Feel Cozy With This Winter Decluttering Routine

Winter Decluttering Routine


Winter might seem like an odd time to declutter, but I’ve found that this colder, holiday-packed season is actually the perfect time to clean out items you forget about throughout the rest of the year. The winter months really can be cozy and clutter free after decluttering these 15 categories.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

A decade as a minimalist has taught me the value of seasonal decluttering, even in the winter months. Donating winter items I no longer need allows me to enjoy a cozier home while also clearing out my space and helping others.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Are The Benefits Of Winter Decluttering?

What Are The Benefits Of Winter Decluttering

When the days get shorter and colder, I spend more time indoors with the people I care about. Growing up in New Hampshire made me used to the cold, but even I don’t enjoy conversations on the patio in freezing weather.

winter days get shorter and colderThe extra time inside during this part of the year provides the perfect opportunity to notice the clutter keeping me from enjoying the coziness of the season. It also helps me embrace the holiday cheer that comes along with winter, without clutter or chaos interfering.

You might be tempted to wait for a spring clean, but I’ve found that taking the time to do a winter cleanout provides valuable advantages that more than make up for the work you invest.

Less Stress At Home During The Winter

In the warmer months, I love to spend time outside. I keep a garden, travel often, and hike every chance I get. But when winter confines me indoors for long periods of time, clutter and messiness become stressors.

Whether or not you’re a minimalist, having too much stuff packed around you when you’re stuck inside can make you feel claustrophobic. To lessen the stress of the walls closing in and help you feel cozy instead of confined, try winter decluttering. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover some benefits of minimalism along the way.

enjoying the coziness of the season

Easier Spring Cleaning In Your Near Future

While winter is known for Netflix binging and hot cocoa refilling, spring is the go-to time for freshening up your space with a good cleaning. Instead of giving yourself an overwhelming project to dread all season long, why not get a head start?

Cleaning out the excess from your living and storage areas during the colder months can let you focus on the better parts of spring cleaning when the time arrives. You’ll be able to open your windows, do a good dusting, and plant a few flowers instead of sifting through winter clutter.

spring decluttering

The Whole Family Can Work Together In The Winter

Because of the weather, school breaks, and plentiful holidays, families usually spend more time at home in the winter. More free time equals more time to work on projects. Even if it’s just you and your partner, the backdrop of holiday festivities and family-focused fun adds extra motivation and enjoyment to the process of winter decluttering.

Your Family Can Learn What Really Makes The Holidays Meaningful

clutter free gift ideasIf you want to take your winter decluttering another step in the minimalist direction, you might consider adopting a new gifting tradition that helps everyone focus on what’s really important. Personally, I have a rule of exchanging non-physical gifts to encourage less clutter.

The truth is, we accumulate a lot of stuff over the holidays—maybe even items we don’t need or want. Instead of discouraging people from giving, why not put a positive, non-material spin on your gifting and ask for consumable goods, tickets to an event, or even a membership or subscription?

Every Christmas, my brother gives me a beautiful, mouthwatering beef tenderloin. At the end of the day, I enjoy that tenderloin more than I would another knick-knack I’d feel obligated to keep even if I didn’t have space for.

Winter Decluttering Drawbacks

Winter Decluttering Drawbacks

While I’m definitely a fan of doing an annual winter cleanout, every season comes with its own set of decluttering difficulties.

Here’s what you should be prepared for in the winter

  • Icy weather can make donating a safety hazard.
  • An influx of gifts can make clutter more overwhelming.
  • Holiday traveling might keep you away from home.
  • The cold might discourage you from cleaning out storage areas.

Take these challenges into account. Some of them can encourage decluttering if you let them. Let the idea of gifts entice you to do an “out with the old, in with the new” cleanse to prepare for the holidays. Have a bottomless hot cocoa day to make decluttering those colder storage areas more enjoyable.

If you have safety concerns or traveling obligations that will keep you from doing a good winter decluttering, consider getting ahead of the game with a fall declutter instead.

fall decluttering

15 Things To Declutter During Your Winter Cleanout

Things To Declutter During Your Winter Cleanout

Winter is the season that ends one year and begins another, which, in a weird way, gives winter a lot of power. A good winter cleanout can help you end one year well and begin the next one on the right track.

Because it bookends the other seasons, winter is the best time to declutter what you didn’t use throughout the year, as well as the bulky winter items you don’t want to store throughout the next one. Take advantage of the opportunity and get ready to declutter these 15 categories.

things you can live without as a minimalist

Declutter Your Seasonal Decor

The beginning of winter is the time to pack fall decorations away and prepare for upcoming holidays. It’s so easy to accumulate more seasonal decorations than we use (or even like). Winter provides the perfect opportunity to declutter seasonal decorations while they’re moving in and out of storage.

Clean Out Bulky Winter Clothes

Winter is the only season I see most of my coats, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, and boots. If you only pull these items out during this season, the time to clear your stash of winter clothing is now. You might be surprised how fast this process can be.

Simply fill a donate box with items that are no longer needed, wanted, or useful.

Common Winter Decluttering Items to Donate

  • Coats that are too small
  • Boots that are too scuffed
  • Gloves that are too worn
  • Scarves you just don’t like anymore
  • Ugly Christmas sweaters you bought for a party
  • Outdated or unnecessary items for your climate
winter decluttering items to donate

Board Games And Movies Are Easiest To Declutter in Winter

I love hiking and gardening in warmer weather, but when winter keeps me inside, there’s nothing better than a good board game or movie night with loved ones. It makes sense to declutter these items while they’re out.

Checklist for deciding which movies to get rid of

  • Have I watched it this year?
  • Can I easily stream it?
  • Do I want to watch it in the coming year?
  • Would I prefer to have it on my shelf or a new favorite?
Board games are a little harder for me to part with. I can’t tell you how many memories I’ve made over a good game of Wingspan or Settlers of Catan.

The games I declutter during the winter are the ones I haven’t played that year, have lost irreplaceable pieces to, have duplicates of, or just don’t enjoy anymore. Games are meant to be enjoyed, so if I’ve fallen out of love with them, I should pass them on to someone who will.

Having fewer games means that the ones I own are truly my favorites. These games deserve shelf space in my home and will continue to help me connect with loved ones at the table.

winter decluttering includes getting rid of unused board games

Declutter Digital Photos From The Comfort Of Your Couch

I’m not that family member snapping unflattering candid shots every five minutes on Christmas day, but even I take more photos around the holidays. Taking this into account, I’ve made the winter months my designated time for a solid digital declutter.

The first time I tried it, I was amazed at how much storage I freed up on my devices. I never thought that crowded digital storage stressed me out, but weirdly enough, it did.

digital minimalism

Declutter Piles Of Mail And Paper

Piles of paper are some of the worst types of clutter because they can represent unpleasant responsibilities, real or perceived. Almost everyone I know outside of the minimalist community has a tendency to hang on to papers, “just in case they need them someday.” Sometimes half of the pile is just junk mail.

I realized a while ago that’s just not practical, so I regularly follow the same four steps to decluttering paperwork to keep myself in check. This approach offers a little more flexibility than Marie Kondo’s principle of throwing everything away.

declutter paperwork and mail

Getting rid of paper piles can help reduce anxiety and make your cozy winter retreat more enjoyable.

Decluttering Linens Keeps You Cozy Without Messy Closets

Blankets are the actual best. They’re soft, cozy, and often gifts from loved ones. It’s easy to forget how many you have until you’re pulling them out daily, scattering piles all over the floor.

decluttering linens for winterLinens are difficult to declutter because they are useful. Sheet sets are expensive, blankets are warm, and towels are necessary. Instead of focusing on how useful each item is, decide how many you need for your family or designate a container for each category of item.

After that, decluttering your linens will be easy. Simply take away your least favorite items until you’ve reached your preset number or filled your set container or closet shelf.

Declutter Big Winter Items To Free Up Storage

Bulky winter items like skis, shovels, and sleds are high-priority items for winter decluttering because they’re only useful in one season and take up a lot of room.

Ask yourself practical questions

  • Does it snow a lot where you live?
  • Do you still ski, or did you give that up in college?
  • Have your kids outgrown the sleds hanging in the garage?
These questions will help you find out what you actually need. If you’re hanging on to these items because you’re sentimental, give yourself permission to fill the space they’re currently taking with things you can create new memories with.

Warm Weather Clothing Is Easier To Declutter In Winter

Whether you’re the type to pack away your warmer weather clothes when you pull out your winter stuff or not, winter is a good time to go through the clothes you’re not using because of the weather change.

These clothes will be more easily accessible because they won’t be in the laundry basket half of the time, and you can easily see what you have too much of and what items are so worn you need to discard them.

project 333 simplify your closet

If you have kids, you’re likely to find a lot of clothing items that won’t fit them next year while sorting through lighter clothing. There might even be winter items in storage that fit them last year but definitely won’t this season.

This is an easy winter decluttering win. Removing unwearable clothes, shoes, or winter accessories will free up room for new things they can wear.

Decluttering Expired Food Improves Your Holiday Cooking

I love cooking meals from scratch, even going so far as to roast my own coffee beans. I enjoy cooking during the winter months because I can use the extra time indoors to devote to my favorite holiday recipes.

Taking the time to sort through expired or unwanted pantry items makes my holiday traditions and culinary adventures so much easier and more enjoyable.

how to organize a small pantry

Extra Kitchen Supplies Shouldn’t Stop Your Winter Recipes

Sometimes I find kitchen supplies I don’t need anymore during my food declutter. Just like clearing my pantry helps my holiday cooking and baking go smoothly, decluttering extra utensils, dishes, and random gadgets gives me more space to satisfy my inner foodie.

Decluttering Beauty Supplies For A Winter Routine Easier

When the cold winter air is drying out your skin, you don’t want to spend time sorting through cluttered beauty supplies to find moisturizer or chapstick. Declutter your health and beauty supplies to keep your routine simple and easily find essential items.

decluttering makeup

Sports And Exercise Equipment

Over the years, you may have accumulated equipment for sports or workouts that didn’t work for you. Or maybe you have equipment that you use so much it’s worn out. Either way, there’s no need to feel guilty about getting rid of unused or overly used exercise equipment. Give yourself permission to find something that works better for you.

I personally like to do my workouts at the gym or outside so that I don’t have to store bulky equipment. The key is finding what works for you.

minimalist workout routine

Cleaning Products You Don’t Want To Use This Winter

Holidays usually mean more guests, which, if we’re honest, means a greater focus on our cleaning routine. I like to declutter expired cleaning products as well as ones I don’t like the smell of or that just don’t work well so that my winter cleaning can be as painless as possible.

minimalist cleaning approach

Empty Bags And Boxes Left Empty After Winter Decluttering

After decluttering your holiday decorations and seasonal supplies, you might find that you have an excess of storage containers. This is a good thing! It means you’ve succeeded in minimizing the stuff and stress of your winter life, but it also might mean that it’s time to pare down your storage container inventory.

How To Decide What To Keep

How To Decide What To Keep When Winter Decluttering

Whenever I’m struggling over whether to part with one of my belongings, my favorite way of deciding what to keep is the 20/20 rule.

This rule tests each item you’re considering decluttering against two simple criteria:

  • Can the item by replaced in 20 minutes?
  • Can the item by replaced for $20?

If the answer to both questions is yes, the item gets decluttered.

It’s as simple as that. There are several other rules I find helpful, and I talk all about them in my post about rules minimalists live by.

rules minimalists live by

What To Do With Items After Decluttering

What To Do With Items After Decluttering

After decluttering, I give myself three options for the stuff I’m getting rid of.

What I don’t do is allow myself to think through a list of all the people I know who might want each item. It’s time consuming and just gives me extra steps to complete before getting the stuff out of my house.

If I know of a specific need or if somebody asks for something, I obviously make an exception, but generally this is a good rule to follow.

four box decluttering

Checklist For Cleaning Up After Your Winter Declutter

Checklist For Cleaning Up After Your Winter Declutter

You’ve made it through your 15 categories for winter decluttering. The hard part is done, but now you’re left with a home to keep clean and tidy throughout the winter season. We want to keep our spring cleaning nice and easy, remember?

put a sunday reset on your calendarOne of my favorite habits that I’ve implemented in over a decade of minimalism is the Sunday reset.

Whether you think of Sunday as ending one week or beginning the next, it is the perfect day to habitually reset your house so that your newly decluttered home stays clean and tidy all winter long.

For a more thorough checklist of what supplies to keep handy and what routines to follow to keep your home clean this winter, check out my essential supplies and advice for minimalist cleaning.

how to organize a small house

Your Turn!

  • What winter items take up too much storage space in your home?
  • If your home was decluttered, what winter activities would you be able to focus on with your loved ones?

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