Mini Mission Monday ~ Declutter and donate

mini-logoMini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

This week your mini missions have been brought to you by Tanja. I love that she has put a strong emphasis on donating the items that you find. She had also focused on items that many people have a lot of. However even if you don’t have such an abundance you may still find you might have one or two too many that you would be happy to live without.

So thank you Tanja for your contribution to 365 Less Things this week. And should any of my other wonderful readers like to send my a post to publish I would be more than happy to receive it. And without further adieu here are this weeks missions.

“Clearing” a room is not simply shoving things in drawers and cupboards, on the principle that “out of sight is out of mind”.

Streamlining the house goes further than decluttering; it is not simply a matter of making a clean sweep of everything into colour-coded bags for when the garbage collecting trucks come around. Many extraneous items are still serviceable – and some are still brand new, with tags on. These may be donated.

Monday: The kitchen / dining room.  Let’s face it – we never have more than four pans on the stove, and maybe one in the fridge. So why did we ever feel the need to purchase that set of thirty? Select half a dozen pots in the sizes you use most; ditto with the fry-pans. While you’re at it, why not decimate your motley collection of glasses, mugs, and cups? Would you ever use all that flatware, even if you were the hostess of a street party?

Tuesday: The laundry room. Why is it that you have ten detergent bottles with not enough liquid in them for one wash? Will you ever really run a mini-load?  Put a funnel in the neck of one of them, and upturn the others into it, in turn. Rinse them out, one by one, and add to the water you use for hand-washing lingerie, or for yards and porches.

Wednesday: The sitting room / lounge. Look at that pile of magazines. Are you really ever going to refer to a particular issue for an article, or a recipe? When will you find time to clip and file what you want from them? Will you ever take them to your friend, who has a shredder, to fix them for the hamsters’ cages? Kindergarten teachers and crafters are always on the lookout for pictures and scrap paper. So are the helpers at animal shelters.

Thursday: The bathroom(s).  You are never going to use all those soaps and scents and assorted toiletries received as gifts, or bought just because they were on offer. Why not cover a shoebox with wrapping paper – or sheets from magazines, or maps – and make a Happy Box for someone who is feeling down, or is facing a stay in hospital? Groups that do voluntary work will accept this kind of gift, to pass on, or sell for fund-raising.

Friday: The bedroom(s). Half the ironing you do probably happens because your clothes are all squashed up in the wardrobes. If you are lucky enough to have a walk-in closet, it is not a guarantee that this will not happen, either. Then there are those clothes that need mending, and shoes that need a cobbler’s attention. Unless you can get them seen to within the week – discard them or give them away. Give away clothes that don’t fit well; stop hoping you will get thinner, or fatter, so they will fit, because even then, you will still have two sets of extraneous clothing.

Saturday: The garage / basement.  New brooms sweep clean – but old ones don’t. So throw out all the tools and implements that no longer serve their purpose, including tatty paintbrushes and all those paint tins with one inch of dried gunk at the bottom, and the empty margarine tubs, and the boxes of school notes, punctured tyres, broken chairs and light fittings…

Sunday: Pick up the phone and see whether the people or groups for whom you have bags and boxes, will collect. Otherwise, arrange for deliveries to be done; make this an excuse for someone who lives in the area of the recipient to hop over and have a mug of coffee before taking the pack with her, unless you can take them yourself…

 All it takes is a little effort on our part. Let’s share what we have, with those who would appreciate it even more than we do…by giving away things we would actually use. It’s nice to do this, rather than donating stuff that would otherwise have gone into the skip, fooling ourselves into believing that we are “sharing”, and thus salving our conscience.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Gratitude: Today I am grateful that I have the ability to get around freely. I encountered a lady in a wheelchair today with a severe disability and my first reaction was admiration for her that she has the spirit to defy adversity and get out and about, it seemed without a helper by her side. To her I guess it was just what she was used to, but it sure make me look back at times when I complain about small inconveniences in my life and think how perry they really are and how lucky I am.

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Your comment re streamlining vs decluttering caused my mind to think “organizing is wearing a girdle while decluttering is losing weight”

  2. We moved about 30 boxes to my mom’s new apartment yesterday. today she told me she thinks she will be getting rid of a lot more. Sigh! Yes, I’m happy to hear she is getting rid of more but it would have been nice to do it before we moved things.

    • Deb J – I was thinking of you on Saturday. Yes I inagine once your mum settles in she’ll need to let go of more stuff to fit in comfortably. How long before you can move too?

      • Moni, I still don’t know when I will be able to move. Still need to sell the house too. I want this over.

        • Deb J – if you dont mind me asking, what is next in your plans. You’ve mentioned selling the house, do you plan to sell in anticipation or wait till an apartment comes available and sell then?

          • Moni, I am going to just sell the place. If I have to move out before an apartment at Glencroft is available then I will stay with a friend who has an extra bedroom. I’m praying both the sale and the apartment will come about at the same time.

    • Woo hoo, Deb J.
      I believe that moving/settling in during Chinese New Year will help your Mom with “out with the old, in with the new”.
      Give yourself a break on moving items in that immediately go out. I have never known anyone that this doesn’t happen to including myself.

    • Better late than never Deb.

  3. I hate to admit I did the same thing when I moved Deb J. After moving I got rid of 6 boxes of good useable items, just not needed by me. My goal is to never do it again.

    • Calla, I guess we all do it at times. I am going to suggest she go slow with this because I’m afraid she is doing it out of frustration and will wish she hadn’t done it later. This has not been easy on her at all.

  4. Hi, Tanja … nice post!

  5. Tanja – great post!

    Less than two weeks until my youngest heads off to University and there is quite a pile of stuff to go with her growing in the garage. Today she gave her room a spring clean and we have a pile of clothes to drop off to goodwill. She will be taking most of my baking gear and she has asked for a few other bits and pieces too. She is going into a self-catering Halls Of Residence sharing an apartment with 4 others.

    We have a lot to finish organising before she goes but a number of those tasks will eventually lead to more stuff leaving in the near future.

  6. One comment about Saturday’s cleaning. Please don’t throw old paint and paintbrushes into the garbage. Both can be toxic, so dispose of them at the proper facility. Household cleaners would fall into this category also. I finally got together all my old printers, computers and scanners and took them to a facility that will recycle some the parts.

  7. Last Autumn we had a big declutter in our garage and got rid of loads of stuff at our tip. Two problems: we discovered at Christmas that my husband had thrown away the base of our Christmas tree and we had difficulty in sourcing another in time to put up the quite new and expensive artificial tree! The base was in a labelled bag but my husband insisted it was from the old tree and I allowed myself to be overridden! When Christmas was over the tree and base were safely stored in the garage once more with large writing on the labels….. Including the words”DO NOT THROW AWAY”! Second problem: our tip will no longer accept old paint tins, my husband had to bring them all back. He was instructed that they had to be filled with soil, left a week or so and then to be returned to the tip for correct disposal. Of course, you can guess what happened…… The tins went back into the garage as we didn’t have time at that point to get them ready for disposal. They are still there, almost 6 months later. We will have to try again in the Spring! Here in our UK town throwing out old paint tins isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine.

  8. I love these mini-missions! It’s odd to share a kitchen with two other adults and one almost adult. I have to keep in mind that just because I don’t use certain items (like the frying pans) doesn’t mean I can donate them. At least two other people do use those frying pans. Le sigh. I will rummage through the cabinets and see if I can find stuff to purge. ^____^

    Off-topic, I have read or commented on this blog in a few months. My health did some crazy stuff and then I got a part time job. It’s been something to adjust to have parts of my days taken up with a “real” job. Makes me glad I spent so much of my jobless time decluttering this place. Otherwise I think I would just have a nervous breakdown. And I’m not saying that lightly or as a joke. >.<;;

    • Hi Rachel,

      I hope your health is getting better! I agree that you did yourself a huge favor investing your time in decluttering beforehand 🙂

      I have the same problem you have with kitchen stuff. I have my husband & 2 adult daughters to consider whenever I want to purge anything kitchen-related. My younger daughter is especially opposed to my decluttering endeavors… BUT she is getting married soon & will have her own household, yippee!!!

    • Hey there, Rachel! I’m sorry to hear about your bad health and hope that you’re feeling much better now. I hope your “le sigh” turns into a le purr really soon.

    • Hi Rachel, I am sorry to hear of your period of poor health and hope it has passed. I am also glad that your state of unclutteredness (just made that word up) saved you from a nervous breakdown when there was so much going on for you.

  9. I put out 2 “FREE” items at the curb today. A chair that I used to use for sitting at my laptop. I now use a stool that my work gave me. It randomly makes itself taller, so I have to adjust it constantly. However, the seat itself is much cushier 🙂 The other item is a sluggish vacuum. It works, just not well. Maybe some enterprising tinkerer will grab it! There is a chance the items will spend the night back in the garage, though, because we are up for some snow.

  10. This is a great list of mini missions. I don’t usually tend to stick with the list, but find that I have been working on projects of a similar type. In this case, I spent a lot of time on Sunday and Monday cleaning out the excess pots and pans, dishes, etc from the kitchen cabinets before your post came out. ;0)

    I’m in good shape on the detergent issue in the laundry room. I make my detergent, and just have one container of store bought. I DO have a quite a few cleaning cloths in the cabinet (microfiber and other) that I haven’t been able to part with yet, though.

    Magazines! I get rid of those as soon as I read them. EXCEPT…….I have a stack of my favorite issues of a certain magazine from WAY back. I have on my list to go thru them again and dispose of them. We have a little snow in N Ga today (USA), so this would be a great day to look at them.
    I don’t really have time for magazines on a regular basis, but I have two friends who kindly give me subscriptions that I’d prefer not to have. 🙂

    I don’t have extra scents or toiletries, but I confess I have a soap fetish, and have a large stash. ;0) I’m not adding to, though!
    I’m working on a use-it-up for shampoos. I have discovered that if I change the one I use every time (of the ones I don’t care for) that they seem to do better.

    Thankfully, my clothes are not squashed, but there’s probably a few things I could get rid of. I hate to shop for clothes and I tend to hang on to those I don’t particularly care for “just in case” I have to wear them. And I usually do at some point. But, I’ve been planning another pass thru on those.
    This will be a good time.

    My garage is a bit of a mess right now because I have my stack of things I am getting rid of out there waiting for a decision of whether to have one more sale myself, or donate it to my friend’s charity. Either way, it will have to sit there awhile.

    Thanks for the missions. It is always good to be reminded of things to be on the lookout for!

    • Hi, Brenda. What do you use to make your detergent?

      • Hi Nicole V!

        I make a liquid and a powder. I tend to use the powder because it lasts so much longer. It has saved a LOT of money on detergents and I can’t tell any difference in the end result. Personally, I think most of the dirt is removed with the agitation of the washing machine.

        Powder detergent:

        1 Bar grated laundry soap or Castile soap. (I have read that regular soaps can leave a
        Residue on clothes. In the USA, we have Zote and Fels Naptha laundry soaps. The
        Zote is a huge, pretty, pink bar and I have at times just used half a bar. I use the
        Whole bar of Fels Naptha. I grate on a hand grater and try not to breathe the dust)
        2 cups Washing Soda (in the laundry section.
        2 cups Borax


        3 T Borax Powder
        3 T Washing Soda
        2 T liquid Dish soap
        8 cups Water

        Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. I keep this in an empty laundry detergent bottle that the cap measures 1/2 cup, so I can easily use either measure.

        I mix this in the following way to prevent hot water from making the plastic jug bulge:
        I put 2 cups boiling water in a 4 cup glass measure.
        add the borax and washing soda and stir till dissolved.
        Add water to the 4 cup mark to cool it down.
        Pour into your empty laundry container.
        Add 4 more cups water to container.
        Lastly, add dish detergent. Then, you can close container and shake to mix. If you don’t add dish detergent last, you get too many bubbles.

        Neither of these recipes may not be any more environmentally friendly than regular detergent, but they are certainly more cost effective!!!!!!

        I don’t know about Australian measures, but I don’t think any of these measures would have to be exact.

        Nicole, I also have a couple of homemade cleaner recipes that I just love, and a window cleaner, if you are interested. I have experimented with MANY over the years, and come up with all these favorites.

        I have my own syst
        1 cup baking soda

        Use 1 TBS per load. If a really dirty load, I use 2.

        I keep 2 batches of this in a large size plastic coffee can with the instructions attached w/ large labels. It lasts a long time. VERY cost effective! The bar laundry soaps are about $1
        And the borax and washing soda are about $4 each, it think, in USD. Baking soda is very cheap.

        • wow, for some reason, the instructions came out all jumbled up!!! Honest, I didn’t write them that way!!! Maybe my old iPad is dying, or at least really sick. The cup of baking soda at the bottom goes with the powder recipe up top, and the “use 1 tablespoon per load”. If really dirty I use 2. Also, the comment about keeping it in a plastic coffee can.

          Where it says, “I have my own syst”………was supposed to be up there above mixing the liquid. I had said I had my own system for mixing!

          That was just really weird.

      • Nicole, before you read my recipes below, read the reply underneath the recipe, or you will think I’ve gone crazy!!!

        • Well…….I tried to “reply” above my recipe, but it didn’t work. What a mess. I should have just retyped the whole thing, although I know you can figure it out, Nicole!!! Anyone with a memory like yours can do jumbles, I’m sure!!!!:)

          • Send it to me Brenda and I will cut and paste it into the original comment. The internet is magic so I can do crazy things like that.

          • Thank you for your patience in providing such detailed instructions, Brenda! I’ve read many instructions in my life (many of which were dry and boring), but yours were, unquestionably, the most fun! 😉 I hear you about how text can get jumbled up … I think it’s technology’s way of having a little fun with humans.

  11. Tanya,
    What a delightful post. I love your “happy box” suggestion.

  12. It has never occurred to me that people might have several laundry detergent bottles stashed in their laundry with just a little left in the bottom. That is until I helped my daughter move. And hers were actually empty and she just hadn’t put them in the recycling. I am too stingy to let that happen at my house. I turn my every near empty bottles of cleaner upside down on the top of the new one so as to take advantage of every skerrick in them. I hate waste and especially wasted money.

    • ‘Skerrick’ – nice word, Colleen.

      • I’ve never heard that word, either. I will have to look it up, too. I assumed it was an Aussie word. I’m in the USA, and I get wonderful amusement sometimes at the Aussie words for things.

        • I have to admit I had to check the spelling because although I have been known to use the word I don’t think I have had reason to write it before now. I got it right on the first attempt but my spell check didn’t like it one skerrick. ha ha!

    • Colleen, my Mother always taught us to put a little water in the last of ANYTHING in a bottle, and shake it, to get out the last drop of it. Just last night, I added water to the last of the dressing bottle to get out the final bit. I do this with ketchup, laundry detergent (before I started making it myself), whatever. If hand cream is in a tube, I cut the tube apart and get out the last bit. The list goes on. I am thankful my Mother taught me so many good things!!!

      • Oh it is good to know other mothers out there know how to teach the kids to be frugal. I think I even exceeded my mother’s standards. I do every thing you mentioned above and some. The ketchup I use in casserole. When I add can’s of anything to recipes that also need water I put the water in the cans and rinse all the goodness out then add it to the mix.
        We use cakes of soap rather than body wash in the shower and I always add the last little bit of each cake to the next one. And I love making curries, casseroles and quiches because I can use up all the little bits and pieces of vegetables in the fridge. The casseroles are great for using up little bits left in jars as well, like pesto, jalapeños, tomato paste, sambal oelek,..
        When we are on vacation I am the one who loves to use up all the coins. During this trip to Germany, where you need coins, usually 50c, to go to the toilet, small change has now been dubbed toilet money. And a trip to the laundromat is a treat, not only because I come away with a load of clean clothes but I have to joy of using up more coins.
        Oh how easily amused I can be. Ha ha!

      • Brenda, My grandmother taught me to do this as well with shampoo, dish and laundry detergent but I had never thought about it for food items. Next time I finish a bottle of olive oil I’ll try putting a bit of vinegar in it as I can never get the last bit of oil out. My grandmother also used to cut her sheets in half when they got worn in the middle and sew the two outside edges together. Since those parts were tucked in under the mattress (well before the days of fitted sheets!) they still had plenty of life left in them.

        • I like the sheet idea, although they would then have a seam down the middle that could be uncomfortable. However next time that happens to my sheets I will be sure to try it out. Once they are unusable for the bed you can then you them as weed matting for the garden.

  13. Skerrick…I had to look it up. I thought maybe it was an Australian expression, but it appears not to be.