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5 Common Sources of 'Micro Clutter' Lurking Around Your Home

Real Simple logo Real Simple 7/23/2019 Katie Holdefehr
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Here's how to tackle these mini clutter magnets.

When you think about the most common clutter causers in your home, there are some likely culprits: We're looking at you, laundry, kids' toys, and that ever-growing pile of mail. But besides these obvious clutter causes, there are likely some smaller messes lurking around your home. On their own, this "micro clutter" doesn't seem like much—it's just a little pile of change on the entryway table, or a few plastic bags under the sink—but they can add up to make your home look and feel messier than it is. Fortunately, all of this micro clutter is much easier to organize than tackling that giant pile of laundry or sorting through all of the bills you've been putting off. Set aside some time to organize the five items below, and your home will look neater without embarking on a full-on Marie Kondo decluttering mission.

Plastic Bags

Even if you're working on phasing plastic bags out of your life completely, many of us still have a stash of plastic bags at home—the ones we use to line our bathroom trash bin or tote leftovers to work. All too often, these plastic bags end up shoved under the kitchen sink.

The solution: Invest in a plastic bag holder that's stylish enough to hang on the wall or attach to the back of the pantry door, like this stainless steel one ($15, bedbathandbeyond.com). It not only corrals the clutter, but it also makes each bag easier to grab when you need it.

Loose Change

Many homes have it: a spare change jar, cup, or dish full of (okay, overflowing with) collected coins. The problem is many of us let the collection grow and grow, putting off that trip to the bank.

The solution: There's no other way around it, you're going to have to visit the bank. But the good news is that some banks (such as U.S. Bank) no longer require coin rolls. And of course, you can also search for the nearest Coinstar near you, which charges an 11.9 percent service fee for cash and offers no-fee gift cards. There are also specific Coinstar machines that let you donate the money directly to charity.

Related Slideshow: How to Declutter Every Room in Your Home (Fast)

Gift Cards

Between the gifts cards collected on birthdays and holidays and the punch cards handed out at every cafe and coffee shop, it's no wonder our wallets are exploding (cue the Seinfeld's reference).

The solution: Take some time to sort through the cards, tossing any rewards or punch cards for places you're unlikely to visit often. Then, go through each gift card and search online to determine the balance. Write the amount directly on the card so you won't forget. The next time you run out of balance on a gift card, ask the store if they can recycle the card.

Old Tech

You know those old phones and extra charging cords lurking in that drawer in your office? It's time to let them go. While it's a good idea to save the latest version just in case anything happens to your current phone, the rest you're unlikely to miss.

The solution: There are several options. If the phone still works, you can donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers, which provides phones to active-duty military members and veterans. If the phone no longer works, some stores, including Best Buy, will recycle them so they won't wind up in a landfill. If you want to sell your phone, Gazelle makes it easy to figure out how much your phone is worth (and yes, they even accept phones with broken screens).

Free Samples and Hotel Toiletries

It's amazing how something as small as mini bottles of shampoo and tiny perfume testers can quickly fill up an entire drawer in your bathroom. While it's easy to ignore this micro clutter, taking a few minutes to organize it all will make your bathroom feel tidier.

The solution: Immediately toss out any beauty samples that are past their expiration date, such as shampoo older than three years. From there, follow our beauty sample decluttering guide to donate and recycle what you can, plus learn how to organize the keepers.

Related Video: How to Declutter Your Home, According to Your Age (Provided by: Buzz60)

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