Rae Bates

Clear It Out

I must confess, I’m a bit of a packrat. I’ve been known to save stuff far beyond its usefulness. But I occasionally clear things out. Here’s a list of places you should think about giving a good clear-out.

Your Refrigerator

It’s likely that most of the items in your refrigerator are fine, since we tend to use up the perishable items we’re likely to store there. However, condiments are notorious for sitting there for years beyond the point at which they taste their best. It’s a good idea to take stock every once in a while of what’s there and what’s been there too long.

Your Pantry

This is where good intentions go to die. You bought that natural, low calorie sweetener, but it never tasted all that great. Now it’s been sitting there for a year and a half. You got that Rae of Sunshine logowhole wheat flour because you planned to switch over. Oops. Now it’s got a funny odor. You took advantage of that great sale on [whatever]. The family quickly grew tired of it, so it got shoved to the back of the cupboard, and you forgot it was even there.

It’s actually a good idea to go through your pantry every couple of months in order to use up foods that are nearing their best-by date. This can save you money as well as energy. After all, it’s easier to clear out your pantry every couple of months than it is to leave it until you have to remove the bulk of what you’ve got stored there.

Your Closet

I’ve heard it said that most of us (especially us women) almost never wear over half of what’s in our closets. That makes me sad, since a closet is valuable real estate. I know it can be difficult to get rid of that beautiful sweater that will fit perfectly once you lose that last 10 pounds. Or that dress you wore when you and your sweetie went on your first date. Or, well, you get the idea. I fully understand the nostalgia that can infuse our clothes. And I will not tell you that you have to give up that piece of clothing you know you’ll never wear but can’t bear to part with.

That said, it’s likely there are many items in your closet or dresser that have seen better days, that never really fit or looked right on you, or that no longer suits your lifestyle (e.g. those business suits that are out of place in your new, casual workplace). I understand, though, how daunting it can be to think about clearing those clothes out.

Here’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard for deciding what to keep and what to remove when it comes to hanging clothes. Hang everything backwards. Instead of putting the hook of the hanger so that it is positioned front to back, position it back to front. (Of course, if you usually put your hangers back to front, switch them the other way.) When you wear an item, hang it up the way you usually do. At the end of a year, go through your closet and take out all of the items still hanging backwards. Now think about why you haven’t worn it. Is it a very dressy outfit that you only wear every few years? Place it back in the closet. Is it something that needs to be repaired? Repair it. Is it something you now realize you just don’t wear anymore? Get rid of it. Donate it to a thrift store. Take it to a consignment shop. Invite some same-size friends over for a clothing swap.

Clothes you keep in your dresser can be a bit more difficult. You’ll need to decide what works best for you. Just go through and honestly evaluate them, removing what you know you won’t wear. Or take a similar tack as with the clothes in the closet. Put everything in a few totes. As you wear items, return them to the drawers. Get rid of any unmentionables that don’t fit well or have seen better days.

Your Digital Devices

It’s a good idea to go through your digital devices every once in a while (I’ve heard 12-18 months is optimum). Delete old information, old documents, old phone numbers, etc. Your devices will function more efficiently, and you’ll have more room for those new photos, songs, or whatever.

May your week ahead be filled with sunshine.

Rea Bates is an Independent Consultant with the Pampered Chef. You can see her Facebook Page by clicking HERE. Her column appears each Sunday in Peru Indiana Today.