The Urge To Purge

The Urge To Purge

600 500 Kristi Corder

I’m somewhat of a clean freak (I blame my mom and grandma). So when we finally decided that we were going to move into the RV, my inner clean freak was jumping for joy. Don’t need this; don’t need this; don’t need this. But my heart was saying, “what if…” What if I need this someday? What if we have enough space to keep it? What if I end up missing it? Oh the struggle!

I wanted to get started purging as soon as possible because I knew downsizing would take quite a while. But at the same time, I didn’t even know where to begin, and I knew we still had to live in this house for almost another year. I happened to see a post on Facebook (in one of the hundreds of RV groups I’ve been in since we bought our RV in 2016) where someone was asking for opinions on how to go about purging before moving into their RV. Perfect timing!

This post had hundreds of comments. Some were recommending Konmari Method where you organize by category, keep only things that spark joy, etc.  But to me, lots of things “spark joy” and therefore I would just keep too much. Others recommended taking everything out of one room (say a closet) and touching every single item and deciding if you could live without it.  Again, I feel like I would end up keeping way too much. Still others said to look at things and determine if things would cost you more to store than to get rid of and replace later. If they cost more to replace after a year or two, then keep them and if not, get rid of them. But there was one response that really stood out to me:

Stop and look at everything around you.  Is there anything you see that you would grab if your house was on fire and you had to get out?

Wow! Go ahead…do it! Look around. This was the game changer for me. I can honestly say there’s not one thing near me I would grab if my house was on fire (maybe it’s because I’m alone in my closet and don’t have much in this room that I couldn’t live without).

So then what the heck am I doing with all of this stuff? Why is it here? Some of it is sentimental. It evokes an emotion: makes me feel good or remember something from the past. Some of it is needed for our household to function every day. Some of it I have because I wanted it (think seagulls in Disney’s Finding Nemo…”mine, mine, mine!”) All the rest is someone else’s stuff; and I’ll let him wait until the last minute to get rid of it go thru his own stuff.

So now, I have to figure out how to go from a 3900sqft house filled with stuff to a 390sqft RV filled with less stuff. I might be having a bit of anxiety at this point, but the organizational side of me is kicking into overdrive. The solution? Bins…it’s all about the bins.

I decided to have 5 bins: TRASH, GIVE AWAY, SELL, STORE, and CAMPER. So far, I actually have about 5 SELL bins filled with stuff to sell and one for each of the others. The TRASH bin gets taken out each week with the garbage. The GIVE AWAY bin is mobile. It gets moved into my office at times and my patients pick thru stuff they want. A neighboring community has a community garage sale twice a year, so I will go sit in front of a friend’s house with my SELL bins soon. I also have baby and kids clothes washed, pressed, hung and tagged for a consignment sale that I participate in twice a year. I’m trying really hard to keep the STORE bin to a very minimum. And I don’t have much in the CAMPER bin because most of what would go in the camper are things that we currently use on a regular basis.

So there you have it! My organizational side has joined forces with my inner clean freak to try to get this stuff outta here. Do you guys have any tips or suggestions on ways to reduce clutter or purge your stuff? Give me some more ideas!

53 comments
  • This is something I have to do sometime this summer. Love the bin idea! I’ll have to try it.

  • We do this with my daughter’s room a couple of times a year. I also did it when I moved, and honestly, it was so helpful. I will admit that there are a few things I now wish I’d kept, but also a good deal I wonder why I kept, so…it balances out. I am a pack rat, though, and not even remotely a neat freak!

    • I used to have my kids get rid of 5 items every Friday during house cleaning time. It’s amazing to me how long we did that yet now that we’ll be moving into the RV it still seems like we have so many toys!!! We’ve done a pretty good job of getting rid of stuff though. I was never one that I could go thru things twice a year like you and just do a binge-purge. I needed stuff gone weekly to stay sane. There’s a method for everyone, and there’s no one right way to do it. Just get it done! =)

  • One of my absolute favorite things is purging! We have been on a toy buying freeze but with birthdays and family members constantly buying them things, it is so needed- especially in the summer when they’re home all. the. time. 😉

    • Yes, girl, yes! All through our purge, I couldn’t believe how many toys we had that the kids were actually ok with getting rid of. Now we are left with a couple of small baskets of toys and they seem fine with what they have.

  • I swear sometimes I just think of grabbing my kids and my husband and running, leaving all the crap behind. But when I think about what to get rid of in the interest of the “minimalist” movement, I just can’t get rid of anything!

  • Great tips here. All is vanity
    Am going to work hard at purging.

  • ElizabethMillerSliwa February 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Whoa, the fire method is brave! I tend to go with the joy method- however, I’m also practical and frugal, so you can see why that method might cause some problems for me… Lol. So exciting to be downsizing to an RV! Good luck!

  • Downsizing is a great idea. My husband is good at getting rid of stuff. I like to keep things, just in case I would need it someday… It usually takes a while for me to use it again.

    • That’s me too. I’ve realized while doing this that all of that “I might need this someday” stuff is still just sitting there after moving 3 times. LOL.

  • I am a clean freak too and the idea of purging makes me happy. I’m not sure if I would love the reality of it though! Lol. We are hoping to downsize – not to camper size, but a lot. So I will be taking your advice soon.

  • This may be the kick in the pants I needed to do a purge in my home – thanks!!!!

  • This is awesome! I am such a purger. Too often I get rid of stuff then have to spend the money all over again because I need said item 😳 but it still feels SO GOOD not having excess laying around! Enjoy your RV adventure! Looking forward to following along!

  • A purge is so much more than the stuff – its the memories that slow me down. But once recognized and sorted out, what freedom. Keep us posted on your progress.

  • I am a clean freak also (just ask my not so clean freakish hubby and kids ha!) I recently did a full sort and purge of my twins room and WOW! 3 contractor bags full later I was convinced that my children are hoarders. 😂😂

  • I am pretty minimalist. When my kids all moved out I was so thrilled because I finally got to have nothing in my house. lol

  • I love bins, they work so well for me!

  • This is such a great way to purge. Now if I could just get my husband to read this…haha!!

  • I love the bins! I can’t wait to do a big spring cleaning/purging. We’ve been working through some stuff recently, but really need to hit it hard.

  • I tend to like to get rid of stuff but find it sometimes hard to part with certain items. Will definitely try the “would I grab it if the house was on fire” trick. Brilliant!

  • We purge every so many months. With the kids its easy to accumulate things we don’t really need. We sell, dump and donate. Spring cleaning is year round for us

  • I have moved from an apartment to 2 suitcases twice in my life and I admit while the experience was good it is harder for me now to let things go. I do like the idea of the bins and could adapt it to just general cleaning house which ours could definitely use.

  • It’s always a good idea to go through your things every now and then!

  • Look around and only take what you would in a house fire is spot on advice! Thanks for sharing!

  • I use the bin idea, too, and love it! I haven’t had to purge as drastically as moving to an RV but try to do it at least once or twice a year to keep our ‘stuff’ to a minimum. My big trick with the kids is I give them a bin for stuff they’re not ready to give up but don’t want in their rooms. Those bins get moved to the basement and then the next time we’re purging, we go through them again. Often once these items have been out of sight for 6 months to a year, they quickly realize they don’t need them anymore at all and are ready to donate. Sometimes there will be one or two things they take back up to their rooms and I’m okay with that, too, because they’ve realized it’s something they do really like. Thanks for your post!

  • My husband is a pack rat! He keeps everything…I am a minimalist…I want only the necessities. It is about the only thing we argue about in our 39 year marriage. In two years he is retiring and we are planning on packing up and traveling for a few years…not looking forward to his rants on what to pack and what not to pack! Thanks for the ideas though, I am going to get bins and start now.

  • This is an awesome system! Thanks for sharing. The other methods didn’t work well for me and this is a great alternative. Thanks!!

  • It’s amazing how you can live with all this stuff around you and when you finally take a second to look around and ask if you need any of it, the anser is no! How can we be a less wasteful society?

  • Rosemarie Subiono January 16, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I always love learning about different methods of cleaning/purging. With 5 kids, we have A LOT of stuff! I have been more consistent with purging regularly by donating our items to charity. But I do like the bin method. It seems that things move out of the home faster. thank you for the idea!

    • Yes! We regularly take things to our local Christian Community Action store and donate…and I’m sure with all of this stuff we will fill a few car loads to take.

  • I love the bin idea!!! I am a serial purger around here. Usually, I attack with no notice and cart boxes off to charity before anyone suspects a thing. By the time they realize, if they ever do, it’s too late. lol. I never have the patience for yard sales, though I’d probably be rich by now with some of the stuff I’ve sent to donations. I also love that you are minimalizing and going nomadic. I’m quite excited for you since this is something I always think I want to do but probably lack the patience for. Best of luck!

    • Ha! Ha! I’m a serial purger in some ways myself. My kids each have a box under their computer desks in our homeschool room. They put pictures and things in that box that they don’t want me to throw away when I find them on the floor. Tears, tears, and more tears when I threaten to throw them away. Anyway, when they head off to grandma’s house or a friends house for an extended stay, I sneak in there and grab their boxes and throw the stuff out. Hee! Hee! I never hear a word about the stuff when they return.

  • Ohhh, I love a good purge. I think I need to have a few of those very soon. We have moved several times across the country and I find that we, as humans really have a lot of junk. Good luck on the purge.

  • That question really punched me in the gut. I too have tried the other methods you mentioned, and i too just end up keeping way too much! But if there were a fire? Very few things would come with me. Great read!

  • I love the bin idea! When I go through a room in great detail, I like to sort and create piles just like you mentioned. One thing I have learned while doing this is to put things where you declared it belongs right away. By doing this, the room or mess you are currently organizing starts to have more meaning to the organizing. Good luck on your RV adventure! 🙂

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