38 “Useful” Things You Should Still Declutter Anyway

published Feb 14, 2019
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(Image credit: Liz Calka)

Just like finding the right eating method or exercise regimen, finding the right decluttering motto can be the key to keeping your home clutter-free. Many find an admonition by William Morris helpful when deciding what to keep and get rid of: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” But this popular decluttering criterion could actually become a pitfall if you’re not careful.

Things which we “believe to be beautiful” may not present too much of a problem. While beauty is subjective, of course, beautiful is a pretty strong word and should help weed out most decorative or sentimental items that an owner only feels so-so about. “Know to be useful,” on the other hand, can trip us up. Much of our clutter, in fact, is due to the notion that whatever it is, we’ll use it or even need it someday.

If we want to be strict about having a home full of only things we actually need in our lives right now, we need to let go of the mentality that something might be useful someday, or to somebody else, or any other number of “just in case” considerations.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Here are some things that could fit that clutter-enabling mold. If anything below strikes your conscience, consider this list permission to let it go without guilt.

  1. Curtain rods
  2. Baby gear over five years old
  3. Hand-me-down clothing over five years old (except for a small number of cherished pieces)
  4. Extra serving platters
  5. Leftover party decorations
  6. Used party decorations
  7. Nearly consumed craft supplies that aren’t being used
  8. Crayon pieces
  9. Toilet paper rolls
  10. Egg cartons
  11. Empty shoe boxes for storage
  12. Small appliance boxes in case you need to return or sell the item
  13. Electronics boxes in case you need to return or sell the item
  14. Old chargers
  15. Old headphones
  16. Old, never-used cell phones
  17. Old, never-used laptops
  18. Old, never-used digital cameras
  19. Extra plant pots
  20. Too many extra towels for big clean-ups
  21. An over-abundance of mugs
  22. Small condiment packets
  23. Outdated manuals or books on a particular subject
  24. Magazines you’re saving for art projects
  25. An overflowing collection of plastic grocery bags
  26. Toiletry samples
  27. Hobby supplies for a hobby you no longer pursue
  28. Toys your children have outgrown
  29. Broken objects you plan to fix
  30. More than two sets of linens per bed (weather-specific linens excepted)
  31. Blankets in excess of one per family member and two extras for guests
  32. Optional wheels for small in-home storage units or cabinets
  33. Jars
  34. Too many reusable grocery bags or totes
  35. Travel mugs
  36. Water bottles
  37. Unused cleaning tools and/or supplies
  38. Reference books

Including an addendum to the “know to be useful” phrase can help you detect if you’re keeping to much. Think of it this way: “Do I know this to be useful in my actual life these days?”

What do you hang on to because it’s “useful”?