Remove Clutter and/or Find New Uses for Old Things!

This is a great time of year to go through closets, cupboards, and drawers and get rid of stuff. You want to look for things you no longer like, use, need, want, or have room for.

This exercise ought to be done at least once a year, and you’ll find you’ll gain so much mental, emotional, and physical energy as a result of clearing out your clutter.

But now some thoughts on the things you run onto as you go on this clutter hunt: It’s always a smart and frugal idea to look at things with new eyes. In other words, are there new uses for old things waiting to be discovered?

For example, let’s say you have a salad spinner that isn’t used that often and is taking up valuable kitchen space. Maybe you ought to consider moving it to your laundry area. WHY? Because a salad spinner is perfect for drying your wool and cashmere sweaters after hand washing.

You’d need a large spinner, though (the one with a pull cord is especially effective). Just place your sweater inside, attach the lid, and spin away. Then lay your sweater out on a clean fluffy bath towel and smooth out the wrinkles. You’ll find this technique cuts the drying time almost in half.

It also makes a perfect cake cover when transporting or when part of an outdoor meal (super protection from bugs). Or you might just stick to the salad side of things and use it to distribute dressing evenly (or undo a vinaigrette overdose); a gently spin is all it takes!

Here’s another item folks often get rid of: the rice cooker. If you really don’t use it, then do pass it on. But if you have room for it in your bathroom, you might think twice about getting rid of it. WHY? Because it’s a terrific way to steam hot towels for an at-home spa experience. Just wet and wring out wash cloths, fold in thirds, roll up, and in the cooker for about five minutes. (Transfer these hot towels with tongs to a plate to cool a bit.)

And here are a couple ideas for those plastic placemats you might have and think you no longer want. Consider cutting one in half and using as a mouse pad at your computer. (I wish I’d thought of this before I spent money on a new one!) And if you need coasters, a plastic placemat is just the thing. Cut it into circles or squares and you’re set.

Finally, as you’re looking for things you no longer like, use, need, want, or have room for, you just might decide your stained and burnt oven mitt(s) has to go. I’d agree. I think kitchen work should be done with things that are nice to look at and make my heart sing.

But here’s one legitimate use for keeping it (just not in the kitchen): If you have a cat or kitty, keep it with your pet items. It will come in very handy when you hold a squirming kitten to administer medicine or whatever else causes the claws to come out. You’ll love how this technique will minimize the flesh wounds!

So in conclusion, take some time this summer to create more user-friendly spaces by getting rid of a few things. But at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to find new uses for old things. It has “smart,” “surprising,” and “good for the earth” all wrapped up into one!


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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