How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret (5 steps)9 min read

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How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Items on desk


Decluttering sentimental items can be challenging, as you don’t want to part with irreplaceable memories. Whether you’re downsizing, embracing minimalism, or just tidying up, the following tips can help you declutter sentimental items without fearing future regret.

Separating items from memories and building your decluttering skills are essential for letting go of hard-to-part-with belongings, according to experts.

It’s undeniable that sentimental items are the most challenging stuff to declutter. However, when we finally release that pile of heirlooms we never appreciated or our children’s artwork, it can be liberating – and it clears valuable space for things we actually use.

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How to Tackle Sentimental Clutter Without Regret

When you’re prepared, follow these steps to declutter sentimental items:

1) Categorize Sentimental Items:

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Decorative items on a shelf

Collect all sentimental items

Gather all of your old photos and sentimental belongings, even those hidden away in closets, attics, or basements. This may seem overwhelming, but it will make the decluttering process more manageable.

Marie-Helene Riverain, a KonMari consultant, suggests setting sentimental items aside without much consideration while decluttering a room or closet, as focusing on them can hinder progress on other, less emotionally charged items.

Watch this video by But First, Coffee on 13 Life-Changing Decluttering Hacks to make 2021 Your MOST ORGANIZED YEAR EVER

Consider sorting sentimental items into three categories:

  • Items to donate or discard
  • Items to keep but store out of sight
  • Items to display

2) Assess the Emotional Value:

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Clutter in a storage space

Ask yourself key questions while you declutter sentimental items

As you still hold onto each sentimental item, consider whether it brings pleasant memories, if you have space to display it, and whether someone else might appreciate it more.

Begin with simple items

When handling a sentimental item, ask yourself: “Does keeping this item bring me happiness?” This concept, inspired by Marie Kondo, suggests that items should “spark joy,” especially when they hold sentimental value. If an item no longer holds meaning, love or happiness for you, it may be time to let it go.

Distinguish between items and memories

Recognize that discarding an object won’t erase the associated memories or emotions. Practicing gratitude can help solidify these emotions in your heart forever.

Release gift guilt while you declutter sentimental items

Give yourself permission to let go of gifts you’re only keeping to avoid offending the giver. If you feel guilty about letting it go, take some time to consider a clear reason why. This also applies to family heirlooms, especially if they don’t hold personal significance for you.


3) Discard Sentimental Items Mindfully:

When decluttering, distinguish between items that genuinely make you happy and those you feel obligated to keep. This distinction will help guide your decisions on what to keep and what to part with.

Be systematic while you declutter sentimental items

Tackle items related to a specific story, person or memory one at a time. This focused approach will make it easier to decide what to sell, keep or discard.

4) Organize Kept Sentimental Items:

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Little drawers with organized items in.

For items you decide to keep but not display, designate a box for sentimental storage. If the box becomes full, revisit and reevaluate the contents. This approach prevents constant accumulation and the need for additional storage.

Be gentle with yourself

If you’re not ready to let go of emotional attachment to an item, don’t force it. Make sure to be gentle with yourself while you declutter sentimental items. Store cherished items safely, and remember that it’s normal to feel conflicted or sad about parting with sentimental belongings.

Watch this video by Joshua Becker on Feel Guilty Getting Rid of Stuff? Don’t.


5) Display Sentimental Items Creatively:

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Wall filled with decorative items. arranged randomly

Display the items you keep

Showcase the sentimental items you’ve chosen to save and keep on walls, shelves, or in box frames. Integrating these mementos into your daily life will honor special memory and celebrate their significance.

Showcase your own collection of cherished items in ways that reflect your personal style.

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Items arranged neatly on a desk.

Some ideas include:

  • Uploading photos to an electronic photo frame or creating a photo collage on your wall
  • Turning old T-shirts into a quilt for a practical and sentimental touch
  • Making a sentimental item the centerpiece of your coffee or dining table
  • Utilizing wall space with floating shelves or hexagon-shaped shelves
  • Dedicating a small bookshelf to sentimental items
  • Showcasing meaningful cards on walls or decorated corkboards

Take photographs

Capture images of sentimental items before letting them go to preserve memories and make the idea of parting with them feel a bit less difficult and permanent.

By following these helpful tips, we hope you can declutter sentimental items with confidence, knowing that you’ll cherish and appreciate the memories even more. Each day, as you pass by a sentimental trinket, you’ll find yourself smiling, reminded of the special moments it represents.

How To Declutter Sentimental Items Without Fear Of Regret. Items organized on desk.

FAQs on how to declutter sentimental items

Decluttering and throwing out sentimental items can be beneficial for personal growth and moving forward in life. It allows you to evaluate your relationship with the past and achieve a sense of peace.

1) How to declutter sentimental clothing items?

For sentimental clothing items, consider donating or repurposing them if they still have value. You might also have photos of yourself or a family member wearing these garments, which can help preserve the clothes’ memories.

2) How can I dispose of my children’s keepsakes?

When it comes to children’s mementos, involve your kids in the decision-making process. Keep only the items that hold special meaning and create positive memories for them.

Letting go of children’s toys and artwork can be a challenging task. However, it’s likely that as your children grow older, they won’t have a strong desire to keep these items. To streamline the process, focus on retaining the most cherished pieces. Consult your children to determine which belongings hold special meaning, are memorable, and evoke positive emotions, if any.

3) What do minimalists do with sentimental items?

Minimalists generally focus on simplicity and intentionality when dealing with sentimental items. They often prioritize quality over quantity, keeping only the most often meaningful items or pieces that evoke strong emotions or memories. Some minimalists might digitize mementos, such as photographs or letters, to preserve memories while reducing physical clutter.

4) How do I let go of sentimental things?

To let go of sentimental items, start by acknowledging the emotions they evoke and accepting the possibility of parting with them. Remind yourself that the best memories are preserved in your heart and mind, not solely in the objects themselves. You can also take pictures of these items to create a digital picture archive or consider gifting them to a friend or someone who would genuinely appreciate them.

5) How do you decide what sentimental clutter to keep or toss?

To determine what sentimental clutter to keep or toss, evaluate each item by asking yourself whether it sparks positive memories, serves a purpose, or holds a special meaning. Consider the available space for displaying or storing these special items and whether they truly enrich your life. If the object holds a neutral or negative emotion, for example, it may be time to let it go.

6) Should you let go of sentimental items?

Letting go of sentimental items can be a personal and emotional decision. However, it is essential to evaluate whether holding onto these items contributes to clutter or hinders your ability to move forward in life. Releasing items that no longer serve a purpose or bring joy can ultimately create more space for new life experiences and memories.

7) Decluttering Sentimental Items Without Feeling Guilty – 9 Easy Tips!

To declutter sentimental items guilt-free, try these nine easy tips: (1) Start small and work your way up, (2) take photos of the items before parting with them, (3) consider gifting or donating items, (4) create a memory box for smaller sentimental keepsakes, (5) display cherished items in your living space, (6) involve family members in the decision-making process, (7) focus on quality over quantity, (8) separate the item from the memory, and (9) give yourself time and be patient with the process.


Here are 20 tips for decluttering sentimental items and letting go more easily:

(1) Start small, (2) involve loved ones, (3) create a memory box, (4) digitize items, (5) gift or donate, (6) prioritize quality over quantity, (7) assess your emotional response, (8) establish display or storage space, (9) set aside dedicated time, (10) create a sentimental inventory, (11) focus on memories, not objects, (12) establish a keepsake limit, (13) consider repurposing items, (14) acknowledge your negative feelings often, (15) be gentle with yourself, (16) set personal goals, (17) celebrate your progress, (18) seek support from friends or professionals, (19) remind yourself of your values, and (20) maintain a clutter-free environment.

How to declutter sentimental items when it feels hard to let go

I know sentimental objects are harder to de-clutter. When one leaves the old heirloom that was once very important to him, the art of children is freeing a lot more room for things we actually use. KonMari consultant Marie-Helene Riverain recommends putting your sentimental objects on a side table while you work through your decluttering process. And if they don’t, they’d stop you. They’d also slow you down. You’ve been able to deal with other items with less emotional issues. Let’s see if we’ve decluttered sentimentals.

In conclusion

Decluttering sentimental items can be an emotionally charged process, but it’s an essential step in creating a more organized, intentional, and clutter-free space. By starting small, involving loved ones, and taking the time to acknowledge and honor all the memories associated with these items, you can let go more easily and confidently. Remember that memories are preserved in your heart and mind, and releasing certain items, doesn’t mean erasing the past. Embrace the journey of decluttering and enjoy the newfound peace and clarity that comes from surrounding yourself with only the most meaningful and cherished possessions.

Also Read:

Budgets for beginners: A guide to creating and sticking to one

Crafting a Practical Budget: A Comprehensive Guide to Financial Planning

15 Essential Tips for a Minimalist Kitchen (Even in Compact Spaces)

18 Actionable Steps for Millennials to Build a Strong Financial Future

The 10 Benefits of Living in a Small Minimalist Apartment on a Budget

9 Frugal living tips for 2022 (and beyond)

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