11 Things You Should Declutter Before the End of Summer

published Sep 14, 2021
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Seasonal transitions bring up a strange mixture of melancholy, nostalgia, and maybe a twinge of excitement for the new season ahead.

Fall officially begins Sept. 22 (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), and whether you’re sad to see summer go or you can’t wait to pull out the sweaters and buy the PSLs, there’s something you can do that will enable a smoother start to our next season: Decluttering your summer stuff means setting up a house that’s ready for all the fall festivities.

Here are some categories of things you can get thin out as the summer draws to a close:

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. Expired (or dangerous) sunscreen

Collect all your sunblock — the sprays, the face sticks, the lotions, all of it — in one place. Look at each container and find the expiration date, and decide what to do: You can toss anything that’s already expired. If the expiration date is drawing near but still usable, keep it out and use it up before next summer. Then store all the rest that will stay good until next fall. Also cross-check your sunscreen with recent sunscreen recall lists and toss anything that’s not safe.

2. Broken goggles

Try as you might, goggles don’t always last for more than one season. By the end of swimming days, my kids usually have one or more pairs of goggles that are broken or stretched out. If you do too, take these out of rotation so you know what you have and what you’ll need to get the next time swim season rolls around.

3. Excess beach toys

Beach toys are so much fun, but keeping track of an overabundance isn’t fun for anyone. To keep beach hauls and cleanups manageable, pare down your collection to the most essential and loved items. Donate the rest.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Swimsuits that were unworn (or are too worn)

Stretched-out swimsuits, sunscreen-stained swimsuits, outgrown swimsuits, swimsuits you hate that sit in your drawer year after year? Let them all go.

5. Hats and sunglasses

Well-prepared people tend to collect these and sometimes you can end up with more than you actually wear. Gather them in one place and choose only your best and favorite to keep.

6. Bags

All those extraneous bags you’ve collected get a lot of use in the summer, toting around towels, water bottles, snacks, and library books. But you might not need them all. Again (do you see a pattern here?) gather them all so you can see everything you have, and then cull your collection. Try to keep one type of each kind of bag. For instance, one canvas bag, one waterproof beach bag, one mesh pool bag, one fanny pack, etc.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Gardening supplies

If you enjoy gardening, your gear has probably gotten well used during the spring and summer months. Take stock of what you have and get rid of duplicate tools, plastic pots you saved just in case, and all the information tabs you saved from the annuals you bought. Pass on tools you never use.

8. Outdoor diningware

With almost the whole season behind us, you should have a pretty good idea of the outdoor diningware you can and can’t live without. Consider getting rid of pitchers, servingware, or dishware that’s made for outdoor dining but never gets used. Don’t forget drinkware and table linens.

9. Candles and other outdoor decor

Sort through your collection of decorative and bug repellant candles. Get rid of anything that’s nearly spent or that you never used. Consider whether you should let go of any outdoor cushions, wind chimes, plant stands, etc. that aren’t adding value to your space.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

10. Summer kitchen tools

Maybe it’s an ice cream maker, watermelon carving tools, or popsicle molds. Whatever your summer kitchen aspirations, if they haven’t come to fruition in years, clear out out those unused supplies.

11. Luggage and travel accessories

If you’ve gone on a trip or two over the summer, your travel gear is fresh in your mind. Go through your packing cubes, toiletry bags, suitcases, and travel bags and narrow it down to what actually gets used time after time. Consider donating unopened personal care products from hotels.