The De-Clutter and Clean Up Support Thread

In addition to continuing tackling the laundry and filing backlog, I have had some friends visiting and they’ve given me some help with things.

The biggest/heaviest part of the clean up was yesterday. I had some rusty file cabinets at the Old Place, a busted up one at the New Place, a bunch of steel computer cases (empty), cans, and random bits. We loaded up my pickup truck with all that junk and took it to the recycling center. Totaled up to 120 pounds of steel and 10 pounds of aluminum. Got $12.20 for it all, which isn’t a lot of money, true, but I am always tickled when someone will pay me for my trash. And it didn’t land up in a landfill.

Didn’t spend a lot of time at the Old Place, but did give my late spouse’s foam cutter to my friends who were helping me out for a project they were working on (one more thing I don’t need gone to a good home), and found a set of X-acto craft knives I’d been looking for since I moved so yay!

Also installed hooks for hanging a lot of stuff up, from my kitchen apron to cleaning brushes to some art supplies. Made a nice difference right away.

We had talked about getting my electric piano out to be fixed but given how icy it is outside and the logistics of manhandling a 100+ pound electronic gizmo down a flight and a half of exterior stairs (with ice and snow) into the bed of my truck… it’s not getting any more broke where it is and taking care of that is being deferred to when it’s less of a hazard (>sigh< - I miss playing piano).

Also got the last of the summer patio furniture to the storage unit and got the last of the holiday/new year gifts out the door (delayed due to covid).

A friend is also helping me organize my current craft projects and today we’ll be making some adjustments to my big floor loom so I can start making some things with that again (I could do it by myself, but it’s a lot easier with an extra pair of hands).

The place feels roomier and more efficient. Best of all, I’ve managed (so far) not to have any allergy outbreaks taking care of all this.

I’ve read this thread as it’s grown, and all I can say is thank you.
I’m starting on my basement today. Repository of stuff. Pit of a lot of junk. And my personal hell.
Already ran one truck of stuff to the thrift store, just to clear space to dig in. My sister is coming over to help me sort and make decisions, thank heavens. I’m hoping my nephew will come over for a garbage run, but I may end up hiring a hauler.
It’s very daunting. I’m very stupidly emotional about it all.
I made the decision I cannot adopt another cat until the basement is safe. I’m dealing with losing Mayme, being completely alone, going through years of memories haphazardly piled up - which is shameful IMO, and kinda feeling like a failure.

Yes to both. But take small steps every day.

I wish I had a sister to help me sort. I have a friend who wants me to toss everything and another who wants me to keep everything. I even hired a personal organizer but all she wanted to do was order me into her way method of organizing, which wasn’t one I liked.

So sort a box a day, or two boxes. You are on your way to a new kitty.

If you look waaaaaaay back to when I started this thread… Hon, I’ve been going through the same journey for years now. As my sister keeps reminding me, I didn’t bring all this junk into the house overnight, it’s not going to go away over night.

Let me share some things I’ve learned along the way.

Don’t tell yourself yourself you’re “stupidly emotional”, and don’t let anyone else tell you that. Your emotions are not stupid, they’re how you feel. And while there is this notion floating around out there that it’s “just stuff” and we’re not supposed to be attached to it we are. That’s why it’s sitting in our homes bothering us instead of being somewhere else. The stuff is all tangled up with memories and good intentions and memories and sometimes people who are no longer with us and memories and… well, it may be “just stuff” but it is YOUR stuff. It meant something to you when it came into your life. It might still mean something to you. So it’s OK to be emotional. How you feel is how you feel. It’s not wrong, it just is.

If having the stuff is a burden instead of making you happy then yes, it’s time to start cleaning up. That said, don’t let anyone tell you that cleaning up is easy, or should be easy, or quick. Again, this stuff didn’t pile up overnight, it’s not going away overnight. I am not Marie Kondo and I’m never going to be Marie Kondo and I not going to try to be Marie Kondo (although I have gotten one or two good ideas from her). I’ve also gotten some good organizing ideas from tiny home people - I don’t live in a tiny home, but some of the organizing techniques for tiny spaces work for larger ones, too.

It’s OK to ask for help with cleaning up/decluttering. In fact, I’d encourage it. Hence this thread. Among other things.

If you want to truly downsize the pile of stuff in your life it’s not enough to just throw a lot of stuff out, you have to change how things come in. I had a bunch of bad habits that led to me bringing stuff in faster than I was sending it out. I’ll be honest, it was a multi-year process to really break those habits but I did it. Took me about 2-3 years. I’d go back and tell you where in this thread that kicked in but I don’t feel like it right now (I’ve been cleaning all day and I’m tired).

Getting rid of stuff is difficult for a lot of people. You aren’t the only one. It’s just that most of us are shamed into not talking about it so we think we’re the only one. You’re not alone. Hence this thread. As an aside - sometimes there are issues other than just the obvious. In my case, cleaning can trigger significant allergy attacks which can really make you want to avoid cleaning. People would say “Oh, you’ll feel so much better if you clean!” I’d clean and I’d be sneezing and coughing and wheezing and having to use my asthma inhaler and having rashes for a week - no I did not feel better after cleaning up! But instead of just giving up I figured out ways to clean that didn’t make me feel physically ill. So consider what’s getting in your way and try to figure out how to fix/get around those things.

There is more than one way to get rid of stuff. I find it hard to let go of stuff that still has some use. I envy people who can just load up a dumpster without thinking about it. So I have had to find some creative ways to work around my inhibitions. I send a lot to Goodwill/Salvation Army/thrift stores/etc. I recycle/upcycle stuff (I’m crafty that way). I give stuff away. I sell stuff on eBay (well, I have a third party sell it for me because that’s not something I do well). Sometimes, when something really has be to thrown out I have a friend actually do the throwing out part which is weird but it works. Instead of fretting about my hangups and baggage I find a way to work around it.

Having someone with you can help keep you from being distracted/getting side-tracked. They don’t even have to do anything - I find someone just being there keeping me company, engaging in a conversation with me, makes it less likely I’ll fall off task. This is particularly important for dealing with my late husband’s stuff - VERY easy to get lost in memories/grief/emotion with that stuff if I’m by myself.

It’s OK to go slow. Sometimes all I can manage is 10-15 minutes and just putting away/throwing out one or two items. That’s progress. Own it. Celebrate it. If all you can do it get through one box that’s still progress.

If you hit a roadblock come here and tell us about it - we’ll try to brainstorm around it if you want us to, or just commiserate with you if that’s what you need.

OK, my friends have left so here’s the update:

Got ALL the laundry done. Still need to finish putting it away, but with less stuff in the bedroom closet that will be easier. Also, my friend sorted out my empty hangers (!) by type (regular, those for pants, etc.) which also help with putting things away.

Went through a BUNCH of the art/craft supplies and gathered stuff together. So (I think) all my writing implements are now in one box. All the sewing items are in the sewing boxes. The spare computer keyboards/mice/chargers/etc. in one box. And so on. Several projects are in clear boxes so I can easily see what they are, they’re contained, and they have a place to be when I’m not actively working on them.

I have designated places to put certain categories of items. For example, the spare computer/electronics stuff is in an underbed box that is long enough for the keyboards to fit. Now if I find electric bits I have a place to put them. Sewing items go in designated boxes, which makes stuff easier to find and gives me a place to put random bits I find in other boxes (I now have three seam rippers. Really? How did that happen? No, I didn’t keep buying them - I bought one and inherited two from deceased relatives. For some reason when a crafter dies people give me a box of craft stuff. It’s like leaving stray cats with the local cat lady I guess.)

We were doing really great at labeling stuff until the labeler ran out of label tape. And then I couldn’t find the spare tape cartridge because the office supplies are not quite as organized as I would have liked. Oops. But I really find the label maker to be useful for me (YMMV).

The upshot is that my bedroom and front room are now miraculously bigger! Not really, of course, but getting stuff put away made a big difference. I’d backslid since late October due to my work schedule and covid round two and now I’m back on track.

My friend reorganized by linen closet. Much better. Let me clarify that: she didn’t actually reorganize the linens, those are actually Marie Kondo’ed just fine (like I said, she has some good ideas). But one shelf of the linen close is my personal grooming items/first aid/etc. shelf. She reorganized that. So all my first aid stuff is now in one clear box (yes, I like clear boxes so I can see what’s inside). The stuff I use daily is in one box. You get the idea.

My friend reorganized my utility closet. Much better/more room. Of course, getting the recycling out of there helped, but it’s just better organized. It’s one of the places where we put hooks to hang thing up, utilizing vertical wall space.

I currently have a tool box full of “fasteners” - nuts, bolts, nails, screws, etc. I have another with various tapes and glues and such. I want to get one for all my cutting implements - knives, scissors, blades, etc. I want another for tools like my claw hammer, large screwdriver, and so forth. So I’m on the look-out for two more tool boxes on clearance, with is how I usually get them on the cheap.

There are a few boxes I will go through but not right now. My walk-in closet now has a designated spot for these, so I have a place to put them and I can go through them one by one instead of having them stacked here and there. 'Cause getting that big steel filing cabinet out of the closer really freed up a lot of space. And I got my coffee table back.

We also finished picking up the kitchen, so I have my kitchen table back. Yeah, like I said, things kind of went to hell over the retail holiday season but as long as I’m working retail that will happen every year. Which is a reason I have a staycation in January, so I can get caught up again.

I may or may not make more progress over the next couple days, we’ll see. I did manage to get through most of the goals I set for myself this week so YAY! And I’m not sneezing, itching, wheezing, or otherwise being allergic tonight so, again, YAY!

And I’ve been opening the same box, thrown a couple of things out, and then put the box back. same box, same stuff, different year.

One of these days, I swear, I’ll have the backbone to just toss the box (maybe I’ll have to do it without opening it!)

I need to get tough with myself, or my wife and kids’ll end up going through all this stuff (and I like them too much…)

Come to think of it, they’ve already put up with too much of my crap; why add physical crap to it?

Maybe ask someone else to toss the box when you’re not around - I find for some things that’s the only way for me to do it. I just can’t bring myself to toss whatever it is, but I can walk away, leaving it in a corner, and let it disappear so when I come back it’s not there. My friends are used to my asking them to do that sort of thing now.

You go, girl!~ :partying_face::tada::confetti_ball::clap:t3:

THAT is brilliant. Of course, I’d have to admit that I can’t do something as simp… what am I saying? My friends, my wife, my kids; they all know I’m a wuss. This would surprise no one.

But I usually clean when I’m home alone (so there’s no one to say “Are you still on that one shelf of stuff?”).

Aha! Mayyyyybe I could fool myself and put the Box I Can’t Toss in the shed, or even… on top of our garbage can! I could tell myself I’m not doing anything irrevocable (until garbage day).


~ . ~ . ~

Thursday, 8 am. Scene opens on the Digs kitchen. He and his wife are eating breakfast:

“You look… wistful?”
“Just listening…”
“To what?”
“To the garbage truck.”
“It comes every week.”
“Hopefully I’ll look this way next week, too…”

Fade to black.
“Written by Samuel Beckett” scrolls up, then “Directed by Taika Waititi”.

I’m kind of proud, no, I am proud of our work today.
My sis started on one wall that I knew was mostly holiday bins, but had a lot of things outside said bins. She collated by holiday, so now I have six Xmas bins and two Halloween bins.
I started on the old office side, cleaning my desk, the filing cabinet, and shelving unit.
I was brutal -
“Here’s a bin of jigsaw puzzles”
“Some haven’t been opened!”

“I found your atomic glass!”
“You could sell them…”

I have a large pile of junk in the middle of the room. Hired a company to come out Monday to pick it and whatever else needs removal. One of the frustrating bits is all the stuff that I could’ve thrown out but my trash bin is so small. Now I’m paying people to do it for me.

So, with a surface start today, we took two completely filled to the brim crossovers to the charity shop. Purses, antiques, glassware, you name it.
I bought a shredder to resolve the three grocery bags of data private papers I had floating around.
I tossed out stuff that I felt small pangs over, but knew they didn’t add to my life.
Sis is coming over tomorrow and we’ll continue on the big room before going back into the furnace and laundry rooms. There isn’t much back there, but it’s gross.

And @carnut, when it warms up, give me a shout. I’ll gladly wander down your way and be a cheerleader/ helper/ assistant.

Edit to add: once we do the surface, then I can go through. I need basic organization first, then I can sort bins. This isn’t going to be done Monday when the hauler comes. I’m just going to have to push myself to NOT believe it’s done.

I would love that help! Thank you.

All week, I’ve been planning to give the cat room a spring cleaning today. Until I took the trash out yesterday and fell on the glare ice under the snow. I’m bruised, battered, and sport a swollen knee. And the cat room is still messy and dusty. Mind you, I vacuum in there at least once a week (except today). Ah well, At least I know my short-term goals for that room. I know long-term goals too, but they require money.

@Broomstick and @MissTake I applaud your efforts, I will get there, dammit. Just not today.

It’s OK to take a day off, especially if you’re injured. The mess will still be there tomorrow, waiting for you to feel up to tackling it.

Get better

Yesterday my brother-in-law joined in, which was partially helpful. He’s one of those “my way is the only correct way” kind of people. But, he quickly dug into the nasty furnace room. After a few arguments (“Throw it away!” These are my possessions, I need to look in the box first. “You don’t need this stuff” It’s not your place to decide.)
Oddly enough, he was reticent with my decision to donate a bunch of my ex’s RC car stuff. Hmm, my stuff trash, his stuff possibly valuable.
I figured the ex left this stuff here 13 years ago, I don’t want any of his big boy toys, let someone else score. I did find his baby book and a box of photo albums. I will have to suck it up and contact him.
Furnace and laundry rooms surface gone through. Another pile of trash to be picked up. A truck to the thrift store, almost two dozen paint cans to the recycling center.
Today I’m by myself. My goal is to hit the last untouched wall of shelving and collate/ organize. As we’ve been going along, I’ve been putting things that I know belong in the bins near them, but not in them. I know I will never need to buy a paintbrush, roll of painters tape, or icing tip ever again.

As I mentioned in my prior post, it’s OK to take a day off and that’s largely what I did yesterday.

Today is a bit different - I’m cleaning up my big floor weaving loom so I can use it again. I keep running into more issues and it’s all on me because I haven’t been doing regular maintenance. So - partial disassembly required. I needed to remove some of the literal thousands of heddles (the last project required 2,160 of them) so I could clean up the frames that hold them, which required running around to find something to hold them all - yes, there IS a valid reason for me saving a small number of boxes! Also needed to clean up the three dozen pedal tie-ups, and then I realized my 12-dent reed was dusty and had lurking cobwebs, so I had to pull THAT off and clean it up…

While all the stuff I wiped/washed off is drying I’ll be oiling the wood frame.

The parrot cages are near the loom so the birds are enjoying the show and curious about the noises coming from the large primate (a combination of being old enough to make noise when I bend over and some muttered swear words).

You know, the original plan had been to throw a quick warp on this thing and bang out some heavy-duty rag rugs, but

No doubt when I get to making up the warp I’ll find that hardware needs cleaning, and no doubt something else will need attention once I get it on the loom. But such is weaving with the finest technology of the Middle Ages. (No, of course my loom isn’t that old - only about 60 years at this point - but the basic technology/design of this loom is from around 1400-1500 CE)

But really, one of the goals here was to get organized enough to have a place to do my larger craft projects, so this, too, is progress. I am now de-cluttered enough to set this thing back up and use it. Soon I’ll be able to back to using the supplies I’ve had in boxes for awhile.

Can you hear us clapping?

This is such good news.

I have discovered a new destination for useful household items that I no longer need and that are a headache to sell: the local Facebook group that is helping newly arrived Afghan refugees set up households from scratch. When I tried to sell the solid wood 80-year-old china cabinet on Craigslist (we moved to a house where there is no good place to put it, plus we inherited Tom Scud’s grandparents’ much nicer dining set), I got nothing but scammers. But the couple who left their homeland literally with the clothes on their backs was very glad to have it. Same for some size 6 dress shoes that I can’t wear due to gimpy ankle; a nice handwoven silk scarf that my former boss gave me that just wasn’t my taste; etc. The young woman starting her first office job in the U.S. was very glad to have them, and I wouldn’t have gotten much for them if I tried to sell them, anyway.

That’s excellent. I have a number of useful items that could find a home that way. Thank you. I will check into opportunities.

We’ve been gradually getting rid of stuff through a Buy Nothing group on Facebook. Though we still have piles of clutter and we tend to find ways to generate more… sigh. I’ve turned my daughter’s room into my office and there’s a bunch of stuff piled on her bed, that I just need to take the time to organize and put away (we actually have places for all of it).

A year ago I went through ALL my clothing, and donated everything that was not wearable - threw out the stuff that was too ratty to even donate. I need to go through my shoes also - as there are pairs I’ve never worn now that I’m 100% work from home. Aside from everyday shoes that I will actually wear out and need to replace, I own enough shoes for quite literally the rest of my life. I hate to get rid of even the never-worn ones though - since I have a hard-to-find size.

We had a folding table in our living room, left standing since our last pre-COVID thanksgiving!! It had evolved to be our COVID pantry - where we stored all the non-perishables we stocked up on. I hated it - so before Thanksgiving this year I ordered an assemble-it-yourself pantry cabinet. Got that set up in the family room (it sort of matches the TV stand) and now all our dry goods are behind doors. PHEW. Our next step is to clear out and re-organize the main pantry, something we need to do about every 18 months.

The junk guys came Monday and removed all the junk junk. I was able to vacuum the main part of the basement! Grabbed the broom and de-webbed the walls and ceiling joists.
The laundry and furnace rooms are so empty. The furnace room echos. I have not de-webbed, swept or mopped yet. I thought this weekend I’d either paint or epoxy the floor, but that’s suddenly not an expense I can undertake right now. Instead it’ll be lots of bleach cleaning.
Shredder arrived yesterday, spent a few hours listening to the grrrrr of it doing its magic.
I also brought up a few boxes to start going through, in my effort to not consider it done.