If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve accumulated junk over time – old furniture, broken appliances, and items you no longer need seem to accrue with or without your knowledge. On a daily basis, it may not interfere with your life much (unless it’s physically in your way), but it’s going to become an inconvenience sooner or later. You might run out of storage space, you might move (and need to get rid of the junk), or you might just feel worse about your home because of the clutter.
In any case, you need to get rid of all the excess junk in your house. So how do you do it?
Inventory and Responsible Planning
First things first. You need to spend time taking inventory and making a plan for how you’re going to get rid of the junk. Start by going through your house and making a list of all the things you want to get rid of; it doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but it should give you a general idea of your needs. For example, you might identify “miscellaneous boxes in the basement,” rather than going through those boxes item by item (at least initially).
You also should recognize that you can “get rid” of junk in multiple different ways. If you want to declutter your house responsibly, you should follow this hierarchy, minimizing the amount of waste you generate in the process and maximizing the value of what you currently own:
- Reuse or gift. The mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” encourages you to acquire less junk in the first place – but that ship has sailed. Instead, you should focus on reusing whatever you can. Sometimes, that means transforming, fixing, or modifying your junk so that it actually serves a purpose in your life. Sometimes, that means giving an item away as a gift.
- Donate. If you can’t fix or reuse your item in any way, consider donating it. As long as it’s in decent condition, someone else may still get a lot of value out of it. It’s a great way to avoid taking up landfill space – and it could seriously help someone out.
- Recycle. Failing that, your next-best option is to recycle the item, assuming it’s recyclable. Note that some items can only be recycled through specific methods (such as electronics), so dumping it in the general recycling isn’t going to cut it.
- Dispose. If all these methods fail, disposing of the item in the garbage is probably your last option. Do note that not everything can be thrown in the garbage (legally or ethically).
If you have an excessive amount of junk to get rid of, you might consider renting a dumpster. A dumpster will give you all the volume you need to store all the items you’re disposing of – and it’s remarkably convenient. Just make sure you rent the right size dumpster and that you’re familiar with what you can and can’t discard to a dumpster.
Approaches to Consider
Once you’ve got a solid inventory (and possibly, a dumpster rental), you’ll be ready to choose an approach for your work.
There are several options, such as:
- Room by room. One of the best ways to compartmentalize your efforts and prevent being overwhelmed is to address your project room by room. Instead of trying to clean the whole house all at once, you can focus on one room at a time. You can choose to start with the hardest room to get it over with, or start with an easier room to start building momentum.
- Incremental progress. You can also break the project down by committing to some kind of incremental progress. For example, you can start by committing to getting rid of junk or cleaning the house for just 10 minutes a day. This approach won’t work if you’re renting a dumpster for a limited time, but it can be effective if you have weeks or months to work with.
- A day-long marathon. Conversely, you could plan to have a day-long marathon. Some people find it easier to accomplish big tasks if they buckle down and do them all at once. It’s also convenient if you’ve rented a dumpster, maximizing the value you can get out of it.
- Team tactics. You don’t have to do this alone. Consider recruiting other people to the cause, such as friends, family members, or even neighbors. Just make sure to show your gratitude when the work is done.
Depending on how much clutter you’re struggling with, it might take days, or even weeks, before you clear out the home. When you’re done, you’ll feel an enormous sense of relief – and you’ll be ready to move on to the next project.