Spring Cleaning :: Easy Guide to Decluttering


Are you ready for spring cleaning? Something about spring sparks the desire to start fresh.

At the top of my spring cleaning list? Decluttering the house.

Studies show that decluttering your home can have many positive benefits on your self-worth, sleep, mood, productivity, focus, and relaxation.

I used to find it overwhelming to start, though.

Over the years, I’ve created a list that helps me systematically work through different areas of my home. I’ve found that this makes the process a lot more manageable and efficient.


It’s the heart of the home, yet there are so many missed opportunities for decluttering here.

  • Food
    • Toss expired food.
    • Donate packaged food (like canned) that’s still good but your family won’t eat.
  • Spices
    • Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months.
    • A trick is to smell each container; if there’s no scent, there will be no flavor.
    • My kids like to use discarded spices in mud pies and other concoctions.
  • Unidentified frozen objects
    • If you don’t know what it is, what is it doing in your freezer?
  • Kitchen sponge
    • When was the last time you replaced the sponge on your kitchen sink? If it’s been more than a month, replace it.
    • I also read that sanitizing the sponge with a spin in the dishwasher once a week is important.
  • Cookbooks
    • Donate or sell cookbooks you never use.
    • Find them a home with friends, family, or thrift stores.
  • Take out menus
    • I know some people like to keep take-out menus for their favorite restaurants. OK, we’ll leave those. But discard the ones you don’t typically order from. Menus exist online for those rare occasions when you actually need them.
  • Take out condiments
    • Ketchup should be discarded after about 9 months.
    • Mustard and taco sauce have a shelf life of around 12-18 months.

»  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Spring Cleaning? Local Nonprofits Accepting Donations  «


This is another space that we utilize daily but tends to house a lot of clutter.

  • Clothing
    • Donate or sell anything that hasn’t been worn for over a year.
      • I like to use the reverse hanger trick. For folded items, I look at the bottom of the stack.
      • I’ve gotten into the habit of doing spring cleaning around the same time each year, so this method works well for us.
    • Donate or sell kids’ clothing that’s too small.
  • Shoes
    • Declutter anything broken beyond repair, worn out, missing its pair, or that doesn’t fit.
    • Donate or sell the pairs that are in good condition.
  • Costumes
    • Donate or sell costumes that are too small or aren’t popular anymore (e.g., if the kids have moved on from ninjas to superheroes and it’s obvious that ninjas won’t have a comeback).
  • Socks
    • Anything with holes or without a viable pair.
    • Most of these end up in our scraps bin (which get used to make toy clothes or accessories and other crafts).
  • Formalwear
    • Donate or sell formalwear that you haven’t worn in a long time, won’t use because it doesn’t fit well, or doesn’t match your style anymore.
    • There are nonprofits that accept formalwear donations to help people who need formalwear but can’t afford it.
Easy Guide to Spring Cleaning
Photo credit: depositphotos.com


  • Toothbrushes
    • The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three months and after being sick.
  • Makeup
    • I recently learned that makeup has an expiration date (queue the brain explosion emoji).
    • Mascaras should be replaced every three months.
    • Concealers and foundations are good for about a year.
    • Lipsticks, eye shadows, and blush should be replaced every two years.
  • Glasses and contact lenses
    • If you have a new eye prescription, donate old glasses and unopened contact lenses.


  • Toys
    • Donate toys that kids have outgrown.
    • Involve the kids in the process of selecting what should go.
  • Coloring books
    • Pick your and your kids’ favorite works of art (think 1-2 pages per book) and display them in a gallery wall or a photo album.
    • Recycle the rest.
  • Crayons and markers
    • Toss dried markers and crayons that are too small to hold.
    • For a long time, I’d separate the small pieces of crayons thinking we could use them for a cool craft. I never actually found a use for these, so now I just throw them out. (But please let me know if you’ve found a cool use for these or a more sustainable way to discard them.)
  • Craft supplies
    • During spring cleaning, you’ll find me fishing for dried-up glue sticks and old paintbrushes . . . I usually try to repurpose a lot of these, but I often end up just tossing them. (Again, let me know if you have a more creative and sustainable solution to discarding these.)
  • Board games and puzzles
    • Donate or sell anything with missing pieces.


  • Air filters
    • Change dirty air filters that shorten the lifespan of your HVAC system.
    • I was told that ideally air filters should be checked once a month.
    • Bonus: schedule a professional annual maintenance checkup for your HVAC system.
  • Medication
  • Holiday cards
    • At this point, you’ve enjoyed them for over three months and you’ve updated contact information. It’s time to recycle them. If you really want to keep them, pop them in a photo album to keep them organized.
  • Recycle last year’s calendars, datebooks, planners . . .
  • Recycle business cards with outdated info.
  • Chargers, cables, remote controls
    • Friends or relatives may be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger.
    • Recycle anything else in electronics stores (think those bins at the entrance of every Best Buy).
  • Paint
    • Properly sealed (airtight) paint can last up to 10 years if kept at an even temperature and prevented from freezing. But most of us store paint in the garage or shed where the temperature swings “spoil” it much quicker.
    • Throw out old paint cans with bulging lids, leaky seams, or a thick layer of dried paint. Be aware of the city’s regulations to dispose of paint.
    • Donate usable paint to a local charity.
  • Receipts
    • If you think you might return an item or need to keep a receipt for the warranty, scan them and keep electronic copies.
    • Recycle paper receipts, keeping in mind that thermal receipts shouldn’t go in the recycle bin.
  • Musical instruments
    • Donate or sell musical instruments that your family no longer uses.


Overall, I try to be responsible in my home’s decluttering efforts by donating as much as I can. I have learned a lot about sustainability and conscientious disposal through resources like earth911.com and the City of El Paso.

Going through this process consistently for about five years has also taught me to be more mindful in managing our family’s consumption throughout the year (which saves money).

I know that as moms we don’t need an extra item on our to-do list. But spring cleaning and decluttering is a worthwhile annual practice that helps me keep my home fresh and organized.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here