Downsizing Done Right: 40 Tried And Tested Decluttering Tips For A Simpler, Happier Life

By Harpreet K

This article was originally published on morehackz

Do you often find yourself thinking you have too much stuff? Too many clothes, shoes, magazines, or old knick-knacks? Are you continuously searching for ways to declutter, organize, and regain control of your living space? Well, don’t stress because today, we have compiled the ultimate guide. It will be your companion on the journey to simplifying and streamlining your life. 

In this comprehensive guide, we have compiled an extensive collection of practical tips, proven strategies, and expert advice to help you tackle the challenges of excess belongings head-on. Prepare to embark on a transformative journey toward a clutter-free life filled with peace, purpose, and the freedom to pay attention to what’s truly important. It’s time to regain your space, free your mind, and embrace the joy of living with less. Let’s dive in! 

1. Cluttered office supplies 

Office supplies are used in the work environment to perform day-to-day operations. They include writing instruments, paper, organization materials, desk accessories, technology equipment, etc. Office supply stores and online and local retailers usually carry a wide range of office supplies to meet various needs.

Image courtesy: westernmage / reddit

Begin the decluttering with the office room. Throw away the pens that are no longer in use and old power cords that aren’t working anymore. Last year’s calendar, a stack of newspapers, old magazines, dried pens, etc., must be removed to free the space.

2. Entangled cables and chargers

Entangled cables and chargers are a common frustration in our modern world of electronics. They have a mind of their own, tangling and intertwining themselves into a knotted mess when left unattended. Dealing with this chaos can take time and effort.

Image courtesy: jschwalbe / reddit

Choose a place in the house and assemble a charging station to align the extra cables. This way, you will not lose any charger or spend hours looking for one. Throw away any old or broken wires taking up space.

3. Untouched seasonal clothes

Unused or untouched seasonal clothes can take up space in your wardrobe and may be better put to use elsewhere. That said, when donating or repurposing your clothes, ensure they are clean and appropriate for the intended recipients or projects.

Image courtesy: fancysweatpants40 / reddit

Every year there is a rotation between summer and winter clothes. And somehow, in this shuffling of clothes, some are left untouched. Separate the clothes that are not often worn and distribute them to needy people to free up space.

4. Old electronics

Old electronics refer to those no longer in use or considered outdated. These include old cell phones, computers, televisions, computer accessories, and other gadgets. Since technology advances rapidly, most devices become outdated fast as they’re often replaced with newer, more advanced models.

Image courtesy: vtgac22 / reddit

There is no reason to keep a drawer full of old cell phones just because memories are attached to them. The best action would be to clear the office and only keep the essentials. Another suitable way to declutter the office room is by arranging the supplies correctly and in clean order.

5. Wrapping papers

Wrapping papers add a delightful touch to gift-giving occasions, allowing you to express your creativity and make the presentation as special as the gift itself. With many designs and options, you can quickly get the perfect one for whatever occasion you want.

Image courtesy: beachesatnormandy / reddit

It is time to do some DIY. Gather the wrinkled or unused gift wrappers in the house and use them as decoration material. Once you have what you need, discard the ones that are completely useless or too short to use.

6. Instruction manuals

An instruction manual is a document that provides detailed information and guidance on how to operate, assemble, use, or troubleshoot a particular product or device. It is a reference guide to help users understand and maximize the product’s features and functionalities.

Image courtesy:

We guarantee you have a couple of these, so look around the house, find the collection, and keep the latest ones only. The best alternative is to keep digital copies in the laptop and recycle the paper manuals to free up the needed space.

7. Missing pieces from board games 

To prevent the loss of such pieces, establish a system for organizing and storing game components. You can get resealable bags, small containers, or customized organizers. Also, encourage careful handling and ensure all players know the importance of keeping the items intact.

Image courtesy: kidbeast / reddit

Look for the games you have in the house and determine whether the pieces or sets are complete or not. If the sets are not complete, throw away the incomplete game. Try to dispose of the unused games as well.

8. Old remote controls 

Old remote controls no longer in use can be repurposed or thrown away responsibly. Just remember to remove any batteries and dispose of them separately. Batteries should be taken to designated battery recycling centers or drop-off locations to prevent environmental contamination.

Image courtesy: stefepaul / reddit

Is your house full of remote controls that can’t control anything? If so, collect them and put them away to clean and organize the house. That space can now be used to hold working remote controls or any other important accessories.

9. Old flower vases

You can look for a new purpose for your old flower vase, whether it’s through donation, repurposing, or creative upcycling. If the vase is no longer useful or you can’t find a suitable way to repurpose it, check with the local recycling center to check if they accept glass or ceramic items.

Image courtesy: incomesi / reddit

On the other hand, broken flower pots or a house decorated with an extra dozen will only crowd the place unnecessarily. Collect and donate them to people who will put them to use again. Keep only a few, like 2-3 flower vases, to save space.

10. Old linens

Old linens are typically bed sheets, pillowcases, and other fabric items that may be worn out or are no longer in use. Properly handling and managing old linens helps declutter your space and promotes sustainability by giving them a new purpose or ensuring they are properly recycled or disposed of.

Image courtesy:

In case your wardrobe is overflowing with extra sets of clothes, look out for old bedsheets and towels that are worn out. Either give them to someone needy or use them for dusting. Keeping them in your drawers just makes you have less space for things you actually need.

11. Unused makeup and toiletries

When it comes to old makeup and toiletries, it’s important to prioritize hygiene and safety. Remember, the safety and well-being of your skin and body should always take precedence over holding onto old or expired makeup and toiletries. So, regularly review and declutter your collection.

Image courtesy:

Do an overall cleanup on the dressing table to separate the expired makeup and keep only the fresh stock. Check the bathroom shelf and confirm whether the products are new or old. If they are almost expired, or you don’t use them often, discard them.

12. VHS tapes

VHS tapes are also referred to as video home system tapes. These were once used to record video and sound to watch on television. They were later replaced by DVDs, which are less bulky and a lot easier to store since they don’t require a whole shelf.

Image courtesy: soylent_caffeine / reddit

VHS tapes are heavy and take up a lot of space. Unless something priceless is recorded on them, you do not need to store these tapes in the house. Create some much-needed space by removing them and transitioning to other alternatives.

13. Old spectacles

Glasses are important for people with short-sightedness or far-sightedness. Some people also like to collect them just for the sake of creating a unique collection. Glasses come in various shapes, colors, and price ranges and can be purchased online or at the shop.

Image courtesy: datguytho / reddit

However, unnecessary shopping can lead to the accumulation of glasses and the boxes that come with them. Once the prescription has expired, most glasses are usually useless, and you can either get new ones or renew them. If they are sunglasses, donate and only keep a few.

14. Clutter in the utensil drawer

A cluttered utensil drawer can make it difficult to find what you need and create unnecessary frustration. But you can easily clear this and create a functional and efficient space for your cooking and serving needs. Sort the utensils into categories depending on what you use them for, like baking, measuring, etc.

Image courtesy:

Look inside the kitchen utensil drawer and find out if you have two of anything. Organize the clutter orderly and get rid of anything unused, unwanted, or extra. This will make space for the important utensils, which you can then organize properly.

15. Old travel books/guides

Old travel guides can hold sentimental value and remind us of past adventures. If you decide to repurpose your old travel guides, be selective and use pages or sections with personal significance. By doing this, you can continue to cherish and celebrate the memories of your past travels.

Image courtesy:

Outdated travel guides often have old information. Because of this, most will not support any of your new endeavors. Therefore, chuck them and rely on digital information. Gather the data you need online and store it on the laptop for future reference.

16. Old paint

When it comes to old paint, it’s important to handle it properly. Disposing of old paint responsibly is essential to keep the environment clean and safe. Be sure to check with the local waste management authorities for specific guidelines on how to do it properly.

Image courtesy:

Old cans filled with latex paint can be stored for years, but they may smell foul if not stored properly, which means they must be discarded. To check if the paint is usable, stir it properly before using it and check if there are lumps or foul smells.

17. Reference books

Although reference books may no longer be frequently used, they still hold value and can be repurposed or passed on. Remember to review the condition and relevance of your reference books before deciding on the best course of action. Doing this ensures you extend their usefulness.

Image courtesy: double-ad9658 / reddit

Do you still have that fat Oxford dictionary you run to whenever you want to know something? Still accessing the reference material to gain knowledge? No? We thought so. Get the necessary information in the laptop or computer to free up space taken up by reference books.

18. Antique keys and keychains

Antique keys and keychains can hold historical and aesthetic value. You can showcase yours by using them as decorative items. Hang them on a decorative hook or display them in a shadow box or frame. This way, you can appreciate their unique designs and add a hint of vintage setting to your space.

Image courtesy: rat57az / reddit

If the keychains are all mixed up because of the quantity, you will struggle to find the right key to the door. Organize the lot and put them in a spot where it is simple to find the keys you need. Also, do not keep old rusted keys or keychains to avoid confusion.

19. Take-out menus

If you have a collection of take-out menus you no longer utilize but want to keep for reference, consider digitizing them. Take photos or scan the menus and upload them on your devices. This way, you can access them digitally without cluttering your physical space.

Image courtesy:

Dedicating a space to all these restaurant pamphlets is not advisable. Instead, keep only the ones that are necessary or close to your place and visit their social media accounts or official websites to learn more about them. You can find menus online as well.

20. Unused cleaning supplies

In a household or even just an apartment, you are bound to have a collection of cleaning supplies. That said, most of us have the tendency to add more to it than we dispose of. That leaves us with so many containers of products we don’t use.

Image courtesy: deleted user / reddit

To remedy this, begin with the kitchen cleaning supplies and throw away the ones that are not useful anymore. Keeping the leftover or half-empty bottles will only take up extra space. Every time you buy a new product, ensure you throw away the old container.

21. Expired medicines

When it comes to expired medication, it’s crucial to handle them properly to ensure safety and prevent misuse. If you have doubts or concerns regarding the disposal of a particular medication, you can consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.

Image courtesy: massare – reddit

Every house has a stash of medicines stored for emergencies, but it’s always important to remember that they must be refilled regularly in order to avoid taking expired drugs. Next time you’re decluttering, ensure the old medicines are replaced with new ones.

22. Old air fresheners

Air fresheners add aromatic scents to the environment. They eliminate or mask odors and create a more fragrant atmosphere in houses, working areas, and cars. These products come in various forms, including sprays, aerosols, gels, plug-ins, and solid or liquid diffusers.

Image courtesy: deleted user / reddit

That said, keeping empty bottles in the house will only increase the trash. So, collect and dispose of the used air fresheners or expired ones. After removing the old bottles, restock the bathroom shelves with new and pleasing fragrant air freshener bottles.

23. Old musical instruments and sports equipment

It is easy for us to fall in love with the instruments or sports equipment we have. The sentimental value attached to them makes it difficult for us to throw them away even when they are old. So we keep filling up space unnecessarily.

Image courtesy: David Shankbone / wiki commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

However, someone who requires those instruments or sports gear can appreciate it if you donate. Instead of storing them around the house, give them to someone who can utilize them properly. This will make you glad that you’re not wasting them in the garage.

24. Extra reusable shopping bags

Reusable shopping bags are a fine way to reduce waste. Many grocery stores sell their own branded reusable shopping bags. These are often made of durable materials like canvas, hemp, or jute and are designed to be used multiple times.

Image courtesy:

There are numerous online retailers that are experts in eco-friendly products and offer a wide variety of reusable shopping bags, like Amazon, Etsy, etc. Remember, the key is to choose bags that are made of durable raw materials like cotton or other recycled materials.

25. Phone directories

When the time was not all about IoT, phone directories were a big thing. They were used to search for any phone number for the local area service subscribers or contractors for job services. Usually, phone books were made of yellow or white pages.

Image courtesy:

However, the present times are different, and everything is readily available online. Therefore, keeping a phone book in the house just adds to the clutter. So, stop keeping these books and start storing contact information on a digital device, like a mobile phone. 

26. Mismatched socks

In this era, fashion has given a different meaning to styling. Clothes are a combination of colors, fabrics, and patterns, and they are aligned together per the taste of the consumer. Although some people prefer funky color combinations, the extra unmatched socks can add weight to the garment drawer.

Image courtesy: deleted user / reddit

The excess of everything needs to be cleared. Different color socks can turn into a pile of unmatched socks. Socks that have lost their partners can be used in a DIY project or as a dishwashing cloth. Do not let them go to waste.

27. Condiment packets

Condiment packets are small, single-serving portions of various condiments that are commonly used to add flavor to food or beverages. These packets typically come in small, sealed sachets or pouches and are often provided at restaurants, fast-food chains, takeout establishments, or cafeterias.

Image courtesy: superman2706 / reddit

They offer convenience and allow individuals to customize their meals according to their preferences. However, extra sachets just cause problems. Stashing them in your kitchen cabinets is of no use if you don’t need them. Either store them in a container or get rid of them.

28. Two months old magazines

Magazines have creative and engaging content for people to read. They are easily accessible and comfortable to carry around. Some not only do they have theatrical news, but they also have food recipes. However, old magazines are nothing more than a pile of trash.

Image courtesy: wasamonster / reddit

Next time you see a lot of magazines in the corner of the room, check the dates. In case it is more than two months old, sell it to someone. They can also be donated. Just cut out the pages of whatever is important and get rid of everything else.

29. Dresses that are never worn

Shopping out of happiness is common. Unfortunately, it can lead to a collection of unwanted clothes in the corner of the almirah. Some people don’t even remember what they have and end up buying more clothes. Thus, organizing clothes to remember what you have in the closet is recommended.

Image courtesy: jamestjamest / reddit

Do you remember the dress that you bought out of excitement on your last birthday? No, because you still haven’t worn it even once. It is better to donate the unworn clothes to someone else rather than stocking them on the top shelf.

30. Expired coupons

Expired coupons are those that have passed their validity dates and are no longer eligible for use. Coupons typically come with an expiration date to ensure that customers use them within a specific timeframe. Once one has expired, it is generally not accepted by retailers or online platforms.

Image courtesy:

Remember to check the expiration dates on coupons before using them to ensure that you take advantage of the discounts or promotions they offer. Organize and review them regularly to avoid missing out on any savings opportunities before they expire.

31. Old school work

Old school work includes test papers, assignments, or any other academic work that you have completed in the past and is no longer needed for your current studies. It may include materials from previous years, semesters, or courses that you have already completed.

Image courtesy: OkraIllustrious8277 / reddit

You may keep your kids’ school homework if it is important, but discard it if it seems useless. This will save space, and the organization of the required study material becomes easier. Use optimal ways to store old school materials if you cannot throw them away.

32. Unused Kitchen electronics

Whenever you’re planning to clean your kitchen, start by placing unused kitchen appliances in one corner. Next, see whether you need them in the future or not. If any are worn out or broken, replace them with new ones or otherwise discard them if you don’t need them.

Image courtesy:

Sometimes, there are sentiments associated with some appliances. Someone might have gifted you a mixer or juicer, and throwing that away can hurt some feelings. In that case, organize it in a way that you save space in the most presentable way.

33. Containers without lids

Containers are used to store food items or accessories that are otherwise lying here and there. They can be of any shape or size. Unfortunately, their lids always have a way of disappearing from the kitchen. When that happens, you have to decide whether to throw away the container or keep it.

Image courtesy: AsbestosSnowflake / reddit

Usually, we prefer using containers without worrying whether it has a lid or not. Others choose to recycle or reuse them in resourceful ways. However, this can prove chaotic and messy since products stored in lidless containers can spill easily.

34. Unitaskers

Sometimes, single-use gadgets look nice when you first get them, but they take up space because you don’t use them regularly. Things like bagel cutters, avocado, egg, and strawberry slicers, herb scissors, and quesadilla makers are examples of these tools.

Image courtesy: Firma V / shutterstock

Discard, give, or consign such items if you haven’t used them in over a year. Otherwise, they will just keep occupying space and clutter your kitchen. It is beneficial to get rid of them if they are of no use.

35. Greeting cards

Greeting cards are one way to show compassion and love to your loved ones. Reaching out to your family and friends by sending them words of affirmation can be a lovely gesture. Websites like Etsy provide a vast range of options, so instead of traditional cards that will occupy space, go for digital cards.

Image courtesy:

Some greeting cards, especially those with a handwritten, sincere message, have sentimental significance. The majority, though, are basic “happy birthday” cards that become meaningless shortly after being read. Discard them when they are of no use. You can also recycle them as decor.

36. Empty pens

Pens that have run out of ink can be repurposed or disposed of responsibly. Even without ink, empty pen casings can still be used for art projects or crafts. They can be handy tools for drawing fine lines, creating texture, or even decorative elements in mixed media artwork.

Image courtesy:

Remember to consider the environmental impact and explore recycling or repurposing options before discarding pens. By finding alternative uses or recycling the components, you can reduce waste and be a part of a more sustainable approach. That said, do not hold on to empty pens.

37. Expired pantry products

When it comes to the pantry, it’s important to prioritize food safety and minimize waste. If an item is expired, spoiled, or unsafe to consume, dispose of it properly. Follow local guidelines for disposing of food waste, including sealing it in a bag before placing it in the trash to prevent contamination and odors.

Image courtesy:

Remember, food safety is paramount, so it’s essential to keep health first by avoiding the consumption of expired or spoiled pantry items. Regularly check and rotate your pantry stock to minimize the chances of supplies expiring or going to waste.

38. Bedding

When it is time to discard old bedding, consider donating it to local shelters, charities, or organizations that support individuals or families in need. People would greatly appreciate having comfortable bedding to sleep on. Plus, there are many ways to utilize old bedding.

Image courtesy: lafabricadecolchonesdealtorrico

You can get creative and repurpose them by cutting them into fine pieces to use as cleaning rags or dusting cloths. The fabric can also be used for craft projects such as quilting, sewing, or making pet beds. Alternatively, you can use them as curtains.

39. Shoes you haven’t worn in five years

If you have shoes you last wore five years ago, it’s time to assess whether you still need or want them. Check for any signs of damage, sole deterioration, or broken parts. If they are in poor condition or no longer suitable for wearing, it may be best to dispose of them.

Image courtesy:

However, if the shoes are in good condition and can be worn by someone else, consider donating them to local charities, shelters, or organizations that accept used shoes. Remember, when deciding what to do with shoes, it’s important to prioritize usefulness, condition, and personal preference.

40. Previous year’s calendar

If you do not need the previous year’s calendar, the best option is to recycle it. Most paper calendars can be recycled with other paper products. Check your local recycling guidelines to ensure you follow the appropriate recycling practices in your area.

Image courtesy: allegra_image360_norfolk / ig

The key here is to reduce clutter. Just choose the option suitable for your personal preferences and needs. If the calendar features beautiful or meaningful images, consider repurposing it. Cut out the images and use them for crafting, scrapbooking, or creating personalized greeting cards or artwork.