Minimalist Declutter Challenge Update: The First 50 Days

Alternate title for this minimalist declutter challenge update post, I have officially removed 1,275 items from my home and there’s no stopping me now. Watch out world, here comes my donation-laden car to drop off said clutter at the thrift store.

Minimalist declutter challenge update after the first 50 days of daily decluttering

Do I feel a little lighter? Yes! Is my home starting to feel a little cleaner? Hell yes! Am I so glad that I started this declutter challenge? A giant emphatic yes!

So now that the pep squad has kicked off this post, let’s dive into the nitty gritty. What has been hard, what has been SUPER hard, and how I’m trying to make decluttering as easy as possible. 

We’ll even dive into a few lessons learned and why I’m considering removing the microwave from our home.

Donation bags packed for the local charity shop

Minimalist Declutter Challenge Recap

A quick recap of what the declutter challenge looks like. On day one remove one item from your home, on day two remove two items, on day three remove three items, and so on. Continue the pattern every day, making sure to physically remove those items from your home. Boxing them up and leaving them in a corner doesn’t count. Keep going until you miss a day or can’t go any longer.

It’s a great way to make decluttering fun. You can challenge a friend or family member to see who can go the longest or who can make it to the end of the month.

I cannot take a claim for this minimalist declutter challenge. Shoutout to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as The Minimalists for developing this simple 30-day minimalism challenge.

I have officially completed day 50 when writing this post, so I am halfway to my goal of making it to day 100 and 5,050 items removed from my home. And boy is our home feeling lighter, calmer, and cleaner already!

Decluttered dining room table and space with a calmer, more minimalist setup

Household Items Removed

When I kicked off the minimalist declutter challenge, I had already completed the first 10 days. Since then, here’s what I have removed from our home:

  • Day 11: (5) mini toiletries, (1) box Q-tips, (4) boxes expired COVID tests, (1) sticker booklet
  • Day 12: (5) almost empty expired sunscreens, (2) lotion/creams I don’t like, (5) dog grooming items
  • Day 13: (2) old shims, (1) board book, (3) sets of stencils, (5) stuffed animals, (2) unopened soaps
  • Day 14: (2) pairs of slippers, (4) puppets, (1) toy car, (1) toy bassinet, (1) camping spatula, (1) set of magnets, (1) baseball cap, (1) mug, (1) sketchbook, (1) beach ball
  • Day 15: (2) adult sweaters, (4) faux stems, (1) kids pants, (1) kids shirt, (2) kids shorts, (1) pair of kids shoes, (1) adult jacket, (1) vase, (2) adult dresses
  • Day 16: (1) soap dish, (4) toy trucks, (4) women’s dress shirts, (6) nursing/pumping bras, (1) wooden spoon
  • Day 17: (10) broken seed trays, (5) supplements I don’t like, (1) dog rabies tag, (1) old chapstick
  • Day 18: (8) plant pots, (2) expired medications, (5) random socks, (2) toiletries, (1) keepsake fair ticket
  • Day 19: (12) socks with holes, (4) reusable paper towels, (1) broken toy, (1) instruction manual, (1) set of training wheels
  • Day 20: (20) cloth face masks
  • Day 21: (11) cloth face masks, (1) pair of XC ski boots, (1) pair of cleats, (1) throw blanket, (1) garden set, (5) broken toys, (1) stack of kid art
  • Day 22: (7) shower tiles for our first-floor bathroom, (6) magazines, (9) old nail polish
  • Day 23: (2) toiletries, (2) chipped enamel bowls, (10) chapter books, (3) stuffed animals, (2) kids dresses, (1) kids shirt, (2) toy maracas, (1) doll blanket
  • Day 24: (3) doll clothes, (2) monster trucks, (6) bath towels, (1) kids winter hat, (1) pair kids winter gloves, (1) set of bells, (1) kids purse, (1) kids suspenders, (4) old seed packets, (1) toy egg, (1) dog toy, (1) laundry bag, (1) hand lotion
  • Day 25: (10) pantry items, (1) hand sanitizer, (1) leaky pair of rain boots, (1) game with missing parts, (1) instruction manual, (1) tote bag, (3) water bottles, (1) pencil box, (2) vases, (1) glass storage jar, (1) snow tube, (1) headband, (1) set of curtain rings
  • Day 26: (7) sight words books from school, (3) broken Christmas decor items, (2) doll accessories, (6) stuffed animals, (3) folders, (1) storage box, (4) newborn mitts
  • Day 27: (3) new kitchen towels, (6) vases, (7) vintage Ball jars, (3) sippy cups, (2) strainers, (3) dessert plates, (3) kids’ coats
  • Day 28: (2) bras, (9) nursing tanks, (1) maternity winter coat, (2) maternity belly bands, (2) maternity shirts, (8) maternity leggings, (2) kids shirts, (1) kids leggings, (1) pair of oven mitts
  • Day 29: (1) bathtub nonslip mat, (22) broken/moldy bath toys, (1) broken toy, (5) magazine holders
  • Day 30: (18) newborn onesies, (12) newborn sleepers
  • Day 31: (17) newborn pants, (5) newborn shirts, (1) newborn sweater, (1) kids leggings, (7) magazines
  • Day 32: (1) purse, (9) broken toys, (10) bath toys, (4) princess crowns, (3) unfinished crafts, (3) notepads, (1) corded earbuds, (1) gift box
  • Day 33: (29) old paint tubes, (1) plastic cup, (1) sticker game, (1) puzzle with missing pieces, (1) seed catalog
  • Day 34: (8) nail polishes, (6) kinetic sand toys, (4) pairs of socks, (2) maternity dresses, (2) maternity dress pants, (2) maternity jeans, (1) maternity bathing suit, (1) painting, (1) large cut of fabric, (1) small shelf, (1) mini cooler, (1) picture frame, (1) faux antlers, (1) vase, (1) drawer organizer, (1) stuffed animal
  • Day 35: (22) baby toys, (7) pairs of toddler shoes, (2) lamps, (2) lampshades, (1) baby car mirror, (1) bottle bag
  • Day 36: (11) pairs of baby shoes/booties, (8) maternity tees, (7) maternity shorts, (3) maternity sweaters, (5) maternity shirts, (2) pairs of toddler shoes
  • Day 37: (1) pacifier holder, (7) baby spoons, (4) maternity sleep shorts, (4) pairs of toddler shoes, (1) baby ring sling, (4) baby towels, (9) baby wash clothes, (1) portable high chair, (6) nursing/pumping bras
  • Day 38: (3) headless Barbies, (1) pacifier clip, (1) baby bottle drying rack, (33) old seed packets
  • Day 39: (39) old seed packets
  • Day 40: (40) old seed packets
  • Day 41: (5) old seed packets, (1) bath brush, (1) solo toddler shoe, (13) baby teethers, (15) baby pants, (6) baby sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Day 42: (29) baby onesies, (13) baby socks
  • Day 43: (16) baby sleepers, (2) baby buntings, (2) baby coats, (3) baby shirts, (18) baby pants, (2) baby jeans
  • Day 44: (28) baby onesies, (4) baby shirts, (5) baby sweaters/sweatshirts, (2) baby dresses, (1) baby shorts, (2) baby tights, (2) baby bathing suits
  • Day 45: (17) baby sleepers, (19) baby socks, (8) baby sweaters/sweatshirts, (1) baby swim cover-up
  • Day 46: (36) baby onesies, (4) baby dresses, (6) baby sweaters
  • Day 47: (13) baby rompers, (21) baby tees, (12) baby socks, (1) baby tights
  • Day 48: (24) baby pants, (23) baby sleepers, (1) toddler overalls
  • Day 49: (3) baby shorts, (2) baby coats, (23) baby pants, (14) baby onesies, (7) toddler shorts
  • Day 50: (2) baby bathing suits, (9) baby shirts, (3) baby dresses, (16) baby sleepers, (9) baby rompers, (6) toddler rompers, (5) toddler skirts
Decluttering sentimental items like this basket full of baby clothes and accessories can be emotionally hard

New things or items that were in good condition, I packed up in a donation bag and took them to our local thrift store. Other items were tossed.

And yes, I did keep track. Since I’m writing about my experience with the declutter challenge for the blog, my process looks like the following. I keep a small notebook handy, write down everything I toss or donate as the items go, and then once a week I drop those items into a spreadsheet.

In reality, I’m working about a week ahead of time because of the blog.

Decluttering Lessons Learned

Decluttering is hard. Really hard. And I honestly didn’t think it would be this hard when I first set out on my declutter challenge to make it to 100 days (meaning 5,050 items removed from our home).

Below are my biggest lessons learned and hot tips for decluttering your home.

Decluttering when overwhelmed with toys, deciding where to start, toy shelves overstuffed

Decluttering Is An Emotional Process

Bam! Let’s start with the biggest one first. This decluttering process has been a very emotional one. Largely because it’s forced me to deal with some sentimental items that I’ve been hanging onto for dear life, like the baby clothes.

I have kept every single clothing item and baby item that our children have used. Our youngest is currently two and a half and in size 4T. We don’t need those things anymore but someone else may. Two things have helped me let go of the baby clutter.

One, I’m letting myself keep two totes of kids’ clothes. One tote for baby clothes and accessories and a second for toddler things. In those totes go the most special items like sweaters knitted by family, Easter dresses, going home from the hospital outfits, etc.

Sentimental kids items and clothes packed up in totes to store in the attic

Two, I got involved with our community’s free Facebook group and have been connecting and reading others’ stories of need. One story in particular about a single mom of four moving into an apartment in the town next door after living in their car for over a year and having nothing, really moved me to start giving away items.

Starting With The Low Hanging Fruit

A good idea for where to start decluttering is with the low-hanging fruit. Things like expired pantry items, the stack of mail that’s been sitting on your kitchen counters for six months, or the monstrous amounts of magazines in the living room.

A great place for me to start was in our first-floor bathroom. We have some shelves in there that constantly need decluttering. It took me a couple of days decluttering in the first weeks, sorting through first aid supplies and dog grooming tools, and removing what we didn’t need.

The laundry room was an area where I spent my second week decluttering and was a simple momentum builder. It was so easy to get rid of the socks with holes and the HUGE pile of face masks stored there that we hadn’t used in the past year.

The pantry was another easy place to start. Every time I reached into the pantry, I scanned it for something expired or something we wouldn’t use. As new items went into the pantry, the old came out. It was super easy to do a little bit at a time and helped me gain some decluttering momentum.

Sorting through pantry items stored in ball canning jars in a pantry was an easy first step in the minimalist declutter challenge

Are We Really Going To Fix Those Things?

Let’s get real, am I truly going to fix the pile of broken things taking up space in the “to be fixed” pile? The honest answer? No, I’m not. Into the trash goes my beloved Hunter rain boots that are WAY beyond repair anyway, the headless Barbies, and countless other things in need of repair.

However, if something in that pile were sentimental or super special for the kids, I would fix it like the Rowie doll that recently lost a leg. But when the girls have 10 Barbies, none of them are special, and one loses its head? Into the trash, it goes.

Broken items in a cardboard box awaiting repair

Choose The Right Thing To Purchase From The Start

Let me tell you a little story about a Stanley water bottle. Yes, one of those Stanley Quencher 40 oz water bottles.

Three-ish years ago when the Stanley water bottle came out I was in love. Solely because it solved the problem I was having with my Nalgene not fitting in my car cup holder. I liked the volume of the Nalgene but it just didn’t fit where I wanted it to.

But the price on the Stanley was steep. So I bought a cheap version that didn’t hold as much. Then the finish peeled off. Then I bought another and it leaked like a sieve (or for my fellow Maine hockey fans, it leaked like a UNH goal tender…haha…burn!).

I went through FOUR water bottles before finally breaking down and buying the Stanley I originally wanted. Sadly, all of those water bottles were in my cupboard taking up space. They’ve since been disposed of and I only have and use the Stanley.

If I had been a more conscious consumer and bought the item I loved, it would have been cheaper and saved me a lot of trouble and waste.

Don’t be like me. Make thoughtful purchases that truly fit your wants and needs.

Stanley 40 oz Quencher in black sitting on a kitchen counter

Skip The Guilt

I have so much guilt about the overstuffed junk drawer, the paper clutter, and generally the too much stuff in our home. I ALSO have so much guilt about removing those physical items from our home. Both can be true.

But then I think about my goals for this minimalist declutter challenge and how I want our home to feel. Less stuff, fewer material possessions, and more quality time with my family without feeling the pull of being a stuff manager. Those visions overpower the guilt during this decluttering journey.

Working through the minimalist declutter challenge, removing things from our home to get decluttered, calm spaces in our home

Removing Physical Things Immediately

This lesson goes straight into the, “well that’s embarrassing” category. Here we go.

I went to the basement to sort through my seed-starting supplies for the upcoming garden season and tripped over a giant box at the bottom of the basement stairs. It’s the same box I’ve been tripping over for years. 

Since I’m embracing decluttering and the minimalist lifestyle instead of ignoring the box, I decided to deal with it. I brought it upstairs to open it up and sort through the contents. Do you know what was in it? Donations for the local charity that I packed but never took to the charity shop.

I told you it was embarrassing. I promptly took the box to my car and properly delivered it.

There’s a reason the 30-day minimalist challenge has a rule that things must be removed that day. Otherwise, the box sits in your basement for years and your home never gets decluttered.

Donation boxes packed in the trunk of the car

If They Have It They Will Dump It

This is a little story about bath toys and kids. Although it could apply to decluttering kids’ toys as well.

One of my clutter pain points of our home is the bath toys. So. Many. Bath toys. So many. They may not take up much physical space individually but aggregately they took over the kids’ bathroom.

And you know what kids do? Dump them all out. Every bath. We had an excess of bath toys so it looked like our kids were swimming in a sea of bath squirters.

The very first week of the minimalist declutter challenge I knew exactly where I was going to work. The kids’ bathroom. I tossed one rubber duck after another. Many of which we’ve had for years and were starting to get moldy inside.

The next day, neither child noticed the 30-40 missing bath toys. And you know what? I didn’t hate the post-bathtime cleanup as much. There was no arguing over cleaning up the toys, they quickly got put away, and nobody cried (the girls or me). Winning!

Tossing unwanted items, like this rubber duck filled with mold, into the trash

About Those Decorative Items In The Attic

Let’s get real. I’ve been known to store a decorative item or two in our attic just in case I need it someday. The problem is, that some of those items have been in the attic awaiting their day in the limelight since we moved into our home almost ten years ago.

Removing items from our attic has been a daunting task and one I’ve been tackling just a little at a time. Many of these items I loved in our previous home but I just don’t feel they go with our current home. They have some sentimentality attached to them, which is hard. But I keep telling myself, new home, fresh start. 

It’s been a great rule to incorporate into decluttering. If it’s been in the attic since we moved here, it’s time to let go of those items.

Home decor stored on shelves in the attic

Let’s Talk About The Elephant Microwave In The Room

This is wild and I never thought I would be this person. But after 50 days of decluttering, which are getting progressively more hardcore and intense, I’m questioning keeping our microwave. Hear me out.

The first point is the cleaning factor. I hate cleaning. Okay, maybe hate is a little strong. But cleaning our home is not my idea of a great time.

We have three very similar appliances all of which need cleaning: the stove, the smart oven, and the microwave. If I had one less cooking/reheating appliance to clean I would not be sad about that. And among all three, we use the microwave the least.

The second point is the quality factor. The more I declutter our home, the more I appreciate slow living. I’m finding myself raging about rushing through things, quick fixes, fast fashion, etc. And what is a microwave other than a quick convenience?

We prefer reheating leftovers in the smart oven as we swear it tastes better and has a better texture than if we use the microwave. It’s small and reheats our dinner in 5-10 minutes tops. The extra five minutes the smart oven takes over the microwave is worth it.

I haven’t yet committed to the official removal of the microwave but I feel like it’s a long time coming.

Will I Make It To My Goal Of 100 Days?

The other elephant in the room, am I crazy to make a goal of doing the 30-day minimalism game challenge for 100 days?! And removing 5,050 items from our home?!

Stacks of old magazines on a desk

If you had asked me during the first or second week, I would have said no way. But I have gained so much momentum these first 50 days and it’s getting easier. I never would have thought I could get rid of this many baby items or old home decor.

I keep thinking, oh this is the last big category or section, but then I think of five more areas that need more decluttering. It’s like the more I declutter the more clutter exposes itself. Kind of like I keep seeing the worst areas but once those are gone I see the next worst areas.

All that to say, I may make it to 100 days or I may not. It’s getting more challenging decluttering 50+ items each day. And some days, I feel like all I’m doing is packing up donations or decluttering part of a room.

I’m competitive as hell so you know I’m going to give it my all. But at the end of the day, whether I make it to 100 days or not, I have removed so many unwanted items from our home. That’s winning too and the real goal of the minimalist declutter challenge.

Hallway with wide pine floors cleared of any clutter, black open shelves and a small roll top desk

Pssst…So tell me, those of you who are decluttering along with me, how’s it going? Any lessons learned?

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