Decluttering Advice I Don’t Follow (Bad Decluttering Advice?)

decluttering Nov 08, 2023
Bad Decluttering Advice

Ever felt like you're drowning in a sea of decluttering tips? I'm all for living clutter-free and often chat about decluttering, but let's be real - not all advice is a one-size-fits-all deal. So, today I'm spilling the tea on decluttering tips I personally give a pass. Today, I'm sharing decluttering advice I don't follow. Some of it is, dare I say, bad decluttering advice. 

Back when I was dipping my toes into minimalism and getting serious about what I owned, I tried it all. You know, those "golden rules" of minimalism and decluttering that you hear about everywhere.

Let's chat about some of that advice you've probably heard a million times. It might not fit your life or vibe with your style. I'm going to dish on what I think is, honestly, not the greatest advice out there.

#1. Only Touch It Once

Does anyone actually do this?

I definitely touch things more than once when going through my things to declutter. When decluttering my clothes I often stop to try things on and double-check for holes or softness.

When you find yourself stuck in those moments of “to keep or not to keep,” you may end up touching something more than once- and that’s okay!

Now, I get that this isn’t intended to be bad decluttering advice.

The intention behind “touching something once” is to help you avoid situations where second-guessing your initial decision about the item leads you to remove items from the decluttering pile and not make progress.

If you want to declutter without getting overwhelmed, remind yourself that it’s okay to touch things as many times as you need, just make sure the end result is still getting you ahead.

But seriously- are people able to declutter by only touching something once? 😅

#2. Toss It

The age-old notion that “if you don’t use it, toss it” is seen as an easy way to maximize efficiency. However, in some instances, a more thoughtful approach may be required.

Yes there are times when trashing something is the best approach (like when it’s actually trash) but to telling someone to toss everything they don’t need or use is just bad decluttering advice.

We can (and should) be more mindful than that.

In such cases, taking the time to determine if something can find purpose outside of our own needs could make all the difference- whether through charitable donations or selling for some extra cash-ola.

Tossing things out should be the last step you take in your approach to decluttering. There are so many sustainable and responsible ways to declutter that come before trashing.

In the past, I’ve shared strategies like the use it up challenge where you make the most out of the items you have to free up space and save money (since you’re using what you have, rather than buying new.)

Sure, some things aren’t salvageable and need to be tossed, but it shouldn’t be the default.

#3. Declutter Everything All At Once

There are a ton of different theories and methods that you can follow when you’re trying to get the clutter out, and there are circumstances where hammering through it all at once can be a great way to approach things.

But for many, turning their entire house upside down just isn’t realistic and may very well be bad decluttering advice.

You’re better off using organic ways to declutter your space in tiny bubbles of time throughout your day, so you can still declutter without getting overwhelmed.

The progress is MUCH faster than you’d think.

There are also techniques you can use to help you declutter faster and save yourself time while decluttering so you aren’t having to devote large portions of your time towards decluttering.

Trust me- decluttering is a process. Embrace the journey, and don’t stress. 

#4. Display The Things You Love

There’s this claim that if you love it enough to keep it, it needs to be out in the open and on display for you to see. 


Sometimes even if something is “display worthy” it’s not necessarily a good idea to display it. This can lead to a ‘visual clutter’ nightmare. I talk about the difference between actual clutter and visual clutter in my video, 5 Ways You THINK You’re Decluttering But Aren’t.

There are steps you can take to reduce visual clutter but it can occur when our space is filled with things we love but that aren’t displayed harmoniously.

Having everything out on display can most definitely cause the feeling of visual clutter, even though the items themselves aren’t considered “clutter.”

Make sense?

#5. Own The Same Number Of Dishes As People

Personally, this is decluttering advice I don’t follow. With that said, we still have a method that we use to avoid having an excess of dishes.

For us, what works is keeping only a full dishwasher worth of dishes.

This prevents dish pile-ups down the counter when the dishwasher is full while still being able to have some extras when we need them.

If you’ve used this technique and it worked for you, that’s awesome! Just don’t think that if you own more than 4 plates you’re not living a clutter-free lifestyle.

A simple way to declutter without getting overwhelmed is to approach items such as dishes with a happy balance and try not to overcomplicate it ✔️

#6. Just Buy It Again

I’ve heard people say that if it’s under $20, just toss it and rebuy it rather than store it (even if you plan on using it again in the future).

If you know you’re going to use something, avoid the waste cycle! If it’s getting used, it holds value and isn’t considered clutter. Period.

This is typically when people associate minimalism with “privilege” because there is a huge emphasis on just tossing things out and rebuying them to avoid storing them. Safe to say, this one falls into bad decluttering advice in my book. 

Don’t toss it unless it needs to be tossed. It’s important to still be mindful of how we’re removing items from our space to avoid contributing to further waste outside of our homes.

Having said that, I do understand that the intention (and intent is super important) is to keep people from hoarding items “just in case”. Having simple rules can help some people to let go of things they aren’t actually using (things that are truly clutter).

Take the intent, leave the waste.

#7. Hold Everything To See If It Sparks Joy

If you’ve ever looked into decluttering, you’ve probably heard of the Konmari Method where she puts a huge emphasis on keeping items based on whether or not they trigger a “spark.”

I know it’s a trending topic and that some people love it, but there are people, that don’t! (like me 🙋‍♀️ )

If you’re trying to declutter without getting overwhelmed, you may want to avoid this one. At least in the beginning! Here’s why:

When you’re holding items and intentionally searching for an emotion, you’ll find one. Even if it means creating a feeling you didn’t have before.

Result? You end up overthinking the items you’re trying to eliminate and feel overwhelmed by the abundance of difficult emotions rising to the surface. It becomes a stumbling block.

So while some may find this method to be incredibly helpful, others they may find that it intensifies the already difficult process of navigating the emotions of decluttering.

#8. Need An “X” Piece Capsule Wardrobe

Personally, I love capsule wardrobes. Although I don’t feel it’s necessary to obtain a specific number when you’re looking to condense your wardrobe.

Maybe you’re someone who owns way too many clothes and for you, having a set number of items serves as motivation, giving you a direction to work towards. That’s fantastic! 

In this case, I’m talking more about thinking you need a specific amount of items, and that you need to achieve a certain number to be successful.

I’ve heard it all, the 50-item capsule, the 33-item capsule… and people rave about them!

If it suits you, great. Just don’t feel as though you have to hit a specific number to accomplish a clutter-free wardrobe.

#9. Don’t Bother Selling

I think there is some give and take regarding selling. There are instances where you’ll encounter high-quality items you just aren’t using and you can make a good return on your investment.

On the other hand, spending months on end trying to sell something that just isn’t selling, and isn’t worth very much can end up being a huge waste of your time.

If you want to declutter without getting overwhelmed…set rules for yourself that make sense!

One rule that I use, is I only sell something if it’s worth “X amount of dollars”, and I donate or give away anything below that.

Some people struggle with the concept of giving something for free, but it’s a nice way to free up space and avoid situations where you get sick of trying to sell something and decide to toss it in the trash.

Using the “freebie” method can also carry the benefit of people coming to pick the items up from you, which saves you from having to pack and deliver a box of donations to the store.

As for selling, If it’s worth money, you can even use that money as an investment to buy upgrades for your space, or pay down some debt!

#10. If You Haven’t Used It In A Few Months Let It Go

We all know that certain items are seasonal, so just because we aren’t using it now and it doesn’t apply to the current season, doesn’t mean it won’t be something that we find ourselves needing later.

I’m not just talking about annual seasons! I’m talking about seasons of interest, seasons of life. You may take a few months off before getting into your semi-annual crochet binges.

With that said, a situation where this advice might be more applicable to use is when you start finding items that you say you’ll use one day but never do.

#11. Never Buy Bulk

I’m not a big bulk person, I don’t even have a Costco Membership (true story).

But there are situations where it makes sense to buy things in bulk, especially if you know it’s something that runs low in inventory regularly.

My breakfast Kind bars are always out of stock in the almond butter flavor, which is my favorite! [I shouldn’t even be sharing that because they’re already so hard to find. 🤦‍♀️] I’ll buy 3 or 4 boxes at a time to make sure I don’t run out and there’s no doubt I’ll eat them all.

We also find it beneficial to stock up on diapers because we know we’re going to need them and it saves multiple trips to the store which eats up gas (and gas is a luxury item these days).

#12. Just Donate It

Kind of like tossing, only some things should be donated.

Believe it or not, the trash bill for donation centers is incredibly high which is why many places will put restrictions on donating items they know aren’t going to sell.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t a hard rule to live by. Sometimes your trash is just trash. Use your judgment on deciding whether it can still serve as value to someone else.

#13. Keep A Maybe Box

To me, this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

It typically results in the “out of sight, out of mind” issue where you totally forgot you put that box of clutter there…like 9 months ago.

For some people, this might be a great way to overcome holding onto items you just aren’t quite ready to let go of. But if you aren’t attached to an item and are struggling to justify why you should keep it, trust your instinct!

#14. Everything You Own Should Be At 100%

While I am a big fan of buying quality over quantity, it’s not realistic to think that you’re home will be full of perfect items (nor should it be).

Most of us have had at least one item throughout our lives that we absolutely loved, even when it was worn and torn and looking a lot more like “10%”. My oversized, slightly yellowed (and not supposed to be), Disney Minion shirt comes to mind. It was so comfy and I LOVED it!

When it comes to your belongings and what’s considered to be valuable, it has a lot less to do with the condition or how expensive it was. The value of your items should be based on how they make you feel and how often you’re using them.

#15. Declutter ‘Community’ Rooms First

Many people say that when you start your decluttering journey, you should start with the rooms that are being used by everyone- the entryway, kitchen, living room, etc.

Personally? I think the best transformations happen from the inside out.

I teach people to start in the place that is going to be the most influential in motivating them and have the biggest impact on their well-being, which is typically the bedroom. Creating your own personal safe haven that allows you to feel rested and rejuvenated is going to help you start and finish your day in a space that makes you feel GOOD!

In the end, your decluttering journey is about helping you feel good in your space, not everyone else!


So there you have it- some “bad” or in other words, “misguided” information about decluttering your space effectively. I hope this gave you some insight that will allow you to declutter without getting overwhelmed- all while effectively curating a clutter-free space.


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