Fix It Or Declutter It.

I received an email from Jane  a couple of weeks ago requesting me to write a post about getting ones act together and fixing things rather than have them sitting around as useless clutter. Both Cindy and I have written posts about similar topics not all that long ago. Cindy’s post was about addressing old but easy tasks on your to-do list . Mine about fixing something that had annoyed me for much longer than it took to fix ~ much much longer. I also wrote a post way back called Learn To Sew which also is worth a read. However  Jane’s email gave a very good example of this so have quoted it below.

“…for the last 6+ months the hood on my coat has been missing the fur edging because two of the buttons, which it was attached with, had come off (I actually can’t remember when they WERE attached anymore!). So I pulled the fur edging out of my drawer (which incidentally, frequently gets jammed due to all the rubbish in there) and decided to stitch the buttons back on…I then realised I’d decluttered all my buttons a while back, but decided to proceed anyway, and just stitched the fur edging to the hood where the buttons would have been. The coat only has to last me a few more weeks until it’s warm enough to wear lighter clothing, so I didn’t want to waste money buying expensive buttons (or put the job off for even longer by having to wait until I made a trip to the craft store, and then never end up doing it!). Voila – no piece of fur lying in my draw anymore and one fixed, and hopefully, warmer coat!

We keep these little items for months, claiming we’ll fix them when we get time…but soon the weeks disappear and they’re still lying there unfixed, cluttering up our home. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heaps of things which are broken or need sewing but lie around unused for months or even years.” ~ Jane

Google is a great tool for finding tutorials on fixing all sorts of things. So before throwing things away see if you can figure out how to repair them. Do this sooner rather than later because there are fewer things more annoying than a long to-do list of easy chores left undone causing more irritation than necessary. Should you decide you don’t have the skill to fix things, Freecycle is a great way to declutter these items. There are plenty of other people out there who do have the expertise you might be lacking. Advertise the item as-is describing its stare of disrepair and I am sure you will still find someone out there willing to take it off your hands. I have done this a couple of times myself with great success.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item that you only keep because it was once useful to you. If it isn’t useful to you anymore it is just clutter.

Eco Tip for the Day

Save on heating and cooling by fixing air leaks in your home (around windows and under doors)  with weather-stripping and/or caulking.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Following my own advice As the title suggests I have been taking my own advice and finding ten minutes daily this week to declutter some stuff around my house. And although the difference is small I feel a whole […]
  • Large area declutter ~ Minimal disruption This post is all about breaking down, into steps, the task of decluttering a large cluttered area of your home without causing undue disruption. I am going to use the kitchen as my example […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Clutter Hiding in Plain Sight Cindy's Weekly Wisdom Embarrassing but true stories: I have clutter hiding in plain sight in my house. Everyone else sees it, but I didn't, at least not until I knew that I had […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Much of the clutter we still have are sewing projects Mom still hasn’t done anything with though we moved them here almost 5 years ago and I know they were 3-4 years old before we moved. I have a couple of items for crafts that I want to get rid of but Mom doesn’t want me to. So I plan to hide them away in the car someday when she doesn’t see me and then give them away. Sigh! I don’t plan to do any more projects on this small loom I have. I have to hold it in my hands which makes them hurt and once a piece is created you have to then do more and whip them together. I’d much rather have a larger loom that I can sit on a table and that makes bigger pieces. Anyway, I can’t wait to get rid of it and the book that goes with it.

    • Just do it Deb J, if it is your stuff you should be able to get rid of it if you like. Perhaps it would be a good example to your mum especially if you explain why you are getting rid of it.

      • When I come up with someone I think would enjoy it I will give it away. I have thought of someone but I need to ask her mother.

  2. Jane – I know what you mean about leaving these little jobs lying around and the amount of time we spend grouching about them or moving them, we could have done them in a fraction of the time! I do exactly the same thing! I recently did some button sewing back on and minor repairs and 5 minutes later I was wondering why I hadn’t done it before now. I guess these jobs don’t come up regularly enough to warrant time in the daily routine so maybe I could think about adding it to my daily to-do list or tack it on (pardon the pun) at the end of folding the laundry.

    • Good idea Moni. I like the leave these chore somewhere that they will annoy me so I am forced to do them and keep putting up with them in my way.

    • Exactly Moni – it’s literally a 5 minute job to fix but we still put it off, why I don’t know, you’d think these jobs were going to be a long slog and very tedious! Perhaps we imagine them to be worse than what they are? For me, my inspiration in the end to do the job at last was to remove that piece of clutter from that draw. As it turns out, it was a very good declutter to do as the weather has been horrible these past 2 weeks – am I ever glad I got that hood fixed what with all the hail and the snow we’ve had recently!

  3. Sadly my two as is items didn’t get any interest on freecycle (a dress with surplus materials anda curtain I cut to size but there’s enough for a small curtain). My mending goes in a box under the coffee table -cause I don’t like visual clutter I get to it watching tv. I even crafted a pretty sewing box that lives on the coffee table so even if I’m feeling lazy, everything is right there making it easy for me

    • SarahN ~ They sound like two things that would sell at a thrift shop. It would be easy enough to drop them in a donation bin somewhere.

      Clever idea having the sewing box handy.

  4. I used to be terrible about procrastinating when it came to sewing on buttons or replacing zips or fixing hems that had fallen down. A piece of clothing could sit waiting for months or years. But now when I find “broken” clothes I immediately grab whatever is needed to fix them and sit the whole lot beside my armchair where I watch television. It’s easy to do the repair job during the adverts and it doesn’t feel like work because I’m sitting there anyway.

    “Fixing” dry-clean-only and handwash-only clothes was also a problem because I am a cheapskate and also lazy so I have only been to a dry cleaners once in my life. Clothes like that (purchased by accident of course – I know I prefer to machine wash) got worn until they were dirty and then shoved to the back of the wardrobe or bottom of the laundry basket. Now I “fix” them by putting them in the washing machine on a delicate cycle. If they don’t survive, well, I am in no worse a position than if I’d left them in a corner for years until they didn’t fit or were wildly out of fashion.

    • Hi Jenny, I avoid buying dry-clean only clothes too. If one does get buy me I, like you, wear it until it must be cleaned though I do take mine to the dry-cleaner. Unless the item is getting older and I don’t care so much any more, then I take my chances on the gentle machine cycle. My husband has wool uniform pants for work that go to the dry-cleaners. Luckily he doesn’t wear that particular uniform all that often these days so the trips are infrequent.

      A little tip ~ Microfibre clothes are great to spot clean marks on clothing between washing (especially deodorant marks). Just dampen the cloth slightly and wipe the stain from all directions. Works a treat. This tip is also good for spot cleaning carpet.

  5. Colleen:

    Just so you know, I began reading your blog in January and have successfully decluttered (at least) one item each day thus far!

    As far as fixing things, I am getting better at this…but I am paying someone else to do it. I have a great sports coat that needs new lining, so I am having it relined. Soon I will learn how to do something like this, but on a lesser level!

    • Good for you Tony. Many little repairs jobs aren’t all that hard and, as I said, are easy to find tutorials on on the internet. Lining a coat could be a little tricky though. I have a coat that I am going to alter this year. I bought it in 1997, I still wear it but I would wear it more if I jazzed the style up a little. So I will be breaking out my trusty sewing machine and taking up the hem (including liner). I know I won’t be taking any items to my local alterations people because I was with a friend one day, who is quite short and needed a hem sewn up on a work apron. The alterations people wanted to charge her $20 to trim off a straight piece of fabric and sew it up by machine. What a rip off. I did the job for her in about five minutes for nothing.

  6. I had a few items that did not make it through shipment during my last move, most of those things have long left the house because they were not worth the repair. I do have two items that need repair, just glue, and will take very little time to do. As far as mending goes, I tend to do that during any television that I happen to watch. I am pretty sure that I am caught up with those items. It truly is better to just get the job done rather than deal with the annoyance that one may feel each time that they look at it.

    • I agree Jen, just get it over with.

      • I know exactly what Jen’s talking about being annoyed looking at something. Through this process I have stacked a gigantic pile o’ crap in my attic while I wait for the weather to get better so I can have a yard sale while also culling through the pile for things that a cat rescue that I support could use. Everytime I go to the attic, which is a lot as it is where we have our computer set up, where I do my ironing and crafting, I have to muddle around all this stuff!! UGH!! I think mid-April will be okay in Colorado weather-wise for a yard sale, although we can always get snow. 😉

        Hubby handed me a pair of his jeans the other day with a belt loop that had strangely torn in half. Can you fix this, he asks. There are holes in the knees and the pockets are shredded. Uh, dear, I’ll buy you a new pair!

        • My garage has that effect on me at times because it is clutter that’s time has not come yet to leave. Mostly stuff of my daughters but also still a little of my son’s as well. His stuff doesn’t annoy me as much because he has barely left, hers had been sitting there for years. The time is coming soon for it to leave though and I am getting excited.