Every home should have a paper shredder to dispose safely of unwanted paperwork. We recommend the Fellowes Powershred 63Cb Cross Cut Shredder (88/100, £123.99, Amazon). It can effortlessly shred up to 10 sheets of A4, credit cards, small paper clips and staples at a time. It features Safesense technology, which stops the cutters if a hand touches the opening, and there’s a handy indicator that illuminates if you try to shred too many sheets.
FORGOTTEN FAMILY HEIRLOOM?
Want to get rid of an unusual item? Find a specialist shop that will accept it via the Find A Charity Shop database of 8,600 shops on charityretail.org.uk.
GO WITH THE FLOW!
Access documents on the go by using Google Docs – a free word-processing app. You can create, access and edit documents wherever you have web access, as well as share them with others. All you need is a Gmail account to get started.
Use your printer to scan photos and save as digital files. Rather than take up space on your hard drive, store them in a secure area online. We rate Google Photos (photos.google.com) as it’s easy to store photos taken on your smartphone here, too – using the free app from the App Store or Google Play Store – so all your pictures are together.
A freezer choked with ice cuts down on space and uses more electricity. Unplug at the mains, then stand bowls of hot water on tea towels inside the freezer to speed up the defrosting process. But don’t be tempted to use anything sharp to scrape at the ice: you run the risk of damaging the cooling elements. Alternatively, try Antibacterial Fridge & Freezer De-icer Spray (£3.79, Lakeland).
One woman’s trash is another’s treasure, so why not donate your unwanted items to a good home? It’s easy to do online through websites such as freecycle.org, preloved. co.uk and ilovefreegle.org.
Sort the contents of every cupboard into four piles: things used regularly, things to bin, things to fix, things in the wrong place. Put away anything in the last category, then dispose of anything in the bin pile. Next, tackle the fixing jobs you’ve been putting off. If anything is not fixable, then bin it. Use plastic containers to organise the rest of the contents. Write the contents of each on the side that will face out from the cupboard, so you can find things easily.
If your to-do list looks more like a child’s squiggle than organised instructions, there’s a solution: go digital. Sign up to Trello (trello.com), where you can create as many different lists as your busy life needs, and divide tasks into To-do, Doing and Done. You can even share your boards with others, so your kids can see that ‘unload the dishwasher’ is still to be done!
MOBILES FOR MONEY
Old phone lurking in a drawer? If it’s in reasonable condition, with the original battery, and not more than a couple of years old, sell it online. Use comparison sites sellmymobile.com and phones4cash.co.uk to check for the best price. It really pays to shop around as the price you’ll be quoted can vary a lot. We were offered from £195 up to £249 for an iphone 7 32GB, via quickmobilefix.com. GHI TIP: Don’t forget to wipe your personal information and images before you sell. Visit goodhousekeeping.co.uk/ how-to-get-a-smartphone-ortablet-ready-to-sell.
NOTE TO SELF
Don’t drown under Post-it notes. Use Evernote to store everything in one place. Download free from the app store to your device and create an account. You can make separate notebooks for home, work, family, travel, and even set reminders. And because Evernote stores things in the digital cloud, you can retrieve notes wherever you have internet access.
Whether it’s clothes, books, memorabilia or crockery, anything that you are keeping ‘just in case’, think about the last time it was used. More than 12 months? Get rid!
Receipts, household bills, bank statements and even MOT certificates and tax discs are now often digital, so this is the moment to bring everything online. Some companies offer a yearly discount if you opt to receive bills via email, while many banks offer rewards for setting up Direct Debits and going without paper statements. There is really no need to keep receipts unless you want to return something or claim back expenses. If in doubt, take a picture on your phone and save it that way. And set up a separate email account for when shops offer to email receipts to you, to keep them all in one place.
QUEEN OF DECLUTTERING
We asked GH homes editor Carolyn Bailey for her six-step plan… 1. Store like with like so you can find things easily. 2. Don’t duplicate or re-buy unnecessarily – check what you’ve got before you shop. 3. Make use of walls for storage – use the full height of your room as well as the width. 4. Complete each declutter task before you move on to the next. 5. Impose a strict nothing-on
6. De-junk drawers regularly.
RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE!
We like the innovative Joseph Joseph 60 Litre Totem Recycling bin (£199.99, Argos), which lets you separate your waste and recycling. There’s a 36-litre waste compartment and a 24-litre multipurpose drawer. The inner bucket is great for collecting food waste.
STORE SUMMER CLOTHES
1. Always store clothes in plastic boxes. Wood, cardboard and paper can damage fabrics. Remember that natural fibres, such as silk and linen, need to be able to breathe. 2. Always wash and dry clothes thoroughly before storing. Place cedar balls, moth-repellent crystals or lavender sachets in between the layers. 3. Never iron or starch anything you’re storing for longer than a few weeks. Both can weaken the fibres and make them prone to tearing along the creases. 4. Keep your boxes or cases off the floor in a cool place, away from damp, sunlight or heat.
If you’re filling in a tax return, you need to keep the records for at least five years. Storing them digitally until then is the easiest way to lighten your filing cabinet: try the apps Expensify or Shoeboxed, which track and automate receipts and expenses. Need professional help? Find an Accountant at The Institute of Chartered accountants (icaew.com).
Check your phone’s app store to see if your utility, phone and broadband providers have apps that enable you to see your usage in real time – and so manage your bills better.
GHI TIP: Make sure you keep paper statements for one utility provider so you have proof of your current address when needed. This can be a utility, telecoms or water bill, or council tax statement. If you live with someone, it’s good to make sure at least one of these bills is in your name.
VIP (VERY IMPORTANT PAPERWORK)
Some documents are currently issued only in paper form, such as marriage, birth or death certificates, wills, house deeds and adoption records. Losing any of these is a major hassle and can be costly to replace. Keep the paper copies in a locked and fireproof box, such as a Master Lock A4 Fire Proof Waterproof Chest (£59.99, Argos). Your car’s logbook (V5C) is a paper document that you must pass on to the new owner when you sell your car. If the original is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, you need to order another one at a cost of £25.
GH fashion editor Jo Atkinson shares her tidy-up tips: ‘Empty the entire contents and give the interior a good clean. Assign everything to either the keep, sell or donate pile. Get rid of anything that’s faded, misshapen or beyond repair, as you’ll never wear it. I hang my clothes in a category and colour order. From left to right, this is the order that works for me: evening dresses and party wear; jackets and blazers; tops; blouses; trousers; skirts; outerwear. I stack my shoe boxes in the bottom of the wardrobe and try to keep the selection to what I’m wearing that season. Separating summer and winter clothing will give you a lot more wardrobe space.’
If old games consoles and their paraphernalia are cluttering up your house, once discarded in favour of shiny new ones, get rid of them. Ebay is the way to make the most money – so-called recycling services don’t necessarily offer the best deal. How much you will get depends upon the age of the console, condition and memory size (if it has any).
The GH beauty team advises: ‘Investing in clear beauty bags (Marks & Spencer is good for these) or a set of Muji acrylic storage boxes means you’ll be able to see where products are quickly and easily. Separating them into different categories (face, eyes, lips etc.) makes it easier to find items, too.’
You’ve spent time and effort getting super-organised, so don’t let the family slip back into bad habits. A few house rules aren’t a bad thing, so make sure everyone has set tasks to do each week.
◆ For more great advice, visit goodhousekeeping. co.uk/institute
Shred it once you’ve read it
Someone will love that bag
Pack up your kitchen clutter
Wardrobe wisdom: organise clothes by type and colour
See-through bags are clear winners