2 Reasons I Don’t Do Massive Purges

posted by Andrea | 08/14/2014

massive purges

Over the past few years since I started my blog, I’ve gotten several requests to share more organizing project before and after photos… and I understand why. Those types of post are really inspiring and motivational — plus, who doesn’t love a good before/after decluttering makeover post!

I sure do!

P.S. In case you missed it, I shared our mudroom renovation earlier this week!

The only problem with this is that I rarely do any massive purges or huge organizing projects around my house anymore. The last semi-big purge I did was when we moved Nora to her new bedroom upstairs — almost 7 months ago already. Since then, I’ve only gotten rid of a few small bags of items at various times.

This is not because I’m lazy, not because I don’t have time, and certainly not because my home is a huge dump all the time.

It’s because…

1. I don’t bring a lot of extra stuff into my home.

I try really hard not to bring anything into my home unless we need it AND unless we have a specific spot to store it. If we don’t need it, I don’t bring it in (even if it’s free). If we don’t have a spot to store it, I try to figure out what we can get rid of in order to make the space for it.

This is a constant, daily challenge for someone like me who loves scouring garage sales, thrift stores, and other bargain stores. However, now that I’m in the habit of questioning all my purchases, I’m saving lots of time, space and money. If it’s not something we need or if we don’t have a space to store it, I will (almost) always leave it be — even if it’s an amazing deal.

 2. I regularly do mini-purges throughout the year.

Although I honestly DO try to keep things out of our house, so many things just seem to find a way in 🙂

Also, with little children, we are constantly out-growing clothes — and then giving some (or often most) of them away.

I always have a “donation” bag or box ready for anything I no longer want. Once it’s full, I put it in the back of my car and drop it off at the local donation center whenever I’m driving by. I like being in the habit of consistently purging because it doesn’t feel like work when I’m only purging one or two items at a time. I also like being in the habit of regularly stopping by the donation center and moving things out of my house.

That’s it!

It sounds simple… because it IS simple. 

By making a point not to bring clutter into your home and then regularly removing anything you don’t love, need, want, or use, your house should stay mostly clutter-free most of the time without the need of massive purges that take up your entire weekend.

Oh, and for the record, I understand that not all the clutter brought into your house was brought there by YOU… but I’m certain it can’t hurt if you personally start implementing the 2 techniques above. Who knows, the rest of your family might catch on eventually 🙂

Do you have any other tips to avoid massive purges?


Filed under: OrganizingHome

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  1. Kate @ The Beautiful Useful Project


    We’ve been doing a lot of mini-purges too. We got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved, and we’ve been setting things aside for our garage sale. Once the garage sale is over, we’ll get rid of everything that doesn’t sell – which could end up being a lot of stuff!


  2. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup


    I find that massive purges are much harder on a family who isn’t quite as on board with purging. Little trips here and there feel less painless.


  3. Luba


    Thank you, Andrea, for your teaching those of us who have not been taught. Even before reading this today, I got rid of junk in our house. Some people insist on giving me stuff even though I tell them I have too much. Therefore, I have started a donation bag and hope to work on this a little at a time. 🙂


  4. S


    Andrea – Thank you for helping us stay on top of the clutter! These are useful tips!


  5. Meg


    I love my mother….I really do….but I cannot help but wonder how much less stuff we might have if she wasn’t always bringing crap to my house! It took me many years to realize it was ok to get rid of brand new things…I didn’t have to keep them just because she gave them to me. I would estimate at least 60% of the knick knacks in my house are from her. It is extremely frustrating and I vow to never bring stuff when my daughter has her own home. What does one do when they don’t have room for a designated donation spot?! I end up putting stuff in my trunk to get it out of the way!! Sorry for the vent…it’s so great you are teaching your kids to live with less!! It’s best when taught from an early age


    Debby Reply:

    Meg you have to learn to tell her no and that you don’t want it, like it, whatever. My mom has been wanting me to take a fancy china cabinet for years. It has curved glass and not my style. I kept making excuses for not taking it and now I just told her that I don’t really love it or want it. It’s very freeing and really only hard the first time you do it.

    PS She still tries to slip in things though. She brought me a not so cute planter in the spring and told me she knew I didn’t like that kind of stuff but she thought it was cute. What the heck????? Well there were alot of people around so I accepted it, planted in it, put it outside and it “broke” during a thunderstorm. 😉


    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to allow you to vent Meg! While I don’t have the same situation as you, I did work with MANY organizing clients who were just like your mother — wanting to “share” and “gift” all their little treasures with their grown children.

    It’s hard to know what to tell them because they get so much joy out of gifting this stuff that we would consider junk — however, it’s not fair to the children to need to deal with the junk all the time. I feel like you’re handling it as best as you can — accepting the gifts graciously and then getting rid of them. Not ideal, but possibly the best case scenario 🙂

    Also, one thing I try to remember is that MANY people need to have a specific cause or person to give their stuff to in order to get it out of their house (my mom is this way). maybe your mom is actually wanting to declutter but can’t bare the thought of simply donating everything. So by giving things to you (and then you disposing of them) Her house is potentially getting a little less cluttered?? Maybe not, but it was worth mentioning!!


    robbie @ going green mama Reply:

    I agree! My mom is always “sharing” magazines and Happy Meal toys when she comes to visit. (GAH). The magazines go to the hospital and the toys in a box for Halloween!


    Angela Reply:

    I found it helpful to tell family I need to have less to clean around and to frequently mention I’m getting rid of stuff-and make sure they see things disappearing. That makes them not want to give me anything unless they know it will stay. 🙂 I try to do it in a polite way of course! Just sharing how I don’t have time to clean things up all day and enjoy life too. Now I can toss things without guilt. I donate a lot and sometimes sell things. I keep a donate bag in my hall closet by the door. It’s not attractive, but you could also use a box. I use a bag so when it’s full, it goes and I start a new one. Keeping a box or bag in your trunk can work the same way. Just make a note to drop it off.


  6. Jill


    This is so true! I can’t stand having a lot of clutter. I am sure there are people that think our decorating style is a little “plain”, but I prefer it that way. I certainly don’t need extra stuff to clean and put away!


  7. betti


    The not bringing things in the first place is to me the key. When I was young and first married my ex-husband’s family would keep giving us gifts (read things they didn’t want but could not bear to throw away). We had a large house and they would say “you have plenty of room to store it”. Coming form a military background and moving every couple years growing up, I could never wrap my mind around that…store it, why would I want to own something I just had to store??.. THey had all lived in the same homes for 40+ years and they were packed to the gills – borderline hoarder style..

    It took years to get rid of all the junk once I filed for divorce and had to move..I just can’t stand living like that. I read somewhere that walking into a cluttered place actually makes your blood pressure rise and that is true for me.


  8. Jen


    I cannot “Amen” this enough! I have friends who ask me all the time how I keep our house so neat (with four kids, a cat, and a dog!) And every time I tell them the same thing: I don’t buy a bunch of junk, everything has a place, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, everything LIVES in its place! That’s the key-it doesn’t matter if everything has a place if you don’t put things back where they belong. That’s how the clutter builds and it doesn’t take long for it to get overwhelming!

    Yesterday, I was helping a friend clean/organize and, in their main living area, I found FOUR of her husband’s tee shirts in separate piles on the floor! It was like he had undressed in the living room and just left the clothes there. They had been walking over and around them for days! It’s not hard to pick up the shirt and put it in the laundry or just don’t get undressed in the living room! 🙂

    I’m a TYPE AAAA personality like you and I have such a hard time understanding people who HATE the clutter but won’t make the time to do away with it! Thanks for this helpful post!


    Andrea Reply:

    haha — Type AAAA WOW! I’m just a Type AA 🙂