I have a confession to make; I’m a minimalist.
I like open space and clean walls & floors. I am a serious advocate of the 40 hanger closet. My house was even featured on a minimalist blog.
Sometimes I think I may be attempting a lifestyle, ie. Homesteading, that isn’t necessarily compatible with Minimalism. I read lots of books and blogs and articles that say to keep everything that may be potentially useful. But I just can’t. I’ll trade it off, or donate it, or recycle it, but I can’t leave a bunch of stuff laying around just in case I may need it in ten years. Clutter makes me crazy.
One of the ways I avoid clutter is to simply buy less stuff. Once I became aware of just how much I was spending on disposable, frivolous, unnecessary junk, not buying got a whole lot easier. In some ways, my desire to homestead has it’s roots in some of the precepts of minimalism; buy or keep just what you need, live simply, focus on relationships, experiences, and your impact on the planet. If you begin to explore sustainability and minimizing your footprint, you are eventually gonna end up at self-sufficiency. Hence homesteading. But I digress. Today we’re talking about a “Clean” start for 2019. Really – I promise.
End of Year Cleaning
I can never wait for Spring to do that deep clean. I do end-of-the-year cleaning. Something about putting away Christmas decorations kicks off an urge to purge, which I generally indulge. It’s nice to start off the new year with a pristine, clean, decluttered house. It makes me happy.
You’d think since I’m a minimalist, I wouldn’t have much to purge. But clutter is sneaky stuff; it will pile up in closets and cabinets before you even know its there. It happens when I get lazy; I don’t edit when I bring new things in. Or I do a project and don’t take the time to farm out the left over supplies. Sometimes, it just gets pushed to the back of a drawer and forgotten about. But it’s always there: lurking, filling up space, and eventually creating work. Because stuff requires work; organizing, cleaning, repairing, etc. More Stuff = More Work.
Things to Get Rid of Right Now
If you’re thinking “I don’t have stuff to purge,” I bet you’ll be surprised if ya really look. Here’s a short list of the things I at least go through periodically.
- Cosmetics – most have a shelf life of 3-12 months. So don’t keep it just in case. If it’s too old, throw it out. Your skin & eyes thank you.
- Clothing – If it hasn’t seen the light of day in 12 months, donate it or sell it. You aren’t going to wear it. Really. Same for shoes. Also any clothing that is torn, stained, or otherwise unwearable should be repurposed or recycled.
- Cleaning supplies – for example, the Pumpkin Spice counter cleaner I inadvertently bought this year. (Countertops that smell like a PSL ain’t right, ya’ll.)
- Old media – CDs, DVDs, old video games.
- Old devices – its OK to let go of that flip phone and Tandy Computer.
- Photos – remember the school photo “packs?” No one needs to save 10 copies of those fourth grade school pictures. Same for almost any photos without people in them. One mountain photo is fairly indistinguishable from the next. Clean ’em out!
- Office supplies – pens that don’t write, dried out highlighters, paperclips, pencils, erasers, etc. I want enough on hand, but these things get carried home in pockets or purses & then pile up.
- Expired food products – almost all food out-dates. Canned goods, baked goods, bottles of condiments, jellies, sauces, etc. I’m fairly diligent about this, and still hauled out a kitchen bag full of expired food when I cleaned out the cupboards and fridge.
- Plastic grocery bags – take these to a bag recycling center, which can be found at Walmart and other large grocers. Plastic bags must be recycled separately from regular plastics.
- Excessive wrapping paper or gift bags – its nice to have a few on hand, but some can go
- Magazines, newspapers, junk mail, old paperwork – keep records you need to taxes, such as receipts.
- Decor items no longer in use – if it’s been stuck in the closet, chances are good that is where it’s gonna stay forever.
- Mismatched plastic or storage ware, extra plates, glasses, water bottles, etc.
- Seasonal decorations – once upon a time, we had SO. MUCH. CHRISTMAS STUFF. It took days to get it all put out, and days to put it all back. Now I look back and wonder what the hell I was thinking. These days we have one tree, stockings, two Christmas pillows, and a centerpiece to put on the table. It takes less than an hour to put up or take down. It’s still pretty and festive, but so much less work and stress.
- Garage stuff – some of this stuff is legit; tools, lawnmowers, etc. But the dried paint, old sports gear, and “stored” items bear scrutiny. And a few times a year, it never hurts to really clean the garage, too.
- Digital life – extra email accounts, social media, FB Groups , forums, etc. If you aren’t using them, close the accounts. Open, unused accounts put you at risk of being hacked. If you are “always on,” paring down your online presence can give you back hours of your life.
Clean as You Go
While going through closets and cabinets, I also keep a general purpose cleaner and rags handy. So I sort and I clean. Then when I’m done, I’m back in my minimalist happy zone and the house is deep-cleaned. I can usually finish this up in a weekend. However, we are empty nesters with a small house, and have cut way back on stuff, anyway.
If you think you might give it a shot, just remember it’s not a race, and it doesn’t have to happen by a certain deadline. But with some persistence, you can do it! You may find that minimizing some of your stuff can be a good thing. If you need some encouragement or direction, consider joining the Decluttering Challenge at Nourishing Minimalism. It’s where my minimalist journey officially started!