Purge and Declutter

Over the past few months, I’ve been on a slow and steady declutter. I was initially inspired by Cait at Blonde on a Budget. She’s removed 70% of her belongings over the last year. While excellent in principle and it has certainly worked for her, it was too extreme for my taste. I took a more tempered approach.

I didn’t want to go too fast. I am a hoarder in nearly every sense of the word. The only part I’m missing is where my stuff because a hazard to myself and others. I also have intense connections to seemingly meaningless things. I have a habit of tackling projects too big, getting overwhelmed and leaving stacks of crap in piles. I wanted this to be different and permanent.

I started with my closet in June. A very good place to start.

Off to Goodwill

Through the purge, I got rid of a little of everything. Lots of clothes, several stuffed animals, and a purse. I also got rid of a blender, a few hangers and some office gear.  I hadn’t looked at this picture since that first purge and I’m happy to report that I haven’t missed a single item.

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Dirty hangers.

A side effect of cleaning out my closet was realizing that my hangers all had a nasty sticky film on them. In to the tub with you! To combat this nasty sticky film in the future, I opened and hung up two “keep dust off” closet organizers. It will be interesting now to see how much I wear the items I can’t see.

After the closet, I tackled the bathroom. There was a lot of organizing to be done, but I wasn’t compelled to get rid of much. Most of the stuff I had was good, but I had too much of it. Instead of trashing it only to buy more in the near future, I vowed to use up all the bottles in my bathroom.

In July, I encountered a major set back. My darling sister decided she no longer wanted any toxins in her home. She took the band-aid approach and decided to get rid of all of the “toxins” at once. She got rid of a LOT. Nearly all of this stuff was essentially new.

My house is full of extra toxins now.

As the designated hoarder in the family, I took most of it. Some of it found a new home. But most of it is still mine. I have a lot of “using up” to do. I’m not going to be buying any household products for a long, long time.

Over the month of August, I started to rethink how I do things around the house.  I’m practicing refusing bags and paper when presented. I also started planning alternatives for items that my household uses regularly.

For example:

  • I was initially inspired to adopt the “no poo” method for cleaning my hair. However lately, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for this approach and instead I’m planning to buy shampoo in bulk from my local co-op.
  • I’ve started collecting my organic matter in a separate container (gallon ice cream bucket) away from the trash.  This allows me to go longer between taking the trash out and prevents pests in my apartment. I’ve yet to start composting my organics. Baby steps.

Overall, it’s been a fun process. I enjoy challenging how I do things while minimizing the amount of stuff I own. The less time I spend maintaining my stuff, the more time I’ll have to enjoy everything else.

Progress, progress.

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12 comments

    1. It’s been a fun project to slowly make my home more enjoyable to be in. Less crap is good. As for the organics, I’m still dumping them in the trash. Having them in a sealed ice cream bucket lets it do its own thing without the smell or the bugs. I take it out about once per week. Whereas I can now take out the regular trash like once every few weeks.

  1. Nice! This seems like more than baby step progress! Also, if you are overwhelmed with products, most shelters will take full bottles off your hands. We did a lot of donating when we did the “toxin” purge.

    1. Good to know on the shelter donation. I expect I’ll get through most of it. I did get 4 bottles of hair spray and I already had 3. I just can’t use up the stuff! Perhaps I’ll just bring it to work and leave them at the “free” table.

  2. Congratulations! It can be so hard to get rid of things we have a strong connection to but I find it really freeing to live with less clutter. The balance is tricky to achieve, though!

    Just wanted to comment to suggest buying flour sack dish towels to replace paper towels as a future strategy to do things differently around the house. I’d never heard of them until I got a set as a gift at my wedding shower about seven years ago and haven’t looked back! I got so tired of spending money on paper towels (not to mention feeling guilty since they’re so terrible for the environment) that I decided to just use these flour sack towels for everything I would have used paper towels on! I use the cleanest ones for drying dishes or wiping down countertops that are mostly clean, then I use them to clean windows, for a deep clean of the counters or stove, or stains on the carpet, etc. Then I wash them and start all over! If they start looking really dirty (which they always do, since they are white and I use them to clean everything, even coffee or berry stains) I might lightly bleach them. I maybe do that every other year, since I don’t love using harsh chemicals. Now I buy a new set of four every few years! The old ones get ‘retired’ to clean the bathroom – not willing to mix cloths that clean the bathroom with any other part of the house!

    My husband insists on keeping one roll of paper towels on hand for things that involve grease – cooking bacon, blotting pizza, etc. We probably buy one roll a year (more if we have out-of-town guests who aren’t used to the towel system and think they are ‘messing up’ the towels by using them to clean dark stains!). Honestly the transition was so easy I can’t believe more people don’t do it!

    Sorry for the length of this post, I just really love not using paper towels anymore and think anyone could do it!

  3. I’m in the same spot but we’re getting ready to move. I have slowly been going room by room and really reviewing each item and deciding if we really need it. I also find it hard when I am emotionally attached to something. It’s a really long process to declutter a house and we have only been here 6.5 years. Imagine being in a house 30 years!
    Good luck, sounds like you are making good progress!

    1. Getting ready to move is a great motivator. Don’t stick too long on one area. Just keep rotating (but clean up, of course!) You’ll get through it.

      Hubs and I have been “getting ready to move” since we moved in together 4 years ago. We keep thinking this apartment is temporary. I wonder when that will stop because we haven’t moved yet!

  4. I should be de-cluttering right now! Sigh. It is more fun to watch someone else do it. lol
    I tried to go no shampoo – i know people have had great success with it but I couldn’t do it. I might try again one day but I couldn’t go through the weeks of my hair getting used to life without detergents. I was using the baking soda/ cider vinegar approach.

    1. I will declutter more for you! My place still has a ways to go.

      My hair is long and I’ve read that no poo doesn’t work with long hair. I’m nearly out of shampoo now. I’m going to try the bulk shampoo at the co-op. One less bottle to recycle FTW!

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