40 Bags in 40 Days – The Results

The 40 bags in 40 days challenge ended a couple of weeks ago…how did everyone do? I did pretty well. My house still isn’t an organized haven, and I wasn’t the ruthless, hard-hearted, clutter destroying machine that I had hoped to be…but I still got my 40 bags. More than 40 actually. When I first read about this challenge 40 bags sounded like a lot, but I only tried medium hard and easily got that many. I could definitely do this every year with no problem. Obviously I have too much stuff.

Want to see some messes and some before and afters? I though so.

The very first day the challenge started I was all pumped to destroy clutter and decided to start with the worst area…our master closet.

messy closetWe have some issues going on in there for sure. Not only does it store both our clothes and shoes and everything like that, but also all of Adam’s man stuff (military supplies, spear fishing equipment, guns and ammo, motorcycle stuff, etc). It even houses a cherry table top he built for us when we were first married. Problem is, we don’t have anywhere else to store this stuff, so for now it has to stay. Then there’s the whole clothes issue. I feel like we have a lot of clothes (I’m sure it’s a normal amount though), but most if it is, well, unimpressive. At best. Adam and I have always been budget minded (even before we met) so most of our clothing is hand-me-down from friends, goodwill finds, or from the Ross clearance rack. Not that there is anything wrong with that…but most of it is about a decade old, especially my husbands. He wears these old t-shirts that say random (usually ridiculous) stuff, and they’re all cracked and faded. We need grown up clothes….clothes that ultra hip 30-year-old parents would wear. Not that were all that hip, and I’m only 29 thank you very much….but you get the picture. And while I would like to ditch about 80% of our closet and start over, we are going to go about it a little more slowly than that. So I purged the worst stuff and came away 12 bags of clothes to donate and one bag of staining rags. It’s a good start. And who knew…there’s a floor in our closet!

closet after purge

Next (which was like a week later, I had to recover) I took on the linen closet and the drawers in the vanity. I got one big bag of trash, one of donations, and a lot of organization.

linen closet 40 bags

Then I talked myself into taking on the dreaded craft closet. I forgot to take a before picture of this, but I have plenty from years past since I’ve always struggled with this area.

craft closet before

craft closet after

I have plans to make this space a functioning office, but that won’t happen anytime soon. For now I’m pretty excited about the state it’s in. I got six bags total from this area.

The kid clothes was the next area that needed attention. My boys clothes drive me nuts for a few reasons. Number one, they destroy clothes SO FAST. They basically get to wear things once before looking like a couple of ragamuffins. I buy their clothes secondhand and always accept hand-me-downs, so stains aren’t the worst thing ever, but still…it’s frustrating. Number two, they are SO stinkin close to wearing the same size…but they aren’t quite there yet. So we have a ton of clothes that all look the same size, but some go on one kid and some on the other. I pretty much have everything memorized, but Adam is at a loss when it comes to picking out the kids clothes. He is happy to dress them, but I have to lay everything out first. Anyway, I purged their clothes (including all the smaller stuff I’ve been holding onto for future babies) and came up with five bags to give away. Too bad this hasn’t resulted in less laundry!


Then I cleaned up the yard a bit, and came up with a van full of stuff to take to big trash day in our neighborhood. I got five big items, which I’m counting it as five bags. I could have gotten more, but Adam and his truck were out-of-town that day.

big trash

Then there is the furniture that I’ve decided to part with, for different reasons. A few of them are already gone, a few are for sale, and the rest are waiting to go to family members. Here is the stuff that is getting the ax…

furniture that's leaving

I’m slowly redoing the boy’s room so a lot of their stuff is going, and everything in the guest room is headed out as well. Even the bedding and the art on the walls. Not the leg lamp though…never the leg lamp. I also ditched two rugs, a few more random bags from around the house, and some decor items. Thank goodness for my sister-in-law in college, she taking most of it off my hands. Makes it easy.

I have a few areas I still need to take on (toys!) but overall I’m pretty happy with the amount of stuff I purged. My house still feels a bit chaotic though, since each of our three bedrooms are currently torn apart (more on that in my next post). So overall – if I count each big item as a bag – I got 47 bags. Not bad.

For those of you that also took on this challenge, how did you do? Were you a clutter destroying machine, or did you struggle to let things go?  And for those of you that missed the challenge and want to purge…purge anyway! It’s always a good time to purge.

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  1. That is awesome Ashley!! It must feel great to open those cleaned-out closets and spaces and see organization!! :)

    Also – I DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD A LEG LAMP!! I am officially jealous. I love the leg lamp. You can never, never get rid of that. “Fragile…it must be Italian!” Haha!! I seriously say that every single time I see the word Fragile on something!!

    1. I will never ever get rid of it! My brother-in-law bought it for us as a wedding gift and I’ve always loved it. Though more than a few times I’ve had no idea what to do with it, but it always finds a place, eventually :)

  2. 47 bags is quite a bit. you should feel proud and have a lot more space to maneuver around now. i’m having a garage sale soon so your post is very inspiring for me to get moving and finish going thru my stuff. once I have my garage sale I am donating everything that does not sell……none of it is coming back in! :)

  3. I started the 40 bags and then lost momentum after day 4. I’m moving at the end of the summer and have a lot to purge to get this house ready to sell. Thanks for the post, I’m getting recharged!

  4. You did a great job! I started this, but did not make it to 40 (or even close!). I’m sure your house is feeling more spacious after all that purging. I’m motivated to do more after reading this!

  5. Great job! I have an idea for you with your boys’ almost identically sized clothes. I have twin boys who have grown to be slightly different sized, and a third son. I tally mark their clothes – whether it is new to us or hand me down from older brother. Biggest boy gets a “l” inside (near the tag in shirts & pants/shorts – any place that is easy to see when folding clothes); when that item is too small for biggest boy, another tally mark is added – “ll” is inside boy #2’s clothing. And of course, when it is ready to be set aside for smallest boy, a third tally is added, to get “lll” inside his clothes. Since many of their clothing items are similar, it is so much easier when folding clothes. (I even do it inside their underwear – even tho I try to buy stuff that looks different for them, it just makes it easier to not have to remember). It would work with socks too, etc.

    1. That is SO simple, and SO genius. For some reason putting tick marks on their clothes has never occurred to me, but I’m going to adopt that strategy ASAP. Just think….other people could dress them! Thank you!

  6. I so need to do this project! My neighbor spent the day decluttering her house today, and she says it now feels bigger! Clutter takes up too much space in my home.

  7. Wow Ashley, you did a great job!! Way to go. What are you doing with your spare room? I’m surprised you got rid of all the furniture, I thought it was a finished project. (Or is anything, ever?)

    1. The spare room was finished…kinda. We’ve replaced the flooring and trim in the entire house except for the guest and master bedroom, so we had to tear it up eventually. The furniture is going to family…I love the desk but it’s not really usable, you can’t even put a computer on it because the desk part is too shallow. We’re building an office in the closet and I’m making the bedroom more neutral. I’m going to try and get the boys room finished before we officially start on another room though… we really need to finish that. Unfortunately we’re at the point where things need to get built and Adam’s police academy is all encompassing, so it may be a few more months.

      1. Don’t you hate getting stuck in that bottlenecked-projects place? Bummer. But your boys’ room is looking awesome already. It’s going to be amazing! Love that cowboy theme. Is Adam’s police academy going well?

  8. I sorta-kinda participated. I was able to get rid of 18 bags of miscellaneous clothes…there are 5 of us, so between the stuff I never wear anymore, and the stuff I’ve been hanging on to for the boys, we had some slush. My husband refused to purge his side of the closet. Even of the pants that are brand new, but he hates.

    Anyway. I know I bagged up another half dozen or so bags of just junk and broken crap from upstairs. Between nobody ever really emptying the laundry room trash, the boys always destroying their bathroom, and all of the crap I found in their bedrooms, it wasn’t difficult to do. I’m going to estimate that two of those bags were just recycleable bottles and such from the laundry!

    I didn’t get much done as far as the toy situation, but, since the closets were clean, they could at least put stuff away. Which lasted for all of two days. I’m still waiting for the floor to come back.

    I also purged the linen closet when The Man was away. It was full of granny squares and little quilts his mom had made over the years for us, that really didn’t go with anything, or fit over anyone anymore. I donated all of those, a huge hand-knitted blanket we got for our wedding (and rarely use), and a crap ton of sheets we don’t even have beds for. So, probaby another four or five bags. The big blanket was a bag by itself!

    My middle son is now so far ahead of everyone else in his after school program clothing drive, that the girl who was in first place before gave up in tears. Sorry honey, we be purging!

  9. I completely forgot about this! I told a friend all about it. I was going to try to do it! Then I got so busy with life and everything else, I just forgot. Ha! I think I’ll try again after reading this update!

  10. I didn’t do the challenge but I’m always doing my own and tossing things… I love tossing things!!! I have a little hint for you regarding the boys clothes! We have one girl and three boys, and of course I was the only one who knew which item belonged to which boy (DD clothes are fairly self-explanatory). I take a permanent marker to the tag or neckband and dot them, one for the oldest, two for the second and three for the third and any time an item is passed down I only have to add a dot :) It works like a charm and now anyone (dad, gram, kids, babysitter) can sort out the clothes and get them in the right pile. It’s so fast and honestly works great. Take the plan and run with it! :)

    1. Another reader suggested the same system a few comments up, and it is the best idea I’ve ever heard. I’m running with it for sure!

    1. 118 and bags is amazing! Doesn’t it feel so good to free yourself from all that stuff?!
      I’m proclaiming you the winner of the 40 bags challenge, (even if you didn’t do it during the allotted time.) Keep it up!

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