Out with the Old: One-Week Decluttering in Just 5-Minutes a Day
By Kim Toscano
The cold, dark days of winter are perfect for indoor organization and getting rid of clutter is the first step. This week-long plan will help you eliminate excess in every room of the house.
Day 1: The Pantry
Time to check expiration dates and throw away food that has expired. Don’t forget about baking supplies. Spices lose potency over time while old baking powder will fail to make your baked goods rise. Move items that will be expiring soon to the front of the shelf, so you use them first. Donate unexpired food items you know you won’t use to your local food pantry.
Day 2: Medical Supplies
Just like cooking supplies, medicines and first aid supplies expire. Proper disposal of medicines and unused prescription drugs is important. Flushing medicines down the toilet can have negative environmental impacts and contaminate drinking water. Many communities collect unused medicines at drug take-back sites. Call your pharmacy to learn about programs in your area. If none are available, consult the FDA website to determine the safest method of disposal.
Day 3: Cull Clothing
Look through your drawers and closet to identify items you no longer wear. This quick culling is meant to address the obvious: shirts that never leave the bottom of the stack, worn-out jeans, and that sweater you haven’t worn in three years. Donate items in good condition to a local charity.
Day 4: Process Paperwork
Despite our best intentions, paperwork tends to pile up. Take a few minutes to sort through the stack, recycling or shredding what you no longer need. File the rest away in its proper location. Consider purchasing a simple mail sorter or letter tray to manage incoming paperwork in the future.
Day 5: The Refrigerator and Freezer
Time to toss out that expired mayonnaise and give condiments a visual inspection. Look for changes in color or consistency. If you don’t use a lot of butter, check the expiration date (old butter can go rancid). Frozen foods may be showing signs of freezer burn, which can reduce quality. Take stock of what you have stored away and try working those items into next week’s meal plan.
Day 6: Linen Closet
It’s surprising what collects behind closed doors. Linen closets conceal the unused and unwanted: old pillows, sheets to the twin bed you no longer have, towels that lost their softness long ago. Linens in good condition can be donated to charity, while pet shelters often need blankets and towels. Give more tattered items a second life as cleaning rags.
Day 7: The Car
Grab a small laundry basket and a garage bag and head outside to clean out the car. Place any items that need to go back into the house into the basket and throw away any garbage. Make sure to leave winter emergency supplies in the car, such as blankets and extra warm clothing. Keep these organized in a small tub. If the weather is warm, now would be a good time to drive to the carwash to clean off all that road salt.
If you are still in the mood to declutter after the first week, make a list of five-minute tasks for yourself. Go through the house room by room or focus on specific items, such as old chemicals or magazine piles. You can easily schedule a week’s worth of five-minute projects to tidy the garage. Just keep each task simple and consider ways of repurposing any items you no longer want or need.