Don’t agonise over getting rid of clutter

It has been a busy week for me and I didn’t get around to writing a second post. So rather than leave you uninspired for the week I am republishing the following post from the archives. Enjoy!

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Don’t Agonise Over Getting Rid Of Clutter

I had a reader back in the early days of my blog who seemed to have trouble letting go of her clutter. It wasn’t that she wanted to keep the stuff, or found it difficult to make the choices as to what to let go however she balked at getting on with the task. To me it was obvious that her problem was that she didn’t like seeing anything go to waste.

You see she was very eco friendly, to the point where it was a mission to throw nothing in the trash. And I think this noble goal interfered with her goal to rid her home of clutter. As you all know I am not a lover of waste myself and do what I can to refuse, reuse, reduce and recycle.  In a way I am pleased to say that 99.9% of what I have decluttered has been rehoused, reused, recycled or repurposed. Pleased, because I didn’t just have a house full of trash but sorry that I had so much useful-to-someone-else stuff sitting around unused for long periods of time.

And just because some things don’t work as they should doesn’t mean they aren’t useful to someone. Below are my suggestions on how to deal with such items.

The best way I found to pass on items that have faults is to list them on freecycle or local buy-swap-&-sell or similar web sites, utilise the curb side giveaway method or word of mouth. Explain the fault/s clearly and allow people to decide for themselves if they care or even possibly have the ability to repair them. Through the avenues mentioned above I decluttered all of the following items.

1. All the parts to my malfunctioning Kenwood mixer, then gave the mixer to the last guy who came along who was keen to dabble with it to see if he could get it working or use the parts.
2. The hutch section of a buffet and hutch to a guy who did cabinet making as a hobby. He had a use for the parts and wood while I had a use for the buffet. Everyone was happy. He even asked to let me know if I ever wanted to part with the matching coffee table. I eventually did and he paid me $40 for it.
3. I advertised a lamp, which was unwired, on freecycle and a lady took it with the hope that her electrician son would rewire it for her.
4. I put a trampoline on the street with a FREE sign on it. It needed some restitching but everything else about it was great. It disappeared quickly.
5. I gave an old vacuum cleaner, whose insulation was degrading and blowing out through the air vent, to a lady who was sure she could either clean it up or use the parts.
6. I sole an iRobot vacuum cleaner for parts on ebay.

And these were just the items I could remember in a hurry.

There is usually someone out there who can find a use for things, working or not. Should it not work out for them you will be non the wiser and be happy that you did your best to find a new home for the item. And the stuff that no one wants may just have to end up in the bin. Just remember it is just stuff after all and possibly not wise purchases in the first place. Let it go and learn from the experience. You will hopefully just be a bit more discerning about what to purchase in the future.  Some, on the other hand, are well used items that might just have come to the end of their usefulness and there is certainly no shame in throwing them away.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter your handbag so it is easy to find what you need in there when you need it.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Don’t agonise over getting rid of clutter I had a reader back in the early days of my blog who seemed to have trouble letting go of her clutter. It wasn't that she wanted to keep the stuff, or found it difficult to make the […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. We were on a roll with decluttering when we sold our house this spring but we were nowhere near done and had to quickly pack and store the rest. Now as we start to unpack we are assessing what we need and what we have room for. One item that came up for discussion was a pair of heavy wool pants (probably Army Surplus) that Ian used to wear when working in the bush but has not used since retiring. They are heavy, ugly and dirty but he couldn’t quite convince himself to throw them away because of their potential usefulness. He waffled. Then he looked out the door and saw the two fellows slogging through the mud while they built our garage. Those pants found a home right then.

  2. I empathize with the feeling that de cluttering is harder when you have the Recycling/reusing ethic hard wired into you – as I have. I really can’t waste things – food, clothes, household items etc etc! I try to pass on books and magazines to friends and family then to Charity Shops. Mend clothes, then give to Charity shops. Recycle as much packaging as possible via our Council Recycling scheme. Try to buy only what food we need by shopping every two or three days: using leftovers, making soups from “sad” vegetables, banana cake from “past their eating fresh” times. Re-using paper/greetings cards in all the usual frugal ways! Re-using padded envelopes etc . But at the end of the day, if you have no need for it, get rid of it!!!!!

    • Hi Linda, I applaud you for making this effort. I do too and feel better about myself for it. However as I just commented to Nicole below, we really should do the best we can to get rid of our stuff responsibly, but within a limit. If one is getting paralysed by taking the effort to far then that needs to stop. It is best to find a few good ways to easily offload your stuff and leave it up to the benefactors to decide where it goes from there. That, of course, doesn’t mean to offload total crap to a charity. They then have to pay to dump it, and sadly that does happen. You should see some of the stuff that gets left out in the weather during closing hours at the thrift shop that I volunteer at. Yikes.

  3. One thing I am happy about with our decluttering is that we have very little problem finding a way to dispose of it. While we occasionally use Goodwill most of the time we give the good things to a Thrift store that is connected to a womens shelter. I also put things we feel we can get good money from on our church facebook group and most times it sells. It makes it pretty easy for which I am thankful.

    • Hi Deb J, I too find this not at all difficult to do. I do understand though, from what other readers in other countries have to say, that it isn’t always so easy everywhere. When it comes to giving stuff away though it is never too hard. A person could hold a free garage sale if there is no thrift shop in there town. I bet there wouldn’t be much left at the end of the day.

  4. I remember this post, Colleen.

    For some people who might have a huge clutter problem, simply getting started could be an enormously overwhelming undertaking, and having to contemplate new homes for all that stuff might paralyze them.

    Whatever your circumstances, I think that if you do your best, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to find the perfect new home for everything. You might need to lose a few small battles to win the war.

    Do the best that you can with what you’ve got, even if it’s not perfect.

    • Hi Nicole, I will point out though that it really isn’t all the hard to give stuff away rather than throw it away. When you think about how much bother people go to acquiring stuff ~ wandering around shopping centres, going from store to store, browsing on-line for hours, reading product reviews ~ taking a little time to find a few good ways to offload your unwanted stuff responsibly is the least we can do as consumers.

  5. I remember a comment from a reader that resonated with me. Whether something is sitting in a landfill or stuffed in a cupboard, either way it is a waste of its use potential. Donate the item so the universe can find it someone who meeds it.

  6. I am in the process of paring down even further to move cross country, after my husband passed away from a hospital acquired infection last year. We had dreamed of retiring together to the American Pacific Northwest, a favorite vacation destination, and when things looked grim for him, he made me promise not to get stuck here, but to complete that dream. So I am moving.

    I have already pared down a great deal. My mother is a packrat, and as soon as I moved out of the house for college, I swore never to live like that. At the moment I almost have hives because boxes of garage sale items are stacked in my living room, and pre-packed boxes for moving are stacked in my spare bedroom. But I know this is only temporary.

    I am having a garage sale for useful, clean, working household items, excess furnishings, and functional clothing one day soon. I do need some money toward my moving costs, after all.

    But! Anything that does not sell the Friday and Saturday of the garage sale? A new sign will be put up early on Sunday morning that everything under the carport is FREE. Items of questionable utility will be added to the free sale, and clearly marked (lamp: needs re-wiring … computer monitor: may or may not work … leaky hose: can you fix it … old printer, may work with an older computer …. etc.)

    Anything free and useful NOT picked up by sunup Monday will go to the charity store.

    Anything broken, mendable or otherwise of questionable utility won’t be taken by the charity store, so it will be put on Freecycle, and left under the carport so it doesn’t re-enter my home. Nothing will go back into the house.

    I am listing certain specialty items on Craigslist.

    I am looking hard at every single item in my home. There is very little that cannot be put on Freecycle as a challenge to those who are handy, donated to charity if in good condition, or simply recycled.

    The thing to remember is that old books , chairs, and lamps are not puppies and kittens. They do not need an ideal, perfect, forever home! Only someone who can use those items again.

    The whole experience of paring down is very freeing. My promise to anyone who wonders how they can assure that an unwanted item gets “best use” is to follow my plan and the suggestions of others. Once you get started, the more you cast out, the more you WANT to cast out.

    • Dez, I am so sorry for your loss. How sad to lose your husband in that way.

      You have a great plan in place. All the best in your future.

  7. Great comment, sorry and advice Des. Thank you for sharing. And I am very sorry to hear about your husband. Losing someone is hard and even more so when it is unexpected. I hope your garage sales goes well and I would love to here how the free days clear the remainder out. I would also hope you move to the Pacific Northwest goes. I am sure you will love it there. I certainly did for the seven and a half years I lived there.