Don't blink, because the fall season is just around the corner. That means the end of summer camps, vacations, and lazy mornings. It also means that it's time to clear away the things you meant to toss last spring and all the clutter you've accumulated over the summer. Get a headstart on a new school year, or simply a fresh new season, and declutter these 10 things before September.
Gather four boxes or bins and label them Keep, Trash, Recycle, and Donate. Use our list as a starting point, work on one category at a time, and enlist the help of your family. As you finish each category, take action and put away the items you plan to keep, place recycling or trash in bins, and put the donation items in your car for delivery (no stashing in the garage!).
You'll feel accomplished and ready to enjoy Labor Day parties with a day of rest.
Outdoor and Water Toys
Discard any toys or games that are damaged or missing pieces. Inspect inflatable toys and rafts and deflate them before storing or donating. Once you finish with the outdoor toys, why not sort through your kids' indoor toys before the holiday giving season begins?
Summer Shoes and Clothes
It's time to donate sandals, pool shoes, and outgrown clothes—don't forget bathing suits. For kids' clothes you plan to hand down, make sure they are stain-free and freshly washed before storing. If you didn't wear something all summer, it's time to let it go.
If your kid's backpack is still full, empty it and see what can be kept and what needs to be tossed or donated. Compare the list of required items for the year with what you have so you won't overbuy. Many charities need backpacks that are still in good shape if your child must have the latest fashion statement.
Papers, Books, and Magazines
If you have a stack of last year's permission slips, unopened junk mail, or notes from finished work projects, sort and recycle. Send summer beach reads and required summer school books to the recycle bin, used book store, or charity. Recycle old magazines and coloring books, and return library books!
Garden Tools and Supplies
It's time to toss or compost garden plants that didn't survive the summer heat. Weed through tools and gardening supplies and store them properly in the garage or shed. Dispose of lawn and garden chemicals following the guidelines of your local municipality.
Towels and Linens
Empty the linen closet and get rid of beach towels that are past their prime. Sort and straighten sheet sets and towels so they are easy to find. Animal shelters welcome old towels and linens.
Skin Care Products
Check the dates on sunscreen and summer skin care products. Toss outdated items, including make-up and body lotions.
How many long-handled spatulas do you really need? What is the condition of your grill? Will it make it until another season or should you take advantage of end-of-the-summer sales?
Canned Goods and Spices
Life can get hectic when school starts and work schedules fill up. Now is the time to clean out the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator and toss expired foods and spices. For unexpired products you over-bought that your family doesn't like, donate them to a food pantry or shelter. Make a list of the spices you're tossing so you can replace items you'll need before holiday baking time arrives.
First Aid Products
Is the bandage box empty? Look through medicine cabinets and first aid kits. Toss expired items and stock up on over-the-counter medicines so you're prepared for sniffles and scrapes.