A Quick Clean Out: Unused Meds

NOTE: Guest Post from Susan Finch

So you’ve cleaned out your junk drawer(s), bookshelves, and clothes closets. Tossed what doesn’t spark joy. Decluttered and de-stressed. It’s great to see progress, even if it’s a little at a time. But, if you are like me you may have overlooked a fairly easy task, a medicine cabinet or cupboard shelf full of unused or outdated medicines and supplements.

Four years out from my cancer diagnosis, I am grateful to be cancer free and ready to clear all vestiges of my disease. The result? A clean top shelf in the kitchen, and a plastic grocery bag full of some pretty gnarly drugs I no longer need, and certainly don’t want. Indeed, I didn’t want or take many of them when they were prescribed! Thus, the extra large pile of leftovers.

But how do I safely dispose of these drugs? Some are pretty heavy duty, controlled substances such as Oxycodone, or chemotherapy drugs in plastic prescription bottles, inside plastic bags with the hazard symbol on the outside. Nothing to fool around with. I certainly don’t want someone to be able to grab them from my garbage, and I also don’t want them to end up in a landfill where they can pollute waterways and groundwater.

Luckily, a growing number of pharmacies, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies are providing free options to turn in your old drugs where they will be disposed of safely. Checking expiration dates and gathering unused meds is quick, easy, and consummately satisfying. It’s a ten minute chore and an easy thing to check off your list. Doing it in a way that won’t harm other people or the environment is even better. And today is a very good day to ‘get ’er done!’

~Susan Finch, Educator/Writer-Editor

Bathroom Clutter

Guest Post from DMRameriz

Three times a charm!  At least that is what they say.  It takes due diligence to declutter.  Let’s face it, you have to be disciplined.  Even though this article was written weeks ago, I still have to go through my make-up and toss the oldies (even if they are goodies).  I have thrown some things out but I must admit I have yet to wash my make-up brushes so please do as I instruct but not as I do! Full disclosure I am about to tell you what else you can do to organize this portion of your life so if you haven’t heeded my last two articles no worries, you can start here and work backwards. 

In this installment we’ll talk lotions, perfumes, and specifically any of those magic tubes of beauty products that are half full but no longer representing your current beauty regime.   This section of your life can easily get out of hand when you frequently stay in hotels and bring home all the mini bottles. 

“What is an acceptable amount of product?” you ask. Well, that’s a good question.  Just like make-up, lotions have a shelf life.  More or less time to ferment depends on where you store said travel size souvenirs and Bath & Body bounty from the last sale.  You may feel protective over your spoils and I don’t blame you but, to truly stay clutter free, you need to pass on the lotion, shampoo or perfume you only used once. If you don’t like the scent, those one hit wonders need to be given to a friend or family member.  As for those unopened bottles, many homeless shelters need them.  I know you meant well when you brought them home in your luggage; now you can feel even better by handing them to a local nonprofit organization.  WIN WIN!  Whatever you decide, please go through your eye cream, shampoo, lotion, body spritzer, face cream, body scrub, leave in conditioner and anything sitting in the back of the closet. We can do this together!

~DMRamirez: Author, Editor and Educator

Make-Up Brushes

Guest post from DMRamirez

So have you purged your makeup yet?  No? What are you waiting for?  I get it!  You wanted to read this week’s blog to get the full scoop on how to clean your brushes and you were going to make it a whole experience right?  Right.  Well without further ado… Let’s jump in.  As you know last week we talked about the season change and a great time to rid yourself of old makeup.  Wait, what?  You didn’t read that?  Ok here’s the link; go check it out.  I’ll wait. 

 Back?  Great!  Now let’s dive in.  Cleaning your makeup brushes is just as important as throwing out old makeup.  No matter what kind of brush you are using, high-end real hair bristle brushes, expensive synthetic or dollar tree applicators, (my fave, check out the pic of the mermaid tail), you need to clean them regularly and or throw them out.  Long gone are the days of using the eye shadow applicators that came with the product. Do they even make those anymore?  Today’s makeup should be applied with an artist’s utensil that comes with its own magic number or name!  Different brushes should be washed at different times but no matter what brush set you buy it is worth exploring a cleaning routine.  “But my brushes cost over $300!” Good for you big spender.  Fail to clean them and your face will look like you used a chimney sweep to apply your foundation.  Talk about breakouts.  EWE! 

Did you know your brushes can harbor bacteria and mold?  According to an article, I read you may have to throw out some beauty applicators if they get too funky.  “Oh no!”  Yes. and like I said you are worth it!  It beats the alternative.  Have you ever broken out and wondered why?  It may have been a dirty makeup brush.  Now I am not telling you how to clean your cosmetology sticks of glam, but I will tell you to set a date for yourself to do so.  Put it on the calendar with a cute lipstick sticker, I don’t care how, but remind yourself to get the job done lest your face inhabits more than a pretty smile.  And oh don’t forget washing is not enough; brushes need to dry properly.  Preferably not in a damp shady spot.  Here in the Pacific Northwest things are slower to dry than in Florida where I once resided.  Don’t be afraid to wash your brushes and stick them in the sunlight.  Your hands too, especially before you use them to apply makeup, while your brushes are drying.  Better yet make sure you have a clean backup of tools before wash day! I would love to tell you more about this but you can YouTube it and I have to go take my own advice as you can see from the pictures I have some scrubbing to do.  Always follow manufacturing washing instructions for your high-end brushes, as for me I am going to use some old-fashioned hot soapy water. Worst-case scenario I will head back to the dollar tree.  

~DMRamirez: Author, editor and educator

Expired Make-Up

Note:This is a guest post from DMRamirez. Author, editor and educator

It’s that time of year again.  Pumpkin lovers everywhere are bringing out their fall-colored wardrobes, and their Hygge inspired accessories.  I am no exception.  I have pumpkins everywhere and the forest green and maple leaf rust-colored t-shirts and matching jeans are all I can think about.  But one thing I really need to think about is make-up.  As we change out summer clothes for comfy cozy cooler cover-ups we need to also pay close attention to our make-up.  The colors you wear now need to coincide with the colors you apply to your face.  Gone are the 80’s hot pink eyeshadows matched with orange accessories.  Ergo, why not use this time to clean out your summer makeup.  Go through any shades of pale pink that have been laying around for more than 6 months and throw it out.  Normally we like to reduce, reuse, and recycle but when it comes to makeup I prefer the trash.  I believe it to be more sanitary these days.  What? Throw out makeup? Are you crazy?  Do you know how expensive it is?  Yes, Yes I do.  But on the contrary old make-up can harbor bacteria and cause infections like pink-eye.  Old lipstick can cause swelling which may be the look you are going for but not with the Dr. Visit price tag.  Co p-pays! Am I right?  At first blush, you may feel regret about ridding yourself of any old, expired, and expensive make-up but trust me you are worth it.  Think of it as a way to preserve health and declutter at the same time.  Win, win.  As an additional bonus, you now have made room for the extra nutmeg spice cashmere scarf you always wanted. No matter what the season, it is always good to ditch old expired makeup every six months.  If you wear mascara maybe even sooner.  According to an article I read, Mascara has one of the shortest shelf lives out there.  The article says every three months is a good time to declutter your lash plumping products.  Something I do religiously.  I have always been sensitive to mascara and have had some irritated eyes to prove it.  Remember the pink and green mascara by Maybelline, well I can’t wear it.  I would show you pictures of what happens but I will save you the watery details.  Girls and guys we need to love ourselves enough not to put a price tag on our health.   So how do you get to buy makeup and declutter too?  Easy.  Watch for sales and use more than one brand.  I love Lancome powder and I love Clinique foundation.  To save money and keep my make-up collection to a minimum I buy only when you get “free with purchase”.  That way I enjoy high-end products and stay safe.  I buy makeup two times a year and I never pay over $150.00. Consequently, I time my purchases and throw out the free product that comes with buying the absolute essentials of what I need.  That being said it’s time for you to rid yourself of the drugstore stuff too.  Remember as the seasons change go through all of your beauty products and ditch the itch. Looking at these pictures I need to take some of my own advice. 

Good luck and live life happy! 


Overbuying Guilt

A friend of mine helped her mom recently go through her closet and after seven hours together they had eighteen large garbage bags full of clothes! Many of them still had the new tags on them. Her mom cried. She felt she wasted all that money over the years.

What can we do about this? Feel Guilty Getting Rid of Stuff? Don’t is easier said than done. It is recommended we learn from the past and more forward. Yes!

In my own guilt for A $16,800 Mistake: Shame and Embarrassment Exposed, how can we not feel bad? I am learning that we can’t help our feelings. We feel what we feel. However, we can learn from them and not make the same mistake again.

What are you feeling guilty about getting rid of? Feel it, then move on. Here’s to having a clutter-free home.


Sisters Fund Will Eventually Be Cousins Fund

With the recent fires in the Opal Creek wilderness, it got me reflecting on our sisters weekend and how grateful I am to have experienced this area earlier this summer with no smoke. One of the best parts for me was there was no WiFi. Unplugged for two days with my sisters and nature. Talk about a recharge!

In Adventurous Lasting Memories: Sisters Fund, my sister brought up the idea to leave funds to the next generation, ie) cousins. With the passing of my Dad and the windfall, all sisters decided to add to this fund so that our children will have this same experience. They will be able to remember their grandparents for years to come! It will be their yearly vacation fund and bonding time.

This is a follow up and check-in to What is Your Legacy? Have you created a ‘When I Die’ file yet?

Here’s to living and leaving a clutter-free home for ourselves and our loved ones so your kids can say, I Feel My Mom’s Love (Even 20 Years After Her Passing!)

~Ellen, purgingclutterathome@gmail.com

One Month Down, Four to Go!

It has been one month since I professed my end of the year clutter-free home challenge, when do you want your marathon to end? The ONLY reason I finished (living, dining, and hallway) this first month was because it was written down and I told you, wonderful readers. So thank you for being there for me and being my accountability!

The excuses were there:

  • It was hot (no A/C in the house)
  • I was tired (working a new second job)
  • My daughter left for boot camp (emotional)

I didn’t think it was going to happen. Then I had a few extra hours on the morning of the 31st and finished up that night. Talk about procrastination! There wasn’t a huge bag to give away. Most of the books in the bookshelves are my husband’s, so I didn’t touch those. A lot of the junk drawer stuff was garbage or belonged somewhere else. The cabinet shelves in the hallway got wiped down and now I want to paint them since it’s been twenty-two years since the last coat!

Accountability hit home for me. Maybe it is the same for you? Scream it from your rooftop with me:

“I am going to have a clutter-free home by the end of the year!”

It is not too late to jump in and join me. We have four months until the end of the year. The time will go by anyway! Next up for September is the garage. I don’t think it will be too bad since How to Get Your Husband to Clean Out The Garage Without Asking happened earlier this summer.

Thanks for reading and being MY cheerleader to have a clutter-free home by the end of the year! Please comment below if you are planning on joining me. Cheers, ~Ellen

Got Big Junk?

Last week we bought a new dryer and hauled the broken one to the dump. We had the time, a truck, and the physical strength to do the job. Many people are too busy, don’t have access to a truck, or simply don’t want to do the physical work to get rid of heavy garbage. It can take a back seat when life gets moving quickly.

About a year ago, a client told me she wanted to get rid of her piano. I gave her suggestions: put it on Craig’s list, contact her church or community centers for leads, or rent/borrow a truck. It was large, heavy to move and she was concerned about strangers coming in her home. Recently her husband asked her to get quotes to haul it away. He was tired of looking at it! A phone call, a reasonable quote, and a couple of days later her home was 600 lbs lighter! It was easy and out quick: 1800-GOT-JUNK.

Another client had some industrial furniture that had gotten waterlogged outside. It had been sitting in her driveway for more than eight months. Then last week she got a knock on her door that said they were there to pick up her junk. She immediately thought her neighbors had called because they had gotten tired of looking at her driveway! She was excited to get rid of it right then. She got an instant quote, paid them and she now has a clear driveway! She later realized they had gotten the address wrong and then went next door and picked up her neighbor’s junk too. My client was so happy & said, “it made my day!”

Sometimes you just gotta get rid of it any way you can. What large objects have you been wanting to get rid of but have been avoiding? Let’s live lighter and take action today!

Here’s to a clutter-free home, Ellen

How to Stay Motivated

It has been some long dog days of summer. How do you stay motivated to declutter in this heat? We have no air conditioning in the house so all I want to do is hang out in my basement or jump in a fresh water pool.

Here are some ideas to keep things moving in the right direction (out):

  • Go back to your why you want a clutter-free home
  • Read quotes
  • Have an accountability partner (I am available if needed)
  • Make a list of the order you will declutter
  • Block the time on your calendar
  • Set up a date for an organization to pick up your donations

I was going through my book shelves with photo albums this week. Although I didn’t get rid of any photo books, I did take out photos that I no longer remembered peoples names (think youth summer camps). Thought that was a good start since photos are tough.

What are you doing to keep yourself motivated and ready for a clutter-free home?

How Many Pairs of Chopsticks Do You Own?

This month my focus is on my living & dining rooms and hallway for my self imposed end of the year purge challenge. As mentioned last week in L’art De La Simplicite, our daughters changed rooms and one of them took the storage unit that was in the hallway. I needed to find a new storage area for the tablecloths that were previously stored in the hallway. The dining room was a logical choice right next to the dining table. The storage unit in there was full, so time to go through that piece. Do you have this problem: you purge one area and want to put items away, but there is no place in that new room? Ugh!

In the dining room storage cabinet I found some nice but hardly used chopsticks. This seemed to be an easy purge as we also had more chopsticks in the silverware drawer in the kitchen. Our family of four owns fifteen pairs of chopsticks! We don’t eat Asian food often and we have never had a dinner party that we have used them. At most we use four pairs every other week.

I brought this up with my family and they would have no part of it! These were from Japan and China and one was from a century-old company. But what does it matter if we never use them I asked? I am embarrassed to say we argued over chopsticks! How many is enough? Finally, I told them the reason to declutter the storage piece in the dining room was to find space for the tablecloths. My smart husband said, why don’t we give away some of the games that aren’t played as those take up more room than chopsticks. That is what I did. Three games that weren’t getting used are now in our give away pile along with a tablecloth because we don’t need five tablecloths! And there is room now for our four remaining tablecloths in the dining room where they belong. I might even give away another tablecloth. Just writing this now makes me think we probably could be okay with three tablecloths.

Living with a family, it can be hard to declutter things used by all. I am learning to compromise. I will also speak my reasons why sooner and more often. Does anyone want to come over for an outdoor Asian dinner?

Will you join me in my year-end purge? Please comment below if you are committed. Thanks for reading and here’s to a clutter-free home in 2020! ~Ellen