Clutter: Use It or Lose It


The definition of “use” is:  to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of.

When I think of this definition as applied to most things, including our clutter,  I think of something being useful in a practical way. Things like:

  • kitchen utensils
  • clothes and jewelry we wear
  • furniture
  • shampoo, soap, and other toiletries
  • cleaning supplies
  • food we eat
  • household appliances

Whether an item is practical or not, if we are not using it, then it’s clutter taking up valuable space in our homes.

Decorative Items and Memorabilia – Use It or Lose It

These items may not be useful in a practical way but they do help us experience happy feelings when we gaze at them.

Of course, if they are hidden away in a box or drawer, we can’t enjoy them. Maybe it’s time to figure out a way to make it easier to enjoy them on a regular basis.

Here is a Photo Memories Decluttering Cheat Sheet that can help you let go of many of those photos you don’t use.

Decorative items can easily become invisible to us, especially if we have a lot of them. If it’s hard to declutter them, try packing away at least half.  The empty space around the decorative item creates a beautiful, yet simple frame.

The packed items can be rotated in and out with the current ones on display a couple of times each year.  Eventually it will be easier to decide which ones are worth keeping and which ones to let go of.


Cleaning Items – Which Ones are Clutter

It’s not always easy to know what to keep and what to let go when it comes to cleaning items.

I know that Maria Kondo’s method of asking yourself if an item “Sparks Joy” has become popular in the past few years. And it works for many items.  But I find it a little hard to apply to cleaning supplies.

The toilet brush I have in each bathroom does not spark joy for me. But it does help keep the toilets from getting all grungy and smelly. Of course, maybe if I had a decorative holder I might find it more fun to use it. Then again, maybe not. But at least it would look cuter in the bathroom.

I can’t say my vacuum cleaner sparks joy for me either. But at least it helps keep my floors from being full of dust bunnies and other debris.

Then there are all those old towels and micro-fiber cloths I use for cleaning. They don’t exactly spark joy.  I have to say though, my Flylady duster, with it’s pretty purple feathers, does put a smile on my face, especially when I put some music on while dusting.

As you may have guessed, cleaning the house is not my favorite thing to do. However, I enjoy it when the house is clean and decluttered. So those practical items/tools help me take the actions needed to get the end result. They are used!

But what about all the items not being used and just taking up space? You know what I’m talking about.

  • Cleaning products we bought, tried, and never used again.
  • All the old towels we’re saving for rags. How many do we really need?
  • How many brooms, mops, even old vacuums do we have just laying around gathering dust. I know I have a few that need to be decluttered.

It’s time to either use them or lose them.


Clothing and Jewelry – Use It or Lose It

For me clothing isn’t too hard to declutter. I don’t have a good sense of fashion so I stick with mostly jeans and t-shirts. There are a few nice outfits, but that’s it. Twice a year I go through my closet to change out my clothes for the seasons. This helps me see what I wore in the past six months and what I didn’t.

Some items are easy to let go of because:

  • They’re worn out.
  • They don’t fit anymore.
  • They are out of fashion, at least for me.
  • I’m tired of them or don’t like them anymore.


Some are a little harder because they represent a special time/event in my life. One solution that has helped me is to take a photo of the outfit, then let it go. I know I’m not going to wear it again.  All it is doing is taking up space in my closet. The photo gives me the memory as much as the actual item.

Jewelry has been a little harder to let go of. Not that I wear most of it, but because of the perceived monetary value it may have.  Jewelry seems to be one of those items that we tend to overestimate the monetary value. Unless it is made of gold, silver, or precious stones, if we sell it we probably won’t get even close to what we paid for it.

I have a dresser drawer full of mostly costume jewelry. I think it’s time to take my own advise and either use it or lose it.


Kitchen Utensils and Cookware – Use It or Lose It

How many fancy kitchen utensils do we have hiding in our drawers and cabinets or out in plain view on the counters that we’re not using?  You know, the ones that create veggie spirals, or slices and dices, or even makes bread for us.  When were they last used?  Six months, a year, or even two or more years?

If our drawers and cabinets are so crowded that we have to dig through the things we don’t use just to get to the ones we do, then we’ve wasted a lot of our precious time. Image how nice it would be to open a drawer or cabinet and quickly find exactly what we need.

If we don’t ever use it, it’s time to lose it. If an item is only use once or twice a year (holidays, special occasions), it’s better to store it in an out of way place. That is, unless you’re lucky enough to have a large kitchen with lots of storage space.

I store a few rarely used items in my basement storage room.  Other items I use occasionally are put in the back of the cabinets.

Every so often I go through my drawers and cabinets to see if there are any items I haven’t used in a long, long, time. The question I ask myself is, will I ever use them again and if so, when?


How to Lose the Clutter

Once we decide we don’t use an item any more, we may still have a hard time letting it go.

Why is that?

I believe it’s because we still see the item as useful so we don’t want to put it in the trash. Which brings us to making one more decision, how to get rid of it?

I’m a strong believer in recycling, which includes giving a still useful item a new home. Some items need to end up in the trash while others in a recycling bin if you have that service. Many still useful items can go to charities.

Some items we can try selling ourselves.  But remember it takes our limited time to do it.  We have to decide if the money is really worth the time.


When we start asking ourselves whether we use an item or not, we can begin to make logical decisions on whether to keep it or get rid of it. If we use it, it’s not clutter. It may not be put away properly, but it’s still not clutter.

But if we’re not using something, it becomes clutter in our homes and lives. Time to lose it!


To a lighter load along the way.

Janice Scissors

P.S. I’ve started a new Pinterest account just for decluttering pins. If you’re on Pinterest, please go over here, Cut Clutter With Scissors Pinterest Boards  to follow me. I’ll be happy to follow you back. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *