Spring De-Cluttering Your Home With The Three-Pile Technique

If you're serious about spring cleaning, you can make it fun and productive. This approach lets you go through the house and find items to give away, throw away and recycle. You'll be helping others, helping the environment and making extra space in your home. Here is how to use this technique when you're really ready to clean up and de-clutter this year.

Using the Three-Pile Approach

Pick a place in the house that you can use as a staging area. If the garage is clean, consider that since it's big and open. You'll want to be able to temporarily store three piles in this area until you can get the items to their final destinations. The three piles are:

  • Items to go to a thrift store, food bank or other charity
  • Items to be taken to a recycling center
  • Items to be thrown away

Your goal is to maximize as many items in the first two piles as possible to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill.

If you have a large number of items to recycle and to go to the landfill, such as construction materials left over from a home remodeling project, consider a dumpster rental from a company like Lakeshore Recycling. These companies will deliver a dumpster to your home and pick it up when you're done. Some companies offer dumpsters which have separate bins for both recycling and waste.

De-Cluttering Room-By-Room

Be as ruthless as you can when going through each room of the house. As you encounter each item, ask yourself:

  • Are you currently using this item?
  • If you are not, is it worth keeping and taking up the space in the house?
  • Can someone else make good use of the item?
  • Can the item be recycled or re-purposed?

You will likely find something in every room of the house to add to the three piles. Here are some suggestions of what to look for in each room.


  • Unused food can go to local food drives or food banks.
  • Extra dinnerware, such as plates, cups, glasses and silverware can go to a thrift store.
  • Extra cookware pieces can go to the thrift store.
  • Small appliances, such as blenders and toasters, can go to a thrift store if the appliances are still working. If they are not working, they may still be able to be recycled.


  • Old linen can go to a thrift store if they are in good shape.
  • Blankets are especially welcomed donations at thrift stores.
  • Used pillows are hard to clean and should be thrown away.
  • Mattresses and box spring sets can be donated, if in good shape, otherwise they should go to the landfill.
  • Clothes are also welcome in thrift stores.
  • Children's clothes and shoes are good items to donate as some shops send them overseas to needy children.

Living Room and Family Room

  • Furniture in good shape can go to a thrift store.
  • Electronic devices, such as TVs, stereos and game systems are good items to donate.
  • Books, magazines, records and CDs can be taken to a thrift store.
  • All children's games and toys are appreciated at thrift stores.


  • Hair dryers and curling irons are good thrift store items.
  • Towels, washcloths and other linens can go to the thrift store if in good shape.

Attic and Basement

  • Artificial Christmas trees and wreaths are welcome at thrift stores.
  • Packing paper and boxes can go into the recycling pile.

The more ruthless you are at getting rid of items during your house de-cluttering exercise, the more space you will open up in your home.