Organizing Hacks: 12 Things You Won’t Find in My Home
In this post: Looking for organizing hacks to keep your home orderly? You might want to think about banishing these 12 things from your home.⇒
Sometimes being organized is as much about what you don’t have, as it is about what you do have.
Not that long ago I visited my parents’ old home. They had moved into an apartment near me and at first brought only the essentials with them. So when I went back to their house to get some of their things, I was a little bit shocked.
My mom always prided herself on being a clean-freak, dusting and vacuuming daily. But that doesn’t tell the whole story and has very little to do with being organized.
In reality, every single drawer and cabinet I opened had a stockpile of plastic bags, crammed into every crevice. I kid you not! It was like a plastic bag museum. No one could ever need that many plastic bags. And worse, they were the small thin kind from CVS or Shoprite that couldn’t hold much even if called upon to.
That day’s visit inspired this post, as I realized being organized is in large part about knowing what you need and what you don’t.
Here are 12 things you won’t find in my home:
1. A closet full of old mis-matched towels – I’m a fan of all white towels, but whatever color you choose, have a few sets and leave it at that. There’s no reason to save old, ripped towels from your former bathrooms. Sure, keep a few in the garage for the car or a flood, but in your main linen closet, all matching towels will give you a much more orderly look. Bonus points for all white because it feels so spa-like.
2. Free clothing from an event you don’t care about – You know the sort. Free gifts from a corporate event. Tee shirts given out at a fundraiser. Party favors that were cute until the minute you left the party. My hubby is guilty of this one and it drives me crazy. He’s the guy that actually wears the shirts and jackets given at the company picnic.
If you didn’t select the item and it’s not something you would buy yourself, get rid of it. You’re not obligated to keep it just because it was free.
3. Mis-matched pens with corporate logos – Similar to the free tees, but way more prevalent, how many of you have a draw full of pens with the bank’s logo on it? And there are always a million of them, like they multiply in the drawer! How come when you’re looking for the one pen you love to write with, its always missing? But the bank logo pens are so plentiful, they can’t fit in the holder. They’re always either stuffed in a cup so full that the last one can’t fit all the way in or spilling over the tray and littering the drawer.
Yes, you can toss a perfectly good pen, just because you never sought it out and you don’t like the way it looks or writes. Instead I buy boxes of my favorite pens so they all match and I always have my favorite pens to write with. We’re not talking Mont Blanc pens. They can be inexpensive pens, as my favorites are. But they’re selected on purpose and give a neater look.
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4. Stray post-it notes or loose memo pages – The bane of any organized person’s existence are those little notes you scrawl when you’re on the phone or not at your desk, which then wind up in a pile – at best – or scattered all over the place. The post-its lose their sticking power and there’s always one or two that fluttered behind the desk.
My simple solution is to tape them into a spiral notebook, so at least all my info is all in one place. Nicer is to copy over the notes neatly when there’s time, but the key to staying organized is to be realistic about upkeep, so taping them in a book will get the job done.
5. Lipstick colors I don’t wear or like – This should be a no brainer but its amazing what we will keep when we realize we shouldn’t have paid for the item in the first place. If the item is new and you realize you don’t like it (but you wore it once or twice and they won’t take it back), offer it to someone close who may appreciate it. If the lipstick has been in your drawer for several years, toss it. It’s probably spoiled anyway.
6. Free samples, especially makeup – Another pet peeve of mine, a bottomless box of tiny free samples that you will never look at is utterly useless. If it came as a free gift, toss it or give it away. You’ve gained nothing by keeping an item you will never use. Regardless of how free it was.
My policy is to only take the items I think I may want and leave the rest from the outset. Once I get them home, I keep them out on my dressing table. If I haven’t tried them after a week or two, out they go. The only exception is travel size versions of the items I actually already use. Those go right into my travel bag (that I always keep packed!)
7. A plastic bag full of plastic bags – So, getting back to those plastic bags, just say no! Or if you must, keep a handful. You will never need 100 plastic bags that don’t close properly. I promise. I prefer to keep a small bag full of heavy paper shopping bags. They’re more constructed so easier to carry things in. And you only need a small selection of varied sizes. For things that could spill, I use large zip locks. They close tightly and are completely see through, so you alway know what’s in them.
8. Empty shoe boxes – Along with the plastic bags, this was another surprise I found at my parents’ house. Countless empty shoe boxes. Find a better way to store your shoes. Then get rid of the boxes. I use plastic shoe drawers. They’re stackable, see through, and they keep your shoes dust free. They’re also easy to use because they pull out, so you know you’ll put the shoes back. With original shoe boxes, it’s too difficult to find anything in them. If you use them, you probably never wear the shoes because you forgot you have them. Or like my mom, the boxes are empty, taking up most of your closet, while the shoes are thrown in loose on top. Toss the boxes. Stat.
9. Old newspapers and magazines – Nothing creates a bigger mess than mountains of old magazines and newspapers. I try to keep only the last month’s magazines and keep them on the coffee table where I know I will read them. If they get too old, they’re old news anyway. Read them, tear out what you want to save for later and toss the rest. And while you’re at it, don’t keep publications that were sent to you for a free trial. You either like the magazine enough to buy it and read it or you don’t need it.
10. Loose menus, several from the same restaurant – Did you ever go to a friend’s house and decide to order in food? They open the menu drawer and there are 20 menus from the same restaurant, all thrown loose in the drawer. I decided long ago to corral the menus in one place, so I keep them in a looseleaf binder with plastic sheet protectors. I slip the menus into the plastic protectors and file them by cuisine. If an updated menu comes with my next order, I throw out the old one and replace it with the new. Unless you’re planning to wallpaper your kitchen in menus, there’s no reason to keep more than one.
11. Wire hangers from the cleaners – Another pet peeve of mine, flimsy wire hangers from the cleaners drive me crazy! Invest in matching hangers. Your clothing will all hang at the same height, keeping your closet looking neater. Good hangers will also be strong enough to keep clothing hanging properly and in good shape.
12. Old ripped undergarments and socks – Why do people keep these? You’ll never wear them. Buy enough so that you can skip laundry if need be. But toss the undergarments with holes in them. They serve no purpose.
Most of the things on this list are simply garbage, but if you have things you don’t need but they’re in perfectly good shape, donate, sell, or give to a friend. Those that are junk of course should be thrown out. You wouldn’t believe how much easier you’ll breath with empty space around your home.
Now, if you happen to be in need of plastic bags, hit me up. I have enough from my mom’s house for the whole lot of you!
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This was a really nice (unexpected) approach to an organization post! Totally agree with the wire hangers!
Glad you enjoyed!!
Ok, I’ll clean out a drawer a day.
Thanks for your post.Ell
Yay! And you’re welcome!!
Agree on all counts, yet guilty of a couple. I know exactly what I’ll be doing today. Those damn pens and loose notes!
Love this comment! Totally made me laugh… 🙂
Hi! I’m with you on all counts. I hate clutter so I try to throw out or organize immediately. Too funny about the plastic bags and empty shoe boxes. Lory, I haven’t been receiving your posts in my inbox, nor a few others as well. Thought everyone was just too busy with the holidays to post but then saw the posts come up on other blogger share sites and realized I just wasn’t receiving mine. May be a problem with my server???? Anyway, I subscribed again–hope that fixes the problem because I’ve really missed your posts. Hugs!
Thanks and that’s so weird about not receiving my posts. That sometimes happened to me with other sites. No idea why. Did you check your spam? I’d hate to lose my best readers!
Well said! 🙂
I’m in the process now of purging closets. What a job!
Thanks! Yes, but isn’t it liberating? 😉
All great ideas! I agree that purging is the first step to organizing!
Absolutely! And thanks!!
Now with two German Shepherds, all old linens, socks, tee shirts, and towels go into the “doggie linen basket” for those times to clean up, protect, etc.
Great use for old things! The only thing I would caution is knowing when you already have enough… 😉 Hubby used to save countless towels “for the car”. He’d have to own a body shop to need that many towels… lol.
I donate unwanted and unused beauty samples to Goodwill when I do a drop-off. I just throw them into a Ziplock and donate when the bag is full. I also do the same with unwanted office supplies. I gather up all the stray pencils, pens and notepaper and put them together in a Ziplock, and donate when full. I figure a non-profit would welcome a few almost new pens, etc, for their office, cash wrap area, etc.
Yes, completely agree! Books too. Just because you’re tossing it from your home doesn’t mean it needs to go into the landfill… 🙂
Don’t forget that old bed linens and bath linens are welcome donations at animal shelters. Our neighbor owns a non-profit animal adoption center and I told her she’s the only person I know who would thank me for a set of sheets with a giant rip in the fitted sheet. (And mean it.) My neighbor also welcomes old tee-shirts, which they use for bedding.
Yes, great idea! When I say toss something, that just means remove it from your own house… 😉
Good post, Lory! Now on to cleaning for me.
Thanks! Happy cleaning… 😉
I am with you on every one of these items…Although I confess to having hoarded a few maga zine subscriptions…ok, kind of a lot. Working on it. Otherwise my middle name could be “organization obsessive woman” 🙂 My mother had several hundred soft margarine containers in the sixties. I did not understand it even then.
Haha! That’s funny about the margarine containers, but makes about as much sense as the plastic bags… 😉 Every now and then my magazines get out of hand too, because I do genuinely read them, so don’t want to toss before I have time to read. In that case, my system is this: Keep them in a neat stack by month and then read the current month’s issues, even if it means two years at a time. In other words, this month I might be reading the January issue from 2018 and 2017. I do that until I catch up.
This was a totally surprise of organizing, decluttering I did enjoy
Thanks, Norma! Glad you enjoyed!!
So funny! Love the list; however, some of these – like random bits of paper all over – are impossible with little kids in the house. I agree about wire hangers and t-shirts from events. Those always make an immediate exit for the door! Visiting from Style Showcase party.
January is a slow month and usually very cold here so it has become my “get organized and purge” month. It’s also a great time to go through files to get rid of unnecessary paperwork. Most humane societies love old towels for kennels and bathing dogs. You have great ideas! Thx for sharing!
Thanks Michelle, and thanks for adding some more great ideas!!
Love this article. I already do some of this stuff, but you’ve enthused me to do more!!
Thanks, Kathy! I’m so glad you feel inspired… 🙂
Lory, this post made my heart go pitter-pat! I love organizing and things nice and tidy and in their proper place. It’s interesting what people collect. I had to borrow a wire hanger from my neighbor when the plumber needed one to straighten out and use. Wire hangers are basically useless. As a child, I remember people talking about an older man who had hoarded empty oatmeal boxes. I don’t know if you are familiar with Swedish Death Cleaning. I first heard about it from Jillee at https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/swedish-death-cleaning. Having cleaned out several homes, this would have made the process easier. I guess I look at being organized and not drowning in “stuff” a better way to live. Enjoy your weekend. Cold and sunny here in the Heartland.
Thank you so much for your comment, Donna! That’s funny about the wire hanger. I guess it could be good to keep ONE around… 😉 Actually, I confess hubby insists on keeping the wire hangers in his shirts that come back from the cleaners, so we do have a few. But it drives me crazy and it’s the only closet we have them in. Will check out that link, as well. Never heard of it.
Donne, just coming back to say that article was fascinating!! Thanks for linking! It actually is something I already have thought about, but didn’t know it was “a thing”… 🙂
You have motivated me! Many thanks. I have every issue of Southern Lady Magazine since they began publishing. Oh my! I would just buy plastic shoeboxes at WalMart as the expensive ones you suggested. $25 for a plastic box, WOW! That could be put on a new pair of shoes. Thanks for your blog! Enjoy it!
Wonderful post! And very good advice. My Dad’s little kitchen is cluttered with the little white bags they bring his lunch in and bread wrapper bags. I worry about him starting a fire when he cooks. He can not bring himself to throw any thing away. Why do we save things? On my way to declutter some of my stashes.
Love this post! Thank you for giving me permission to get rid of mix match stuff (silverware, towels and pens) which I am guilty of! 🙂 lol!
I agree with all.,,, that how we live. No clutter. Most people are afraid to discard things because they have value, More than likely they don”t _
This is a very timely post for me. We were just having a discussion with my family about the concept of sunk cost and how hard it is to throw things out that you’ve spent money on, even if you don’t like or use them. I realized that I have a drawer full of lipsticks, nail polish and other make-up that did not work out, that can’t bring myself to get rid of. Now is the time to purge!
I had to chuckle about the t-shirts because I do accept those free and use them while working around the house or doing yard work. Totally agree about those wire hangers! Thanks for sharing with us at Merry Monday. We hope to see you back next week.
So true on all counts. Lory, thanks for the gentle nudge! And, how I enjoy your beautiful photography. You had me at the English Breakfast Tea tin and white peonies–two of my favorites. I guess we continue to learn lessons from our parents’ life experiences. Thanks for this inspired post.
Thank you for your lovely comment, Jane!!
Oh Lori, you hit a raw nerve! I am in the process of cleaning out a space that my parents also used. There were three drawers full of silverware, not to mention towels to last a lifetime and then some. You won’t believe how much stuff I am throwing out. They will not even go to the garage sale I’ll be having this spring, they are so old and useless. But you know this is a lesson for me once I start to organize my home I need to be relentless. I have a tendency to stockpile things too because I repurpose a lot.
Yes, you must be relentless! I have to remind myself that from time to time too… 😉 Funny thing is, I went to my dad’s new apartment yesterday and noticed the plastic bag stash is building again… lol. I threw them out!!
And I thought my mother was the only one who saved plastic bags!!! Last December, when I visited her, she fell. 911, ER, Hospital and finally Rehab. While she was recovering, I had the opportunity to clean my mothers apt. I found 100’s of plastic grocery bags stuffed into drawers and cabinets. In boxes and in luggage. In baskets and inside more plastic bags. Pens and pencils. Every piece of mail she received since 1999. I kid you not. All well hidden. I would have never guessed all that was encased in her apt. It was certainly a huge reminder of what not keep. And more so, a reminder to re-examine what I do keep. What I am keeping.
Omg, yes! I think you were in my mother’s house!! Lol.
We’re we separated at birth? I have none of those things in my house
Give the towels to animal shelter, please
Magazines are my biggest problem. I am an avid gardener and do speaking engagements as well as writing a monthly column for our local paper. Always feel I will use them for research but this very rarely happens. The other thing is they are so expensive these days it really feels sinful to toss them!
Also my beloved husband keeps every reciept he gets at a store usually left in his pockets of on his dresser. Trying not to nag too much but does drive me nuts. Find as can get older I want less stuff around but who knows when the plastic container and bag hoarding disease might hit!!!
I keep receipts too. I keep them in an accordion file by month. I keep them for one year, so for instance, when a new month starts, I go through last year’s receipts and throw out all but the ones I think I may need (antiques for value or large purchases, etc). For magazines, maybe consider switching your subscriptions to digital? I used to read magazines cover to cover and pull out tear sheets and file them, but I never referred back to them, so I stopped. Now I just read the magazines and toss them. Then use Pinterest for things I want to save.
I agree with everything EXCEPT the plastic bags. I kept/keep my grandbabies and those plastic bags were awesome for stinky diapers. I also use them to drain hamburger – line a bowl with a couple, put a colander over the bowl and pour in your cooked hamburger, easy and no mess. Also, when you do “toss the out” PLEASE recycle.
Haha, point taken Carol, but if my parents lived to be 1000, they couldn’t use that many plastic bags. Maybe keep 30 at a time and put them in a dispenser.
Btw, for diapers, I always folded them inside themselves and taped them shut.Then put them in a lined diaper pail and frequently emptied the trash.
Carol, great idea about draining the hamburger. Never thought of that! We save all plastic bags. My 17 year old grandson is incontinent due to Spina bifida and our state has banned them; so my daughter had everyone (and even stores) giving their leftover ones to her. We use them for his Depends and are worried about running out of them eventually. I recycle everything that I can, but not our plastic bags! I am a very neat and organized person so nothing is laying around. I keep several plastic bags in a recycling bin for him to use when he’s visiting my side (we share a duplex). I am guilty of saving things that I’ve either paid a lot for or think will serve a purpose, but I’m getting better with getting rid of things. Funny how the minute I throw something away I find a use for it and then regret it. Lol
As I was reading, I couldn’t wait to see the next one. They are so true, so funny and hit close to home Ha ! The main one I have a real problem with are my magazines. I have an empty china hutch in the basement full. ( I never read them and more) My bedroom has piles under the bed and stacked around the bed. I love looking at these when taking a long bath. I started cutting out pieces I liked, but that was too time consuming. But I love your suggestions about pens, shirts . I have many that I had autographed at concerts and can’t seem to let go of them. But I need to. It is funny how much we all have in common 🙂 I can’t imagine clutter anywhere in your beautiful home.Have you ever been in someone’s home and just wanted to open a drawer and see if it’s organized or messy ??!! Have a good week-end Lory. We are suppose to get snow in the morning here in Virginia.
Lory, I agree with you regarding your list of things to get rid of. Why is it that we hang on to things just because they were free? I have to admit I’m guilty of that sometimes. My husband just passed away recently and I loved the man dearly, but why on earth he felt the need to keep every prescription bottle we received is beyond me. Granted I like to keep a few for the grandkids to use for water when they are watercolor painting or for when I’m working on a project that I don’t want to lose the screws after taking it apart, but that’s it!
I do the same as you with the menus and I also put a date on it so we know how old it is and if it needs replacing.
Great post with great ideas! I enjoyed reading it!
Thank you MaryJean! First, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I do agree, just keep a few of whatever needs keeping, but know when you have enough… 🙂
Great post ! I do hang onto a few wire hangers for the DH… I hide them way in the back of the closet.. There are times he is needing one for a project or to fix something….. Now to go thru my pens 😉
Thanks! Yeah, they’re all good for travel because they’re easy to pack and unbreakable. But no one needs more than 10 or so… 😉
There are so many ways to order food without keeping the take out menus. You can bookmark the web pages of your favorite places, and order online or you can use the Uber or Amazon Eats apps that have the menus right there for you.
True but not every restaurant publishes their menu online, particularly the kind you’d take out from. Many of them don’t even have websites… 😉
I keep an Elfin wire baslet on the floor of my closet. I consistently slip cast off wire hangers into the basket until it’s full. At that point I offer them to my housekeeper “if she wants them”. She always wants them, and she takes them away immediately. Helps me; helps her. Thanks for the tips. CherryKay
I like that!! It’s a win-win… 🙂
As for old magazines, I go through them after a few months and take a picture with my iPad of anything that inspires me. They are there for me to look at/refer to but take up no space. In the past, I ripped out any pages of pretty and filed them in a folder under, garden, recipes, decor, etc. Your stack of magazines becomes one small folder.
I just finished going through my mug cupboard and am tossing all but my favourites. Anything broken, stained or less than perfect I garbage the rest I rehome. I put things in a box or bag and let my cleaner have first go. Whatever is left, I donate.
One man’s garbage is another’s treasure!
I see this post has gone around a few times. A gentle reminder to declutter is always welcome.
Yes, I love the idea of digital files! Such a space saver and they’re so much easier to find when you’re looking for them… 🙂
Definitely agree so much with this. My husband died last year and I’m still getting rid of/throwing away/rehoming stuff, plus having cleaned out a decades old amount of storage. I’ve tried very hard to let go of things and go back through some things after several months to make sure it’s something I really want. I have a few favorite magazines that I may switch to digital as I only read them and keep a few things. Shoe boxes are definitely something to rehome, oddly many people have uses for them. If you have a lot of them see if a school could use them. And books! Any I have that are in good shape are going to Half Price books now. If nothing else I get store credit and can get something I really want.
First, I’m sorry for your loss. I, too, am dealing with a lot of clean out this year, as my dad recently passed and we’re cleaning out his home. In fact, as I’m cleaning out, I find myself even more likely to clear the clutter in my own home. Donating is always a great idea. I wish more places made it easy to do so. You’d be surprised how hard it is to get rid of a lot of things.
I would like to suggest bringing most of those supplies to a school, or offering them to a teacher friend. I would LOVE it if people handed me mismatched pens, old magazines (for cutting up or for reading time), little notepads, and more. Also think, drama departments might want old clothing for plays, newspapers or furniture, etc. my drama department once asked for 100 red envelopes, and being the saver that I am, I had them! Please always offer supplies to a school, you never know what classrooms could benefit from!
I also only buy white towels and white sheets, and will never buy colored. 😉
Great suggestion! I should have added in the post that when I say toss it, it doesn’t necessarily mean in the garbage. Donations are always the desirable way to go… 🙂
This is a fun list, Lory, and I love your photos! (I have the same white marmalade jar.) The person whose closet that is (hanger photo) may be accumulating a few too many grey/navy blazers, though! 🙂
Haha! That’s my closet… 🙂 They’re mostly black or grey… lol. I don’t think I have more than one or two navy ones… 😉
Just teasing, of course! They’re wonderful and coordinate beautifully!
Oh Lori, all GREAT suggestions. I’d like to add some suggestions to menus and makeup. I have a notebook for my menus too, but to each menu I add the date in which I got the menu. Might want to go through them every once in a while to see if the restaurant is even still in business.
Also, about the makeup, instead of throwing it away, I usually give it to women shelters or something similar. Especially with makeup samples that I’ve never even opened. They so appreciate it. Like your moms thing for plastic bags, my mother-in-laws was makeup. She had drawers full to the top with makeup. Oh boy, the drawer was broken from the weight of all that makeup.
Thanks and Happy 2019.
Thanks, Sandy! Love the date idea!! I usually just replace the old menu with a new one every time I order, but dating is always a great idea and something I don’t do often enough. Also love donating and whenever I toss things, I try to donate first. The only thing with makeup is it does spoil, but anything fresh is great to donate… 🙂
Please commit to not using any plastic bags. Our oceans are full of plastic I invested in some pretty reusable bags that I use for groceries and even shopping at the mall No clutter and earth friendly. I look more polished too!
Trust me, I’m no plastic bag fan. I generally don’t keep any and always use a small tote instead. That said, I don’t understand what people who don’t get bags at the grocery store use for their trash. Using reusable tote bags for your groceries and then using large plastic trash bags is pointless. So what do you use for trash?
As I clean out my sister’s house I know I will clean out mine when I get through. She had tons of old cards, letters and nicknacks everywhere. After my husband’s death I tossed 30 plus years of records. If things are not relevant they are just taking up space. Down sizing really shows up the stuff that has piled up and needs to go. Hardest was old magazines. I will re-read them and love to enjoy them over and over.
Yes, I feel exactly what you’re going through! It’s poignant, but it also feels good to cull down the past into just what is really meaningful and then look ahead… 🙂
This was such a fun post! Made me laugh out loud. I’m guilty of the shoebox thing, I do try to keep some of my shoes boxed but not all of them. I have a holder for plastic bags which we use for trash on the boat. Using the reusable cloth bags have cut way down on this excess. Some of us got the habit of saving all these things from the nuns at school. Also, I had an aunt who would not throw out anything usable. When she passed away my uncle cleaned out more margarine and cool whip containers than you could imagine. I would stay with her some times as a child and I picked up some of her habits. She always kept used envelopes and made her shopping lists on them. I did this for years and always put my clipped coupons in them for the market. My aunts message was “waste not, want not.”
I worked for a research company where there was a huge group of us that traveled extensively. We brought home soaps, shampoos,etc from the hotels and then would drop off huge bags of them at the women’s shelters in Boston.
The other item you forgot to mention was greeting cards. No word of a lie, my mother kept every card anyone ever sent her. You cannot imagine the size of the box that was in her closet all filled with these.
One final message, especially to other readers that posted comments, please, please get magazines out from under your bed. This is a tremendous fire hazard. As much as I’m a saver, safety should rule especially your sleeping area.
Haha, the margarine containers made me laugh! My mom did that too. Now, as for greeting cards, this is a huge source of disagreement between hubby and I. He insists on saving them. All. of. them. So, I have them in plastic bins in the basement, but I truly think it’s so dumb and no one will ever read them. If I had my way, I’d keep only a select few that the person wrote a personal message on. I’ll never understand saving a store bought card with someone’s signature and nothing else.
Oh, and btw, I do not keep old magazines. I read them and then toss them… 🙂
Thanks for the post, I’m guilty of most of these! I always feel so much better with the clutter gone!
Lory – fabulous post and I have pinned for future reference (or motivation). As far as towels, ditto the comments about the animal rescue orgs and shelters. They absolutely can use old sheets/towels and linens in general. I have taken your advice about pens and LOVE how they look. I packaged them in zip locks along with a lot of other unused office supplies and sent an announcement on my neighborhood social website “Nextdoor”. Received many responses from teachers who love those items, particularly because so many children come from families who can’t afford the school supplies. Then, a great tip about selecting pens you love — wait until the start of the “back to school” season and find fantastic prices on them at almost all the stores – from box, to specialty, grocery, etc. Lipsticks/makeup – great advice on sending them to women’s shelters or those non-profits who assist women that were rescued from human trafficking. I save up all my plastic bags (after discovering a fantastic blog about folding them into little triangles) into one big bag and return them to the grocery store(s). They all have recycle plastic bag receptacles – usually in the front entrance area of the store (by the carts). As far as shoe boxes, I keep a few on hand and use them to temporarily store receipts, bills, stubs, etc. Then I place an index card on the side and top of box noting “destroy by” date. After tax season our community has a free mobile shredding service where I take all the items for destruction. Works great! Shoe boxes are also great organizers for blank greeting cards. I find that my local dry cleaners appreciate receiving the wire hangers back. So, when I have a huge unmanageable bundle, off I go to the dry cleaners. They love it because they are free and they don’t have to pay for them. Hope these tips help …
And oh, by the way – what is the item pictured above that appears to be bottles on a silver tray? Is that an antique? Does it have a name? Love it and LOVE your style. Thanks.
Beauty samples and other personal items, usable towels, sheet sets, blankets, coats, toys may be good items for women’s shelters. Call first to see what items the could use.
LOVE this post Lory! All your suggestions are inspired, and I laughed at each one! 😉 Thanks for the great ideas! ?
Great ideas! I take my magazines to whatever doctors or dentist office I’m going to and drop them on the waiting room tables, minus address label, of course. Plastic bags to the grocery store drop off bin, every thing else in line with what you do, pretty much. I bought cloth bags and am finally remembering to bring them into the store. I do use the plastic bags I have to pick up after my yorkie so they do come in handy.
I just cleaned my sock drawer and at least ten pair aren’t..pairs that is. My doctor said that the missing socks are probably in some one else’s dryer, in a land far away, hah! I’m starting to believe it. The second sock will appear ONLY after I’ve throw away the first one!!!
Ha! So true about the second sock. Love the magazine idea!
We down sized our home and my top kitchen cabinet was full of margarine plastic bowls. I would think I might need one and stick it in the cabinet. I laughed at myself when I found them.
When my husband passed I had every receipt since 1967. Never new when you might need them. Ha. Never did.
Isn’t it funny the things we do? It might make sense initially, but when we don’t go back in and edit, that’s when we wind up with so many obsolete things. I’m sorry you lost your husband. ❤️
My parents have a stash of these and cottage cheese containers. I tell my youngest brother they are all his! LOL.
HA! I SO get it! 🙂
We must be related 🙂 ….little spiral notebook, check….no wire hangers, check…restaurant menu binder….check check. Little things that make things easier and nicer! Oh, and my husband wears those free shirts too!
Died laughing about the free shirts!! ??? So glad the post resonated with you… 🙂
This was a different approach to getting organized, full of good advice. I live in upstate NY, and as of the end of March, the state is going plastic bag free. Yay! Like some other people have commented, I donate many items to the Salvation Army and Rescue Mission, and most magazines go to the local VA Clinic waiting room (where I receive my medical care) or my dentist’s office. But now that you mention it, I do have so many towels….
Haha, everyone has their kryptonite. Even with extra towels in the garage for work around the house jobs, you don’t need that many… 😉 But kudos to you for your other efforts!!
So funny about the plastic bags!! I found a mountain range of plastic bags at my 90 yr old mother in laws home. I kept some and stored them in a wall mounted rubbermaid thing that is made for holding those thin bags. I told her if you have more than fit in this organizer you won’t need them so just toss them. But nope. Today she is over run with bags again in every kitchen cupboard and drawer. Its mind boggling!!
Haha!! What is it with that? It’s so funny, yet so bizarre. I love your solution though. I agree that’s exactly how many someone would need and no more… 🙂
Plastic storage containers, got them all out and matched tops and bottoms, reduced the number that went back into the cupboard, tossed the rest. But the most puzzling thing was the 34 pairs of scissors I found. No one will ever use that many…they went to a thrift shop. I could write more and more, but your have covered many other things that I found and got out of her house. Because she passed away several months later, I was glad that I had reduced the amount of things I had to go through. And it made me realize that my home could use a re-organization. Thanks for all your suggetiions.
I so understand! And I would also come home with the same feeling – that I must clean out my already pretty organized house. LOL!
This is such a popular post! I read all the comments and enjoyed what other readers had to share. I especially cringed when I read about the wire hangers:( My former husband would pull his clothes off the hanger from the dry cleaners and leave it sticking out…OMG that was so annoying! I was glad when I was able to toss him and his hangers! I love the felt ones but you have to be careful because some are not made good and will break easily. I think our folks kept certain items as a way of being in control of something. My mother saved Styrofoam cups and lids which was so odd, because she never drank out of them, she only drank out of glasses or glass cups. Go figure! Thanks for a fun and inspiring post!
Haha!! Would you believe my hubby still insists on using the wore hangers? His side of the closest is the only place in the house we have them and it drives me nuts!
Two suggestions – at my office a colleague and I have established a sh*tty pen cup – it lives in the Xerox room and all corporate pens – the ones that don’t write well – are put in that cup because we all know of people who “borrow” pens, never to return them. The pens get used rather than going straight to the landfill. Regarding plastic grocery bags – my husband and I fold them up into little triangular “footballs” – as seen on youtube – and they take up very little space that way – we have a pack of three small dogs and the bags are used for poops.
I like your idea for pens at the office! But when you work at home, there’s no one to pawn them off on… 😉 Instead I prefer to not bring them into the house in the first place. Trying to train hubby to just say no when offered pens at the bank or somewhere like that. I also prefer not to bring plastic bags into the house, but as long as you’re using them for the dog, that makes total sense. The ones I do keep, I put in a tissue box, and pull them out like tissues.
Lori, i couldn’t agree more about all the stuff we keep that we don’t need. I especially hate wire hangers (ala Joan crawford), plastic bags, and shoe boxes. I like my shoes in plastic shoe boxes from The Container Store. My one weekend is magazines. Won’t even mention how far back some of my issues go. I’ll now be on a mission. Thanks for a kick in the bottom.
Lol, sounds like we think very much alike! I use those plastic shoe drawers for *everything*. Love them!!
Love these tips! Something we ‘vs started doing is have our daughter’s in law bring their own containers to take food home after Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner (our boys would never remember:) Win-win. They take home yummy food and I don’t have to wonder if I’ll get my containers back. I also don’t have to save cool whip containers for holiday dinners.
I always throw out an old menu when a new one appears at my house! Magazines and catalogs go with my SO when he has an appt. at the VA hospitalI LOVE plastic bags–for wastebasket liners, bags for stuff to go to my kids, to church for the annual bazaar, to donate stuff in, etc. My sour cream-type containers go to church; when we have a potluck, leftovers go to others in these! I am storing small craft supplies and dried food (rice) in plastic and glass jars (coffee, mayo, etc.) I love shoeboxes but love photo boxes (on sale, of course!) and clear plastic boxes even better.for craft supply storage I’m finally USING all those little free note pads that come from charities and putting junk mail with a clean side right into the recycle bucket!
Oh Mon Dieu,
I am guilty of a couple of these but I will surely mend my ways. I looking at shoe storage asap! I have discarded 90+ percent of my magazines. Plastic bags a little bit of a problem but I use them regularly.
Thanks for the advice.
So glad this resonated with you… 🙂
Great post Lory- Love all the wonderful suggestions!
I agree with everyone who said animal shelters take bath towels and you know they really need them. I recycle mine at our local shelter.
Makeup samples are just dust collectors & I recently threw mine away. But I like wire hangers myself.
I do hope your mother took this purging with thankfulness & good humor.
Yep, the animal shelters are a great idea.
My mother actually was never aware of the purging. The reason we moved them nearby was that she had developed dementia. That’s a whole other post… 😉
I am guilty, thanks I agree 100% and I am gonna get busy. You have a way with words, I appreciate?
Thanks! And good luck!!
I take pens that are good, but don’t need to our homeless shelter to use or other non profits. I just went through a kitchen drawer and threw away or have my donate pile. Still too many! I agree on these items. We have pared down a lot and continue.
Completely agree that the given is that anything we get rid of, it’s preferable to donate… 🙂
Both our local animal shelter and veterinarians welcome donations of old towels and wash cloths.
These are all excellent ideas!!!
I don’t have time to read through all the responses, so please delete if this has already been mentioned: there is a group called http://www.MyFREECYCLE.org which is attempting to keep things out of landfills. You can offer anything, and will usually find a taker. I’ve gotten rid of empty cosmetic containers (people who sell homemade cosmetics will wash and reuse them), old pen boxes, and mountains of packing material. Some local Facebook groups also have a “still good” section (search FB for the town you live in to see if there’s a local group). Using these services means you don’t have to brainstorm who might need what you’re getting rid of – they’ll come to you!
Plastic film (bags, including ziploc, bubble wrap, etc…) can be recycled – go to http://www.PlasticFilmRecycling.org for a list of drop-off locations.
Thanks for the tip!!
Why on earth would anyone in this day and age need to keep restaurant menus when they are all online? Also, I can relate to the whole wire hanger issue. I’ve used the velvet hangars for years and will never go back to wire hangers. I’ve always thought of the Mommy Dearest movie (Joan Crawford yelling at her daughter, “No wire hangers! No wire hangers ever!” 🙂
Because actually, they’re NOT all online. Small local businesses do not always even have a website, let alone a published menu. Plus catering menus, etc. I never saw Mommy Dearest, but I do know the gist. Hubby still has his wire hangers… 😉
I’m with you on all of these!
When new towels are purchased, we either…
1. Put them up in the laundry room to towel the dogs off when they get wet or washed, dry cars off or spills. (our washer explored with water this past year!)
2. donate them (if they are not ripped up) to a locate animal shelter or to your local vet. They can ALWAYS use these. It is like recycling to make others happy! 🙂
Guessing no one will actually read this but just in case…..there are so many less fortunate that could benefit from your castoffs. For example, I went through all the pens and pencils we had accumulated and donated a large sack full to a school. There are actually students who come from homes where they can not afford a pen or pencil. Also, all those logo shirts and jackets could go to the thrift store such as Goodwill. There are people out there that can barely afford close even at the Goodwill and are not too proud to wear whatever they can. Same goes for mismatched towels you don’t want. As to makeup samples I donate items such as that to our local womens shelter. Those ladies are delighted to have them. I also donate bottles of nail polish that I no longer want because it is a luxury for most of them to paint their nails. I have found that most nursing homes are in need of hangers and the wire hangers are fine in their eyes. It is wonderful to be able to afford all the luxuries in life but keep in mind there are a lot of people who are not as fortunate as we are and sending stuff to the landfills is never a great idea if someone else can use what we no longer want.
First, why would you think I wouldn’t read your comment? I try to read every comment that someone takes the time to write and appreciate their input and always try to respond.
Second, the post was about organizing your home. I advocate not taking wasteful items home in the first place, but the point was whether to keep the items, not what to do with them once you decide to get rid of them. I clearly state “if you have things you don’t need but they’re in perfectly good shape, donate, sell, or give to a friend.”
The truth is, donating is not always as easy as you suggest. It’s heartbreaking how hard it is to get rid of some truly beautiful things, as we found out when we sold my parents’ home. I agree with you 100% that it’s ideal to give to the less fortunate, but there are a lot of things Goodwill, schools and shelters will not take. I know this from actual experience.
Please understand the point of the post was to address the clutter in people’s homes. We’re not helping anyone by keeping things we don’t use.
I meant “clothes” not “close” in my comment! I know better but did not proofread prior to posting.
No worries. I understood what you meant… 🙂
Great article!! I wen thru the same thing unfortunately when cleaning out my fathers condo… so many plastic bags!! I did give them to my sisters for theirs dogs instead of just throwing them out. I do follow most of these rules but fall off the wagon every once and awhile. The one I do not agree with though are the shoe boxes… I know exactly which shoes are in what box… clear boxes would have me ripping thru my shoes closet trying to locate what I was looking for. But the rest… spot on. Thank you for reminding me I need to trow out or give away those lipsticks that do not work on me 😉
Thank you! Yes, everyone has to do what works for them. I can see into the shoe drawers, so that’s good for me, but if the original boxes work for you, all the better… 🙂 And yep, those lipsticks are doing you no good if you don’t use them.
You have great organization ideas for all of us. I am trying to be more like you.
How do you keep your white towels nice & white? Mine seem to start to yellow & dirty looking in the middle of towels. I use them as rags at that point. Help🤔
Thank you! I start with quality towels in the first place and bleach them when they really need it. But ultimately, once they look ratty, mine become rags too… 😉 We use them daily, so once they need replacing, at least we know we got our money’s worth.
All great advice! I especially agree with matching hangers. I’m rather obsessive with having them all match in my clothes closet. We recently moved into a home with a dedicated coat closet and I ordered matching wooden hangers before we even moved in. They are sturdy enough for even the heaviest winter coats and look so refined.
You have so much order and loveliness in your home; it must be a very peaceful place!
Thank you! I do find order to be very restful, and yes, matching hangers are awesome!
Amen and amen! A few years back I adopted the motto, “live like you’re moving”. I systematically went through every drawer, closet, holiday decor, garage … and then we had a happy surprise and moved unexpectedly in a heartbeat. It was amazing to have made all those decisions and it made moving so easy. We even had 2 extra drawers in our new kitchen.
That’s awesome!! Love that approach!
@my husband with those conference freebies! I put them in his nightstand, then throw them out a few at a time, over the course of months. Even he forgets that he has them! I’ll keep the click pens, but anything else, gets recycled right away! His live-in sister is worse about saving things…bottles, boxes, anything I’d put in the recycle bin…I have to hide it from her or she’ll save it!
Haha!! I so feel ya! Hubby sometimes winds up with multiples from the conferences, as if one wasn’t enough… 😂😂😂
Thank you for the organizing tips! I can always use new ideas. I especially relate to your pantry organization ideas. My pantry has only 4 deep shelves. I will try stacking like items in clear containers to see if that frees up more usable space.