How to Successfully Purge Your Belongings

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in…stuff? I mean items that take up valuable space in your home, closet, or storage area.

It can become a problem quickly and without you even realizing it until after you’re surrounded by belongings you can’t remember why you purchased in the first place. Maybe in the moment just HAD to have it, or maybe it provided some sort of retail therapy, or maybe you had big plans for a piece that simply didn’t fit with your style once you brought it through the front door.

Yeah, we’ve all done it. But how do you undo it? Purging!

Purging is the best way to rid yourself of all the clutter, and the best part is, you can purge in little bits at a time throughout the year, or do one large ordeal. I prefer to purge twice a year, when I switch out clothing/decor in the spring and fall because this is when I really notice when I have too much crap laying around in bins or hanging in my closet that doesn’t get used. It’s ideal for right before a big move, too!

Starting a purge can seem like a daunting, exhausting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Today I’m going to share my easy process for purging that will have you de-cluttering like a pro.

Purchase storage bins

You don’t know the importance of large storage bins or totes until you use them for the first time. I don’t know how I moved so much in the last decade without them, and I’ll never make that mistake again. Purchase bins based on the size of your storage area and love of convenience. Bigger is not always better, because totes can get heavy! Colored bins are nice, but if they’re opaque you have to open them to see what’s inside (which means you might be doing some heavy lifting if what you seek isn’t in the bin at the top) or make sure to label each one.

I purchased five inexpensive bins similar to these from Target, and often you can find them on sale, especially when college begins in the fall. They stack easily and keep your belongings tucked away neatly until you need them again.

Focus on one area first

Looking to purge an entire home all at once can be overwhelming, and makes you quit before you even begin. Instead, look to a single room — or even better — a single section of a room, like a closet or cabinet. Focusing on a smaller area is much easier to tackle and doesn’t make you stress out thinking a job is too big. Doing it this way also allows you to finish that section sooner, giving you satisfaction, which in turn provides more motivation to do more and more. Before you know it, that entire room will be finished!

Separate into piles or stacks

Organization is key when it comes to purging, because the last thing you need is to create one big pile you’ll have to sort through a second time.

When I decide to keep an item, it will stay in its place unless it’s seasonal and needs to be swapped out. However, having “no” and “maybe” piles will help you focus on how much you’re getting rid of and what may need another going over. Just try to keep your “maybe” pile as small as possible. After years of purging, I don’t even have a “maybe” pile anymore!

For me, my “no” pile is a “donate” pile, and I’ll either give my purged items to shops like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, or find a resale shop that benefits a greater cause like a woman’s shelter. And don’t forget animal shelters, which typically accepts gently used blankets and towels, or libraries, which sells used books to help keep operations running. Donations also give you the opportunity to receive a tax refund, too.

Trash or treasure?

Once you have your “no” pile all set to go, give everything a quick review to make sure it doesn’t belong in the garbage. Things you should trash are items that are broken, stained or soiled beyond help, or incomplete. These pieces are not going to be someone else’s treasure, and they should be pitched. If you think it’s junk, someone else will, too.

Items that can be sold or donated should be as close to new as possible and sanitary. They are belongings you’ve outgrown, don’t enjoy anymore, have no use for, or just don’t want taking up space any longer.

The “have I used this in the past 6 months” and “will I use it in the next six months” method

My end all thought when it comes to getting rid of something. I always revert back to this, and usually the answer to the question makes the decision for me. Obviously in some cases, like seasonal items, pieces can be omitted because of course you’re not going to wear that tank top from October to May (if you’re in Michigan, or a climate zone similar to it). But in general, if I go a summer without wearing a certain top, pair of shorts, or skirt, that’s usually a sign that I probably won’t wear it next summer, either. Into the donation pile it goes. Ask yourself the question when you’re struggling on a piece and be honest with yourself.

I rarely regret purging decisions when I use this method!

What about sentimental items you just CAN’T get rid of?

I’m incredibly sentimental, so I typically run into this issue when I purge, even when I ask myself the 6 month question mentioned above. And one of two things happens: I either keep it for another few years before I find I’m finally ready to part with it, or I make sure it’s in my possession but well-kept and out of the way if I don’t want it on display (see: storage bins). Odds are, everyone has at least one thing they’re seriously attached to, and it’s okay if you never get rid of it!

And there you have it. My foolproof way of successfully purging items in your life that you just don’t need anymore! It’s such an incredibly freeing feeling once you’re done, and your sanity will thank you for it.

What are your personal tips for purging? I’d love to hear in the comments!

—K

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn’s fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander

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