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4 Types of Clutter That Are Important to Get Rid of in 2024

From food to old books and electronics, 2024 is the year to get rid of objects taking up valuable space

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By House & Garden | January 21, 2024 | Diy

Decluttering out your house can be an exhausting process: so many decisions to make, so much stuff to move around, and so much research into the best ways to donate or recycle your unwanted things. As a general rule, we find that if you can't remember the last time you used something, or if it takes a while to dive down and find that memory, it's time to get rid of the item in question.

Here are some guiding principles to consider before starting your decluttering journey:

  • Take everything out of the drawer/cupboard/wardrobe before you start sorting and group it. You need to see all your shirts/tins of food/
  • If you can't remember the last time you used an item (assuming it's something functional), or retrieving the memory takes some effort, it's time to get rid of it.
  • If it's expired (for food or bathroom products), if it's been in the freezer for longer than three months (some might say six months), or it hasn't fit you in the last year, get rid of it.
  • Create seasonal storage, so that winter duvets, woolly jumpers and puffer coats are out of sight when you don't need them. Underbed boxes are perfect for this.
  • If you have a large house and lots of different places where things could be, it can be helpful to make a map or diagram of where everything is, and keep it somewhere easily accessible.
  • Have a plan for what you're going to do with unwanted items. It is overwhelming to pull everything out of your cupboards and have no idea what to do with them.
  • Don't throw things away unless you absolutely have to. Most things can be recycled, and there are more and more facilities to do so easily.
  • As you begin with any given room, set up a box for things to throw away (keep it to a minimum), things to recycle, things to donate, and things to sell. This will make it easier to take action once the room is in order.
  • Setting up a halfway house box in your house can also be helpful for ambiguous items. If you're hesitating about donating something or putting it in the rubbish, relegate it to the box for a week or two, and then go through the box and see if your feelings have changed.

Many retailers have started offering facilities to recycle old electrical items and textiles, or even buy back old furniture, and some offer vouchers in return. IKEA's scheme to buy back assembled pieces of furniture is particularly worth knowing about, since old IKEA furniture can be hard to shift in other ways, and they will give you in-store credit for new pieces. John Lewis has promised to have similar schemes in place in every category by 2025, and currently recycle small tech appliances.

Listing something for free on Gumtree is very often the quickest way to get rid of something. If you're tempted to list an item for a small sum, but you want to prioritise getting it out of the house quickly, think about giving it away instead. People become remarkably unfussy when something is free, and they'll come and collect it without a peep.

For whole house clear-outs that involve multiple kinds of item (furniture, clothes, books, etc), booking a collection with the British Heart Foundation (which is great for furniture) or (which takes clothes, books, toys and small homewares) is a hassle-free way to go.

How to dispose of different types of clutter


If the thought of lugging old books and DVDs down to the charity shop is a dispiriting one, Ziffit (run by second-hand book moguls World of Books) is an excellent option for disposing of them, and you can regain a few pennies at the same time. Scan the ISBN or barcode with the camera on your phone, and the Ziffit app tells you how much they're willing to pay you for it (usually somewhere between 50p and £5). You can then package them up, and organise a collection: minimal effort and a tiny bit of money back, hurrah!

Electrical and electronic items

Small electrical items like hairdryers/DVD players can be a pain to recycle. Looking at your local council website is a sensible place to start, as they will have the location of big recycling centres as well as any nearby WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) bins. These are usually located on major roads or in car parks, and take small devices that plug in. Some retailers also offer WEEE recycling: Currys is one of the best, and will take pretty much anything and give you a small voucher in return. Find out more here. You can also take small gadgets along to John Lewis (whether you bought them there or not), and they will also sometimes collect them when they are making a delivery to your house.

For larger items like vacuums, TVs, and fridges, you will likely only want to get rid of an old one when you're buying a new one, and most retailers will take away the old one when they deliver.

Clothes, bedding and textiles

The usual suspects for wearable clothes and shoes are charity shops, of course, and if you're looking to make a little money back, the apps Vinted and Depop are extremely easy to use (although they do have the disadvantage that you have to deal with buyers). and the British Heart Foundation will come along to collect from your home if you have a lot of stuff.

More of a struggle are the dingy and unwearable clothes, the worn out shoes, things like underwear, socks and pyjamas, and household linens like bedding, curtains, and towels. This is where textile recycling comes in. Check your local council website for details of local places to recycle textiles, including large bins that are often situated out and about, like WEEE bins.

Certain retailers are spearheading initiatives to recycle clothing and other textiles. Marks & Spencer has collaborated with Oxfam for the brilliant Shwopping initiative, which allows you to bring in clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery along with bedding, cushions and towels, whether you think they're reusable or not. They then sort it out for you, reselling what they can and recycling the rest. The Shwopping bins are located in M&S stores, and if you're a Sparks member, you can scan the barcode on the bin and get a reward in your Sparks app. Dunelm has a similar scheme in its stores, which accepts all kinds of textiles, as long as they're bagged and clean.


Food is a reasonably unlikely candidate for decluttering, but if you have found yourself with food or drink that is within its best before date and that you don't intend to use, Olio is a great resource for handing it on to someone else. You can sell things on Olio, but the concept is really about food-sharing, so it's better to give things away. A great idea for any unwanted food gifts, Gousto meals you suddenly don't have time to make, or surplus tins that are taking up too much space in the cupboard. Dried and longlife foods will also find a home at your local food bank–most supermarkets have a drop-off point.

This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.