Decluttering Deep Places: Closets, Drawers, Garages

So you’ve learned to keep your home tidy. At least it looks tidy. But what about those deep places? You know what I’m talking about: the cluttered closet, the over-stacked basement, and the junk drawers. How do you go about decluttering deep places?

Decluttering deep places: photo of messy garage.I know what happens. I’m guilty, too. You have a couple of things you don’t know what to do with, so you stuff them in a drawer. Before you know it, you have a junk drawer, or three. The same thing happens with closets. We take the big stuff, like unused furniture, out to the garage. And there it sits.

Lets Decipher Why We Let Stuff Accumulate

Before we can start decluttering deep places we need to understand why things accumulate

I have a drawer with about 40 pens in a tray. I’m not going to use 40 pens in three years. I go through them and toss out the ones that quit working every so often. But I’d hate to get caught without a pen when I really need one. So the pens are still in the drawer. Remember, I am a writer

We do the same thing with kitchen gadgets, household tools, old papers, and old craft projects. Just stuff them in a drawer… or a box that gets stuffed in a closet… or a garage.

You’ve Got The Space, So Why Not?

Here’s an argument you might make: I’ve got a lot of storage space in my home. Why not use it? Let me explain: 

I have more storage than I need or use in my house. My kitchen cupboards and drawers are half empty. I have a small utility basement that’s empty. My garage stores a few yard tools, household construction items, and a handful of totes with some of my daughter’s keepsakes. Closets are sparse. I don’t let things accumulate. Why? Because it becomes a habit.

If we always stuff things in boxes and stow them away, we’ll wind up with overflowing closets and garages. I remember an old lady whose home was stacked with boxes and papers. One day I drove by her house to find it had burned to the ground. Not only do we create habits, we create hazards.

It’s Mostly Stuff We’ll Never Use

Funny thing about deep clutter. It’s stuffed away because we never use it. We’ll probably never need it again. But we hold onto it just in case we might. Just like my pens.

We attach ourselves emotionally to our stuff, even after it’s of no use to us. The key to decluttering deep places is to break the attachment. So what if you spent $200 on that thingumabob? It’s worthless now. So what if they were your great uncle’s golf clubs? You’ve never golfed and have no interest in golfing. Besides, they’re outdated golf clubs. Do you really need your 2000-2010 tax records? Probably not!

How To Start Decluttering Deep Places

  1. Get started: This might be the hardest part, especially if you have lots of deep clutter. But if you want to live with less, you have to break the resistance to start. Getting rid of that stuff will benefit you and your family. You’ll reduce stuff, stress, and future headaches for other family members if something happens to you. 
  2. Be brutally honest: The only way you’ll sell, give away, or toss out that deep clutter is to be honest with yourself. Ask these three questions: Do I really need this? Do I ever use this? Does this serve an aesthetic purpose? If the answer to those three questions is “No!” then let that stuff go.
  3. Let stuff go: If something is worth money, sell it on Craigslist. If not, box it up. Stuff it into garbage bags. Load it into your vehicle. Take it to a local charity. Don’t delay. I’ve taken thousands of items to Goodwill. If I’d have delayed, I may have changed my mind. I took the stuff straight to the drop-off. Guess what? I’ve never missed any of it.
  4. Repeat: Each time you work on decluttering deep places, you’ll get rid of more stuff. You start to notice more things that never get used. So repeat the process frequently. Let that stuff go!

Are You Ready To Declutter?

I hope this post has inspired you to get started. Remember, like anything else, you don’t have to get this done in a day. Start small. Take your time. But don’t give up. You can have clean closets this year!

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  1. Thank you for this article. I am in the process of simplifying my life and my space, and this has been one habit that I have to actively avoid. As I would make a sweep through ~things~ in one room, I would have one box of “what do I do with this”. Once the room was decluttered, and cleaned, and refreshed, I would move the box to the next room. I figured it was only one box, what harm was there in one. little. box. Argh! Thanks for posting this to Facebook, and giving me the gentle reminder to look at my habits, and ask myself the hard questions.

    1. Thanks for reading and I hope these articles can help in some way. I think we all do similar things. I stuff things in drawers only to go through the drawer six months later and get rid of most of it.

  2. Once you”ve decluttered everything that needs to be decluttered then, and only then, should you begin organizing your drawers. Doing this organization step later allows you to group all like items together, and then potentially rearrange what drawer you are keeping what items in, to make sure it makes the most sense. For example, if you had kitchen towels in three different drawers, perhaps now you could combine them all into one or two drawers, and also move the kitchen towels to the drawers closer to your kitchen sink, and switch the stuff in that kitchen sink drawer somewhere else that makes more sense, so everything is in its most logical space. If you had tried to do all that switching at the beginning of the process though, before you”d decluttered all the drawers, it would quickly becoming overwhelming.

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