We are in the process of a major home declutter at the moment. Going to garage sales on the look out for renovation materials has given us the idea of having a garage sale of our own. Over the last month, we have been pulling out every drawer, have gone through every cupboard and left no cranny unexamined in the effort to declutter.
It’s certainly a cathartic process, although we haven’t been as ruthless as we could be. Its a slow process of letting go. At each declutter session we say goodbye to one more item that we couldn’t bare to part with last time.
We are pretty frugal, we don’t buy a lot of stuff anymore, but we do have a tendency to hang onto it. I have finally cleaned out clothes that I’ve had since high school (over twelve years ago) and while collecting bubble wrap ‘just in case’ might seem frugal, there’s a point where you can have too much bubble wrap.
And cardboard boxes.
And even books.
5 good reasons to declutter
1. It is good for your health.
Even though a lot of our stuff is packed away in cupboards, it has become incredibly dusty – our decluttering frenzy has been accompanied by a cacophony of sneezing, coughing and spluttering.
It is impossible to clean effectively when there is junk under the bed, the cupboards are overflowing, stuff is stacked in piles on tables and in corners or you display masses of dust collectors. On the other hand, an uncluttered house is much easier to keep clean and if you suffer from allergies or asthma, this is especially important.
It’s not just dust that’s the problem, however. There is also the possibility of mould, damp and insect infestation that can go undetected, hidden from view by clutter, and affecting the quality of your home environment.
Finally, the clutter itself can be affecting the air quality in your home. Plastics, furniture and other common household goods ‘shed’ microscopic particles and omit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other pollutants. In fact, we are often exposed to more air pollution inside our homes than we are standing next to a busy road!
2. It is good for your mental health.
I’m not going to go all Feng Shui on you, but clutter around the home does add extra ‘mind baggage’. It’s hard to relax knowing the turbulence that lies beneath the calm waters of a tidy room. Open a cupboard and waves of clutter break onto the carpet.
Stuff can also clutter our minds with unnecessary emotions: the fear that our stuff will be stolen, lost, damaged or destroyed; the expectation that you have to hold onto gifts, mementos and keepsakes; the burden of being responsible for so much stuff; and the irreverence that comes with the knowledge that you can just go out and get more.
If you’re ever feeling ‘stuck’, bogged down or just down, try clearing out some clutter, it’s amazing how uplifting it can be.
3. You gain more space.
Apparently, the storage industry is booming. Not only are we spending more money on stuff, we are paying someone else to store it when stuff no longer fits in our homes.
Or we use our stuff to justify the need to buy a bigger house.
Either way, it’s a lot of money to pay to keep stuff you don’t use. And if it’s in ‘off-site’ storage then I can guarantee it doesn’t get much use.
The other option of course, is to make more room at home by getting rid of the clutter. Not only do you free up storage space, you no longer need the extra furniture to store stuff (less bookshelves, cupboards, drawers needed etc) which also frees up extra space in your home.
4. You gain more time.
I recently read the book Simplicity Parenting, in which the author argues less is more when it comes to kid’s toys. Apart from the benefits that the author cites such as encouraging imagination, creativity and avoiding that ‘overwhelmed amongst the chaos’ feeling, there is one other benefit…for you. There’s less stuff to clean away at the end of play time. You’re not spending your life picking up toys. Here are a few other time saving benefits of decluttering:
- there is less stuff to organise, put away or keep clean
- it’s quicker to tidy away when ‘there’s a place for everything and everything in it’s place’
- you have less stuff to dust
- there is less stuff to move around when vacuuming
- there are less clothes to wash, iron, fold and put away
- you have less stuff to pack and unpack when moving
5. The possibility of making extra cash on the side.
The whole impetus for our decluttering activity of late is to hold a garage sale and make some cash for our trip to England.
After attending a few garage sales, I’m surprised by how popular they are. This is encouraging, hopefully we can make a little money. 50c earned from unwanted clutter is much better than the dust it is earning now.
And as an added benefit, having a specific reason to declutter is actually good motivation.
It is so much easier to collect clutter than it is to get rid of it. Months and years pass, good intentions to declutter our homes get pushed aside and suddenly we find ourselves with a house full of stuff that is impacting our health, our wellbeing and our finances.
This is the first week of Spring, so what better time to start decluttering? If you’re thinking, ‘yes, but I don’t have time’, tomorrow’s article is about finding the time to declutter.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.