Things I Can’t Seem to Declutter


Even though I’m a believer in you shouldn’t keep it even if you have the space, I also seem to have a few areas of my house that I just can’t seem to pare down.  It’s really hard for me to get rid of these things for one reason or another.  I know that I’ve been pretty good about getting rid of things, but there’s always excess somewhere.

Here are the things I can’t seem to be able to declutter:

1. Towels.  We have probably over 20 towels for two adults (plus two labs).  I have towels from when we first moved in together, my husband has his bachelor towels, we have towels from my mother, and we even have wedding present towels!  I feel like towels are just something that you can always use.  You can’t have too many towels, right?

2. Pillows, blankets, and sheet sets.  Again, same thing with the towels.  Not only is it nice to have towels for guests, but it’s also nice when they don’t have to bring their own pillows and blankets.  I probably could afford to get rid of a few blankets and pillows and just ask guests to bring their own.  It’s rare that we get company outside of my parents, and keeping two extra pillows and blankets around for them is pretty negligible.

3. My old Disney VHS tapes.  My mother gave me our old Disney video tapes from when we were kids.  I’ve got probably 25 videos stored in the guest room closet.  We don’t even have a VCR, yet I hang onto them because maybe one day my kids will want to watch them.  It’s also painful to think of getting rid of something we cherished for so long.

4. Old papers.  My mom saved a lot of my school papers and drawings.  When I moved into my house, she brought down 4 or 5 boxes full of papers.  I felt bad when I told her I didn’t want the majority of them.  There still are some old papers and drawings I have that I just can’t get rid of now.

What are some things you just can’t seem to declutter?  How do you decide if it’s worth keeping it?

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9 thoughts on “Things I Can’t Seem to Declutter

  1. JoeTaxpayer says:

    I can help you with the tapes.
    They self destruct. I kid you not.
    I was the right age at the right time when VHS came on the scene, I bought my first player in 1981.
    Of course, the player from that year and many after are long gone, but the tapes lived on. Not. I recently tried to view one that was about 15 years old and it was horrible. The sound was scratchy, the video barely viewable.
    I’m now digitizing anything I recorded from video cameras to preserve family movies and dumping most of the rest.


  2. Becky R says:

    You can get all the Disney videos on DVD, so ditch the tapes (since you don’t actually have a VCR.)

    Store an extra set of sheets and even a comforter in between your mattress and boxspring (lay flat so it doesn’t create a lump.) And / or get 1 or 2 of those bags that you vacuum suck all the air out to store pillows, sheets, and a blanket for guests. They are a huge space saver.

    Cut up old towels to use in place of paper towels.

    Every week get rid of 10 papers you don’t want. Any you want to save, take a picture of the document or scan and ditch the original.

    I keep a binder of each year of the boys schoolwork. It is nice for memories and since I homeschool, it provides records if I ever need them.

    One thing I debate getting rid is is I have every journal I ever wrote in from 11years old until now. The stuff as ateen I don’t want anyone to ever read again, but I can’t bare to part with (and even when I reread I just get depressed.) I may start parting with these one at a time.

    -Becky R in NJ


  3. Kacie says:

    Purge these things! All of ’em.

    You don’t need THAT many towels or sheets. Just hang onto the ones that actually get some use, and hang onto a few spares if it makes you feel better. But 20 towels? That’s too much!

    Hang onto the spare blankets, though. It’s nice for visitors who pop in without their own blankets (I never think to bring them when I travel). But you don’t need a ton of extra bedsheets.

    The VHS tapes have gotta go. You don’t have a VCR! And the picture quality is likely terrible at this point. Write down the titles and get the DVDs or Blu-Ray or whatever later.

    As for the papers, go through ’em and hold onto like 10% of your favorite things and maybe photograph or scan them or something and toss ’em. If you want.

    Of course, you can hang onto all this stuff if you have the storage for it, but if you ever wanna move, get rid of it!


  4. Cate says:

    I have a hard time decluttering towels, too. I CAN do it, and recently donated several sets, but it is something I have a minor mental block against…my family consists of me and my husband (and both of us are very clumsy), our 1-year-old, a puppy, and two cats. And we’re planning to have another kid. So, let’s just say towels REALLY come in handy for cleaning up messes around here!


  5. Sandy H says:

    I have a small scrapbook of stuff my mom saved from when I was a kid- this was pared down from BOXES of stuff. I also have a scrapbook from my senior year of high school. And I can’t part with my high school letter jacket filled with medals- no way no how!

    For my kids, I can’t seem to get rid of their school work- and they are just in pre-school. It is really nostalgic for me! Every once in awhile I take a deep breath go through their papers keep 2 each and then go straight to recycle the rest. I take the 2 I kept and replace the ones I have at work.

    My husband has all his military stuff in a big trunk. I went through it a couple of years ago (and after 8 years) he still had every letter anyone had sent him from when he served active duty! I made him throw everything away from his ex-fiance- it was either that or I told him I would read them all. 🙂

    Sometimes things are just TOO personal to throw away- but after a little time (or a few more boxes added to the stack) it gets easier. 🙂


  6. Dana says:

    Hi – RE: the Towels………Both Animal Shelters and Vet clinics need/use tons of towels! At least you know they will go to a good cause.

    And lets be honest – worn bedding can often take on an immistakeable “Funk” smell – not what you want to offer your cherished guests. Donate them to charity or a painting company who will use them for Tarps on the job.

    I just love my vaccuum space saver bags for linens. We do have tons of overnight company, and it sure saves on storage space – and the bags are reusable!

    Another space/money saver that I can’t live without – that Food Saver vacuum machine. There are 3 in my household (Mom, my husband and me). I work long hours in Real Estate and its a lifesaver to walk in, drop a pre-prepped (by me) meal in a pot of water and its on the table in 10 minutes. I pre-prep the entire meal on the week-end or when I have a bit of time. Keeps us away from fast or processed foods and easy on the clean-up.

    Also, I save a ton of money by buying larger quantities of fresh meats at Costco and freezing in the Food Saver in family size portions!


    All green ideas! Good luck, love your column!

    D. in San Diego


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