Clutter Overload Part 1: Knowing When & How to Purge

After talking about how organization can save you money, I decided a 2 part series on how I purge and organize was in order. Please feel welcome to include any comments at the bottom of this post about your own routine!


I don’t know about you, but for me, it can be quite overwhelming at knowing where to start when it comes to sorting through clutter and reorganizing your home.

Even if you’ve only lived in a house for 2-3 years, it can be amazing to see how much stuff accumulates. And there’s nothing more telling than packing it up in an alarming number of boxes and moving someplace new!

My mom ingrained organization and de-cluttering in me since elementary school. Each summer, we went through our entire bedroom to sort, donate, and throw away items we didn’t need anymore.

It has since become a habit, and anytime I start to organize a drawer, shelf, or plastic container full of items, I try to ruthlessly purge what I have.

1. Establish a yearly routine

We organized our rooms during summer break, but you can opt to do it during the Spring or Fall in line with a good deep cleaning.

It’s good to establish this specific time, once or twice a year, just so you can contain the clutter and keep it from getting out of control. Otherwise, say hello to paralysis analysis, and it’s much harder to know where to start! I have a tendency to just stare at the mess and analyze it. Yes, I’m weird.

2. Make a list

Create a cleaning, organization, or room-by-room checklist. I think so much better with lists, because it breaks up a huge task into bite size steps.

You can also make a list of the things you need to buy. As I go through my items, I often throw away worn out pieces of clothing, etc that I need to replace. Keeping track as you go will help you be more successful and strategic on your next shopping trip.


3. Be real with yourself

As frugals, we don’t want to throw out items necessarily! But we must sort and purge through items we rarely or never use so we can get that clutter out of our house.

Money Saving Mom suggests you ask yourself these 5 questions as you go through each item. If you can’t remember touching something in more than a year, it needs to go. Or if you have more than one kind of item, only keep your absolute favorite.

I mean, how many black cardigans do we need?

4. Throw away, donate, and sell

Create specific piles, or fill boxes grouped with items to donate or sell, and have a trash bag handy to for throw-aways. 

Can I be a little blunt here? VHS tapes that have recorded TV shows on them should go in the trash. Same with old and saggy undergarments. These should not be given to Goodwill or put in a garage sale. I have seen some really sad things at the local garage sales. Truth.

Items that are still in good condition, should be donated or sold. My favorite places are on Amazon, Craigslist, or in a yard sale, but I”ll dive more into that on Wednesday.

5. Organize what’s left

Start organizing by color, type, item grouping, etc. Invest in some plastic storage containers from the dollar store, and keep your eye open for large totes that go on sale. (Usually the first of the year.)


I will often save shoe boxes if they are in good condition to use as cheap containers so I don’t have to buy any. But don’t let those get out of control either – I only keep 4 or 5 on hand and throw out the rest, even if I just bought a new pair of shoes. Eliminating clutter, remember?

I know it’s super easy to get overwhelmed, so make sure you focus on only one drawer, one shelf, and one pile of clothes at a time.

Don’t be afraid to take a break either. Oftentimes a fresh start after completing a different kind of task, or relaxing for a few minutes with a good book, can give you the charge you need to finish.

How often do you sort through items you need to organize and purge?

Read Part 2 of this series: Where to Donate and Sell Your Items

Here’s a fun post by The Stonybrook House on how to turn cereal boxes into drawer organizers!

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  1. I have been purging for an upcoming move and I have found so many places to donate and sell my stuff. One site I love is you can sell movies and games there plus they’re quick and easy to use! I’d recommend it for anyone going through their media library like we just did.

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