The 80-20 rule: On average only 20% of household items are used. The remaining 80% hangs around gathering dust.
Are you sick of constantly tripping over toys, piles of unworn clothes and things-that-really-should-have-been-put-away-weeks-ago? Then maybe like us, you need to have a serious declutter.
Reducing the living room
• Non-sentimental ornaments and several dusty candles. If you want less to dust, these should be the first things to go.
• DVDs you've not watched in 12 months. Most of us now subscribe to streaming services and have access to almost any popular film at the touch of a button.
• Books you've only read once. Ebook readers are cheap and hold an almost infinite number of "single read" books, and more importantly take up a fraction of the space.
Reducing the kitchen
• Any utensils you have doubles or triples of. Peelers, can and bottle openers and scissors are common offenders.
• Takeaway tubs are often saved for storing leftovers. Most are recyclable, so throw out any you're unlikely to use.
• Unused, or unnecessary gadgets. Lot of gadgets are bought on a "wow, what a great idea" whim and will be used once and never again. These can go.
• Baking trays and cookie cutters. As with everything, just keep the essentials - you don't need cutters for every dinosaur, letter, geometric shape, etc.
Reducing the bathroom
• Half-used disposable razors. Bin.
• Any lotions and potions that had been opened and used once, but never again. Only stock pile it works out cost effective and doesn't have an expiry date, e.g. bulk loo roll. We don't even buy toilet roll any more, instead we make our own reusable toilet paper. This saves both space and money.
• Towels. You only need a few towels, and perhaps a spare for laundry day.
• Bathroom cleaning items. Bleach can be used in place of almost all bathroom cleaning products. One bottle for lots of jobs, rather than lots of bottles for just a few jobs.
Reducing the bedroom
• You only need two nice bed sets. One to wear on the bed, while the other is being washed. Donate old bed sets to animal shelters, or cut them up to make a rag rug or draught excluder.
• Clothes take up so much space. Turn all your hangars the same way, and each time you wear an outfit, put it back with the hanger the other way around. If after six months there are any clothes that haven't been worn donate them to charity.
• Clear out your bedside draws: shopping receipts, pens, and chargers for old phones and cameras. If it's been chucked in a draw, and not touched for the last year or two it really isn't needed any longer.
• There is scientific proof that the more electronic devises you have in your bedroom the more likely you are to suffer from broken sleep or even worse, insomnia. Your bedroom should be for sleeping only and as a safe sanctuary to wind down and develop your bedtime routine. Get rid of the TV (save that for downstairs time), ditch the games console (take that downstairs too... but only if it's played). Same goes for children and their bedrooms.
And as for the rest...
• Garages, cupboards and outhouses are the perfect place for practicing the 'Out of sight, out of mind' rule. There may be lots of items hidden away that you forgot you had, and if you forgot you had it, there is a near certainty that you don't need it in your life.
• Babies grow up, and if you know you don't want to extend your family any further it's time to clear out those tiny baby clothes. I've just done this and I did cry... a lot. So many memories were held in those tiny items, but there are more babies in the world that can wear them and create more memories for other new parents. I have photos of the kids in those special clothes that I can always look back on and reminisce. Baby bouncers, walkers and breast pumps all hold the same rule. If you are not interested in making money from those items, stick them onto Freecycle and give another family a helping hand.
• Garden tools, plastic plant pots and garden toys quickly gather cobwebs in the shed and turn to rust. If you no longer use them, because you have no need for three garden forks (etc etc) donate them to local community gardening clubs or allotments.
To read more about decluttering and for a more in depth version of this post, visit www.thenewhousefamily.co.uk. The Newhouse Family regularly blog about frugal living, money saving and living a self-sufficient lifestyle.