In an effort to stay sane and keep our house under control, I purge on a VERY regular basis. In fact, I think I can truthfully say I purge something almost every single day!
While I don’t consider myself a minimalist, I do try very hard not to keep or store things we don’t need, use, want, or love… even if we have space to store it, even if it was a gift, and even if we might potentially need it again someday.
My kids know that if they no longer want a toy or if an item of clothing doesn’t fit, they can simply put it in the “donation bag” that I keep in each closet (this helps so much because there’s always a place for these cast-offs to go immediately).
Once the bags/boxes are full, I bring them to the van and drop them off the next time we swing past our local thrift store — DONE!
Living in the midst of clutter and disorganization is pretty high up there on my list of LEAST favorite things — right along with whiny toddlers, icy roads, overpowering smells, and any sort of noise while swallowing!
If you feel the same way but are overwhelmed with where to start, this post will help!
As we head into a new decade full of possibilities and potential, I challenge you to clear the clutter in your home, schedule, and life with my list of 20 Items You Need to Purge in 2020!
1. Incomplete Food Storage Containers
A container without a lid or a lid without a container — they need to go!
Make space for the items you actually use and alleviate the frustration of hunting for matching sets or realizing you just put food in a container without a lid.
NOTE: I really like these nesting food storage containers.
2. Extra Cords, Chargers, Remotes, Cases, and Manuals for Items You No Longer Own
Go through your files, your closets, your drawers, the random shoebox in the back of your closet and purge all of these things.
While you’re at it, feel free to purge many of the manuals for items you DO still own too — you can find them all online these days anyway!
3. Puzzles, Games, and Toys with Missing Parts and Pieces
For a full year, the kids asked to do the same puzzle over and over again — and it had a missing piece.
Although they enjoyed putting the puzzle together, they were always disappointed when we got to the end and that same piece was still missing (I think they thought it would eventually reappear).
I finally just purged the puzzle and they honestly never asked about it again!
Moral of the story… start purging!
Go through your toy rooms, bedrooms, garage, living room, and search for toys that are broken or missing parts, games that no longer have all the pieces, and puzzles that are missing pieces. Throw them away.
Please don’t donate them — I can’t tell you how many times we’ve purchased a used puzzle or game only to find it’s missing an important piece. Just throw them in the trash!
4. Clothing That Doesn’t Fit AND Flatter Your CURRENT Body
I don’t care if it still has the tags on it, if it was a gift from your best friend, or if you’re sure you will lose those last 10 pounds and be able to wear that pair of jeans next year…
Do yourself a favor and purge everything in your closet that doesn’t fit AND flatter your CURRENT body.
It might be a little scary at first. You might feel like you have nothing left to wear. But getting ready each morning will be so much more enjoyable if you only “get” to choose from the items you love and items you look and feel great in.
Plus, your closet will most likely be super decluttered — and that’s always a great feeling!
5. Clothing You Haven’t Worn In Over A Year
In addition to all the clothing that doesn’t fit or flatter anymore, you should also purge anything you haven’t worn in over a year (unless it’s maternity items you know you’ll use again soon — or a similar situation).
If you haven’t worn it in a year, there’s a good chance you won’t wear it again (especially with how quickly fashion trends change these days!)
6. Unused Pieces of a Set
Do you have a set of teacups or wine glasses that technically match your dishes or other glasses… but you never use them? PURGE!
Do you have a 6-piece luggage set, only 3 of which you actually use? PURGE!
What about your pots and pans and your knives? Do you use EVERY item in the set? If not… PURGE!
I’ve already shared my thoughts on separating and purging sets — and I save SO much space and needless clutter in my home by only keeping the items I actually need and use and purging the rest (even if they were part of a set).
7. Extra Linens
I know SO many people who keep SO many extra linens — they could literally accommodate a football team of overnight guests (which will obviously never happen).
I realize I probably fall towards the opposite extreme, but we have very few extra linens anywhere in our home!
We have a grand total of 4 extra bath towels and a handful of extra washcloths. We have 1 extra set of twin sheets, 1 extra set of queen sheets, 2 extra sets of crib sheets, and a handful of quilts and blankets.
And you know what… we’ve never needed more than that! We always make do with what we have and I save a HUGE amount of space by not storing needless linens.
8. Books, Movies, and CD’s You Don’t Read/Watch/Listen to Regularly
You can find almost any book you want at your local library or online, and the vast majority of movies, TV shows, and music is available somewhere online.
We have a select few favorite books, movies, and CD’s our kids love to re-read (and a couple of classic holiday movies) but that’s it. Everything else we find online or at the library… saving us tons of storage space!
9. Cookbooks You Don’t Use Regularly
This needed to be a separate category because I know how many cookbooks some of you have (you’ve told me!)
I purged a TON of cookbooks years ago, and I’ve never once thought “Oh shoot, I needed that one recipe”.
I can find ANY recipe I want online, so the need for shelves of cookbooks is obsolete.
Yes, I understand that you might just like looking at them or flipping through them, and that’s OK — but if storage is tight, these should go to make room for more important storage needs.
10. Magazine or Newspaper Issues More than 3 Months Old
This is another biggy for many people — but honestly, it’s so much paper and it takes up so much space!
We no longer get any magazines or newspapers and I love how much less paper clutter enters our home — we don’t miss the subscriptions at all!
If you have shelves, files, boxes, or bins of past magazine issues, it’s time to part with them (at least some of them) and put that space to use in other ways.
11. Extra Craft Bits and Scraps
If you’re a crafter, a sewer, a quilter, a scrapbooker, or just like to do fun projects with your kids, I bet you have drawers and bins and baskets filled with extra bits and pieces you ‘might need’ or could potentially use on a project someday down the road… right?
Take a little time to inventory your things, toss items you won’t use, combine like-items together, and realistically evaluate what you will use again someday in the NEAR future!
In my experience, my children are much more excited about getting craft supplies out if they are neatly stored and organized. If the drawers and bins are a huge mess, they just leave them be and do something else. So if you want to get more use out of your supplies, keep them neat and organized by purging what you no longer need.
12. Expired Food From Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
I detest wasted food — to the point where I will eat very strange combinations of foods and ingredients just so they don’t go to waste. However, even I am willing to purge expired food from my home.
Just over a year ago, I implemented an eat-from-the-pantry-and-freezer challenge that surprisingly lasted over 3 months!
We majorly cleaned out our freezer, our fridge, and our pantry — and I committed to not buying any frozen food or pantry items until almost everything we had was gone.
The challenge was SO much fun for me… and our pantry and freezer are still more organized and clutter-free as a result.
I did have to throw some foods out during the challenge, but I saved so much more from the back corners of our fridge and freezer, and I feel as though I’m now an expert on utilizing leftovers each day!
NOTE: Please do NOT donate expired food items — non-profits cannot accept this and it creates more work for their limited staff.
13. Expired Prescriptions and Other Medical Items
Every year (usually around this time) I go through our medicine cabinet thinking, “I’m sure there’s nothing to toss, but I’ll look just in case.”
And every year, I am SHOCKED by how many expired medications I find! I swear, we just bought the stuff, and now it’s expired!
Take 30 minutes to gather up all your medications and other medical items and check expiration dates, consolidate like items, and organize it in a way that makes sense for how you use the items. Then use a black Sharpie to clearly mark the date on the box or bottle.
Also, I’m regularly asked about the “best” or “right way to dispose of expired meds. Here’s the information I know…
- Use this map (mobile friend) or check out The American Medicine Chest to find a prescription dropoff location near you
- If you can’t find a close enough dropoff location, mix the prescription with an undesirable substance (used coffee grounds, dirt, kitty litter) and place it in a sealed bag in the trash.
- Never throw any type of drug away in the actual packaging.
- Remove labels from prescription bottles to prevent unauthorized refills
- In general, flushing meds down the toilet is not recommended, except if your drug is one on this list.
14. Cleaning Products and Toiletries You No Longer Use
Over the past 5 years, I switched to using mostly homemade or natural cleaning projects and toiletries — and in the process, I purged A BUNCH of the store-bought stuff.
I trashed some, gave some to friends and family who like certain brands and scents, and I actually donated many of the unopened containers to a local thrift store who gladly accepted them.
While you’re purging these items, take the time to purge candles or air fresheners if you don’t like the smell!
15. Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances You Don’t Use
I’m not really a big spender, but if I had a “weakness” it would be kitchen gadgets and small appliances!
I find so many really cool things at thrift stores, plus I regularly get kitchen items gifted to me from friends and relatives who know I love to bake and cook.
I try to stay on top of my purging, but since we have a lot of storage in our kitchen, it’s easy for things to get lost in the back corner!
Every couple of years I do a massive purge and clear out so many cabinets and drawers — it feels amazing!
Read about my purge from 2 years ago here (I’m due for another one soon!)
16. Exercise Equipment You Don’t Use
I’m sure you had the best intentions of using it when you purchased it… but the fact of the matter is, your space is more valuable to you now and you no longer need a really expensive “clothes hanger” in your bedroom! 🙂
Also, the next time you want to try a new piece of exercise equipment, just shop Facebook and Craigslist in March when people’s willpower is gone and they realize they are no longer going to use the equipment they bought in January!
17. Any and All Toys YOU Want To Purge
You are the parent… and while I do think we need to encourage our children to participate in the purging process, I also think there comes a time and place when we just need to make an executive decision and PURGE anything that doesn’t make sense for our current space or life.
No, I would never purge my child’s favorite toy without asking, but I might just sneak a handful of the toys they haven’t played with in forever out to the van.
If they ask about the toy, I tell them the truth and they are usually OK with it. I also explain that we had too much stuff and in order for me to be willing to buy them more for birthdays and Christmases, we need to purge some of what we already have.
It’s SO freeing to unload boxes and boxes of excess toys!
18. Extra Furniture
This is a biggy because it has the potential to free up SO MUCH SPACE in your home.
Before Dave and I moved to our farmhouse, we had a HUGE unfinished basement where I painted furniture to sell again. However, I’d keep my favorites “just in case” I wanted to put them somewhere in our own home.
When we realized we were going to be moving soon, I decided to sell everything in our basement — and I made a couple of thousand dollars in about 2 weeks’ time!
It felt SO good to move all that excess OUT of our house — and the extra cash wasn’t bad either!
Of course, you don’t need to sell your furniture — you can donate it too. Many times, thrift stores will even come to your house to pick up bulkier items!
19. Items You Tried To Sell Without Success
Do you have a pile of things you tried to sell on Facebook, Craiglist, Ebay, etc. but they are STILL sitting around your house?
It’s time to purge those things NOW!
You gave it a good effort, but now it’s time to move on.
Stop worrying about the $20 (or even $200) you could make and take it as a deduction on your taxes while enjoying the extra breathing room in your home (and one less to-do on your list).
20. Anything You Wouldn’t Bring Along If You Moved!
Last, but not least, if there is anything in your home you wouldn’t be willing to pack up, move, and unpack in a new home… it needs to go!
This is one of the questions I regularly ask myself when I’m debating whether to save or purge… if I’m not willing to move it, I need to purge it!
I know there are many more things I could add to this list, but I think this list of 20 should keep you busy for a bit!
What items will you purge this year?
Grab a bag, grab a box, and get started today!
Join my FREE 20-Day Challenge to Simplify Your Life for more motivation and inspiration to simplify and organize your home and life!
As a little extra motivation for those of you feeling STUCK and PARALYZED by the clutter in your home and life, I created a mini workbook with 15-Minute Projects to Simplify Your Home.
If you’re a procrastinator or a perfectionist, or if you have a hard time motivating yourself to get started, THIS workbook is just what you need!