15 Best Things to Declutter Before Summer!

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As the warm weather arrives, it is the best time to declutter unwanted items before summer.

Do not spend the time and energy to find storage space for so much stuff you aren’t going to use again. On the same note, don’t keep anything you look at and don’t want to put out for this season! 

After the colder months and after spring cleaning, you probably want to get outside. Here are some practical tips to keep that decluttering process going this time of year. Your journey to a clutter-free home doesn’t have to come to a stop; instead, it might go a different way in the warmer months. 

School Supplies

Those final weeks before the school year ends often become a parade of broken crayons, school papers, calculators, and geometry sets with missing pieces (does anyone else have an abundance of protractors?).

Before summer is one of the best times to declutter school supplies. Take a few minutes to separate the office supplies that can be reused next year and the junk that needs to go into the recycling bin or garbage. 

If their backpack is garbage, store the supplies in a plastic bag on their backpack hook or wherever their backpack is usually stored. Only store these items in your home office if your children or teens will use them over the summer.

Make a note in your planner or phone about what you don’t need to rebuy in the fall (this has helped me HUGE come August when June is long forgotten).

Also, don’t just toss the remaining stuff into your junk drawer. It also shouldn’t go to the family dumping ground, whether the dining table, the table by the front door or somewhere else in your living space. We all have a hot spot.

If old books come home in their backpack you don’t want; Little Free Libraries are a great way to donate them.

math compass sitting on desk
How many of these compasses do you have kicking around your house?

Water Bottles and Coolers

Water bottles are a staple for staying hydrated during hot weather. Have a quick sort through the ones you have. (Does anyone else find a lot are given out at school?) Get rid of anything with a broken seal that leaks or one that is now too small and no one uses it. 

Coolers and cooler bags are useful, but consider whether they still fit with your family’s stage of life. Maybe they were essential when you still had a cabin at the lake or were frequently packed for football when your son played on that team every Saturday. 

Clothing or Footwear That Doesn’t Fit

Don’t tuck away seasonal clothing that doesn’t fit anymore. This includes winter coats, boots and shoes.  Your coat closets should only include items you wear now or will wear next season. (It’s a good idea to make a note on your calendar or in your phone of any winter gear you will need to replace in the fall.)

Quickly survey any summer clothes you’re also pulling out; swimsuits, sandals, hats and shorts are all fair game for decluttering. Your summer wardrobe should be pieces that you love and wear. With kids, there will likely be a greater turnover of clothing. 

If your donation centre doesn’t take out-of-season clothing, box it up and write the date to donate in the fall on the box. A piece of tape on a bag will do the same work. 

Birkenstock sandals on a rug
Look through your sandals and shoes for what should go (PS. I’m keeping these!)

Old Sports Equipment are some of the Best things to Declutter Before Summer

Whether it’s a baseball glove, your now-teen has outgrown or the bike with the training wheels replaced on a recent birthday for your youngest, get those out now. Also, check for sports bags and containers that hold that equipment. 

This is where the one-in-one-out premise is a great idea; new items should replace the previous one, not add to the number of similar items.

If you donate or sell, you will have more success at the beginning than at the end of the season. Someone is looking for it now! If your child plays in a league, that’s a great opportunity to reach out to other parents.

Remember that bike helmets need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years, regardless of whether you’ve had a crash.  Do not resell.

Toys Kids Have Outgrown

It’s easy to tuck away old toys in plastic bins in the basement or other storage areas, but it’s better to let go of the toys your kids have outgrown.

Don’t overlook big outdoor toys like the sandbox, the trampoline, the play structure and the swing set. 

Garden Tools, Pots, Trays and Other Supplies

You don’t need to keep the trays for plastic containers that hold the bedding plants you bought at the garden centre (I’ve been guilty of this many times). Broken pots or tools can go, too. Get rid of the watering wand that leaks, the cracked watering can you already replaced and the leaf rake that is missing sections. Gardening is more enjoyable without broken things slowing you down.

felco pruners on a rug
Declutter old broken garden equipment

Sunscreen, Mosquito Repellent and Other Skin Care Solutions

Bottles of sunscreen and bug repellent last about 3 years before the active ingredients start to break down. Sunburn care options like aloe vera gel or calamine lotion are good for 2-3 years.  Keep these together somewhere with easy access; put the new bottle with the old ones and try to use the oldest ones first. You’ll be using them on a more regular basis.

Quick tip: It’s easy to forget when we purchase things, so check the label for the expiration date.

This is also a good time to check your first aid kit to be sure you have the band-aids and any other supplies you might need.

Outdoor Furniture and Yard Decor

Check the condition of your outdoor chairs and tables. If the umbrella on your deck hasn’t been used in three years, donate or dispose of it. It’s taking up space. 

The same applies to your yard decor. Before summer gets too hot, best to look at what you can declutter. Whether it’s a mat under your table, solar lights, bird feeders, or statues, look at them with a critical eye. If the lights don’t work, get rid of them. If the bird feeder is one you never fill, it can go. 

Keep what works and what is in good working condition. Have a good look at things that need to be fixed and consider if you will repair them in the next two weeks. If the answer is no, don’t feel bad about letting it go.

old trampoline in a yard with a metal step stool is one of the best things to declutter before summer

Bottles and Jars in the Fridge Door

While making sure the barbeque is ready for the season, it’s a great time to check for the condiments, sauces, salad dressings, and pickles you will want for those summer feasts. You don’t have to clean out your whole fridge (unless you feel motivated to do so!). Just check all the best-before dates and remove the ones from last year. 

Also, remove the ones you bought that no one liked. Like the dirty dishes, your family will likely ignore them.

Broken or Unused Barbeque Tools

If you are a summer-only grill master, doing a quick safety check is best practice even before you declutter. After that, remove any broken tools, worn-out grill scrapers/brushes and expired propane tanks. (And it’s not a bad time to get your tank refilled if it’s nearly empty.)

Propane tanks last 10 years in Canada or 12 years in the United States. Trade your tank in for a new one if it’s expired. The date should be printed on the side.

old barbecue tools could be one of the best things to declutter before summer
Old barbecue tools could be one of the best things to declutter before summer

Bags and Reusable Bags

The summer months are full of trips, and inevitably, your family will use different bags for different trips. It’s easier to avoid forgotten bags if you thin them to start. Reusable bags have a habit of multiplying in the closet, and you probably have more than you need. 

Towels

You know you can open your linen closet or walk into your laundry room and identify the towels for swimming lessons, the beach, or the cabin. Before you start stuffing them into beach bags, think briefly about how many your family uses and whether they are still in good condition. Maybe your middle child no longer wants to haul that Spider-Man towel to the pool.

Reviewing your other towels and decluttering before you continue will only take a few extra minutes to get your best summer linen closet. 

White and Maroon Rugs

Holiday Decoration

Every season has its share of holidays. If you have decorations you don’t use, they only take up space. Maybe you don’t host a big Canada Day or Fourth of July barbeque anymore, or you didn’t know the graduation banners were still there. Let those go!

The Inside of Your Vehicle

Get your vehicle into good shape for those summer road trips. Take a trash bag, quickly pick it up and vacuum it out. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and return it to its proper place. Yes, travel mugs and hoodies do not belong in the car. 

It’s a small area, but vehicles can get cluttered quickly. Fortunately, you can make it a tidy space faster than taking control of a cluttered house. Clean it up and take that momentum to your kitchen countertops or living room. 

Empty Vehicle Seat

Anything in the Garage or Shed from Your Last Garage Sale

Those items have seen better days. The good news is you already made the decision to let these miscellaneous items go. They didn’t sell at your last garage sale and you were too tired after the sale to deal with them. They are probably even grouped together. You won’t making much money off these.

Unless you have a garage sale date on your calendar for this month, box them up and donate them. This is the easiest way. Don’t spend more time on them. 

If you are unsure about selling your secondhand items, here’s a good list of what’s allowed.

You don’t have to spend the first weeks of your summer decluttering the entire house and missing out on summer fun. Do the obvious decluttering to get things off to a better start. Less stuff means less time spent on home organization and it’s easier for everyone in your house! It might even reduce the number of times a family member asks you where to find something.

Enjoy your summer!

Here’s a great post on my decluttering strategy

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