Graph made with the help of GraphJam FlashBuilder.
As part of my (endless) organization/cleaning purge, I decided to tackle my makeup collection recently, with some very surprising results. (Bonus: tips for helping you spring-clean your own makeup collection are at the end of this article!)
I had thought my makeup collection was about as streamlined and simple as it could get, since I don’t wear much makeup these days anyway. But I noticed that there were a few products that I wasn’t using as much. So, I literally took the organizer that serves as my makeup storage and dumped it out on the bed to sort through it…and this is what happened next:
Products Before the Purge
The Purging Process
Once I had sorted each category, I took a long, hard look at each product. Was I using this? Was it still safe to use? Did it work like I wanted?
One thing I saw was that several of my lip glosses had begun to separate and change color slightly in the tube. Yuck! (The pictured lip gloss was bought in 2011–definitely wayyyyy too old to be using!)
This lip palette, for instance, was bought back in 2007, according to my note in Sharpie on the bottom of it. Yikes! (This is a really handy tip for keeping track of how old your makeup is–note the month and year on the bottom of it when you get it, and then you’ll know when it’s too old to use!)
Some of the products, like this mini-makeup kit, have been gifts–and gifts are especially hard for me to get rid of because I’m very sentimental. But in this case, this kit has been sitting in my box for at least the last 4 years…:/
I was REALLY tempted to quit in the middle of this purge, to just keep all of the makeup, but when I realized how old some of it was, I knew I couldn’t in good faith keep putting that on my face. Makeup definitely doesn’t last forever! So I set my mind to be ruthless about getting rid of the oldest products, the products I didn’t use, etc. (I don’t wear a lot of makeup, so I didn’t need all of them anyway.)
I took out the foundation powders that I haven’t used since I graduated college in 2007 (seriously!), but I swapped in a couple of the lip stains to see if I could use them as “cream blushes.” (Note: you can’t really blend them well enough to make them work, sadly.)
What I Kept and What I Got Rid Of
Just to show you exactly how much I got rid of, here’s the “After” picture of my makeup organizer:
And here’s the basket of stuff that went away:
Yep, I got rid of about half my makeup collection in one fell swoop! Pretty amazing for this hoarder in rehab! LOL
To Purge Your Own Collection
- Mark each makeup piece with the date you first used it so you know when to throw it out. (This is SO helpful!) Refer to this article for when to throw away various makeup products.
- Check each product for changes in texture, smell, or application; if it looks “goopy,” smells weird, or doesn’t seem to have the same “oomph” that it used to, it’s probably gone bad.
- Be ruthless when deciding whether to purge an item. Are you REALLY going to use that product if you keep it, or are you keeping it to justify the expense of it? (I kept falling into this trap during the makeup purge, and I had to keep thinking, “Is this something I REALLY love and use?”)
If you’ve ever tried to help anyone else clean their house out, you know how physically difficult it is, even if the person hasn’t hoarded things. From personal experience, however, I can safely say that helping a hoarder clean things out is about 3 times as physically exhausting and about twice as emotionally exhausting–for all parties!
So, if a hoarder in your life ever asks you to help them with their home, you can rely on the following road-tested guide as you work. This will keep you both less frustrated and more productive (and won’t destroy your friendship along the way)!
While They Sort, You Clean
One of the most irritating things about cleaning out a hoard is finding all the collected dust and dirt all over items, the floor, and even the walls sometimes (depending on how stacked-up the hoard is). When I’m trying to clean out my own collection of stuff, having to dust, sweep, and wipe off everything is a HUGE distraction from my real task. So, as the hoarder’s assistant, your primary task is to clean–dust surfaces, mop, sweep and/or vacuum newly exposed floor areas, wash or wipe off usable items, etc.
This takes a lot of the “cleaning” pressure off your hoarder friend so they can focus on the monumental task of sorting and purging items; it also serves as a confidence boost, as the hoarder sees progress being made. (Plus, it keeps you from having to figure out what to do with all these items which have no meaning to you–see next point.)
Don’t EVER Throw Anything Away Without Hoarder’s Permission
Speaking as a hoarder myself, this is my worst nightmare: somebody coming into my house like a tornado of cleaning power, and throwing away EVERYTHING in sight, no matter what it means to me. You might think a brutal purging spree is “just what they need to get started,” but I’m telling you, that’s a friendship-destroying move right there.
Clean and straighten to your heart’s content, but do not throw ANYTHING away until the hoarder has had a chance to check it. Something that looks worthless to you may not be worthless to them, and it will make things a lot less emotional if you just let them deal with it. One helpful tip: if you come across items that look more like garbage
(old receipts, broken/dented objects, crumpled papers with writing on them, etc), create a separate box for them so that they’re not just scattered atop more obviously keepable items. (If they’re having difficulty getting rid of even a wadded-up food wrapper or some crumpled gift wrap, however, gently encourage them to think about what use the item would have.)
Allow Breaks in the Cleaning Process
Both you and your hoarder friend will need breaks fairly often, due to physical exhaustion if nothing else. Breaks are necessary, otherwise your energy will flag early on and both of you will be sorely tempted to quit. When you take breaks, by the way, leave the room you’re working on and go somewhere cleaner, even if that means leaving the house so you’re not just sitting there surrounded by all the work you need to help with. This will refresh both of you, and make the process a lot easier.
Do Not Judge or Ridicule–Just Help and Listen
For a person who is trying to recover from hoarding, a purging process is not only physically demanding, but emotionally distressing. The hoarder can feel shame that they “let the house get this bad,” or they can spend the whole time fearing that they’ll “accidentally throw away something important.” (These are in quotes because I’ve thought these very phrases myself.) Hoarding is often a secretive, intensely private habit, and when another person becomes privy to the secret, it can leave the hoarder feeling painfully vulnerable.
As their assistant, then, you need to be as soothing and trustworthy as possible as you work alongside them. Your hoarder friend will need a lot of support and reassurance–they may need to talk out their feelings about the process, or they may even cry while working. Be there for them, facilitate the process of purging and cleaning as much as you can, and keep any negative words to yourself, since discouragement or judgment in any form can be more hurtful than you ever imagined.
If They Get Daunted, Help Them Restart–Or Find a Stopping Place
During my massive cleanouts, I tend to get daunted very easily; sometimes, I just look at the enormity of the task and want to either cry or vomit. I feel safe in guessing I’m not the only hoarder who reacts this way, either!
If your hoarder friend is getting daunted early on in the process, it’s up to you to be their cheerleader; you can keep dusting and mopping as they rest, visually demonstrating the progress you both are making, or you can stop and give them a pep talk. Keep it all positive, though–don’t shame them for this reaction, but help them conquer it!
However, if the purging process has been going for quite a while (several hours), and the hoarder is getting daunted because of mental and emotional exhaustion, it’s better to find a stopping place rather than to push them to keep working. Finish the section you’re working on together, and let that be enough–remember, this hoard wasn’t built up in a day, so it won’t be taken down in 24 hours!
When you’re helping a hoarder in your life, it will be demanding on you, but it’ll be even more demanding to them. Being a positive, encouraging, helpful hoarder’s assistant will be key to them finishing the job. Trust me, we recovering hoarders REALLY appreciate awesome people who are willing to help!
As I discussed last week, hoarding is not a “weird” problem–it’s actually something that a lot more people do, and while some people are happy living with their various collections, some hoarders, like me, feel trapped by it.
I speak mainly from my own experience, having been a hoarder as long as I can remember. My main reasons for hoarding: I hate throwing away items that cost a good bit of money, even if they aren’t doing me any good anymore, because all I can see is dollars going in the trash. I also hate throwing away broken things, because all I can focus on is the waste of a good item…I end up keeping some broken things in the hope that I can somehow clean them up and fix them to work again.
However, one can only keep so many items before the collection begins to overwhelm your life. I am now in the fourth year of trying to dig out my life from amid the detritus…it’s not been an easy road, to put it mildly. But I’ve discovered a few tricks along the way that are helping me break through, and I hope this article will help fellow hoarders as well!
#1: The “Month Box”
How It Works
The “month box” is a temporary storage place for items that need re-evaluation. Often when I’m cleaning and organizing, I become overwhelmed with the weighty task of discarding and purging items. Sometimes I’m getting rid of so much stuff that it makes me anxious. What if I’m getting rid of something I’m going to need later, just because I’m caught up in “purging?”
This fear has brought cleaning and organizing to an utter halt in the past; to ease the fear of discarding an important item, I have the “month box” set aside for items which I don’t really want to get rid of, but which I’m not sure that I need to keep. The ideal “month box” is small enough to keep it from becoming a junk storage place in its own right, but is big enough to hold a good number of items. (I’ve got two “month boxes” going at the moment, simply because one box has a couple of big, more fragile items and the other has a lot of smaller items.)
The most important thing about the “month box:” if after one month has passed, I have not touched any of the items in the box, then they can likely be safely purged.
This has helped me keep on cleaning and organizing without so much of the crippling fear of “losing something important,” and it also holds me accountable for either keeping or purging items at the end of a set time frame. (That box on the left is coming up on its month deadline here in about a week…eek, I better get moving on that!)
#2: The “Important Box”
I don’t know about other hoarders, but I do know that my house’s mess tends to “eat” important things, like medical paperwork, keys, bills, phone chargers, car registrations, spare change, appliance manuals, etc. The mess then regurgitates these items in various random places throughout the house…I kid you not, I’ve found spare change in kitchen drawers, thin appliance manuals stuffed between stray towels in the laundry room, and all sorts of weirdness.
When you’re trying to purge, these items serve as a HUGE distraction. All of a sudden, you have to shift out of “purging” gear and into “save-this-item” gear–you have to absolutely stop everything you’re doing and go find where this item is actually supposed to be. VERY ANNOYING, especially for us hoarders who have a hard enough time shifting out of “save-this-item” gear in the first place!
Thus, the “important box” is a set place where these items can live until you’re otherwise done cleaning and organizing the space you’re working on.
How It Works
As you discover important items hidden among the hoard, just stow them in the “important box,” and make sure that the box doesn’t get mixed up with other cleaning/organizing boxes. (I use a small, bright blue plastic bin as my “important box”, which stands out among the white bins and random boxes I usually use for cleaning and organizing.) Keep the “important box” close at hand, but not directly in the way of your flurries of cleaning effort.
Once you’re done cleaning and organizing for the day, it’s time to deal with the contents of the “important box.” This is imperative–if you don’t empty the box at the end of your purging, then it’s just going to attract more junk to lay on top of it. Trust me on this. Take the “important box” around the house with you, putting like items with like, until the box is empty; THEN you are officially done organizing for the time being! (For instance, put the random appliance manual near the appliance itself; put the keys near the door or in a purse as appropriate, etc.)
The “important box” keeps you from getting distracted and bogged down with one item while you’re trying to tackle a large organizing/purging project. Believe me, it works a lot better this way!
#3: The “Sorting Chair”
For me, the process of purging, cleaning, and organizing is physically exhausting, as well as mentally stressful. Not only do I feel like the purging process is about as easy as wading through quicksand, but I rarely have anywhere to sit while doing it. Usually the nearby flat surfaces, including chairs and beds, get covered with sortables in a matter of seconds. My injured joints and flat feet can’t take the strain of standing for even half an hour, and so sometimes I quit the cleaning and organizing project before I’ve even properly begun because of pain.
Thus, I have found that a simple folding chair works–I call mine the “Sorting Chair” (with a nod to the Harry Potter series, LOL).
How It Works
As you process each small section of your hoard, carrying your “month box” and “important box” along with you, have your “sorting chair” nearby, so that you can sit as needed. Sorting and purging of items can still take place while seated, since you can set a trash bag beside you and your Month Box and Important Box nearby, but at least you’re not getting as exhausted.
You wouldn’t think just a place to sit would be any help to organizing and cleaning, but it can help you regain some energy and keep you from getting tired so quickly. Cluttered collections in and of themselves are visually and emotionally daunting to tackle, so don’t give yourself any other excuses to quit. (Again, trust me on this–I’ve lived this truth often enough, sadly.)
Plus, if you’re able to stand for longer periods of time and don’t need your chair as much, it can also serve as another flat surface to work off of, whether you need to move a stack of stuff so that you can get into other areas of your house, or whether you just need a higher place to set all those magazines for a minute while you sort and purge them. (Bonus: when you’re finished with the chair for the time being, you can fold it up so it doesn’t take up extra organizing space!)
Next Time: The Hoarder’s Assistant
If a hoarder in your life has asked you to assist with their excavation project (hey, sometimes dealing with your collection is kind of like an archeological dig!), next week’s article will have tips on how to help. It’s not just a matter of holding a trash bag for them, after all!
(Author’s Note: Sorry this second installment of the Wardrobe Purge series took so long–the Procrastinator Queen strikes again. :P)
Once you’ve determined which clothes you want to sell or donate, it’s time to get them clean and fix any small tears.
You might wonder why you should bother with this step, but if you take the time to clean and repair these clothes, you will be saving your thrift shop/consignment shop a lot of time and effort, and making the new owners happy, too. You may even get a better price for your garments if they are clean and in good repair!
Step 1: Mend Small Holes
Before you clean the garment or even try to remove any stains by hand, fix any small holes in the garment. (If you do not sew, look around in your area for a sewing center or fabric store which might be able to direct you to someone.) It’s important that you get holes repaired so that washing and stain removal do not tear them open further.
Step 2: Remove Stains
|Tackle any stain, major or minor, before you try washing the garment. (For instance, this shirt at left is one of the ones I’m getting rid of–the giant dark stain under the arm comes from wearing too much anti-perspirant. Regular washing DEFINITELY doesn’t get rid of this–trust me, I’ve been trying!!)
|This stuff, called Shout Advanced Gel for Set-In Stains, is absolutely the best and easiest stuff I’ve ever used to get rid of stains. It has gotten out stuff that I thought the dryer had baked in long ago. If you have an especially tough stain, you can spray this in and wait up to a week to let it work its magic before you wash! (I don’t know how this behaves with dry-clean-only fabric–best to let the professionals handle those, I believe.)
Step 3: Wash/Dry-Clean
Now that you’ve repaired the garment and treated any stains, it’s time to wash or dry-clean it (as appropriate). Just think, it’ll be the last time you have to deal with these clothes if they’re a pain to clean!
After the garment is clean and dry, examine it again to make sure you got all the stains and holes taken care of, and tackle those if necessary before trying to sell or donate it.
If the holes turn out to be too big to mend, or if the repair is too obvious or fragile, do not try to sell the clothing–perhaps donate it to a rag shop or to someone who needs fabric for craft purposes. And if a stain is too stubborn to remove, don’t sell or donate it; you wouldn’t want to buy or get stained clothing, so why try to sell or give a badly stained item away?
Getting your sellable/donatable clothes in shape is one more step to getting them out of your house. It takes a good bit of effort, admittedly but it’s worth it if it finally motivates you to sell or give away these old items!
Like most women, I have a pretty heavy, stuffed purse (some folks have referred to it as “the bowling ball,” lol). But unlike most women (or at least most of the bloggers I’ve seen), I don’t carry a beauty department with me wherever I go.
But that, y’all, is about as normal as my purse gets. Let me show you 😀
My Purse: A Mishmash of Tech and Survival Kit
This is quite possibly the most important thing in my purse, besides my iPhone (with which I was taking these pictures). This little camera case holds my iPod, its cord, and 3 flash drives which are backups of all the files I have on my computer. (After the hard drive disaster I faced last winter, I will NEVER go without backups again.) So in one case, I have my music for my car, plus all my files if I feel the need to work on something while out and about.
This is the other really important item I have–my little Grid-It organizer, stuffed full of survival items. (Well, maybe not REALLY survival items, but as close as I can get!) I’ve got:
- a Tide To-Go pen for spills and stains (I need this a lot, lemme tell ya)
- Advil, Aleve, Advil Migraine, and a couple of prescriptions
- Neo To Go antibiotic spray for wounds (because I hurt myself accidentally throughout the day)
- Bobby pins and safety pins (in the Altoids Smalls tin, as seen below:
And of course, any survival kit like this would not be complete without:
Aside from such techie and health-related gear, I’ve also got a few slightly more mundane items in my purse:
I spotted this trick on one of those life-hack image things, and after I bought a 3-pack of D-rings for keys at my local Dollar General, I quickly put it into play. VERY handy, not only for elastics, but for all the little things that get lost in a purse so easily!
Now that you’ve glanced into the abyss I call my purse, what do you think? Am I crazy to carry all that stuff with me, or is this just a function of how mobile our lives are today? 🙂
After the success of displaying all of my wearable necklaces and dangly earrings with a pretty little jewelry tree, I felt pretty confident about finding all the jewelry I had when I wanted to wear it.
Well, I felt confident, that is, until I realized I didn’t have a good place for the tiny earrings and my rings, not to mention the long hair chopsticks that wouldn’t fit in my hair notions organizer. Then my enthusiasm dulled a bit.
I was at a loss for a little while, mostly because I didn’t have room on my dresser for a large jewelry box (thus the reason for the tall and narrow jewelry tree). Nor did I want a fully-enclosed jewelry box, which would keep me from seeing everything at once and make me have to dig through a box to find things. In my experience, if I can’t see it, I won’t wear it, sad to say.
So I searched around for an easily-organizable, highly-visible solution to my jewelry problem–and found it in an unlikely place!
Small-Item Desktop Organizer, Given New Purpose!
This picture shows just how much jewelry I can fit in this little organizer, and yet still have it sectioned out. Now my earrings aren’t getting tangled up with rings and brooches–yay! And my large hair notions aren’t lying forgotten at the bottom of a box anymore–double yay! 😀
To Buy This Organizer
The organizer pictured can be purchased at Walmart.com for $3.47. Additionally, if you’d like one in all black, this one, also at Walmart.com, is $6.73. And, if you want a larger organizer in this style, I found one with eight swing-out compartments and two top trays at Walmart.com for $13.81.
So I started cleaning out my wardrobe over the last couple of weeks…
And if you’re thinking this is the “before” picture, you’d be wrong. This is actually the “after” picture, with the wardrobe reduced by about half. Almost none of it fits in the dresser drawers (though, admittedly, this is the same dresser I used in childhood, so…it’s probably not really made for “adult-sized” clothes).
What I’ve Found Out So Far
- I’ve kept a LOT of clothes I really didn’t need to.
- And when I say “a lot,” I mean A LOT.
- I kept some items hoping I would like them more as I wore them. …What? LOL
- I kept other items hoping I would shrink back into them. Yeah…about that.
- Some of my clothes have more memories than wears left in them.
- My wardrobe has not really changed much in the last ten years. There have been additions here and there, but nothing deleted, and nothing vastly different from the stuff I already owned.
What Happens Now?
So now that I’ve sorted through quite a bit of my clothes, what’s next? I thought the project would be done and over with–I’d take bags upon bags of clothes to Goodwill, and that would be the end of it. But nooooo.
There’s Work Yet Left to Do! D:
- I have to find all the hidden caches of clothes throughout every room–there are quite a lot of these, as I moved home several times from college and had to find new places to stuff all the items that apparently replicated like bunnies in my dorm rooms
- I have to sort through my “keepable” clothes every week now, to see if there are any more items that could be put out (I’ve already found two shirts that I meant to put in the “donate” bags, LOL)
- I have to clean several of the “donate-able” shirts, since they have heavy anti-perspirant stains on them (which I wrote about a few weeks ago)
In short, I’ve got a lot of the “easy” work done (bagging up some of the clothes I no longer wear), but the harder work of making things donate-able, even as I winnow down the number of clothes I want to keep, is still ongoing.
This fight against my wardrobe is not nearly over, and is only a small part of my long siege against the Clutter Dragon in my house (whom I wrote about last fall!). In my next update, I hope to have a good bit of these problems resolved!
A couple of years ago, I finally dug into my massive collection of old hair and beauty products and purged about 80% of them. The collection that had once taken up two countertops, dozens of boxes in my closet, and several feet of floor space now fit nicely under the two bathroom cabinets and in a small five-drawer organizer sitting atop the cabinet.
My makeup collection especially saw a big reduction. So much, in fact, that I only had to use two of the five tiny drawers in that organizer to store my makeup.
But there was a problem. Actually, three problems, which showed up in ensuing months:
- The drawers often got stuck because of a makeup product’s packaging blocking the way
- Some of the makeup products, especially lip glosses, slowly leaked when put on their sides (the way they had to be stored in this drawer system)
- The makeup that got accidentally shoved to the back of the drawer never saw usage, because I couldn’t see it/access it anymore
I had to do something about this. I knew I wanted a more open storage system for my makeup, something that I didn’t have to open and close to get to…but I also wanted to be able to see everything in my collection without having to move other things out of the way. Plus, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on whatever organizing system I got, just in case it didn’t work.
Then, I happened to be at Walmart, when I spotted something in the office supplies aisle:
It was a clear desktop organizer, meant for office supplies and the like. I, however, saw it a little differently. I bought it, brought it home, and within about 30 minutes, I had transformed my makeup organization space.
But even with all this awesomeness, there were a few issues I had to address while I was putting each item into place. Here’s some handy hints for storing your own makeup in such an organizer:
1: Big tall compartments, like this one at the back of this organizer, are great for large palettes and tall items (like the eyeliner pencil at left). Don’t put small items (like travel-size lip glosses) in these compartments, because they’ll just fall over and get hidden by bigger items. (Learn from my fail.)
2: Use the very small but still high-walled compartments for items like lipsticks or other stick makeup that are best stored vertically. For me, this was key, because some of my glosses had begun to leak when stored horizontally; the vertical storage solves that issue! Tiny compartments also help keep the tiniest items from falling over, like those five tiny glosses in the middle compartment.
3: Use medium-sized, flatter compartments for smaller palettes or individual items–here, I’ve used them for blush, bronzer, face makeup, and even my sharpener because I feared the little thing would get lost otherwise. Also, be careful that your smaller palettes don’t get jammed down in the flatter compartments–I had to do some serious prying after my blush compact got stuck in the left compartment. That’s why it’s stored propped up the way it is!
Now that I’ve had my makeup stored this way for about a month, I love it and wouldn’t go back. I can see every product and pull it out easily to use it, and more importantly, nothing gets ignored because the organizer is clear. It makes getting ready a LOT easier–and all because I tuned into my repurposing radar. Neat!
Since my huge closet reorganization this past fall, I’ve been able to store most of my gaming collection in the closet, up out of the way of foot traffic and mishaps. But, for some odd reason, my Magic decks hadn’t made it onto the “gaming shelf” in my closet yet, and they were still rather vulnerable to being lost or damaged (more from me tripping over the briefcase than anything, lol).
This is how I had been storing my Magic deck boxes–I used to carry them to my local gaming shop in this giant silvery-metal briefcase, and they just kinda stayed in there when I wasn’t actively playing with them. The problem? This case was WAY too heavy to put on a closet shelf without bending or breaking it.
So, after a little thinking outside the box (literally), I remembered I had a three-drawer plastic organizer I bought a couple of years ago, which was as of the moment unused due to purging the items that had been stored within. (Walmart carries them.)
I eyeballed its overall measurements (it’s about 13 inches wide and about 10 inches high) and the depth of the drawers (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep). It seemed like it would work for holding my Magic decks. And this way, I could organize them by type as well, putting my tribal creature decks in one drawer, my combo decks in another, etc.
Hauling my MTG briefcase into the room, I began to organize. A few minutes later, this was the result:
The top drawer ended up being my tribal- and creature-based decks, the middle drawer became my combo deck drawer, and the bottom drawer held some overspill from the creature deck drawer. (LOL, I have a “few” creature decks…)
The two deck boxes sitting on top of the organizer were too big for the drawers–one is a larger-than-normal UltraPro MTG box, and the other is one of those deck boxes with a belt clip on the back (plus, it’s a huge box to begin with). All the other normal-MTG-size UltraPro boxes fit into the drawers just fine, lying on their broad sides.
With that finished, all that remained to do was to put the little drawer system into the closet, beside the rest of my gaming stuff, like so:
Now I can access my Magic decks very easily, picking out which one I want to play by the organizing drawer system, and there’s room on the top of the organizer for storing my too-big-to-fit Magic decks, as well as any other Magic gaming supplies. All in all, I’m very happy with it!
So, if you’re looking for a way to both organize and protect your Magic decks, an organizer like this might just be the solution. I certainly won’t be tripping over my old Magic briefcase anymore!