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How to Get Rid of Sentimental Clutter

Getting rid of sentimental clutter is probably one of the toughest cleaning tasks a person can ever go through. We hold on to these objects’ memories and get attached to them, making decluttering more difficult. 

You can keep lots of sentimental items over time without knowing it. It might be your childhood stuff, such as school papers, toys, and artworks. You can also hoard antique or inherited things, faded letters, photos, postcards, and other items which hold special memories in your life. 

Eventually, when loads of these things start to overflow your cabinets, closets, and drawers, you might lose sight of the ones that are most precious to you. Among your growing sea of memorabilia are the ones that you don’t need or use anymore, which are there for years.

They are your life’s little pieces of objects, causing significant clutter on the back of your closets and in your drawers. You’ll eventually have to let go of these items to give your site a fresh and new start.

If you haven’t found the best way to get rid of sentimental clutter, go over to this article to gain some tips and ideas, and make up your mind. 

The Reason Why We Get Too Sentimental 

Our emotions are powerful, and we often get too sentimental about things that hold our life’s special memories, even if they aren’t useful at all. We all tend to keep different types of memorable items, from stuffed toys, inherited ceramics, clothes, papers, and more.

These things remind us of events, places, persons, and feelings. However, many people don’t even look at their sentimental items anymore and just keep them in storage containers, thinking they’re holding onto the memories by hoarding such things.

It’s important to understand the reason why we get too sentimental about these things. Psychology says there are two significant concepts for this: the loss aversion and endowment effect.

Concept of Loss Aversion

The loss aversion concept presents the preference of people to avoid risk over obtaining equal gains. We less likely want to lose what we own, even if it’s necessary. Losing something is more distressing than acquiring the same thing. This feeling or emotion is what makes us choose not to let go of sentimental items. 

You’ll think that buying a new jumper won’t make you feel any good after getting rid of your favourite one as it holds a special memory in your life. 

The Endowment Effect

We tend to give value to the items we own. The endowment effect shows that people are more likely to keep things once they’ve already acquired them, thinking that the objects they own are more valuable than those they don’t. 

This concept also illustrates the increased positive emotions that people give towards an object. You get the motivation to keep items in your house even if they have issues or aren’t useful anymore. 

It’s our emotions and memories of these objects that make us too attached and sentimental for them. While this may give you peace and emotional gratification, keeping loads of things can bring you problems in the long run.  

Why You Shouldn’t Hoard Clutter

Hoarding is the urge to constantly gather up various types of items that can be worthless or of no use. It goes along with the inability to get rid of such things due to the great deal of distress the task could bring.

Many people feel weary and troubled about parting with their personal belongings and don’t think much if they need them or not. This situation could result in significant amounts of hoarded clutter, imposing adverse impacts on your comfort, safety, and health.

Risks of Hoarding Clutter

There are several threats involve in hoarding clutter, and here are some of the most significant ones:

  • Health Problems – Hoarding various types of unnecessary items cannot only lead to accidents and injuries but also breathing issues and other health risks. As you keep clutter on a particular space in your property, faeces and moulds will buildup, causing such problems. 

Moreover, clutter significantly imposes a threat to children and older people with existing health problems. When emergencies happen, enormous hoarded items may block the response team from getting to the injured individual on time, leading to a life-threatening situation. 

  • Infrastructure Issues – Hoarded clutter can cause significant structural damage if left on the area for a long period. This situation may be due to excess weight, pest infestation, moisture, mould buildup, and other hoarding issues.
  • Animal Welfare Threats – Some people take in a huge number of animals believing that they’re trying to help them. But in most cases, they get improper care and often neglected because there are many of them to take care of. These conditions could lead to various issues, including poor air quality, disease spread, unsanitary lifestyle, and animals’ death.

Hoarding animals without proper care calls for misdemeanour and cruelty, which may put the offender in prison and pay fines. 

  • Fire Safety Concerns – Hoarding damaged appliances and flammable materials that blocked entry and exit areas inflict serious fire safety issues. According to an Australian study in 2009, households with hoarded items held 24 per cent of preventable casualties. 

It also requires more workforce than typical house fires and lessens the 90 per cent capacity of containing a fire to a single room to 40 per cent. Moreover, hoarded clutter on households blocking the way during fire emergencies increases average probable damage to $100,000 from $12,500 for a typical home.

  • Hindrance of Doing Basic Living Routines – Hoarding many things in your place can bring obstructions to your daily life. Many people who have hoarded an enormous number of items may experience troubles with activities like cleaning, cooking, and sleeping because of the limited space available for mobility. 

Some compulsive hoarders have to tiptoe or crawl their way through their homes’ corridors due to the piles of clutter. 

While you think you’re holding onto the memories when you keep or hoard an item, you might be causing yourself to have serious problems in the long run because of this. It’s common for us to have sentimental things, but it becomes an issue when we collect many of them. 

The risks listed above are only a few of the dangers you may encounter once you’ve got massive piles of sentimental clutter in your home. If you care about your entire family’s health and safety, then maybe it’s time to get rid of those things and have a new start. 

Is It Really Necessary to Remove Sentimental Clutter?

Recognising whether or not to get rid of your sentimental clutter might be difficult for you, especially if you’ve kept those items for so long. But if you’re wondering if it’s really necessary, then the answer is “yes.” 

Keeping things that hold special memories is heartwarming. But when they get too many, you may not be able to appreciate all of them anymore. Eventually, they’ll turn into clutter, and your most precious items get lost in the piles. 

And so, this tells you that you simply cannot keep every item that holds a memory of your life. It’s not because you’re not sentimental enough, but rather keen and only keeping the most valuable ones to avoid clutter. 

Deciding to declutter your sentimental items lets you see through things and appreciate those worth keeping. Your goal must be to get rid of and let go of the things that are:

Giving you a financial burden to keep

If you keep your sentimental items in a storage space which you have to pay for or you’ve decided to live in a bigger house just to keep all of them, then it’s time you take a rest and have a fresh start. Get that long-time clutter cleaned and save yourself from all the extra expenses.

Binding you to the past

When sentimental items hold you back from moving on with your life, you need to understand that letting yourself live without things weighing you down is important. You have to let go of memories and go on with your life in the present.

Initiating conflict between your family

Although most emotional disputes happen without involving a sentimental item, some people may have experienced this situation. If keeping a lot of memorable things makes your family members feel guilty and result in quarrels, then you’ll have to make a move and resolve the issue. 

We’re not saying you should clear out everything. You can find ways to keep the most precious ones and slowly let go of the other to lessen the burden.

Keeping the Memories While Cleaning the Clutter

As time goes by, we lose items and keep some that remind us of memories and positive changes in our lives. Sentimental clutter brings back the time when we’ve been with a lost friend or family member. It may also give us memories of events, places, and feelings.

However, as you go on with your life, you’ll eventually need to let go of such items. Downsizing the number of sentimental clutter in your home helps you reclaim space and let you choose the ones you should keep. You can get rid of those things that no longer have a strong attachment and hold onto some most important and memorable ones.

If you’re still feeling uncomfortable and a bit hesitant about letting those items go, there’s a lot of ways to keep the memories while cleaning your sentimental clutter. Here’s to give you some helpful tips:

Bid Farewell to Your Sentimental Items

You should get rid of sentimental items that no longer spark joy in your heart. This is an advice from the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo. Although we tend to have difficulty losing these memorable things, a time will come that we’ll have to bid farewell to them. 

Spending time to say goodbye to your sentimental items, caressing them, reminiscing the memories from the past, and appreciating their value can help you let go. 

Take and Save Images

Before you part with your sentimental items, you can make a habit of taking photos of them or saving a digital copy. If you’re ready to let go of those things, having a picture of them will allow you to retain a symbol and hold onto the memories without having to keep the actual objects. 

Recreate or Reuse an Item

You can create a new piece out of your sentimental item. If it’s already unusable, think of possible ways to reuse it and retain its value. For example, you can turn your old favourite long pants into shorts or make your piles of shirts into a quilt.

It feels nice to make an effort of creating a special item from your sentimental objects. You’ll still be able to hold onto the connection and see your stuff in another form with a new purpose.

Pass On Heirlooms

If you’ve been keeping a family heirloom and you want to pass it on to a relative instead of storing it in a box, then ask around if someone wants to have it. That item might be a treasure for other people.

Besides, some heirlooms can be valuable to museums and archives. The one your holding onto might be precious enough, and you may not know it.

Retain Only One of a Collection

It’s quite common for hoarders to have a collection of keepsake items, and these might be your favourite shirts, jumpers, or childhood stuffed toys. Your best option to keep the connection is to retain only one of a bunch.

If you’re not completely attached to these things like before, you can get rid of the rest and keep just one item of each collection to remind you of the memories.

Make a Scrapbook

One best way of keeping memories while cleaning your sentimental clutter is to make a scrapbook and combine all these things. Paste the letters, pictures, papers, and other things you can add up to your scrapbook.

You can also put some notes on the sides and write how each piece made you feel. Keep it in a spot you can easily access if you want to reminisce your memories.

When is the Time to Say Goodbye

Sentimental clutter occupies a significant space in your place. You’ve been thinking for a long time whether or not to get rid of them, and it’s really hard to make a decision when you’re holding onto the memories.

But there’s no test for it. It’s your choice to make a move because keeping sentimental items is not a bad thing unless it’s too much. After all, you will have the reason to buy some new things once you’ve cleared out the old ones.

Feeling the urge to clear sentimental clutter and organise things to free up some space gives you a sense of a new start. If you’ve got some items that are no longer usable, but you still keep them because memories weigh on you, then maybe it’s time to say goodbye to them and give yourself a mental rest.

Letting go doesn’t mean you’re going to forget all the memories, but rather keep them without encountering clutter problems. You’ll know you’re ready to let your sentimental item go when:

  • You’re not concerned about how it looks. Although there are other important factors than this one, considering aesthetics is necessary too. If an item doesn’t look pleasing or inspiring anymore, let’s say an old vase gifted to you by your grandparents or a life-sized stuffed animal from your childhood, try to consider your options. 

You can either give it to a family member who will appreciate it, put it in a donation for someone who might need it or look for other alternatives to get rid of them. There’s nothing wrong with letting go if it’s for the better. 

  • You’re not getting many good memories out of it. We don’t encourage you to get rid of items that hold precious memories of your family or childhood. Instead, you have the choice to think crucially of how much feelings and memories you’ve able to obtain with that certain object. 

You’ve got the chance to look at a larger perspective and think why you’re still holding on to your keepsakes. Right then, you can make a decision that might be the best for you. 

  • You will not grab it first if home emergencies happen. It’s not likely for anyone to think about experiencing threatening situations. But we’ve learned to face these things as they can happen anytime. When conditions like this take place, it’s essential to have an escape plan for safety purposes. 

Imagine this scenario, you’ve got a fire emergency at home, and there’s a bunch of things that are in there — what would you grab first as you run out the door? If that certain item doesn’t come to your mind, it might be something that you value less than you think. 

  • It’s something you keep out of guilt. It becomes more difficult to critically think when the item you possess makes you feel regretful, sad, or guilty. What’s worse, keeping such a thing for a long time tends to make us value it more. Trying to understand these conditions may allow you to take better actions on how you’ll handle your sentimental items.

Always make decisions with a clear and calm mind, so you can control your emotions and do what you need to do. If you’re keeping something that makes you feel uneasy, think carefully and don’t let your emotions hold you back from letting go.

  • You’re keeping it for somebody else. It’s a good thing to be generous, but it’s also not your job to keep things for anyone, even if it’s a family keepsake. We’re not saying you should directly get rid of them. 

Instead of holding on when it’s not yours, let the right keepers know that you’re freeing up some space, and they need to take the item you’ve been keeping for them. 

If they want to keep such things, they’ll take them. But if they don’t, then you can bid farewell to those items.

  • You don’t feel excited or think about displaying it. If your so-called keepsakes stuck up dirt and dust on your storage area or piling up on the free corners of your home, you might not be treating them as sentimental things at all. 

Try to think of ways to get rid of them. You can put those things on charity donations, give them to someone else, remake and sell them, or have them disposed of properly. 

Useful Steps to Clear Up Space and Guilt!

Clearing out your sentimental clutter takes one step at a time. You are not only dealing with physical objects here but also precious memories from your past experiences. To make the decluttering process easier for you, here are some useful steps you can take to clear up space and guilt:

  • Begin with the Small Stuff – Decluttering sentimental items is indeed a tough job. Hence, it’s advisable to start the process with small or easy things, let’s say a bag. And then you can take on a box before you begin clearing up an entire room. It would be better to tackle your dining area or kitchen first, for which you have lesser personal belongings, and lastly, get to a closet or bedroom full of sentimental items.
  • Get Rid of the Items but Not the Memories – It’s the memories that hold us back from letting go of sentimental items. But remember that you are only taking away the physical object and can still keep the connection and memories without it.
  • Use the item for the Last Time Before You Let Go – It might be your old teacup set, which was a gift to you by your mother years ago, or your camera when you were a teenager. If you’ve prepared yourself to give it up, find closure by using the item one more time.
  • Keep Only Those Items that are Truly Meaningful and Give You Positive Vibes – If you don’t remember having those items, chances are you might not have relevant and joyful memories of them. Take time to think carefully, reminisce the memories, decide what things to keep —box them up, and limit yourself only to your designated storage.
  • Save Digital Memories Your sentimental items don’t need to disappear without any trace completely. You can digitise stuff like concert tickets, old files, and images with a scanner, letting you have a piece of the item’s memory. For other sentimental things, you may take a photo of them before you finally put them in donation boxes or on sale. 
  • Ask for Assistance – Although you can declutter your items yourself, having someone share the burden and talk over the process can help you think more clearly. You can ask a friend or a relative to join and help you get rid of your sentimental clutter.

You may also seek professional service from a rubbish removal company near you for the proper hauling, transport, and disposal of the items you are ready to throw out.

Final Thoughts

Decluttering sentimental items is one of the most difficult situations you can experience when cleaning your home. It’s all right to take it slow, allow yourself to think carefully, and let the emotions and memories run through.

You also have to get used to not having or seeing the items in your place, so you can move on and let go of more stuff. Always remember that you need to begin small and slow, take time and think critically before making a firm decision, get rid of the object and guilt, and give more value to the things you choose to retain.

If you want to see your bedroom, kitchen, and entire house without clutter, try freeing up some space by removing those enormous loads of sentimental items. Maybe your home will become brighter and spacious while giving your mind a break from all the emotional burdens of keeping those things.

You can choose to do it by yourself or ask someone for help. It might be from a person close to you whom you can get some advice from or a trusted rubbish removal company like Paul’s to take care of your clutter’s collection and disposal.

Don’t be afraid to seek assistance from us when you need it. Paul’s Rubbish Removal can help you sort things out and clear out your sentimental clutter or any other unwanted items in your home.

We have local professionals all over the Sydney region, and we provide same-day rubbish removal service to help you get rid of your unwanted rubbish 24/7. Give yourself the convenience and relief of having someone to take care of your sentimental clutter’s disposal. We’ll support you throughout the process and ensure to provide proper advice so that you can make the best decisions.

Make an appointment with our reliable rubbish removal experts anytime at 0407 125 125 and request an obligation-free quote. 

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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