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How To Declutter Toys In 7 Easy Steps [+ Kid Friendly Tips!]

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON June 1, 2022

& FILED IN Home Decluttering, Family Life At Home 


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Too many toys? Toy clutter is a real issue for many families so it’s time to look at how to declutter toys before they get out of control completely.

How To Declutter Toys - 7 Easy Steps [Plus Tips!]

Why not teach your kids the joys of decluttering with one (or two!) of these more fun ways to deal with it, rather than make it something they dread doing when you decide to have a toy clear out?

It makes more sense to create good decluttering habits in your children as early as possible – so that they not only enjoy what they have, but also don’t have too much that they get overwhelmed.

Things To Remember When Decluttering Toys

  • These are your kids possessions. Just as important to them as anything you have . Be respectful and they will respond better to decluttering
  • Never declutter anything without your kids approval. This only leads to mistrust down the line. (Unless they are teeny tiny, of course…).
  • Get them involved – because Kids love to be involved in the process of decluttering and they can be a huge help (the key is not to overload them with too much responsibility otherwise it will lead to tantrums).
  • This is also a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of giving to others who may not be as fortunate as they are.
  • The toy phase passes – just like all phases of childhood. When you’re in the toddler years everything is big and bulky – but by the teen years they are all smaller and probably involves more tech. Get them decluttering from a young age so that you can keep on top of the bulk in the crucial earlier years, and you’ll be winning!

The Benefits Of Decluttering Toys

  • Less overwhelm – If you open the pantry and see loads of different ingredients in it, you can feel like there’s too much choice. What to have for dinner is so hard. If there were just a few items – or a meal plan – then that choice would be eased. That’s what having less toys will do for your children. They’ll find it easier to play because there’s less to deal with
  • More focus. When my daughter went to her grandparents for a few hours, they had a couple of toys under the stairs. These would keep her occupied easily for all that time. At home, she’d be much more likely to flutter between lots of things because they were there. Deeper (and more interesting) play can be had when they can focus on one thing at a time.
  • Less mess. For you AND them, when playing AND when tidying up. It’s a win all round!
  • More appreciation. Thing are too easy to get hold of now – and kids seem to expect a little more. Not always, but it’s definitely possible. Having less means that they’ll be able to see things better and appreciate what they have more.
Clutter Stat - childrens toys

How To Declutter Toys – 7 Steps

Decluttering toys doesn’t have to be complicated – and there are ongoing things that you can do to keep on top of them once a larger purge has been done. Those ideas are later in this article.

Related: 19 Easy Things To Declutter From Your Toys And Games

For now – let’s concentrate on the steps to take when you want to tackle ALL the toys in one decluttering session (or a set of a few sessions…).

Step 1 – Get 5 Bags Or Boxes

If you can be prepared for decluttering it makes it so much easier. All you need for decluttering toys is a few bags or boxes (you could just use different spaces, but with toys and kids it will be much easier to have them contained in something rather than just in piles).

Pick bags/boxes that are easy for you to carry when full – and that will hold the toys well. Then label each one with one of the following: –

  • KEEP – For those toys that you want to remain
  • SELL – These will be toys that you don’t want, and that are in good enough condition to possibly sell and make some cash back
  • GIVE AWAY – Toys that you don’t want, and that are in good condition, but you don’t want to sell. You could give them to friends / family / charity shops etc…. (do a search for places that would take second hand toys in your area)
  • RECYCLE – This will be dependant on what your local facilities are – so check which they would be able to take.
  • RUBBISH – Anything that doesn’t fit in any of the other categories will be put here. Try and limit what goes to the tip, because landfill is never a great thing to add to…
Cardboard box full of kids plastic toys

Step 2 – Gather All The Toys Of A Specific Type Together

It’s hard to make a decision about whether to keep something when you can only see that one.

For example – every child will want to keep a teddy bear when asked about it in isolation – but it’s much easier to gather all those teddies and make decision about them when you can see them all.

Decluttering by toy category is also a great idea if you want to split things up into more manageable chunks as well. You can do one category at a time.

Some toy decluttering categories you could have would be:

  • Soft Toys
  • Jigsaws / Puzzles
  • Board Games
  • Lego & Building Blocks
  • Toy Cars / Vehicles
  • Dolls / Figurines
  • Dressing Up
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Outdoor Toys

Once you’ve collected a category together, you can go through the next steps.

Step 3 – Look For Any Broken Or Damaged Toys

Any toys that are past their best (and that you don’t want to or can’t fix) can be added straight away to the RECYLE or RUBBISH pile.

They’re the ‘Quick Wins’! Get them out of the way and lighten the rest of the pile quickly.

Step 4 – Find Any Toys Not Used, Outgrown, Or Wanted Any Longer

Your next go through of the category will be anything that’s an easy decision for you and your child(ren).

Just add each one to the right box/bag and then you’re ready for the next step.

Clutter statistic about toys

Step 5 – Find Any Duplicates

Another brilliant reason for gathering like items together is that you can easily see where you’ve got duplicates.

Getting rid of anything you have more than one of is another pretty easy choice to make (unless it’s a collection, of course!).

Step 6 – Check The Amount TO KEEP Fits The Storage

Whatever you have left needs to be stored somewhere. If it doesn’t all fit, then you’ll still have toy clutter in the house.

Not only that, but it will still be harder to put things away and find things as there’s still too much.

As such – make sure that you can contain everything you want to keep in the place you want to keep it – and if not – more decluttering should be done (this time even more ruthless!).

Step 7 – Take All Decluttered Toys To The Right Place

The final step of this ‘How To Declutter Toys’ tutorial, is to take away the RECYCLING, RUBBISH, TO GIVE AWAY piles to their rightful places as soon as possible. You don’t want to run the risk of the kids getting them back out of the bag/box again!

Also – when selling any toys – do this quickly so they don’t hang around either. I like to ask locally on Facebook groups first, as this saves on sorting out postage and usually gets picked up the same day.

5 Creative Ways To Declutter Toys – That the Kids Will Approve Of…

On top of the above steps that you can use, there are some fun ways to try as well. These are great especially for ongoing decluttering and toy management.

#1 – Set Limits

Set some limits on the number of toys each child can have: This is a great way to start decluttering – by limiting the amount of toys each child has. It might not be easy, but it’s definitely worth it in the end!

Whether this is just a number you pick for items, or a certain storage amount that they can have but not exceed (like a toy box for general toys, a shelf for books, a container for craft items etc…).

The way to get your kids on board with this is that it switches the burden from decluttering to curating. They can be empowered to make their own decisions about what they want to keep – which can help them to become more independent too.

#2 – Toy Rotation

Rotating your childrens toys can help kids to realise that they don’t really need as many as they may think – which in turn will help them to let go of the excess more easily over time. It could also be a valuable lesson for them to learn in terms of ALL belongings over time – like clothes, for example).

Simply collect together a specific amount of toys and store the rest away somewhere safe (the garage or up in the loft would work well).

Then, each month, simply swap the toys for ones from the storage.

So far I hear you – we haven’t actually DECLUTTERED any – but stick with it…

Once the kids see that less really can be more (they will start playing with their toys more because they’ll be less overwhelmed at what to choose to play with etc…), they may well start to accept and want less.

You can then go through the items they have played with recently and ask if they want them to go back into storage for a later date, or not. Being as how they’re not going to have them for a while anyway, this may well be an easier decision for them to make.

Basket of toy dinosaurs

#2 – Have A Broken Toy Box

Let them start to collect toys that are past their best. Broken cars, jigsaws with a missing piece, stuffed animals with holes in etc…

Create a place for these toys to go – and once that storage is full – you could take all the old stuff away – and leave in it’s place a treat of some sort (could be one toy to replace all the other stuff, or something else entirely) – but the trick to this idea is that it’s all their doing whether they declutter or not, and once they see they get a reward for that which they don’t want anymore – it can start to get interesting!

#3 – Get The Elf Or Fairy Involved

Toy clutter only gets worse if it’s not dealt with regularly – and what better way to make it a little more entertaining than to get their special seasonal friends involved?!

When they lose a tooth – you could get the tooth fairy to ask them to donate a toy to charity so that another kid can get a treat as well as them (if you leave a pound under their pillow, for example…)

Or what about getting that pesky elf on the shelf to do something good one night by asking them to pick a toy to give to charity for a christmas gift for someone else to enjoy…

Usually kids like the idea of sharing the love a bit – and it gives you the opportunity to prune regularly!

#4 – Do A Toy Swap

Get other kids involved and it can be a great way to get new things without adding to the amount of toys your child(ren) already has.

Yes, you may well end up with the same amount of toys, but you’ll have decluttered the stuff they don’t want any longer (and saved some cash too!).

#5 – Sell Their Toys Online

As they get older, kids want to create some of their own money. Why not let them sell some of their outgrown toys that are still in good condition?

Some things that would sell well are collections, anything still boxed or with the label on, and anything with all pieces in (jigsaws, games etc…).

They could use the money to save towards something (most would like a phone, or a computer, for example).

Lots of skills learned as well in this process – which will stand them in good stead as they grow up even more.

How To Stop Toy Clutter Returning:

  • Declutter toys regularly. Decluttering is easiest when it’s a habit. If you can keep on top of the number of toys there are, then that will make decluttering sessions less hassle. That being said – a proper declutter is always a good idea, and I would suggest at least once a year – but ideally twice. Summer holidays and before Christmas are good options as they split the year up well – you’ll be getting more toys at Christmas (no doubt), and the summer holidays means they are off school and have time to have a sort out.
  • Have a ‘one in, one out’ rule. This will make sure the amount of toys doesn’t increase, and helps kids to think more about getting new toys because they’ll have to let go of an old one.
  • Change gifting of toys from family and friends… While you can’t (and wouldn’t want to) stop your kids getting gifts from loved ones – you CAN change WHAT they gift a little. Look at asking for cash or vouchers towards an experience or larger toy that your child will use lots. Most family and friends will be totally on board with this – it’s just a case of letting them know.
Soft toys in a basket

Questions Related To Toy Decluttering:

  1. What If My Child Won’t Let Go Of Their Toys?

    Children can be just as sentimental with their stuff as we adults – so the key is to acknowledge this and talk it through with them. Maybe you can keep one of a collection, for example, in their memory box. That way they may find letting the rest go a bit easier, and you get things decluttered.

  2. What Age Should You Let Kids Make Toy Decluttering Decisions Themselves?

    Honestly – as early as you can. I know that really small children will naturally want to keep everything, but you CAN start to talk things through with them right from the start. They may not ‘get’ it straight away, and it may take longer to do when they are involved – but as they get older it will feel more like a habit to them and they will be able to make their own decisions much more easily. You can lay those foundations early for them to benefit for years to come.

How To Declutter Toys - 7 Easy Steps [Plus Tips!]

Minimalism isn’t something you think of when it comes to kids and their toys – but it IS possible to learn how to declutter toys while avoiding meltdowns (and keep the toy clutter at bay).

You never know, it may even be the start of something great.

Decluttering toys doesn’t have to mean arguments or guilt.

Done in one of the ways we’ve talked about above means that it could well be a fun thing to do as a family.

So, which will you choose to try first?….

Once you’ve decluttered – if you’ve got things left and want storage ideas for them, why not head over to the Lego Storage or Soft Toy Storage ideas articles next…?

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