How To Make Weekly Household Purges Happen

I had someone ask me recently about the purge pile pictures that I often post (like here and here) as well as regularly on Instagram.  They wanted to know more about how I do it.  Every week I head to my local thrift store to drop items off.  On Wednesday mornings I open my linen closet, pull out my donation box, take any items stored there out, put it all into shopping bags and away I go to drop it all off.  Every single Wednesday.  Much of the reason I am as organized as I am is because of these types of habits I’ve set up for myself.  It’s not something I have to thing about now and that makes life easy.  I like easy.

So here’s how to make weekly household purges possible in your life.

Set Up a Donation Station

Somewhere in your home find a spot to stash a donation box.  This is key.  I store mine in my linen closet because it’s on the main floor and very convenient for me to get to.  I could stash it in the basement out of the way but I’m not sure I’d be as successful about making sure items hit the box.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Some other ideas include under the bed, in a bedroom closet, in the garage, laundry room or entryway.  It all depends on the space you have available.  As you can see from the picture of my own donation box (above), you don’t have to use a fancy container or even fancy labels.  A good cardboard box works just fine.

Get In the Habit Of Putting Stuff There Regularly

We all go about our day with the intention to organize but somehow it doesn’t happen because we can’t seem to find the time.  The truth is organizing doesn’t have to be a whole big extravaganza event.  In fact, organizing on the fly can be just as effective as well because you can do it as you go without trying to find any additional hours in your day.  Here are some examples of how stuff ends up in my box:

  • my son comes out of his room wearing pants that are now too small for him.  Off they come and I immediately put them into my donation box.
  • I’m tripping over dog toys everyday and realize I can solve that problem by getting rid of a few of them (she has her favorites anyway) so I collect a handful and put them into the box.
  • I purchase something new and adhere to my one in, one out rule and into the box an item goes.
  • As I’m reading my son a story at night I see a pile of books that he’s outgrown and quickly scoop them up and into the box.
  • As we set up to play a family board game one night, we find a couple of games we haven’t played in over a year.  Time for them to go.

See how easily this works?  You incorporate the purging into your daily life.  Just toss the stuff into the box and go about your day.

Find Someplace to Take It

I’m sure there are many organizations in your community that would be happy to take your gently used items.  I take all of my stuff to my local thrift store and am happy to do so simply because 100% of the profits go to support our local hospital.  So be sure to check the thrift stores in your area and their rules of donation.  Often various charities will even come to pick your items up directly from your home.  So do a little research and pick a place.  Any place, just get it out of your house.  If you have used clothing in really good shape another option for you might be to bring it to a local consignment shop where you’ll split the profits with the owners of the store.  If you want to try and sell your items yourself via Craigslist or Ebay make sure you have a spot to keep all these items together (in one spot)  in your home and give yourself a reasonable time frame for getting it done.  I don’t have a  lot of spare real estate in my home so I no longer sell my items but instead I opt for getting it out of the house as soon as possible.  I am also not a big-fan of hosting a garage sale.

Schedule a Regular Donation Time

A regularly scheduled time each week (or whatever time frame you choose) will ensure that you are regularly ridding your house of excess clutter (anything you don’t love or use or have the room to store!).  My thrift store here is only open twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays so I choose to make Wednesdays my day.  I load it all up and deliver it to the friendly folks.  Some weeks I have quite a bit, other weeks not as much but I always make sure there is something.

So what do I do if my donation box is empty (which does happen from time to time)?  Simple.  I start walking around my house until I find some things.  In fact this happened to me just last week.  I had an empty donation box!  So I looked around my home and realized I hadn’t purged my cookbooks in awhile.  My rule is if I haven’t used something in a year than it’s time to say goodbye.  I purged over 12 cookbooks that day and made a successful trip to the thrift store after all.  No problem!

So I hope I’ve gotten you into the mood to do some purging.  Set up a system today and in no time you’ll be well on your way to an uncluttered home with a built in method to keep it that way :)

Do you have a donation box set up in your house?  No? Well then what are you waiting for?

Note: All the pictures in this post are of my own purge piles that I recently disposed of.  Whoot!

Filed under: Clutter Control, Organizing Solutions, Purging
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Comments

46 Responses to How To Make Weekly Household Purges Happen

  1. 1
    Diane says

    I absolutely love the idea of a donation station! I think instituting that one thing will make donation into a regular practice instead of a once or twice a year big honkin’ deal.
    Thanks so much for sharing your great ideas?

  2. 2
    Maria. says

    Great idea & one that will benefit me greatly ! Wondering if this will eliminate overwhelming decluttering days !

  3. 3
    Nancy Pickard says

    I actually do have a “donation station” or “Salvation Army box” as I have labeled it. It is in the garage and whenever we come across something that we no loner use or doesn’t fit, it goes in the box. I am not as good about getting the items to the donation location though. I need to get better about that.

  4. 4
    Becky@OrganizingMadeFun says

    Laura….great post! What a great reminder to get rid of stuff! We have a wonderful free recycle Yahoo group through our church – with well over 200 people in it. So, we take pictures and post online. Our church even has a “drop spot” where we drop off our labeled items for each other. We post them online and give to the first person who responds or whoever we want to give it to. Big stuff requires them to come over and pick up, but I’m totally like you when it comes to this stuff. I’d rather give it to someone who needs it than sell it! I have an ongoing donation box in my master closet and have kids purge stuff monthly from their rooms. Love it!!

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  5. 5
    Emily Sullivan says

    I am thinking to myself that there is NO WAY that I can have something in a donation box every week – so instead of thinking I’m right, I’ll try to prove myself wrong :) I agree with Diane when she commented that donating often will be easier than the “big honkin deal” it becomes around Christmas time. I’m feeling inspired – thanks Laura!

  6. 6
    Gina says

    I have a donation box and a yard sale/consignment sale bin going at all times. The other thing I do is challenge myself at least once a week–I set a timer and say I have to find 7 (or 10 or whatever) items in those minutes that need to go. It works!

  7. 7
    Renee says

    Problem, I inevitably purchase more items at the thrift store. . . Ha Ha

    • 7.1
      Jo says

      Me too, every time…

  8. 8
    Leisel says

    I love this idea… one question for you though (and I’m exposing my crazy perfectionism / OCD / hoarding tendencies). What do you do regarding declaring the donations on your taxes? In regards to getting rid of things, I get all obsessive about cataloging them for taxes and/or giving (kids clothes, in particular) the nicer things as hand me downs to family with smaller kids (unfortunately, they live far away, so it’s not as simple as saying come look through it). How do you deal with that?

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      You know I’m not entirely sure about how the tax deductions work as it’s not applicable for us here in Canada. I’ll see about getting one of my Professional Organizer blogging friends from the US to do a guest post for me.

    • 8.2
      Kristen says

      Keep a clipboard with a donation list by your donation station, and a disposable camera if you like (though I just use my regular digital camera). When you toss something in the box, write it down (or you can have a pre-printed list of things you commonly donate, like “toddler boys pants, good condition” and just use tally marks). Spread your stuff out on the floor, take an overhead picture of it and then donate! That way you have a record. It takes a little longer, but my husband is a serious penny pincher and won’t donate any other way.

  9. 9
    Becky L says

    Good thoughts and I will be using that idea with my table I’m clearing off little by little in the family room. am hosting family for our thanksgiving and 13 people need two tables. I’ve been meaning to get this cleared so now is the best time ever! I did get my 3rd wall in dining room painted this summer. Now I just have to put pictures on the wall! Take care and again thanks for the inspiration!

  10. 10
    Jen says

    I have 2 donation stations- 1 in the laundry room and 1 in our walk in closet. I use tall, skinny laundry baskets that I line with the blue plastic recycle bags. I always use blue recycle bags for donation, that way my husband knows the full bags ican go right into the trunk of his car to take to Goodwill when he is in the city for work. My husband handles the drop off for me– it minimizes the chance of the kids rifling through the bags to retrieve items they’ve changed their minds about.
    Thanks for the great tips- a weekly drop off would be a good routine to get in to.

  11. 11
    Christa says

    What a great idea. I’ve recently started doing this. I have a large garbage bag in the garage. It has to be something the kids can’t see into so they don’t go taking their old toys out. I also keep a clipboard and pen next to it so I can write down what I am donating for our itemized tax forms. I need to work on purging more regularly though. Thanks for the extra help and motivation.

  12. 12
    jackie jade says

    Great tips! I tend to accumulate clutter and it finds its way into closets or the basement, never to be seen again for years. You’re right – you probably don’t need something you haven’t used (or even seen!) in a year. Hopefully, I can donate some stuff this week!

  13. 13
    Ami says

    There are so many great tips in this post – and in the comments! I thought I was good at purging, but you all are blowing my mind. My favorite ideas, which I plan to implement today:

    1. A set day for taking the items to the charity shop. I love the idea of making myself do a “Goodwill run” every week on a set date and time. We are great about purging things, but they end up in the garage, where they sit in their donation bins for weeks. It makes things feel more cluttered, rather than less. I have three bins because there is so much. I need to get rid of the stuff more often instead of adding bins to hold the stuff. Genius!

    2. Gina’s idea of using a timer. I love it.! I add things to the donation pile as I find them, but it’s a great idea to set aside time specifically looking for donation items.

    3. Jen’s idea to use the colored bags. Our donation bins are in the garage. Sometimes we have trouble clearly identifying which items are ready to go versus items in the garage for storage. (This happens particularly when something is larger and doesn’t fit in the smaller donation bin.) Great idea to use a different colored bag – or maybe to use a colored painter’s tape for really large items.

    Thanks ladies!

  14. 14
    Felicia says

    I am absolutely over the moon for this! I am starting this today, and making it part of my routine!

  15. 15
    Deb@asimplelifequilts says

    LOVE this… I am so in need of major purging but get overwhelmed just thinking about it. This, I can do starting NOW.

  16. 16
    Jill Robson says

    I have a donation box also. Mine also includes old prescription glasses that i pass on to my father-in-law for The Lions club of Canada. In Ontario where i live, the recycling stations also have bins for fabrics. Anything that is too worn to be donated can be recycled. I’m not sure if anything like that is available in any of your readers areas, but it might be worth looking into. We take a bag of used clothes once a month when we do our dump run.

  17. 17
    Andrea says

    Hi Laura,
    I love your posts. I am curious though, do your kids seem put-off at all by items weekly on the way out? Like if they don’t play with something it’s gone, books not age-appropriate..gone, never to be seen again? –>I keep all my kids’ books in hopes to pass them along to them when they are adults someday and they are displayed nicely too blend-in with our home decor, plus they do like to see their faves. on the bookcase, but you struck a cord with me there. My home is very organized too, but I had a Mom who pitched truly all my belongings relentlessly, all the time as a child with the notion of it is currently useless-someone else can gain from this, etc. I don’t think that is constructive in some circumstances and could lead to the idea of just toss it away whether it was free, a gift, money spent, etc.-even if it’s at a thrift store, or teaching valuing and taking care of your items when they know Momma’s just going to give it away eventually. Wondering your thoughts on this.
    I wholly agree a home is run more efficiently when there is no clutter about, however, weekly something has ‘gotta go…even if the box is empty…seems ?. :) You know I love your blog though! :)

    • 17.1
      Laura says

      Hi Andrea, I never get rid of things without asking my kids first. I teach them the organizing skills from a very young age and you can’t do that if you go behind their backs and toss everything on them. So much of organizing is making decisions so I think this is best learned young. I’m writing an ebook on this very topic. Thanks!

      Laura

      • 17.1.1
        Andrea says

        We are very similar :), I’d love to meet you IRL someday, lol. Looking forward to when this e-book hits the press-so to speak!

        • 17.1.1.1
          Laura says

          It’s something I’m super passionate about, thanks for asking the question so I could talk about it :)

  18. 18
    hsmominmo says

    I am sitting here, saying out loud, “DUH!” and giving a little smack to my head I realize – Wow! Why didn’t I think of doing that?
    I do have a donation station spot, but have not made it a regular weekly habit to take it in. Make it a habit, yes! Thanks Laura

  19. 19
    nancy says

    I have a donation box and a second box for food items in my garage which I set out when I get notices. In my neighborhood I get about 2 requests per month.

  20. 20
    Patricia says

    I love this article, I have been gathering stuff together for the last two weeks, I FIND THE FOOD BANK AND FOOD PANTRYS ARE ACCEPTING CLOTHING EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS, and they have volunteers to give the stuff FREE to people who despertly need it, I find this type of organization is better because for me seeing goodwill etc selling back is a bad idea this economy is struggling. I thank you all for reading my post.

    • 20.1
      Jo says

      I work for the Food Bank in my area (Ontario, Canada) and will whole-heartedly agree with you, Patricia. We are always in great need for gently used clothing and household items, and, they are given to those who desperately need these items free of charge. Some thrift stores are very generous in their prices (cheap or sometimes free if customers receive vouchers from churches or social assistance) like St. Vincent dePaul or the Salvation Army; a franchise like Value Village, however, can be out of financial reach for those most in need. Please consider your drop-off location carefully if you are hoping to really make a difference to someone in need. Thank you!

  21. 21
    Cleaning Experts says

    I wish all the people I work with were that organized. Great ideas, especially if you put them all in force. I may incorporate some of your ideas in my everyday work

  22. 22
    Veronica Smith says

    I have a hubby and 2 daughters aged 17 and 24 still living at home.
    Every now and then I put the donation box out in the open – usually near the front door – Friday evening and then grab it Monday. It is surprising that when they actually SEE it how much they put in to it. They can just walk past and “drop”, they have busy schedules and this makes one task easier for them. Sometimes I need to get a 2nd box. It is a nuisance there and unattractive but once every few weeks makes such a difference to the rest of the house in the long run!

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