How to Effectively Purge Your Entire House

Most days, I have absolutely no desire to cook, clean, grocery shop, or do the laundry. I'd much rather be out of the house, adventuring & finding new projects begging to be done. In other words, I'm the most anti-Donna Reed individual out there.

But every once in a while, I get into a mood where I suddenly hate everything I own & I just need to do a heavy purge. These deep cleaning sessions can take weeks, where our house is seemingly messier than normal, as everything I own emerges to the surface and possibly gets the axe.

This is usually what I ask myself for each item during these purges:

1. What purpose does it serve?

Is it a practical item or a frivolous item? Meaning, is it something I can actually use around the house, or is it something that just sits in the house?

Sure, I may have used that giant standing freezer at some point in the future, but is it doing anyone any good just sitting in our basement, unplugged? And what about that breadmaker that you were convinced you'd use all the time that you got from Freecycle, used once, and put on a shelf to collect dust?

Or, for a more literal example, what about that tchotchke sitting in the corner (you know that something you own just came to mind)? Why do you own it? Was it part of a past design plan that no longer is reflected in the house? Does it make you happy every time you look at it, or do you just dread having to clean around it later?

Verdict: If it serves no purpose, such as regular use, or does not make you happy every time you see it, get rid of it. 
If it's fully functional, try selling it online, or consider donating it to a local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Someone else will get use out of it, or at least it'll just be collecting dust somewhere other than your house.
If it's missing vital parts, or doesn't work at all, trash it. Chances are a newer version is available for cheaper than it would cost to repair the original if it's been sitting in your house for more than a year.

2. Does it fit?

Newsflash: this isn't just for clothes! Think drapes, area rugs, sheets, computer bags, charger cables, tupperware lids, etc.

If the drapes are too long, the rugs too small/big for your new space, your sheets from a bed you no longer have, your computer bags from a laptop smaller than your tablet, your charger cables from devices you no longer own....donate it or trash it.

Verdict: Textiles such as drapes, rugs, sheets, bags, etc can always be used in a different space other than your own. Clearly you were able to use them in a space at some point, someone else can too. Donate!

But charger cables from the early cell phones, pagers, digital cameras/camcorders and other electronics are most likely going to be useless to both yourself and others (especially if you don't have the devices the cables are for). Feel free to trash/recycle them properly according to your city's codes & never think about them again (much like you've been doing since you upgraded close to 10 years ago).

3. Does it fit your personal style?

If you know what you want your house to look like, what style you'd like it to reflect, does the item fit that style? If it does, awesome! But in that case, has it been displayed/used in the past 6 months-year? Does it serve a seasonal purpose such as a holiday or annual event?

This is important to remember when it comes to gifts you've receieved and never displayed/only displayed when the gift-giver was coming over. Do you really think they're going to notice that the bright green disco vase they bought you in 1999 is suddenly missing? Or that even if they do notice, do you really think they're going to ask about it?

Verdict: If not, it may be time to consider donating it. What I've discovered is that if it isn't displayed within a year, it ends up staying in a storage bin in either the basement or the storage unit for all of eternity. You forget it exists until you go through your stuff during a purge.

And if you don't remember who gave you the item as a gift, do not use it as a regift or a white elephant gift! That will make it awkward, unlike donating it.

Resist the urge to keep it once you see it! This can be hard for some items, especially sentimental trinkets, but if it isn't a family heirloom or something you find yourself ever thinking of, you can afford to get rid of it. Never once have I regretted donating something I didn't love.

4. Most importantly, do you really ever want to move with it ever again?

Even if you're not planning on moving anytime soon, or ever, this is the best question to ask yourself. Why? Because if you own it, and even you don't ever want to pack it up and move it again, why would anyone else in the future? And if you're not using it now, or planning on using it in your next home, then why do you own it?

This is especially important if you never plan on moving again, and you know your kids will have to clear out your house someday. Morbid, I know, but it puts it into perspective for some things (especially for people like me that love furniture).

Verdict: If you don't want to move it when you move everything else, move it now. That way you don't have to deal with it later. Again, try selling it online or donating it.

You can even have the buyer move it themselves & lower the price; this is what we did with that freezer I mentioned- the extra $15-30 I would have gotten wasn't worth having to move that thing upstairs. I lowered the price, set forth the expectations that they'd need to move the item themselves, and it sold within 3 days. I still got money for it, I didn't have to move it, and it went to someone that'll use it all in one transaction- nice!

If you're not ready for a full on deep cleanse, then you can always follow this simple list of everyday items to throw away right now.

There's no time like the present! Start cleaning house now and do one or two big donation drop-offs before the 4th of July! That way you can enjoy the rest of the summer in your nice clean/organized house!


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