Cardboard Boxes Hanging on to empty cartons may seem like a good idea, for shipping gifts and storing items, but they hog space and tend to break up over time, says organizer Laura Leist, of eliminatechaos.com.
Bonnie Joy Dewkett, of The Joyful Organizer, suggests a simple litmus test for tired lights and ornaments. Ask yourself if you displayed the item in the last year. If not, cast it off.
Free up floor space by weeding out any shoes that are uncomfortable or beyond repair.
Give your closet room to breathe by collecting wire hangers to recycle at your dry cleaner. Create a uniform look and save space by replacing mismatched hangers over time with ultra-thin ones like Joy Mangano's Huggable Hangers, hsn.com, $48/48.
Pare down jars and bottles to only what can be stored in drawers—you want clutter-free countertops. Give away duplicates and toss anything expired.
Threadbare towels and mismatched or torn bed linens can be ripped into squares for cleaning and dusting. "But be realistic about how many rags you actually need," Mellen says. He suggests checking with a local vet or animal shelter that accepts old towels.
Don't hang on to boxes and bottles of underperforming softeners and detergents. Everything you need for cleaning day should fit on one or two shelves or on a nearby table.
Brooms, Mops, Dusters
Clear out the jumble of cleaning tools and supplies on the floor around the washer and dryer. Dispose of anything you're not using or that can't be placed in a closet, on a shelf or on the wall.
Limit the number of winter coats each family member keeps and store or donate the rest. Find a local coat drive near you at onewarmcoat.org.
Move off-season gear—like hockey sticks or baseball bats—to the garage. Donate or resell what your kids have outgrown.
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and styles are subject to change.