10 Unexpected Places to Declutter & Organize Written & Photos by Skaie Knox
Posted By
Skaie Knox
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Materials Needed: 
  • SteamMachine model 53

Project Steps


As a songwriter, this quote really (a-hem) spoke to me. It’s incredible how we can accumulate so much stuff by merely not throwing it out. And I’m not even talking about shoes, or clothes or kitchen gadgets! Think about how often we shop for food, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, get mail, coupons, tax and bank statements, and on and on and on. Not very sexy stuff is it? Be that as it may, this mundane, everyday clutter can start to pile up, with an ever-so-sneaky skill to create a mess! Not only that, it can begin to crowd our beautiful spaces, even from behind doors, drawers and cabinets. So, today, I thought I’d shed light on 10 unexpected places to declutter and organize, so that you can enjoy a more simplified home that will speak beautifully to you and your family.

Step 1

Kitchen Junk Drawer

Just because we call this catchall place a “junk” drawer, doesn’t mean it has to look like a junk yard! With the help of a silverware organizer, you can keep all kinds of stuff separated and easy to access.

Step 2

Medicine Cabinet

Oh, the dreaded yellow pill bottle takeover! How they can hog much needed cabinet real estate that could be better used for toiletries and other bath sundries!

When should we throw out medicine? The general rule is one year. However, there are some drugs that can last up to five and even a decade long. ”Except for tetracycline, which can become toxic and cause kidney problems, expired drugs generally don't appear to cause harm," says Consumer Reports' chief medical advisor, Marvin M. Lipman, M.D. "But they do become less potent over time.” Where should we throw out medicine? Often times, we can simply throw it in the trash, but there are many medicines that should be disposed of properly to avoid harm to waterways, the environment, people and animals. To learn more how to do so, read “How to Safely Dispose of Your Old Medications” on drugs.com.

Photo credit: WildandRavenHome, etsy, link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/41278138/o-n-s-a-l-e-rustic-vintage-suitcase

Consumer Reports quote: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/04/when-should-old-medicines-be-thrown-away/index.htm

“How to Safely Dispose of Your Old Medications” article: https://www.drugs.com/article/medication-disposal.html

Step 3

Spice Rack

It’s uncanny how tiny tins can clutter our kitchen cabinets. Not only that, I’ll bet you’ve been storing many spices you NE-E-VER use! That experimental Thai dish was just that…an experiment. It’s time to purge those herbs!

Extra Tip! Similar to medication, spices can also go bad…flavor bad. But how do we know when to toss in the trash or toss into a meal? Thanks to the good people at McCormick, the general guidelines are as follows:

  • Ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric): 2 to 3 years
  • Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley): 1 to 3 years
  • Seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
  • Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks): 4 years
  • Seeds: 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)
  • Extracts: 4 years (except for vanilla, which will last forever)

Go on, now! Take this list and start checking those expiration dates. You’ll have more space for new spices (and more experimenting) before you know it!

Step 4

Doggie Station

For us puppy parents, many of us know the joy of stepping, dare I say, tripping on old chew toys. This is particularly fun at 6am or in the middle of the night. Start doggie decluttering by throwing out old nylon bones, stuffed (or rather, de-stuffed) animals, tug toys that are frayed and basically useless, and any other items that haven’t been touched by your pooch in weeks.

Extra Tip! Keep useable toys in a box in your dog’s doggie station. Better yet, teach your dog how to put away his/her own toys!

Extra-Extra Tip! Dog slobber and tracked-in, backyard dirt can easily grime up floors. The HomeRight SteamMachine Model 53 is pet-safe because it’s chemical-free and kills 99% of all germs and bacteria including e-coli, salmonella, and staph.

Teach your dog how to put away his/her toys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjfjzhErIF4

Step 5


Ugh. For many of us, this is the black hole of cleaning supplies, much of which can be totally forgotten by being shoved way in the back. They end up never being used, but always to crowd and disorganize the items we need when we need them most.

Extra Tip! This is gonna be a bit painful, but worth it. Follow these steps:

1. Select: pull out EVERY-thing (yes…even that rusted can of who-knows-what from way in the back).

2. Sort: separate everything into their purposes or rooms for which they are used for (e.g. bathroom: Comet, toilet cleaner, tile cleaner, etc.; carpet/furniture cleaners; car cleaning supplies; etc.)

3. Section: place each of your sorted supplies by section in your cabinet for easy access.

Extra Tip! Use carry bins or plastic baskets for each room/purpose if space permits.

Step 6

Undergarment Drawer

Listen carefully, because I’m going to whisper this next part: go through your undies drawer (which also includes bras, boxers, stockings ’n socks) and throw out those ragged, stained, and ripped undergarments now! I promise you’ll feel like a new woman or man once this task is done.

Photo credit: Levi Brown, link: http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/get-your-lingerie-order

Step 7

Makeup Drawer

Do we ever have enough space for makeup? Well, you’re lucky if you do. But, with a simple toss of lapsed lip gloss or scary-old mascara, we’ll be putting on our faces with ease! Extra Tip! Thanks to the clever folks at popsugar.com, here’s a guideline chart for when to throw out our makeup:

Expired makeup chart

Expired makeup guideline chart credit: http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/When-Throw-Makeup-Away-Guidelines-Cosmetic-Life-Span-1124422

Step 8

Wherever You Keep Your Old Tax Records

The location of tax forms can be just about any place in one’s home. When it comes to a file or cardboard box collection of old receipts, phone bill records, credit card statements, tax forms, and, and, and, and…it’s not only physical space that’s being cluttered, it’s mental space, as well. Now, when it comes to the IRS, I’ll let them do the talking on when to shred these records. Visit their “How long should I keep records?” page for specific times to toss.

Photo credit: apartmenttherapy, link: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/our-clean-little-secret-to-smarter-storage-staples-218933?crlt.pid=camp.FztrEy2j1TYs

“How long should I keep records?”: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-long-should-i-keep-records

Step 9

Game Closet

You may never think to throw away anything from this closet or cabinet. But, if you haven’t played with a game or two (or more!) for over a year, it’s contributing to your clutter and it’s gotta go!

Extra Tip! Have a game exchange night! This is a wonderful way to recycle and reuse unused games and/or toys for others to enjoy! Gather your friends and family for a lot of fun where everyone leaves a winner! For those items no one wants, give them to charity.

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