Expert Advice

8 Things an Organizing Expert Wants You to Purge From Your Space, Stat

Your ultimate decluttering checklist.

By Kristen Garaffo
Sanne Vloet kitchen

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Spring cleaning is the perfect time to tackle those annoying jobs you tend to skip over the rest of the year. We’re talking about cleaning the baseboards, shampooing the rugs, and laundering the curtains—all things that are very difficult if you’re having to maneuver around piles of clutter. As someone who moved two years ago and still has small stacks of stuff sprinkled throughout my home, this is my reality. A spring declutter can be just as satisfying as a spring clean, and both can make for a very rewarding and fulfilling home refresh.

Camille Styles sitting at coffee table - decluttering checklist.

The Ultimate Decluttering Checklist to Clean Sweep Your Space

I chatted with Natalie Ron, a professional organizer and founder of Swoon Spaces to get the scoop on all the things to declutter before you dive into a deep spring clean. As a professional, she’s seen it all, and her organization tips are simple and straightforward. Read on to check out our essential decluttering checklist that is sure to create calm amidst the chaos this season at home. 

Expired Skincare and Beauty Products

If your medicine cabinet is overflowing with serums, makeup, and other toiletries, there’s probably a good chance that some of it has expired. Plus, you may have more products that you actually use. If this rings a bell, Ron suggests that it’s time to purge.

“Start with the products you’ve never really reached for after using once or twice in the last year,” she suggests. “If you don’t reach for them, it means you’re not really in love with the product. If you can trace back to a year or more since you purchased it, it’s time to let it go to make space for something new that you actually like using.” 

In addition to tossing products you don’t use, makeup and skincare all have expiration dates. Makeup will typically have a number followed by an M on the packaging, which indicates how many months the product is good for. (If you see a 6M on a mascara tube, that means it’s good for 6 months.) In general, it’s a good idea to toss anything more than a year old if it’s open. If you’re not sure, see if the product has an odor. If it smells off, throw it away.

Calm bedroom decluttering checklist.

Old Linens

I admit, my linen closet is a bit of a disaster. It’s overflowing with extra sheets and dingy towels that are a little worse for wear. Ron says these are fantastic items to purge and has a hack that will keep your linen closet orderly all year long. 

“The rule of thumb is to have only one extra set of sheets for each human in your household,” she states. “If you share a bed with your partner, you should only have one extra set of sheets for your bed. You only need one set of guest sheets per bed and one extra set of towels for each guest or person living at home.” 

Torn sheets and towels are usually welcome donations at animal shelters, or if they’re in good shape, posting them to buy nothing groups is another option. Don’t get rid of all of them though. “You may want to keep one old towel for a pet whenever they get wet or get a bath!” Ron suggests. 

Woman reading.

Chipped or Outdated Mugs

Ron has organized many kitchens and knows a thing or two about the kind of clutter that piles up here. “Mugs are a very common household item most people accumulate,” she shares. It makes sense, as mugs make fun souvenirs, and are generally corporate gifts from employers. You may not love every mug you own, and the good news is they’re relatively easy to declutter. “Only keep the mugs that are meaningful to you and keep the set of mugs you may have that actually match,” she encourages. 

Woman in kitchen.

Food Storage Containers

Who doesn’t have a kitchen cabinet full of mismatched food storage lids and containers? It’s quite normal to have a pile of storage containers with lost lids, or even warped plastic. “It’s always fun to do a quick sweep of your kitchen to remove the unnecessary clutter, and Tupperware that doesn’t have a lid match is an easy win,” Ron exclaims.

Take all of your storage containers out of the cabinet and make sure they each have a lid that goes. If your containers are plastic, check to see that the lids actually fit on top securely and that they don’t have any lingering food odors, since plastic is porous. Better yet, decide to invest in glass containers if you haven’t already. These containers will last much longer, and are gentler on the environment as well.  

Plastic Utensils and Sauce Packets

Take out dinners come in clutch when schedules are extra busy, or you’re just craving pad thai from your favorite spot. If you have a drawer full of ketchup packets and take out napkins, this is a great spot to sort through. And Ron says you don’t need to get rid of all of it. “Leave one or two plastic utensil packets, disposable chopsticks, and sauce packets, then toss the rest,” she says. 


A spring closet clean-out is a must, especially since you have to put away winter clothing anyway. Even if you don’t make it a huge purge, there is one item in your closet that Ron says you can definitely declutter.

“As an organizer, socks are by far the most abundant category of clothing that can always be edited down by 50% easily,” she says. “We all have mismatched socks, and accumulate too many.”

If your sock drawer is overflowing, Ron suggests tossing socks that no longer have matches, and narrowing your collection down to between 15 and 20 pairs total. If the additional socks are in good condition, they can be donated. “Fun fact: socks are the most in demand for families in need and aren’t donated nearly enough,” she shares. 

Clean shelves - decluttering checklist.

Dry Cleaning Hangers

While you’re in your closet, toss any metal hangers you still may be holding onto from the dry cleaners. “In my time as an organizer, it still surprises me how many metal hangers from the cleaners are left in our client’s homes,” Ron says. “Get rid of those as soon as you get home with your dry cleaning. If you still have some left, take a few minutes to remove them.”

If you haven’t already invested in matching hangers, whether they’re velvet or wood, spring would be a great time to give your closet a refresh by doing just that. “It makes a huge difference in the look of your closet, but more importantly, the way you experience your closet and clothing daily,” Ron explains. 

Old Gift Wrapping and Stationary

It can be tricky to know what seasonal items can be decluttered, especially since you only need specific items at certain times of year. If you have a spot in your home for gifting, Ron recommends doing a quick sweep of all of the items you have gathered over the years. 

“Discard small bits of wrapping paper, ribbon and name tags that aren’t in great shape anymore,” she says. “Only keep the items that you know you can use in the upcoming year, and make sure to use them!”