Decluttering challenge: 31 days of letting go of clutter

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Want a clear out but don’t know where to begin? Try this challenge to gradually overhaul your space over the course of the month.

If you want to create space in your home and get rid of some unnecessary clutter, try tackling a little bit every day. This challenge for the month of January will leave you feeling lighter and brighter by the time February rolls around.

Day 1 — shoes you can’t walk in

Do yourself a favour and put those skyscrapers and boots that pinch into a bag for the charity shop. Maybe those shoes will suit someone else’s feet, but don’t let them near yours again.

Day 2 — souvenir clothes

Unless it is of particular sentimental value, like a t-shirt from your first ever marathon (go you!), you don’t need to keep the t-shirts from fun-runs or charity fundraisers everyone accumulates over time. Save room for sportswear that actually looks nice on you instead!

Day 3 — cheap, dull knives and tools you hate using

Everyone has their favourite knife they use every time they cook, but for some reason, every cutlery drawer is overflowing with useless knives, dodgy can openers and other utensils that aren’t fit for purpose. Do a clear out, so you can see what you have and know what you need.

Day 4 — books you’ll never read again

We all accumulate books, from airport shopping sprees to the ‘bestseller’ we had to get our hands on, but how many of them will you actually pick up again? Gift or donate those unwanted books, particularly if you think someone else may enjoy them.

Day 5 — worn sheets and scratchy towels

Cut them up to use as rags for cleaning, but don’t let old, bedraggled sheets and towels bring down the look and feel of your bedroom and bathroom. See if your local animal shelter can use your tired old towels and bed linen. In the meantime, it’s worth investing in comfortable fabrics and towels you will want to wrap yourself up in. A small but important self-care move!

Day 6 — mismatched containers

Unless your tupperware and lunchboxes have a box and a lid, they need to go. All those ones you’ve been holding onto till you find its corresponding top are just taking up a lot of space and serving no purpose.

Day 7 — old skincare and beauty products

You may have invested a lot of money in it because of some great reviews, but those pots of moisturiser lying half-used in your cabinet are probably crawling with bacteria now. And if you didn’t love using it then, you’re probably not going to want to use it again anytime in future. And all these products have use-by dates remember.

Day 8 — chipped mugs and ware

You’d hate if you accidentally gave a guest a chipped teacup or plate with a crack in it, so why are you willing to put up with using them yourself? You can try re-purposing chipped crockery as plant pots or smash it and use to make a mosaic if you’re feeling crafty (or angry!). Overtime bacteria can get into these cracks, so you really don’t want to be making do with dodgy plates and bowls.

Day 9 — forgotten condiments

Chances are you bought something for a recipe and forgot it, or went through a major sriracha phase but are over it now. Don’t let these bottles hog valuable fridge space.

Day 10 — jewellery you’ll never wear again

From tarnished high street jewellery you’re never going to enjoy wearing again, broken bits and earrings missing their partners, do a clear out of all the costume jewellery you have been stashing for no reason.

Day 11 — clothes that don’t fit

Whether you’ve gained weight or lost weight, don’t let your old clothes haunt you. If it doesn’t fit you now and won’t for a while, let it go to make room for what will flatter you now.

Day 12 — old pens

We all have pens stashed throughout our homes, but when we want one that works there’s none to be found. Take five minutes to scribble with them all and ditch the ones that have had their day.

Day 13 — gimmicks

From the waffle maker you used once to the novelty alarm clock you received as a gift, passing on those products to someone who will love them is much better than having them lie idle in your cupboard.

Day 14 — underwear that you wouldn’t want to be seen in

We’re not saying you should only have sexy underwear, but you would be embarrassed to be caught wearing tired old bras, knickers with broken elastics, and tights with runs in them. Do a clear out so that your underwear drawer only has pieces that are fresh and ready to go.

Day 15 — boots and runners scuffed beyond repair

If there’s no saving them and they have had their day, get rid of them. There’s no point holding on to footwear that’s not fit for purpose, and if you can’t get the soles replaced, than it’s definitely time to let them go.

Day 16 — the drawer of wires and chargers and attachments you never use

We all have one good charger, but probably are stashing several dodgy cables and spare plug heads just in case. You don’t need them, clear them out.

Day 17 — the spare, back-up clothing items you hold onto just in case

You can only wear one of the same item at any one time. But we all hold onto old coats, gym shoes, jeans and hoodies longer than we should, just in case our newer, preferred one is out of use. Just get rid of the spares. How stuck are you really going to be? It’s not as handy to have as you are telling yourself it is, it doesn’t look or feel good any more and it is taking up a lot of space.

Day 18 — takeaway menus

Most places you get food delivered from will have an online menu, and really those pamphlets that come through your letterbox are just designed to tempt you. So pop all those unnecessary leaflets in the recycling. Chances are you know your favourite dishes off by heart anyway.

Day 19 — cookbooks

Cookbooks are beautiful but how many of the recipes do we turn to again and again? Keep the cookbooks you love, and photocopy the one or two recipes you actually use from the rest.

Day 20 — cards

Of course, some cards have sentimental value. But there’s no need to hang on to generic ones with simple messages.

Day 21 — old receipts

Create a digital copy of the ones you need, and dump the rest.

Day 22 — extra buttons

When have you ever actually gone about using the spare buttons that come with all the clothes you buy? Clear out that stash, you’re never going to use them.

Day 23 — clothes you don’t love

If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it.

Day 24 — old clothes for painting/gardening

We all hold onto old clothes to wear on the days we might make a mess. But chances are you wouldn’t be caught dead in them otherwise and that you also have plenty of other options you can wear. Unless you’re currently in the middle of doing up your house, you probably don’t need outfits just for painting.

Day 25 — old letters, diaries and calendars

We can be loathe to let go of paperwork but how often do we refer to old notes and journals and that? We accumulate so much paperwork, it is important to clear it out intermittently.

Day 26 — knicknacks

Unless you really really love that fridge magnet or ornament, let it go. Often we buy these things on a whim while on holidays or receive them as gifts, but if it doesn’t mean a lot to you it’s no harm to get rid of it. You will probably enjoy your clearer space more.

Day 27 — old handbags

You really only need a bag for day-to-day use and an option or two for nights out. If you’re holding onto an old handbag just in case, it’s probably too grubby to save and not relevant to your current style. Let it go and focus on keeping your current favourite in good nick.

Day 28 — obsolete gadgets

Broken old mobile phones, dated music players and old laptops really serve no purpose once they’ve been replaced. Find out where you can have them properly recycled rather than having them lie in a drawer unused.

Day 29 — anything belonged to your ex-anything

Old boyfriend’s t-shirts, ex-best friend’s gifts, former flatmate’s forgotten belongings — clear them from your space rather than letting old memories haunt you.

Day 30 — dying plants

You tried and you failed to keep it alive, so send it to its final resting place rather than intermittently trying to revive it.

Day 31 — gifts you hate

This is a controversial one, but you shouldn’t hold onto a gift that simply wasn’t right for you. Holding onto it will only leave you feeling annoyed, and it may create a confusing impression. Only have the things you enjoy in your life and it will ensure people get a better idea of you as a person. Now is the time to do a clear out of the clutter that accumulated in December.

You did it! Hopefully your home will feel a little cleaner and more spacious, and you’ll feel a bit lighter having eradicated some of the clutter in your home.