throw it out: six spots to purge now

September 30, 2014

I have too much stuff. Way too much freaking stuff. It’s overwhelming. I’m that borderline sentimental/hoarder who recently realized we live in this amazing home with plenty of room for four people and yet I’m shockingly running out of room. Let’s be honest: it’s not that we don’t have enough space, it’s that we have too much stuff. I think too many of us are guilty of the same. Over the weekend I did a big purge, which not only made me abundantly happy, it got me thinking that we all have at least five pieces we can instantly toss.. now.

Six Places to Purge

Here’s a few tips where to start:

1. Closet: start with the obvious. Get rid of old tees that are in your pajamas section yet you never wear. Throw out older underwear and bras and ill fitting sweatshirts. Donate anything you haven’t worn in at least a year, and be honest with yourself if you’re ever going to wear it again. Donate or sell old purses, shoes and other items gathering dust that aren’t able you to see the gems you really do have. Accessories? I mean why does this Florida girl own at least 15 scarves? Hiding anything at the top or bottom of your closet? I hoard shoe boxes and packaging; time to say goodbye.

2. Bathroom: what’s lurking in that medicine cabinet or under the sink? Toss prescriptions past the expiration date, nail polishes that you haven’t worn in years and any hair tools that you never picture touching your head again. Have towels you never use? Donate, or put them in the garage to use as extras. What about dated make-up? Throw it out.

3. Refrigerator and pantry: sadly, I can imagine there are plentiful studies about the amount of food we waste as a society. Personally, we try really hard to buy based on what we need that week but plans change. Go through your cabinets, read expiration dates, and even check cans. You’ll probably be shocked how long a few of them have been sitting there. Take stock of what you’re tossing so you don’t keep buying.

4. Kitchen Cabinets: this was the source of much purging joy this weekend. The fondue maker still in its original packaging (with notecard!) from our wedding… err, 10 years ago? Considered vintage? What about the beer mugs, odd-shaped serving platters with weird prints, an old-school plastic timer and more cooking utensils than I can count? Did I mention my — not my children’s, mine — awful painted pottery from tipsy girl’s nights out never once used? Garbage.

5. Kid’s spaces: prime purging ground! Get your kids in on the action — my daughter amazingly went through and narrowed down her stuffed animal collection — or do it when they’re in school. Promise, promise, promise you they won’t miss it, or know it’s gone. This also goes for kid’s artwork. We have a wall to showcase recent art, and I recently went through 3 years of art and recycled 100+ pieces. Hurts, but not really: it enables me to focus on the pieces I love. And, did I mention the at least dozen shoe boxes stored in her closet, for let’s pretend, some science project five years from now? Clearly, I’m enabling shoe-box hoarding throughout my home.

6. Random drawers and closets: do you have pens from 1997? Random gross candles with more dust than burned wax? Birthday cards from your 24th birthday…. and you’re 32? Assignments from your college days? Papers and pamphlets, and dated coupons? An old aero bed that likely won’t stay inflated the whole night? What about old decorative pillows you’ve since swapped out? Feel pretty confident that you won’t need these things again. Even if you have the shelf or closet space, toss.


What did I leave off? Books, odd knick-knacks, clipped recipes, your broken iPhone 4 (or your flip phone), boxes from all those techie devices, and things stored in those few random drawers. We know it’s there. I’ll validate that some things are worth saving — my daughter’s first pair of sneaks, my size 12 american eagle jeans from my pre-weight watcher days in  2002, anniversary cards with beautiful messages from my husband, a ‘contract’ my papa made when I was in middle school for us to help around the house, a model airplane my other grandpa made, and a handful more pieces that bring back incredible memories.

Yet everything else? Toss the crap out. It clogs your space, your brain, and you from living a life where you can fully see and soak in the world around you. Special pieces will become undoubtedly even more special when you can display them, see them clearly and focus on what matters. Right now you’re clogging your world. It’s not easy to unclog overnight but take a trash bag and a donation bag and hit one space at a time. A month from now you’ll be glad you did.

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  • TheDecorina

    I so need to do this. I am awesome at buying tools for organizing (bins, tubs, etc.) not so great when it comes to actually sitting down and doing it!

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      Make it happen! You should report back so you’re accountable to someone. :)

  • Lyddiegal

    I can relate. I have so much stuff I don’t know what to do with it. I’m really bad when it comes to saving old cards, so I designated one small box. Now the box is too full. Old shoes I know I’m not going to wear but are from high school and I don’t want to get rid of them… stuffed animals. In a big garbage bag I don’t know what to do with because I will feel like a murder if I throw them away and can’t find any place to donate to.

    It’s a problem.

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      Aww, donate to a children’s shelter where those children don’t have any stuffed animals. If it’s out of your way and you really don’t think about them what value do they have any way?

  • Heidi D.

    Love this list and LOVE a good purge! I think I know what I’ll be doing on this rainy day now that I’ve read this:)

    Heidi D.

  • Dresses and Denim

    Good for you for doing a purge! It’s amazing how much stuff we collect that never even gets used or seen. It just sits around taking up space.

  • ashleigh

    We’ve been purging the kids room for what feels like YEARS. lol.

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      LOL, it’s really never-ending! Vicious cycle.

  • Tara

    I am so bad with my tees…way too many free Jagermeister tees from the bar sitting at the bottom of my drawer LOL

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      LOL, oh my goodness, sorority tees, random college tees, I even have a t-shirt from middle school summer camp! I recently got rid of a ton except 2-3 special ones. It’s tough…

  • Maggie

    I LOVE this post!! I love cleaning out stuff and I am ruthless! This is definitely inspiring to start my fall cleaning spree!


  • Kasey

    Something to note about the old tees and sweatshirts: If the items are too far gone (think stains and holes), check around your local area to see if there is a textile recycling organization/company. I keep a grocery sack in the back of my closet specifically for worn out tees and even socks. When it’s full I’ll make a trip to Union Square (I live in NYC) on Saturdays (8AM - 4PM) to drop off the sack with the GrowNYC stand. It’s worth a shot!

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      HI Kasey: LOVE this idea. Thank you so much for mentioning. There’s definitely pieces that I wouldn’t donate but would love to be more useful. Appreciate you taking the time to comment! — Alyson

  • Katie L

    Alyson, there is so much wisdom in this post! Thanks for sharing your recent success of de-cluttering!
    You’re not alone in this. I think I’ve got numbers 2-6 pretty well under wraps, but its number one that is my issue! I live in a 1600 sq ft 3 bedroom house and I’ve managed to fill all the closets. I know for a fact that families of four live in this size of house comfortably, but I’ve managed to fill it up all by my lonesome-it’s really just shameful.

    One problem I have that I think you’ll relate to is that I have a bad habit of fluctuating anywhere from a size 2 - 6, so consequently I have clothes in three different sizes. I love Weight Watchers and I’ve gotten good at the losing part, but have trouble with the maintaining part. One goal that I am really trying to work on is finding a weight that I can actually stick with, so that I can have clothes in just one size and get rid of everything else :-)

    • AvgGirlsGuide

      HI Katie: think your last sentence is the most valuable. What’s the most realistic weight for your body? I have been and can be lower than I am now, and earlier this year I was about 8 lbs heavier. At the heavier weight I felt a little gross, and well, I love to eat too much to be at my lowest. Where I’m at right now is my ideal, so perhaps that’s what you need to hone in on, too. Get rid of the rest, and in the interim, only keep your favorites in those sizes, not a million options. We rarely wear all of it any way. Keep me posted in your closet purging progression (it’s also really helped me purchase a few items I really felt were missing, and somehow 3 great blouses are better than 15 eh t-shirts)!! :)

      • Katie L

        Thank you so much Alyson this is so spot on! Basically I have this huge phobia of becoming a yo-yo dieter my whole life so I’m trying to take steps now to prevent that from becoming a reality! That’s just way too stressful. I am totally with you…I could weight 10 lbs less but its not worth never eating anything I love haha! It’s a good time in life to find that middle ground and simplify my closet accordingly ;-) I’ll let you know how it goes and thanks for the motivation-it’s nice to have it from someone who has accomplished what I hope to!

  • Kerrie Mitchell Burke

    My random drawers and closets terrify me… TERRIFY me!!!


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