Earlier this month, I came across a quick decluttering projects article on Houzz (one of the best websites ever). I’ve read so many home organization articles with decent ideas that just didn’t motivate me to leap into action and try any of them right away. I read this article and thought, “I could check off all these tasks tomorrow.” No more excuses. I got the entire list done and took all the photos for this post in the same day.
When we moved a year and a half ago, I went through everything that I owned. Going through everything you own does NOT fall under the list of quick decluttering projects. However, it helped me address at least half of the tasks I cover in this post. Some of my organization tactics have stuck while other areas continue to need improvement. As I cover these quick decluttering projects, I talk about what has and hasn’t worked and what I’m doing to try to stay organized.
Food storage containers
Before we moved, I did pull out and go through all of my Tupperware containers. The drawer was an embarrassing mess. Over the years, I’ve pitched a bunch of containers but never bothered to toss the lids, so there were a lot of spare lids. Way more than I’ll ever need. I also found a handful of containers and lids without matches. How the heck does that happen? I got rid of multiple spare lids, anything without a matching piece, and anything else in really bad shape.
Since we moved, for the most part, I’ve kept containers with lids. It’s been pretty easy to find what I need when I need it. But as evidenced by the before and after pictures, it was definitely worth pulling everything out again and getting re-organized. I still have too many spare lids, but all of the containers do have matching lids.
The pieces we have are in okay shape, but the entire collection is old and doesn’t owe us anything. I’ve thought about slowly ditching the plastic and investing in glass. Does anyone have any high-quality Tupperware they really like? I’d love your input!
Fridge door condiments
You should take everything out of your fridge at least once a year, even if you’re not moving or you’re not trying to reorganize the fridge. Taking everything out, wiping down the surfaces, and getting rid of old items makes such a difference. Tackling a section at a time makes the chore less overwhelming. The fridge door condiments are a great place to start.
The top image is my fridge doors. The bottom image is the condiments and other fridge door items (minus the soda) that we actually use on a regular basis. It’s about 50% of the total inventory. I did wipe down the surfaces. I didn’t throw anything away, but I did take note of everything that’s in there and am making plans to use up a few items ASAP.
In the process of packing to move, I donated several large bags of kitchen items. I had a ridiculously large number of items that I never used. How did I end up with so many duplicate utensils and other miscellaneous kitchen gear? In the past year, I’ve acquired very few new utensils and do use the majority of utensils I own.
The drawers I use for my kitchen utensils in the new house are wide. The utensils get all jumbled up, creating a disorganized mess. I added a few organizers (here and here) and have never looked back. The new system has worked so well. The drawer I’m showing you is the one that contains my most frequently used utensils. If you only invest in one set of organizers, it should be for this drawer. I have one other similar drawer with less frequently used utensils. I left one drawer without organizers for bigger items that don’t fit in with the organizers, like the potato masher and rolling pin.
Somehow I didn’t take a before picture of my utensil drawer (aka I was overly confident of its completely organized state). I did take everything out, wipe it down, and reorganize it. Again, it was in pretty good shape, but I did separate the black plastic utensils and wooden spoons, which made a big difference.
I’m not a big hoarder. But I love pens and can’t seem to keep buying them. As part of my continuing office organization, at some point after we moved, I went through all my pens. I’m sure I had a couple hundred, just in my office. I’m picky about my pens and only have two or three kinds I really like to write with at any given time. I’ve always had a huge mess of pens in my pen cup. Now it’s filled exclusively with pens I love. I got rid of everything that no longer writes or that never wrote very well, kept a handful of working pens I don’t use for the kitchen, and donated the rest of the stash.
I chalk up the fact that I own a lot of socks to living in the Midwest. I need to own different types of socks for different seasons. This is true. I still own a lot of socks. I have them sorted into tall/winter socks, ankle-length/summer socks, crew-length socks, and white athletic socks (all pictured except the tall/winter socks, which I keep in a different drawer). Given the before and after pictures, like the Tupperware containers, there was definitely some room for improvement. However, I’ve still been pretty good about keeping my drawers organized during the past couple of years.
If your socks aren’t organized, take them all out of your drawer and sort them accordingly. I love socks and have trouble getting rid of them, even when they’re full of holes. I’m trying to be better about throwing out worn out socks, so I’m not sorting through old pairs when I’m trying to get out the door quickly. I got rid of at least half a dozen pairs of socks this winter, which was much needed. When I reorganized the drawer you see above, I did throw out the four oldest pairs of white athletic socks.
I also recently purchased some new ankle-length and crew-length socks for the upcoming warmer weather. I have no excuses not to keep weeding out older pairs.
Jake and I don’t use any of the same shower products these days. I also rotate through a couple different shower gels and three shampoos, which makes for a lot of bottles. But we do use everything we have in the master bathroom shower right now. I keep using what I have in there and get rid of the empty bottles right away.
With that being said, I did move an embarrassing amount of travel toiletries. I spent most of 2016 using up numerous half-full travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toothpaste, and floss I’ve had sitting in one of our bathrooms or closets for years. Since then, I’ve been better about using left-over travel bottles from trips as soon as we get home.
My laundry supplies are pretty basic. I have laundry detergent, bleach, dryer sheets, and spot remover. I also own an at-home dry clean kit, which I have used a couple of times. Before we moved, I did use up or throw out a couple miscellaneous items, but the laundry supplies stash wasn’t out of control. Our laundry room is tiny but has plenty of storage, so I’ve kept it organized. I do also own a few mesh laundry bags, which I keep in the laundry baskets and pull out as needed when I do laundry.
At least a couple times a month, I try to wipe down the machines. Usually, I just grab a towel for this task right before I’m ready to throw it in the wash. Both the washer and dryer collect dust, and there are always detergent drips on the detergent drawer (which doesn’t pull all the way out the way like it’s supposed to, so you can clean it properly. Does anyone else have this problem?).
I don’t own a lot of dish towels, and the ones I do own are all in good shape and are organized in a single kitchen drawer. However, over the past few years, I have completely overhauled our bath towels. Until recently, most of our bath towels were nearly a decade old or older. Now all of the towels we use on a regular basis in all of the bathrooms are just a few years old or newer. I’ve saved a handful of older towels for cleaning, taking the cats to the vet, and the random event that we’re running low. The previous owners left behind two of these huge wicker baskets for the master bathroom. I use one of them for the towels.
If you’re looking to get rid of old towels or linens, I highly recommend donating them to the local animal shelter. Most shelters have dozens, if not hundreds, of new pets come through each month. They’re constantly in need of towels for bathing dogs and towels and linens for lining cages and other holding areas.
Magazines and catalogs
Magazines and catalogs seem to pile up ridiculously quickly. I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of catalogs. The only catalogs I look through in full are Crate and Barrel and Paper Source, and I keep just the latest one. Jake and I subscribe to a few magazines, but we get so many other publications, such as school alumni magazines. I try to get rid of old ones as new ones arrive. But magazines end up all over the house, so that doesn’t always happen. I still have to round up and throw out magazines and other publications periodically.
The before picture is what the end of our kitchen island looks like way too often. I sorted everything there, pitching as needed. Then I rounded up magazines from all over the house and added them to the piles. There weren’t any miscellaneous catalogs, which was great. I try to only keep the last month or so of weekly magazines, so I still need to pitch more than half of that stack. On the plus side, since I completed my quick decluttering projects, Jake has gone through his entire stack.
Entryway drop spot
I do have a dedicated drop spot for my purse and keys. I picked up this little plate at Target a couple of years ago. It’s where I keep my keys, daily meds, and a few other items. My drop spot is actually in the kitchen, not the front entryway. Unless we’re taking a walk in the neighborhood, we always come in through the garage, and the kitchen is closer. I leave my keys, purse, and planner in this spot at all times, so I never spend time hunting for them.
Having a dedicated drop spot also works well for me because it gives me a place to leave items I need to take with me (i.e. outgoing mail) and to leave other reminders for myself (i.e. to grab an appetizer or snack out of the fridge to bring to a friend’s home) for the next time I leave the house. I also use this dish to store my rings while I’m making dough or doing other really messy cooking.
As always, Hobbes found my quick decluttering projects extremely interesting. I could have featured him in just about all of my shots.
Finally, in case this post wasn’t “real life” enough, here’s Hobbes in the dining room in its current state. (I was in there several times while taking the pictures for this post because I created a makeshift photo area on the dining room table.) In gearing up to paint the living room, I moved a bunch of items out of the living room into the dining room.
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Do you have any other quick decluttering projects?
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