How to declutter your handbag

Shall we start with a question today? How many handbags do you own? 

There was a time when I could easily be up to 30 bags. Back in the day when dressing up for a night out involved a “nice top”, jeans and a matching bag, belt and shoes (anyone else remember those days) I had every colour and style going as I just bought another if it didn’t match the rest of the outfit. To be fair I am grateful that was my biggest worry when getting dressed up to go to the local club rather than the effort these poor girls have to go to these days, so every cloud!

These days I have 10 (which some may still think is excessive) but they all have a purpose and are all used. If you have a read my blog on 10 unexpected benefits to decluttering and organising you will know that decluttering for me is not all about living a minimalist lifestyle but instead only keeping the things that serve a purpose in your home and life. 

If you have a box of unused and unloved handbags lying around your home somewhere I would urge you to try decluttering them and seeing if they could be donated to a loving home where they can be used again. This blog is not going to focus on this today though and rather the inside of our bags. If you would like some help on reducing your handbags you can download my free guide to decluttering here or please do feel free to contact me directly here

As a mum as well as a couple of clutch handbags, I also have the big old ruck sacks that now have to carry around all the kids stuff for every eventuality. However these are not the bags I want to talk about today. I want to talk about your everyday handbag. I use the term handbag loosely, I actually haven’t used a handbag in the traditional sense of the word since lockdown hit, instead I have a smaller rucksack that I take out if me and the kids are just popping out as lets face it no matter their age they still come with their little surprises. No matter what your every day – grab on the way out – bag looks like, this is the one I am focussing on today!

I have another question for you. When was the last time you completely emptied your handbag and cleared it out? 

Official recommendations are that it should be once a week and yes although I completely agree that is a fantastic idea and stops any clutter building up, the business of life and the practicality of doing so often means this gets pushed down the to do list. 

One thing I will add here though is that a UK survey has shown that 1 in 5 handbags tested had harmful levels of bacteria when tested and even worse that the handles had more bacteria on them than the average toilet bowl and the contents inside the bag had more than the average toilet seat!!!! I MEAN WHAT?!?!?!? 

If that hasn’t made you think twice about the importance of regularly cleaning out your handbag I don’t know what will.

Never fear though I am here to help with some top tips for you:

  1. When you get in, always remove receipts and half opened perishables (perhaps that half eaten snack your child decided they didn’t want anymore and anything else that really doesn’t belong in your everyday bag. If you do it straight away it will just become part of your daily habit, much like hanging up your coat and putting your shoes away. 
  2. Don’t put your bag on your dining table or kitchen sides. We have just learned how disgusting our bags are and so if you are not cleaning them every week you should be especially conscious of cross contamination to the rest of the house and especially places where food is prepared and eaten.
  3. When you are out and about try not to put your bag down in any toilets or public transport floors. If you must, it could be worth popping a small bag of wipes in your bag to wipe it down afterwards

Now let’s talk about what is inside your handbag. When decluttering the inside of your bag, the process is no different to decluttering a whole room.

STEP 1: Empty all the contents out of your bag and give your bag a good clean

STEP 2: Categorise the items into keep, rubbish, recycle or donate

STEP 3: Categorise the keep pile as necessary for you e.g. makeup in one pile and wipes, tissues and spare pants (for the kids) in another pile

STEP 4: Re-look at your categories and remove any duplicates

STEP 5: Organise (see below) and pop back in your bag

The final stage can be hard in a handbag, especially if it doesn’t have many compartments to keep it all separate. The bag I now use every day is like this as we are very much out of the days of baby changing bags which tend to be great for compartments and keeping things organised, and now just take a standard bag around with me. I do however have a couple of links to some organisational products that I think really help with this. (Note these are affiliate links but I will never recommend a product I have not personally used, and think is up to the job. I have not been approached to use any of these products and are based on my own experience alone). 

Click here to check them out!

First up are my favourite things to use and they are these fantastic clear cosmetic bags. This particular link is for a set of 7 in all different colours. I love them because not only do they keep each category of item separate from each other, once you have had them in your bag a while, you get used to the colours at a glance and know which one you need to grab. It is perfect to stop the rummaging when you know what you need and you know it is in there (somewhere). Another perk which I didn’t initially think of until I was using them is that for any little spillages, perhaps suncream or even just a lipstick that has lost its lid, these are great at containing the mess and easy to wipe down rather than ruining the whole bag. WIN WIN!

The second option which I love are these little felt inserts! I actually have a larger version of this that I use as my declutter kit for work. They are perfect for bigger tote bags which have absolutely zero pockets and just gives you a bit more structure to your bag so you aren’t digging around for your desired item. The pockets are quite snug however it does not stop of course things falling out if you like to chuck your bag about a bit. I do love all the little sections though and so overall a big thumbs up from me!

Click here to check them out!

Click here to check them out!

If you fancy a free version and also like to repurpose without buying more for your home, if you have any unused, small makeup bags in your home you can also use these to separate your items. Below is a link for illustrative purposes only however I have slightly fallen in love with them so thought I would share the link anyway in case anyone else liked the look of them too. Although bags that aren’t clear make it a little more work to find things until you are used to what is where, a little label (love a label) could help with this. Plus these bags also have pockets inside so you can go for even more organisation.

For more decluttering and organisational tips you can find me on the usual socials linked above and if you would like to become part of our TOC Family and join our wonderful community and gain exclusive access to my workshops and masterclasses, head on over there now

Sending love – and remember you have absolutely got this


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