Mini Mission Monday ~ Constant Clutter Control

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Great list, Colleen. I have a laundry question. It’s plenty hot here, and I can easily dry clothes outside, but some things like towels and jeans become unpleasantly stiff. I think it’s because while it’s hot, there’s little wind. Is there any solution for this?

    • Hi Cindy,

      I have two ways of dealing with this. One is to be vigilant enough to catch the clothes before they’re completely dry and toss them in the dryer. The other is to forget about them til they’re completely dry, and toss them in the dryer with a few spritzes of water. The tumbling will soften up the jeans, towels and socks.

    • Hi Cindy,
      I avoid using my dryer for clothes but I dry my towels in there every time because like you I hate stiff towels and if there is a solution to that I don’t know what it is. I was told once to put white vinegar into the prewash cycle (if you have one). I didn’t find this made any difference to mine though. I mostly hang my clothes on an airer to dry inside to avoid fading and the jeans seem to dry fine without being stiff. The only thing I hang on the line outside these days is sheets and duvets.

  2. Many thrift stores sell rags. This is a perfect way to get rid of clothes that are stained or torn, and not suitable for sale as clothing. I bag up tshirts and sweatshirts and label the bag as RAGS so the thrift store people don’t have to sort them. Your thrift store will tell you what they like.

  3. Colleen,

    You’ve got me with the junk drawer mission. I took a picture two days ago of the top drawer of my desk as an incentive to clean it out. Now I have another reason – it’s my mission for that day!

    I did the front of the refrigerator yesterday (does this count for your refrigerator challenge?) and will be posting before and after pictures on my blog later this week. It’s amazing how many magnets you can collect and how many do you really need?


    • Hi Chelle,
      the front of the refrigerator will certainly do. I wrote a blog about that once I think or perhaps it was a mini mission way back. Good luck with the desk drawer.

  4. The refrigerator used to be one of my “black holes” but then I realized just what you said – if we didn’t like something when it was fresh, why on earth do I think it will taste better now that it’s stale? And therefore, now my fridge is much tidier, much emptier, and everything in it can actually be EATEN (and enjoyed). Also, I tend to buy fewer new products at the grocery store because I know what will likely happen to them, so I’m saving money going forward.

    … er, but the other black holes still beckon me 🙂

    • Hi Jo,
      I have gotten a lot better with the refrigerator issue too. The only stuff that now accumulates in there is food gifts that people insist on giving me because they know I don’t want clutter gifts. 😕

  5. And … just interested in the story of Liam’s photo on the bottles, if you feel like sharing it?

  6. I stumbled across your blog today. I love your mini missions. My children’s toy box is always way out of control. We have a few black hole areas of our home. My goal this year is to declutter and recapture some of our living space.

    • Hi Jackie,
      welcome to 365 Less Things, I am glad you stumbled across my blog and I hope you will find it useful in the future. Recapturing space in your home is a very liberating feeling and once you get started you will be hooked. Good luck and I hope you will share your achievements with us here in the comments.

  7. I’m overseas, so congrats on the new site, first time I’m seeing it.

    Re: towels – i never have stiff towels (in Aust) and we always line dry… I think perhaps it is to do with the hardness of the water, which in sydney mustn’t be too bad. And I have heard vinegar could work, but again, never needed to try it…

    • Hi Snosie,
      my mother never has stiff towels either but she uses a twin tub washer and if that’s the reason Ill settle for the stiff towels. 😉 I am sure it isn’t though. You may be right about the hard water.

  8. Re: stiff towels and jeans. I hadn’t thought of the water hardness as a possibly culprit. We do have hard water, which is full of calcium from the limestone that it filters through. Perhaps that’s part of the problem too. I had thought it was the wind because my cousins live on a VERY windy hill and they line dry everything with great success. But, they’re also on well water and have a water softener. Interesting…

    I dont’ add anything to my wash but the detergent, no vinegar, fabric softener, etc.

    • Hi Cindy,
      I always use fabric softener and a lot more on my towels than suggested but it doesn’t help the way it should.

    • Cindy – you piqued my interest with this problem. This site has some information that might help.

      It might be worth trying the water softener mentioned in number 4 (note: this is not the same thing as fabric softener). Under “Tips & Warnings” there are directions for using borax as a water conditioner also. Either of these may give you the softness you want without using electricity for the dryer, without using fabric softeners, and according to the article, they should reduce wear caused by calcium and minerals on your fabrics as well.

      • Hi jo,
        thank you for that link, it was very helpful. I will get myself some borax and see if that makes a difference to my laundry and I will be sure to let you know about the results.

  9. Hi – I’m curious, aren’t there any other relatives who would have enjoyed having a bottle with the pic?

    • Hi Jess,
      as cute and adorable he is, I wasn’t about to ask them. That may seem a little impersonal but they all live a long way away and I am not about to drag an item like that a minimum of 900km just to add it to someone else’s clutter. What they don’t know about they won’t miss.

      • Oh sure, if there’s nobody local.

      • And yet another way of looking at what to declutter versus what to give to a relative! If you wouldn’t take an item hundreds of km to give to someone, then it’s probably not worth giving to someone in a similar relationship to you who lives down the street or across town. (I wish my mother had followed this line of thinking when she was decluttering her house – guess where much of it ended up)

        • Hi Jo,
          there is a simple solution to this problem, politely refuse to take it. I would hope that anyone making the effort to declutter their home can surely not expect friends and family to gladly accept their unwanted things if they don’t want them. I suppose it is not impossible that people do this so they can still visit their stuff on occasion in the unlikely event that they wish they still owned it in the future, but I would hope not. Stranger things occur though.

          • This happened a few years ago, before I started decluttering my own home. A few things she gave me have actually made it back to her house – some books she really liked and was sorry she had given away.

            If it was still going on, at least now I would know enough to say “Well, no, but thanks anyway”. BOTH of us have agreed to downsize gifts and/or purchase consumable gifts now. It’s nice to be on the same wavelength at last.

            • Hi Jo,
              I was out this morning for a walk and I came across two old ladies on the corner of a street and one was telling the other about how there family does Secret Santa these day and what a great idea it was. i could help but think , good for you being open to new ideas and adjusting when some folks would be so set in theirs ways at that point in life. It gives me hope that the world in general is starting to see sense.

  10. Ok, here we go…toy box (and kids books and backpacks, since it is the school year end for them) given the once & twice over. Popped through my kids and my darling sweet better-half warddrobes and extracted items for donation, trash and hand-me-downs to friends with younger kiddies (actually, THEY did all the work, ROCK ON!)!

    Totally tackled the refrig. Had a ‘mustgo night’. And what is that? Surely your Mom used this term?!?! It is left overs that just ‘must go’….my Mom’s terminology, a word that to this day I still love, although the actual mustgo stuff on ones plate might be edible but questionable (“hey Mom, what is/was this?” “Eat what’s on your plate or no chocolate mouth-watering-gooey dessert for you!” “Wow Mom, I (choke) really LOVE this, whatever it is/was….gulp!!!)!.

    Oh, and of course, the weather report (where have I been???). Warm, partly sunny, light rain showers here and there! To me it is absolutely PERFEKT!

    • Hi Annabelle,
      good job with the decluttering and bonus points for getting the kids to do it themselves.

      When I was a child we didn’t have a “mustgo night” but we did have “scratchit” fairly regualarly. Scratchit was when mum didn’t feel like cooking and instead used up leftovers of this or that and maybe something canned thrown in. The word Scratchit is derived from “Whatever I can scratch up”.

      And the weather here is absolute crap at the moment. Flooding again above and around the area I live, high winds causing havoc. I am starting to get cabin fever I think, but they have promised us better weather over the weekend. Here’s hoping they are right.

      • Annabelle and Colleen – I love these terms! We never did this in our family. Actually I can’t remember having leftovers either. We ate meat and 2 veg every night that I can remember and mom must have had the quantity down to a science!

        • Hi Jo,
          we ate meat and three veg quite often and there was never any leftovers of that but we also had stews and casseroles, corned beef etc etc of which Mum always made plenty so that there would be leftovers for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mum used to make fritters out of the leftover corned beef for breakfast, if we asked what was for breakfast and she said fritters we were pleased if she said “Mystery Bags” it meant there wasn’t much meat leftover and it was a mystery as to whether your fritter would actually have a piece of meat in it. 😆

    • Hi,
      I love these names! When I was a kid, we’d have a “bitsa” night – bitsa this and bitsa that; other times we might have “waitnsee”: “what’s for dinner – Waitnsee!

      • Hi Ann,
        sometimes when we would ask our mum what’s for dinner she would say poo on toast which usually meant quit nagging me, you’ll get what your given.

  11. I try to do cleaning and decluttering like that daily… but it seems to feel like it’s all I do!! Sometimes all I want is a day off!

    • I Elsie,
      thank you for dropping by to leave a comment and welcome to 365 Less Things. It is a shame that you feel so overwhelmed and I sympathise with you over than. It sounds like perhaps you need to do a couple of things ~ 1. Keep reducing what you have so it can be more controlled and easier to put away. And 2. Teach those around you to put away after themselves if there are others involved. In reality housework is never done, there is always something to be attended to (like that pile of ironing in my laundry right now) but the more strategies you can adopt to make the job easier the better.
      Good luck Elsie and if you need any specific advice I am always happy to help.


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