Whether you’re moving to a new place, making space for a new roommate, or just in the mood for some spring cleaning, sometimes a purge is necessary. Knowing where to start and what to get rid of can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re a low-key hoarder who tends to form sentimental attachments to your stuff (you never know when you’ll need that old Halloween costume from 1996, am I right??). To help ease your anxiety, follow this step-by-step guide for a painless and efficient purge. You might end up liking it!
Where to Start
Take small bites. Knowing where to start is often the hardest part. Instead of trying to tackle the whole apartment all at once, start by focusing on one room or one small area at a time. It can be as simple as, “Today I will clean out the drawer in the kitchen where I keep old chopsticks and menus I never look at.” Starting with a small task like this usually gets the ball rolling and gives you a sense of satisfaction to motivate the rest of your purge.
Be organized. Once you’ve settled on a starting point, devise an organizational system so you don’t get lost in the clutter. One great method is to sort each item you own into three piles: keep, toss, and sell/donate. Hold up each item and honestly assess it for its personal and objective value. For example, you might find an old sweater that’s in great condition but just never fit right. Put it in the sell/donate pile! On the other hand, it’s probably safe to toss those old takeout menus. Try to go with your gut and make quick decisions. You can always make adjustments later.
Take pictures. Some items are tricky in that they hold sentimental value, yet serve no real purpose and take up precious real estate in your apartment. For example, a large neon stuffed monkey that you won at a street fair, which reminds you of a fun night out with your friends. For items such as this, snap a few pictures and send it on its way. The stuffed monkey will probably make some little kid very happy and your memories will be preserved in the photo.
Dispose of Useless Clutter
Items with no personal or subjective value (i.e., old receipts, dried-up pens, love letters from exes you never want to think about again) belong in the trash. While small items are easy to dispose of, tossing larger items such as broken furniture or appliances may feel more daunting. Luckily, NYC provides free curbside pickup of disposed bulk items. Large metal and plastic items are collected on recycling days, while all other bulk items are collected on normal garbage pickup days. There’s no limit to how much they will pick up, so go wild! Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the NYC bulk item disposal guidelines, as some items like air conditioners require a special appointment for pickup.
Sell or Donate Good Clutter
In NYC, your trash is often another person’s treasure. Try these options for selling and donating items that you no longer need, but are too good to throw away:
Donate to local charities. NYC is abundant with charity organizations that accept donations for adults and children in need. In addition to clothing, many of these charities also accept shoes, accessories, housewares, books, and furniture. Check out this comprehensive list of local charities and guidelines on how to donate your items.
Recycle your textiles. Even if your old clothing is too worn or ratty for anyone to use, don’t throw them away. Instead, bring them to a Greenmarket Clothing Collection stand at your local weekend farmer’s market. Greenmarket is located at 30 farmer’s markets in NYC and will recycle and repurpose your old textiles. The best part is you can enjoy a pastry and pick up some fresh veggies at the market after you donate!
Sell at a consignment shop. If you have items in your closet that are still in good condition but just don’t fit your current aesthetic, you can try trading them in for cash or store credit at a local consignment shop. This option is great if you want to revive your old wardrobe with some hip and affordable new items. Just make sure to check your ego at the door in case the trendy salesperson decides that your clothes aren’t up to snuff. Check out this list of the top consignment shops in NYC
PRO PICK: Crossroads Trading Co. You really can’t go wrong at this store, because they donate the clothing that they don’t choose to buy. Best-case scenario, you make some money. Worst case, they take the clothes off your hands and donate them to a good cause.
Sell online. For gently used items like furniture, housewares and electronics, there are many apps that allow you to snap a quick photo of your item and make deals with local buyers. For example, letgo, OfferUp, and Gone. You can also go the Craigslist route, but make sure the deal is legitimate and never arrange to meet up with a stranger on your own, as there are plenty of scammers out there.
Have a stoop sale. If you really want to go old-school NYC style, and are fortunate enough to have a stoop, you can set up shop right outside your front door. Make deals, schmooze with your neighbors, and get some sun while purging your apartment of junk. What could be bad??
PRO TIP: To attract foot traffic to your stoop, use sidewalk chalk and hang signs to advertise your sale!