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Your old stand-mixer. Your kid’s broken recorder. That box of candles you’ve been meaning to regift. Despite your best intentions, clutter has a way of piling up…and taking over. Here, eight secrets of folks who are magically able to keep their homes free of stuff.

RELATED: 8 Secrets of Women Who Never Seem to Get Tired

Sex and The City girls cleaning out Carrie s cluttered wardrobe
HBO

1. They don’t keep gifts they don’t like

It might seem callous, but there’s no shame in parting with gifts that aren’t your thing. If you're worried you'll offend your mother-in-law, rest assured that she probably won’t ask you where that Santa paperweight went. And if she does, you can always lie and say you’re keeping it at the office.

White and beige clothes hanging up in wardrobe
Alija/Getty Images

2. They don’t own clothes they don’t like

This one seems obvious, but think about it: How many ugly sweatshirts are you hanging onto just because you might wear them to paint the garage some day? Put those suckers out to pasture. (And when painting day comes, we promise you’ll find a way not to be topless.)

RELATED: Why You Only Need 37 Items in Your Closet

Clothes hanging in closet
KhongkitWiriyachan/Getty Images

3. They don’t distinguish between summer and winter wardrobes

You thought that box of bathing suits in your basement was an honest effort to stay organized. But in reality, it’s giving you an excuse to hold onto stuff you don’t need. (C’mon are you ever going to wear that rainbow string bikini?) A good rule of thumb: Your entire yearly wardrobe should fit in your drawers and closet. If it doesn’t, you need to purge.

White office with computer
Twenty20

4. They digitize

Some things--like your first edition Alice in Wonderland--are nice to own in the flesh. Other things--like tax returns from 2006--are better off kept in the cloud. Take stock of your papers, books and movies to see what you could easily digitize and store on your computer or online.

Woman organizing trash
VikaValter/Getty Images

5. They invest in smart garbage solutions

Dear anyone who has a stack of magazines or empty water bottles in her mudroom: If you have dedicated recycling bins (preferably tucked away or built into a cabinet), you are far more likely to keep trash out of sight until collection day arrives.

Beautiful kitchen countertops
hikesterson/Getty Images

6. They clean their countertops daily

Ever try to wipe down a countertop that’s covered in crap? Not so easy, is it?

RELATED: The Anatomy of a Kitchen: How to Keep Yourself Organized

Dressing table with makeup
byryo/Getty Images

7. When they buy a new item, they throw out an old one

Think about the stuff in your house in terms of finite numbers. You have 20 pairs of shoes. You have 3 spatulas. You have 6 tubes of lipstick. When you buy a new pair of boots or even just a fun, little cooking utensil, an old one has to go.

Set of white drawers
poligonchik/Getty Images

8. They don’t have a junk drawer

Yes, it’s tempting to have a place to store the stuff you’re not quite sure what to do with. But mark our words: Once you allow that old cell phone charger into junk-drawer purgatory, it’s a slippery slope toward total chaos. Best to throw it out, or assign it a proper home in the first place.

RELATED: 5 Simple Ways to Tame Your Snail Mail

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