Have you ever thought of which items to keep when decluttering? 

Normally we only consider items that we are getting rid of when we declutter. However, it can be useful to know which items need to stay. 

If we know which items need to stay, we’ll be able to make better decisions on what needs to go. 

If you’re currently thinking of tackling a decluttering project for your home or living space, don’t worry you’re not alone. Anyone who’s been on this decluttering journey understands the challenge and trouble that goes with it. 

Getting rid of personal items and clutter can also seem daunting especially if you have an emotional attachment to them. 

The essential items that we need to keep, are items that we use every single day and are items that we absolutely NEED. Don’t get me wrong you will keep other personal items that aren’t necessarily used on a daily basis, but our goal when decluttering is to get rid of the junk that’s just unused and taking up space.

In this post, we’ll go over the essential items to keep when decluttering! Also, by the end of this post, you’ll be able to judge whether an item is worthy of being kept in your space or left behind. 

Why It’s Important to Know Which Items to Keep When Decluttering

Knowing which items to keep when decluttering is essential. These items you keep will set a foundation for your simple or minimalist lifestyle going further. 

As stated above, these items will need to hold value and be used regularly. At least for the most part. You’ll definitely have certain pleasure items that aren’t really used regularly. But that’s okay!

Just in general, if we are downsizing our stuff, we want to keep most of the essentials. 

Once you know which items you need, it’s easy to keep this lifestyle and prevent adding more clutter to your life. Even if you’re a natural shopper you will be able to keep up this lifestyle!

Decluttering Isn’t All About “Getting Rid of Things”

The items you are getting rid of more so represent a mindset shift to what’s important. There are many minimalist misconceptions out there.

By highlighting what’s important to you, you find more purpose and fulfillment in your life moving forward.

The items you keep will overall represent this new mindset…

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"Essential items to keep when decluttering: minimalist guide"

1. Define Your Target Lifestyle

Now, before we can even think about decluttering, we need to think about what type of target lifestyle we want to adopt…

This lifestyle that we want doesn’t need to be minimalist per se but I recommend going down this road. It really makes your life a lot easier. Trust me. 

Once you find what works for you and your family, you’ll be in a better place to figure out what’s worth keeping. 

If You Choose a Minimalist Lifestyle…

Let’s say that you choose to live a minimalist lifestyle. This means that most of your belongings will have to go. 

The items you keep will be close to the bare minimum with some exceptions obviously. 

This is also determined by your family status and relationship status. So if you’re married with kids, then this may be more challenging for you. However, if you’re committed to this lifestyle, it will no doubt have a good influence on your spouse and kids!

If you are single, then this is your time to go crazy and purge all of the junk in your life with no boundaries. 

There’s no one stopping you! 

You can call the shots on what needs to stay and what needs to go! 

On the other extreme, If you’re trying to travel full time, then basically you’ll keep anything that fits into your luggage and bag that’s necessary. If you’re blessed with the opportunity to do this, then you will basically only be keeping whatever fits into your bags…But hey it’s a great trade-off…

Would you rather travel and gain new experiences or have a house or apartment full of clutter and stuff you like but don’t even use? 

You decide…

If You Plan on Living a Standard Lifestyle…

Now with a more traditional lifestyle, you’ll have much more freedom picking what “stuff” you’d like to keep.  

The items you keep should still bring you to value, but be wary of keeping too many things that you should probably let go of. (Keep in mind this is a minimalist guide, so the tips below will be for those going for that lifestyle) 

2. Develop Your Method of Decluttering

Two folded piles of clothes that say "discard" and "keep", items to keep when decluttering

When you first start to declutter, you’ll want to figure out a system that works for you in order to get all that junk out. 

There are a few common methods I like to use when decluttering and you may have heard them. 

First Method: “Keep”, “Sell”, “Maybe”, and “Trash”

For this decluttering method, create 4 areas, bags, or bins where you can separate items into four categories:

  • Keep 
  • Sell
  • Maybe
  • Trash

Below are the criteria for each category along with the characteristics of what should determine each categorization.

This will help you to determine which items need to be allocated to each specific area.


These are essential items that you use every single day:

  • Items that you need
  • Things that give you value
  • Items that serve a purpose
  • Things that bring you joy


These are items to get rid of that still have good value and is 100% worth selling:

  • Something you know you can get a return for
  • A high-value item that you simply don’t need (could be new)


These are items you may be on the fence about:

  • Set aside and go through later
  • Something you’d like to give more thought
  • It may have more value or something you may use in the future


These are items you’re ready to move on from:

  • Has no value
  • Broken
  • Junk
  • Unused item

Why This Method Works:

This method is very effective because it keeps everything organized!

It also gives you the opportunity to go through and categorize your belongings and make firm decisions instead of emotional attachments that may hinder your decluttering decisions. 

Second Method: “Keep” or “Maybe”

Sometimes we don’t have the time, space, or desire to break up all of the decluttering processes into four separate categories. So here is a simpler method that can help you declutter faster.

If you don’t wanna go through the trouble of creating bins or bags and separating everything, just create two areas or piles called “Keep” and “Maybe”

You may not have too much clutter and this may also be much easier for you. 

This way, if you aren’t sure you can just toss items aside and come back to it later without putting too much thought into them. 

This can also help with indecision and emotional attachment because you’ll be able to identify what to keep immediately but it will also give you a chance to set items aside and give them a “second round” of judgment before making a final decision.

 This can help you move on from things you may have wanted to keep in the past without just categorizing it as “trash” right away. 

3. Declutter Your Closet and Keep Your Favorites

Going through your closet and decluttering your clothes is one of the best ways to improve your life.

Downsizing your wardrobe doesn’t need to be a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process after initially decluttering. I personally replace my old clothes with new ones if I feel that I’d like to get new clothes to match a new style. 

Clothes You Should Get Rid of:

When it comes to decluttering our wardrobes and getting rid of clothes, we have to be ruthless. This means we have to tackle this task head-on and be mentally up to the challenge. 

So many clothes will seem like they should be kept, but you need to be determined to get rid of any clothes that you simply don’t need anymore. 

I know that amazing outfit you love still fits and looks great, but you need to get rid of it because you haven’t worn it in years! 

Repeat you need to be ruthless! Emotional attachment to clothes has to go out of the window if you want to downsize an overblown oversized wardrobe.

Here is the type of clothes that we want to remove from our wardrobe:

  • Old clothes
  • Clothes that don’t fit
  • Unused clothes
  • Clothes that no longer match your style

Don’t get me wrong, decluttering your wardrobe can be very challenging.

 Depending on how large your wardrobe currently is, can also determine the difficulty. Most people at any age have a mostly oversized wardrobe with way too many clothes. 

In order to get rid of your clothes effectively, apply one of the decluttering methods above and it will surely help you reach your minimalist wardrobe goals. 

Essential Clothes You Should Keep

Now here are clothes you 100% should keep:

  • Your favorite outfits
  • Clothes that inspire joy
  • Outfits that match your current style
  • Clothes that you love that still fit (obviously) 

Another point to add when revamping your wardrobe is to buy new clothes to replace old ones and remember to develop your minimalist wardrobe over time.

This is essential when creating and maintaining a minimalist wardrobe over time because it gives your the opportunity to shop and allows you to get new clothes that you like without adding more to your existing wardrobe. 

Consider A Capsule Wardrobe

Another great way to develop a minimalist wardrobe is to create a capsule wardrobe.

But what is a capsule wardrobe you might ask…?

A capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe that chooses a distinct color palette and the goal is to create a wardrobe that can mix and match with any item.

It’s great for maximizing your simple living potential by reducing the number of clothes you own while also creating an excellent wardrobe with good fashion and functionality. 

4. Declutter Each Room at a Time

Woman with large box cleaning her house, items to keep when decluttering

Now that we’ve made a plan to declutter our wardrobe, it’s time to go through our living spaces. 

Let’s keep it simple if you have tons to declutter, go one room at a time. This will keep you organized and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.

Decluttering Your Bedroom 

Think about your daily routine, which items do you use from your bedroom every day? 

Any items that don’t get used or don’t serve any purpose are set aside. Make sure to keep anything that is used daily, like an alarm clock, lamp, nightstand, mirror, television, etc

Decluttering Your Bathroom

Again go through your daily routine…

Keep your face wash, razor, makeup, and any daily toiletries. Remove any unnecessary items on your bathroom counter that take up space. 

These unnecessary items just get in the way and hinder your bathroom routines. 

Furthermore, go through your drawers and clear out all that clutter from old and unused electronic razors or old bottles and whatnot. 

When your bathroom is more organized, it will be easier to find what you need and this will make your morning and evening routines much faster and more efficient. 

Decluttering Your Kitchen

Decluttering your kitchen can be tricky

Again this will depend on your lifestyle/ living circumstances:

  • If single you can minimize it to a large extent 
  • If you have a family you may need to keep much more out of necessity

Dishes and silverware will be a must obviously, but take into account the cooking utensils you have and the number of pots and pans lying around. If they have not been used, think about getting rid of them. 

Ultimately, getting rid of the excess in the kitchen and keeping it neat and organized will drastically speed up your cooking process and give you fewer headaches too. 🙂 

Decluttering Your Living Room

Finally, define your desired living space and what level of simplicity you’d like. 

If you live alone and are going for a minimalist aesthetic, you’re definitely gonna keep very little in terms of furniture and accessories. 

If you have a family and kids, define what amount of furnishing is necessary and what look is appropriate.  

This seems obvious but keep essential items that are used like your couch, tv, tables, carpet, and anything necessary for living in that space.

Ensure that the level of simplicity is comfortable for you and your family. Anything else that isn’t needed you can get rid of. 

5. Here Are The Essential Items to Keep When Decluttering!

Lastly, we will outline the main essential items to keep!

These items will differ depending on lifestyle (duh):

  • Family and kids
  • Single and no family 

Essential Bedroom Items

  • Memory foam pillow
  • Memory foam mattress topper 
  • Bedset
  • Nightstand
  • Alarm clock
  • Pillows
  • Burea 
  • Mirror
  • Television
  • Amazon fire stick
  • Lamp

Essential Bathroom Items

  • Toiletries
    • Razor
    • Toothbrush
    • Shaving cream
    • Electric Razor
    • Makeup
    • Mini mirror
    • Fash wash
    • Body wash
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Nail clipper
    • Blow dryer
    • Comb
    • Brush
    • Body lotion
    • Face lotion
    • Tongue scraper
    • Floss
  • Bathroom organizer (holds a toothbrush, razor, etc.)
  • Waterproof speaker (for epic shower concerts)
  • Fresh scent spray (Febreze)

Essential Kitchen Items

  • Bowls 
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Cooking trays
  • Cutting boards
  • Measuring cups
  • Electric kettle 
  • Rice cooker
  • Magic bullet blender
  • Large blender
  • Juicer (for veggies)
  • Spatula 
  • Pizza cutter
  • Roller (dough)
  • Silverware
  • Glass containers for leftovers
  • Other small and large containers
  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Towels
  • Water filter
  • Cabinet organizer (for silverware)
  • Pantry organizers 
  • Cleaning supplies
    • Sponge
    • Soap
    • Dustpan
    • Broom 
    • Mop

Essential Living Room Items

  • Sofa
  • End tables
  • Middle table
  • Lamps
  • Rug (for hardwood floors)
  • Tv Stand
  • Smart tv
  • pillows

Key Takeaways

  • Decluttering and downsizing are not all about getting rid of stuff (developing a simple living mindset)
  • Declutter each space one room at a time
  • Choose the target lifestyle that suits you and your situation 
  • Pick a decluttering method that works best for you
  • Keep the essentials and let go of the unnecessary junk

Closing thoughts 

  • Decluttering can be incredibly difficult if you have a house and tons of things to go through. 
  • Even though it can be tough, it doesn’t need to be complicated. 
  • Use these simple tips to downsize and you’ll be clutter-free in no time!

Starting A New Decluttering Project!?

If you’re looking to downsize today or start on a new goal or project, consider trying out these free productivity planners to help organize your decluttering plan!

Starting A New Project?


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