Get Rid of Clutter Once and For All

Updated: September 1, 2023

If you live in a typical household, then you probably have a lot of unnecessary stuff lying around.

Clothes that are rarely worn and just fill up space in the closet. Drawers and shelves overflowing with trinkets and souvenirs from a trip or a party.

There are boxes filled with manuals, old textbooks, used electronics, and broken appliances tucked away in the storage room.

Dozens of plates, mugs, utensils, and dining sets are still waiting to be used after all these years.

Some of them are gifts that nobody wants to throw or give away. Some of them used to be essential stuff, and you’re keeping them “just in case” you need it again.

While most are simply there for sentimental reasons.

All of these things, if you think about it, are stuff that everyone in the house, especially you, can probably live without.


Reasons Why We Keep Clutter and How To Deal With It

“I have so much stuff, and I don’t know where to start.”
I know how you feel because that’s exactly how it felt when I started getting rid of my clutter at home.

The solution is actually to take baby steps – to get rid of the clutter, one item at a time.

“I might need it someday.”
If you haven’t used it for more than a year, chances are you won’t use it ever – so get rid of it and possibly sell it.

When that someday comes, you can probably just borrow from a friend or buy a new one (which is often the case, even if you kept the old one).

“It feels good to see that I own a lot of things.”
If your happiness lies in material stuff, then you have to work on your self-esteem.

Your values, your relationships, your life experiences – these are the sources of true happiness. Remember that you are worth more than your possessions.

“It’s a gift to me.”
If you don’t need it, then get rid of it.

Most of the time, the person who gave it to you won’t notice or won’t care. But if they do and they feel offended, then tell the truth and help them understand your reasons.

I’ve learned that true friendship is not measured by the number of material stuff you give each other, much less by the number of gifts you keep.

It is measured by the love, kindness, and respect you’ve given each other without expectations.

“I’m keeping them for sentimental reasons”
These are the things which remind us of the good, old times. We keep them because they help us remember happy memories.

It is the most difficult to deal with among all the reasons here and one which deserves a separate section.


How To Let Go of Sentimental Clutter

Keep the best anchor.
During a trip to Singapore years ago, I bought a shirt, a keychain, and a ref magnet and took tons of photos as souvenirs.

Months after, I donated the shirt to charity, threw away the keychain when it broke, and eventually archived all the digital photos to my backup disk when I needed more space on my laptop.

I realized that I only needed the ref magnet, which I still use to this day, to remind me of all the good memories I had with my friends during that vacation.

Take a snapshot.
When I graduated from high school, I had my uniform signed by all my friends since we didn’t have a yearbook.

I kept that white polo for many years until the ink started to fade and swell. I got a camera and took photos of all the messages written by my classmates. Then I developed the photos and, later on, scanned and kept them as digital files.

I haven’t seen that uniform since I graduated from college, I think my mother used it as a rag and threw it out eventually. Then I remember tossing the developed photos into the garbage when they gathered mold and mildew.

However, the digital photos that I kept are still bright and vivid, along with the memories that come whenever I look at them.

Give it a new home.
Things need to be used, and from a personified perspective – you’re disrespecting them by just leaving them lying around and gathering dust merely to serve your memories.

Things have a purpose, and they need to fulfill it. Give your stuff to those who need them. Let your things turn over a new chapter and allow other people to create their memories with them.


Get Rid of Clutter Once and For All

Tossing out unnecessary stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time and effort to rid of everything we don’t need. However, I discovered one very simple technique that’s been very effective.

And that is…

For each item you buy, you need to let go of two things you own.

This means when you buy a shirt, for example, then you have to get rid of two items in your closet or drawer. When you buy a pair of shoes, then you have to toss out a couple of things inside your room, and so on.

Give them away or sell them; it doesn’t matter as long as you get rid of them for good.

I guarantee that this will not only declutter your life but will also force you to think twice about buying unnecessary stuff.

How long should you do this? Until all that’s left are just the things you need.

In the end, not only will you be able to save money, but you’ll also create more space for new things and happier memories.

How about you? Do you have any tips on how to get rid of clutter? Please share them below in the comments section.

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Photo credits: sindesign, flutter and barbaramazz


  1. De-cluttering can be tough at times. Even when you haven’t used something for a year, when it comes to getting rid of it you start imagining countless uses for that item and end up holding on to it. I like your rules of thumb, the one year-no-use rule and getting rid of 2 things for every one you bring in…saves one lots of clutter over the long run!

  2. Yearly, a week before Christmas, I have general cleaning at home. I give all those things such as toys, dress, shorts, pants, and other stuff that have not been used for a year. That’s another way of sharing your stuff to the less priviledge. Like for instance, I have rice cooker which I won in a raffle and I haven’t used it for a year, I give this to a close relative.

  3. I am a sentimental person & keeps a lot of souvenirs & stuffs. However, there are instances when i really feel the urge to clean up my room. And in those moments, i care less on the “sentimental items.” Hence, i always take that “once in a blue moon” opportunity to throw/give away as many not-so-much-paid-attention-items as possible. After a while, it will not feel so bad if you see your room tidier. 🙂

  4. horror vacui (/ˈhÉ’rÉ™r ˈvɑːkjuːaɪ/; from Latin “fear of empty space”), also kenophobia, from Greek “fear of the empty”). Most of us have this attitude. When we see empty space in our house, we tend to buy somthing to fill out that space like flower base, corner shelves, and other ornamental stuff. That I think contributes to the clutter in our house.

  5. Does this mean I have to chuck my favorite pair of boxer shorts with the small hole in the seat if I purchase a new pair? Joking aside, my beautiful bride and I are very different on this subject. If I could, all furniture would be suspended by chains from the steel beams in the attic. That way, I could simply slosh cleaning solution around with a mop and pick it with the wet&dry shop vacuum. NO NEED to clean around anything!!

    My wife, however, loves to decorate and periodically, with the change in season, also changes the “look” of our home. To her credit, she displays many beautiful things that really make our home comfortable. Many guests admire her collections that are on display. I approve as long as I am NOT the one who has to clean it all!!!

    Where we always agree: BOOKS !!! Our growing collection of books are super important to us. My wife occasionally uses her current issue nursing text books as one of her reference sources for her academic writing career. She has many interests beyond work, also reading simply for the pleasure of it. I have a trading plan for my option selling that is really almost mechanical. Still, I will occasionally indulge in a new book on markets and trading techniques, sometimes picking up a new idea worth incorporating into my daily stock market activity. I am also rebuilding a collection of “basic training” stock market books for our young troops.

    The COVID-19 crisis prevented us from finishing account opening for local PSE stocks for the kids including ITF (In Trust For) forms for the minors in the home. Rather than miss an opportunity to try out and sample the power of the markets, I invited the kids to work with me a short time at night and then off they went to bed. Before they ever bought, owned or sold a stock in their own accounts, they were trading a few options with me, inside my US based IRA accounts They sort of “passed go” and went on to the advanced stuff.

    At the least, they got a taste of the wealth building potential of the stock market even as the pandemic raged around us. Since I do not want them flying blind, I am building a collection of books that teach all the basics and offer a few methods to do what I do. I hope they will be able to build their own trade plan one day from the foundation we have left to them. I am thinking the secret to the clutter question is to maintain a balance. Owning things of true value is ok but remove that witch is pure junk from your life. The junk gets in your way and slows forward progress.

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