Consumer Reports

What You Need to Know to Clear Your Clutter Once and For All

Tips on letting go of items that are taking up space in your home

NBC Universal, Inc.

No matter if you live in a studio, one bedroom apartment or large house with many rooms, you might feel overwhelmed by your stuff. From cleaner closets to better basements and attics, the experts at Consumer Reports can help you clear the clutter once and for all.

The first and hardest step is getting ready to let go, so starting with a small project will actually make you feel lighter and propel you into tackling the bigger projects. And three questions can help you get a jump-start:

  1. Do I really need it?
  2. Can I easily replace it?
  3. If I’m not using it now, will I want it in five or 10 years?

If you haven’t used it, get rid of it. If you can replace it in under 20 minutes for under 20 dollars, there probably won’t be much regret if you toss it. 

People get tripped up with items they have in storage and worry that they’re going to want to use them again. The best thing to do is to set some simple ground rules, like “I’m going to throw out all magazines that are 6 months old,” or “I’m going to throw out every blurry photograph.” And you can also say a mantra like “use it or lose it” or whatever else is going to help you move through your stuff faster.

Some more pro tips: Don’t touch the items you’re considering throwing away. Instead, have a friend or a professional organizer hold them up for you. That way, it’s easier to let go.

For photos and heirlooms, keep what’s precious. Pick just a very few that have the most meaning and get rid of the rest. Those things are going to have so much more value for you.

Finally, ask yourself whether you want to donate items or make some money from your junk.

CR says disposing of things like paint, batteries, lightbulbs, insecticides and other household chemicals can harm people and the planet. Many communities offer to pick up hazardous materials. You can also check out for places that accept such household waste.

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