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Ditch or Donate: Our Plan for Decluttering & Organizing your Home

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Spring has finally sprung (ish), which means it’s time for baseball, taxes and, you guessed it, spring cleaning. It’s time to organize your home, declutter those spaces, and get ready for summer living.

Far from focusing on the typical scrub-and-dust spring cleaning tips, we’re here to talk about dealing with a more nefarious beast lurking in everyone’s place: STUFF. And if you’re like us, you have a lot of it lying around.

We’ve covered the do’s and don’ts of decluttering your life before, but now we’re going to move to phase two of that effort, which is how to act on moving all that clutter out of your house – moving the Stuff out of sight, out of mindforever.

Most decluttering and spring cleaning tips are too darn complex. When the mere act of planning to declutter overwhelms you to the point of inaction, something ain’t workin’. We’re not going to walk you through the meaning of Marie Kondo’s psychoanalysis of your belongings’ (props to Maria on her book. +A for effort). We’re not going to give you comprehensive checklists for each and every room, and each and every item. No, this is about making your spring cleaning and decluttering easy, which, frankly, starts with some hard choices.

So we’re going to make your choices simple: Ditch or Donate. That’s it. We’re not asking you to organize anything here. Just focus on the core rooms you’re going to tackle and to follow a system that will help you make decisions quickly. So grab two big boxes and label them, you guessed it: Ditch and Donate. (And for the record, “ditch” also means recycle!)

We’re going to focus on just three locations: Bedrooms, Kitchen and those pesky storage areas like closets, the garage, and your basement. Let’s get to it!

Organizing the Bedroom

Let’s start with where you sleep. The places you sleep should support your efforts to get as much of it as possible, and excess stuff can get in the way of this. Your bedroom is not the place to bunk up with your clothes and shoe collection, spilling out onto the floor or stuffed into hastily purchased storage containers.

Your bedroom likely contains dressers and closets, which mostly contain…clothes. Let’s start there.

Decluttering Clothes & Shoes

Clothes and shoes are the hobgoblins of any good decluttering effort, so there a good place to start. Time for radical acceptance – you can easily ditch most of what you have.

Damaged boots you haven’t worn in years? leather jacket your girlfriend hates? The corduroy blazer with leather elbow patches that makes you feel like a novelist living in New Hampshire (and you’re not actually a novelist living in New Hampshire?) Unless there’s a true emotional connection, or you plan to wear it to work or date night, these are things to part with. 

Forget you had it or haven’t worn it in a year? Put it in one of the two boxes – that’s the deal. 

But this is the easy stuff.

Next, go drawer by drawer and look at old t-shirts you swear you’ll wash the car in one day, or sweet shorts you want to wear in your co-ed softball league. These items are typically tied to future, happy things you want to do and never get around to – a skill at which humans are particularly bad. Don’t let these future plans in fabric form anchor down your dresser and contribute to room clutter. 

Switching Out Seasonal Clothing

If you live in a climate where you swap clothes out during the winter to account for changing weather, you can likely use that extra space from spring till late fall. This is the one break with Ditch or Donate you’re allowed to make – one that actually allows for some extra storage (which we’ll talk about more in a bit). There’s no good reason to store offseason clothes, boots, hats, gloves, and even skis in your bedroom through the warmer seasons. So set these aside and plan to find some high-quality storage bins.

Dealing with Mattresses

We sleep in our beds and so we believe they hold some cosmic value over time (wait, could they actually be worth more than when I bought them?). If your mattress is old, and it’s been through a particularly aggressive winter Netflix binge fest, it may be time to Ditch or Donate. Don’t know which is best? We’ve got you covered

Ditch:

  • Old, stained mattresses, sheets, pillows
  • Deteriorated clothes and shoes
  • Broken hangers
  • Damaged jewelry or jewelry you never wear

Donate: 

  • Clothes that aren’t torn, damaged, or stained, are great options for donations. Put them in that box and don’t look back.
  • Dated furniture

Organizing the Kitchen

Next, we’ll move to where you store, cook and eat food. This is a busy place and, let’s be frank – kind of a workshop of gear and tools and sharp knives and weird Christmas gifts from your grandmother who wants to pass all the family recipes on to you.

Blender you used once to make a smoothie, then realized you didn’t have enough milk and gave up? Food processor you bought after new years? A food dehydrator or grilled-cheese maker you swore you’d use every day if you just had it? We’ve all had them and they all take up valuable space. These are the first to go. If they’re gently used, you may be able to make up some of the profits by selling them online, otherwise they’ll need to be donated. 

Next, go through your drawers and cabinets. Keep an eye out for unnecessary duplicates, pantry items you’ve never used (and likely never will), and cheap cooking tools that barely function now anyway. 

Ditch:

  • Damaged or rusted pots and pans
  • Tupperware with missing lids
  • Chipped plate and glassware
  • Broken appliances or damaged utensils
  • Spices and mixes older than a year
  • Expired food
  • Dated freezer food

Donate:

  • Mismatched pots and pans, glasses, utensils, and plates
  • Functioning appliances you never, ever use

Organizing Your Storage Areas 

The garage, basement, and those black hole closets are often just spaces for dirty, dangerous and poisonous stuff you’re pretty sure can’t be left in your living room, supplemented with holiday decorations and the occasional power tool. With the right storage options (tight closing lids that are free from damaging moisture, insects and temperature fluctuations), they can be your best stow-away spots. But that does not mean they’re immune from the Ditch or Donate process.

Ditch:

  • Broken lawn furniture or appliances
  • Old or broken tools
  • Paint
    • If it’s past a certain date, the paint probably isn’t good anymore. Be sure to take a picture of the lid and color numbers, then dispose of it per local regulations.
  • Painting equipment (brushes, pans, rollers)
  • Rusted or damaged grills
  • Dated files and paperwork

Donate:

  • Old holiday decorations
  • Used sporting equipment
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Functional power tools or lawn equipment you no longer need or use
  • Kids bikes, toys, and furniture
  • Boxes of books
  • Dated lawn and patio furniture

Furniture

A word on furniture. Every year, we seem to acquire more furniture, and yet very little seems to go back out the door to compensate.

We can also often keep furniture because, well, it’s big and we don’t know what to do with it. Can you donate it, throw it away? What do all those things cost? And, uhhh, how do I get it there? 

If you’re considering swapping or adding furniture this year, consider the following:

Help Moving your Stuff: Storage & Transportation 

Storage

There are going to be some things, in the end, that you don’t want to ditch or donate, but also don’t have a place for in the everyday routines of your life, like your fake Christmas tree and your collection of weathered winter boots. If there are items outside those practical, seasonal clothes you just can’t bear to part with, resist the urge to just stuff it all back in the closet, junk drawer or garage (where fabric items can suffer damage from moisture and temperature changes, even when properly boxed). Instead, consider renting a secure, climate-controlled storage unit.

If you don’t have space in your place and don’t have a garage, even the smallest storage units can help clear your gear. Typically around  5 x 5 – which can hold a dresser, a mattress, and a bunch of boxes for storing off season clothes – these tiny walk-in closets can cost just $50-60 bucks a month. All you have to do is figure out how to transport it.

Which brings us to: How the heck are you going to move all this stuff?! 

Transporation

Glad you asked. Turns out, we’re experts in the area of moving help, and make it painless and affordable. Now that you have your Ditch & Donate boxes full to the brim, you have some great options for what to do with them:

  • For larger donation items and drop-offs, Dolly can help deliver to your favorite donation center. We’ll take it to Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, or any small or local locations (we’re big fans of ARC Thrift in Denver, Brown Elephant in Chicago, and Lifelong Thrift in Seattle). 
  • Just need a helping hand to get it from your house to the truck, and unloading on the other end? Yep, we’ve got you covered. Our helpers regularly assist with labor-only moves.
  • Unsure about how much that floral print upholstered couch will take to move? Use our fast quote tool.
  • Ready to move your Ditch and Donate boxes now? Book a Dolly online or through our mobile app.
  • Still have questions about the process? Check out our FAQ.

No matter what you need, we can hook you up. Fast. So get yourself organized this year. Start that decluttering process now, and be brutal in your decision making.

Let us do the heavy lifting.

Dolly helps you move on your schedule and at an affordable price. Book now and see the difference: https://dolly.com.

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