something. Maybe you pick a drawer a day, or a room a week. It needs to be a thorough enough process that you learn from it and make it a habit, but you also need to get through it at some point. Then you keep going back.
True minimalist living is not a one and done experiment. It’s a constant cycle of evaluating what you have and what you need and prioritizing your wants. So find a pace that works best for you, but try to commit!
If you need a more organized decluttering schedule, try this 28 day minimalism challenge.
Let go of your “what ifs.”
What if I need this charger someday? Maybe I’ll still use these craft supplies. What if we have a huge family meal and I need 7 cupcake pans and 4 casserole dishes? A big part of minimalism is thinking about your daily life and what you actually need to live comfortably, and about what is just taking up space.
If you have a basket of cords you haven’t looked at in 3 years, recycle them all! If you realize in the future you need one and don’t have it anymore, order another one. (And label it this time and keep it in a designated spot where it gets used.) But most likely you’ll never miss those cords.
Unless you run some sort of catering business, you likely don’t need all the cookware you have in your kitchen. If you run into a situation once a year where you need extra dishes, I’m sure your friends and family will be happy to let you borrow theirs. So there’s no need to store these items for such infrequent use.
If you can apply this thinking to all your stuff, you’re on the right track!
Dispose first, organize last.
At some point in this decluttering process, it might get worse before it gets better. First, go through every single thing and decide if you need it and/or if you want it. If there are things you need stored in a box or a basket but you don’t like that box or basket, go ahead and get rid of it and look for a better solution after you’ve gone through everything in that particular space.
If you haven’t already read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s a great one to get you started!
Need more convincing to adopt a minimalist lifestyle? Read these minimalist living tips from the best minimalist bloggers. (You might see something from me in there too!)
Minimalist Living: What to get rid of.
Here’s a room by room guide of suggestions of things to get evaluate and get rid of if they don’t meet your standards of what you need, want, or love.
- Samples and products you never use (makeup, hair styling products, polish, etc)
- Expired beauty products (makeup, shampoo, conditioner, soaps, nail polish, contact solution, lotions, etc.)
- Old glasses
- Duplicates (nail files, tweezers, nail clippers)
- Broken styling products like hairdryers, straighteners, curling irons
- Hair dryers, straighteners, curling irons you never use
- Dirty products that have outlived their life span (makeup brushes, beauty sponge, tanning gloves, etc)
- Extra/old toothbrushes
- Old towels and washcloths
Take out every single thing from your closet and dump it in your bedroom or better yet, your living room. Then go through every single thing and only put back the things that you use and belong in your closet.
- All clothes
- Bras – most of us have plenty of undergarments we haven’t touched in eons. Trash them!
- Socks – get rid of any with holes or without a mate
- Shoes – keep one or two nice pairs for special occasions and get rid of every pair you don’t love. If your special occasion shoes are uncomfortable, ditch them for something better.
In the age of walk-in closets, we tend to use our closets for more than just clothes. That’s fine, but go through everything and make sure it has a purpose and a place.
In my closet I also keep gift wrap supplies, photos and sentimental items, workout equipment and my jewelry. I’ve made sure every gift bag is reusable (and I don’t buy any new ones), the mementos are kept in memory boxes, and the workout equipment and jewelry is in a designated place. Get used to going through your closet regularly because this is a place that gets cluttered quickly and often. Check back in every time the seasons change.
- Clean out nightstand
- Receipts – File/trash anything you find stashed in drawers
- Cords/Electronics – recycle them
- Photos – put in appropriate frames or memory boxes
- Bedding – get rid of old/duplicate bedding sets. You probably only need a couple sets for changing out.
- Decor – get rid of anything you don’t absolutely love (picture frames, knick knacks, mirrors, candles, etc)
- Extra/unused furniture (chairs, dressers, benches, etc)
- Unused lamps
- Books – put them on a shelf or donate them if you’ve already read them
- Extra pots, pans, dishes
- Duplicate cooking utensils (wooden spoons, spatulas, measuring cups, etc)
- Cookware you’ve never used
- Cupcake pans
- Casserole dishes
- Cookie sheets
- Formal dishwater you’ve never used
- Wine glasses that don’t match
- Shot glasses
- Plastic cups
- Water bottles
- Kids dishes (do they use it all still?)
- Appliances (blender, crock pots, griddle, coffee maker, etc) – we are all storing way too many appliances.
- Evaluate how useful they are and free up a ton of cabinet space!
- Extra bowls
- Expired food in your pantry and refrigerator
- Junk drawer (batteries, coozies, user manuals, pens, nails/screws/tools, matches, lighters, things that don’t belong)
- Under the sink
- Furniture – it’s better to live with a bare room than a room for of stuff you dislike. So make room and better things will come your way!
- Picture frames
- Wall hanging
- Clean out cabinets
Going through your basement or garage or wherever you store all your extra is tedious and exhausting and a great time for the “what ifs” to pop up, but it will free up so much space in your life to go through it! Just imagine if you reduce the stuff you store and when you need something like Christmas decorations, you can get them out quickly and easily! That is the whole point of minimalism. A simplified lifestyle!
- Seasonal decorations (what do you need, what do you use, what do you like??)
- Out of season clothes
- Cleaning supplies
- Extra supplies (lightbulbs, batteries, etc)
- Old toys
- Cords, electronics
- Recreational things (pool table, etc)
Alright so this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things you should go through in your home, but it should be enough to get you started. (I mean, I didn’t even get into kids’ stuff. That, my friend, is a real struggle and a post for another day. A day when maybe I figure it out.)
The real take away here is to go through every single thing you own. Really evaluate if you need all the items you think you need. Get rid of of duplicates for the love of God. It really is fine to borrow things when you occasionally need them! When it comes to decor, less is more. If you don’t 100% love it, can’t live without it, let it go. And learn to be ok with empty space.
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Minimalist living really is freeing! There’s less to look at, less to clean, less to worry about. The best part is that minimalism looks different for everyone, but there’s no question that getting rid of some of your stuff is good for you!
To learn how to decorate the rooms in your home, check out this post.
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These are GREAT tips!! I’ve read both of Marie Kondo’s books and enjoyed them, and been inspired to clean out closets and bathroom stuff, but that’s about it so far cause it is overwhelming. Sounds like you have a lot of experience! I am all about reducing, getting rid of stuff, in 2018!
I super cleared out all my decor, closets, bathroom, etc a couple years ago. My project for 2018 is to conquer my kitchen. The list here is my goals for my kitchen, not the current reality. It’s a journey!
Jamie Stauffer says
I have a new obsession with minimalism and I’m working on it more and more each day. This is a very helpful article!
Thanks, Jamie! We’re all a work in progress! I have plenty of stuff to keep going through myself!
The more decor you have, the more you have to clean. I dislike cleaning. Very much.
Melissa Allen says
I love to clean out but my problem is my husband, he is a packrat! He says don’t get rid of it we might need it one day. He is super sentimental, and wants to save everything!
Just get rid of everything when he’s not home ;) Just kidding…really in that situation you can only get rid of YOUR stuff but they say that teaching through example helps. Or you can put some stuff in a box for 3 or 6 months and if it’s gone untouched get rid of everything in that box when the time is up.