How To Get Other People’s Shit Out of Your House

How To Get Other People’s Shit Out of Your House
Carly Jacobs

If you’ve been following along in my month of organisation you’ll know that I value order in my life above pretty much everything else. There’s one thing though that I have no control over and that’s other people’s shit in my house. Sometimes it’s my own fault because I’ll borrow a jumper from my mates place and wear it home but other times it’s totally their fault. Like when my bestie stays at my house when I’m away and somehow she never takes any of her stuff with her when she leaves, so I end up with an inexplicable stack of 6 hats in the corner of my living room for weeks after I get back. Here’s a few techniques to try to make sure your house stays free of other people’s shit.

How To Get Other People’s Shit Out of Your House

Facebook Shout Out

I’m forever finding books, CDs and DVDs in my house that I’m 100% sure don’t belong to me but I have no clue who they actually belong to. So I’ll take a photo of the item, post it to Facebook and tag anyone who might be a likely owner of the item. If no one claims it and I can’t find the owner, I ditch it. No biggie. Then if someone calls me crying in 5 years time because I never returned their DVD copy of Moulin Rouge, I’ll buy them another one. Hasn’t happened yet though. If someone claims it, I attach a post-it note to the item and put in my Returns Drawer. What’s a Return Drawer you ask? Read on, petal.


Rather unfortunate reply from me in the end. I’m not really sure what I was aiming for there.

The Returns Drawer

I have a drawer in my house that is full of things to return to different people. Right now there’s about 3 jumpers, a couple of Tupperware containers, some books and about half of everything my best mate owns. I used to have a pile of crap sitting next to the door but it made me so angry I had to create the returns drawer so I didn’t have to keep looking at the pile. The beauty about the returns drawer is that it’s usually filled with stuff from people who you see all the time because they’re the ones that are most likely to have left their stuff at your house. If I’m meeting a friend that I see regularly, I check the draw for their stuff and take it with me. Easy peasy.


The Invisible Door Laser

Well meaning relatives and friends will often clear out their own cupboards and insist that the items they don’t want must immediately find a new forever home at your house. No matter how many times you refuse they will insist that you take the ‘perfectly good punch bowl’ and get some use out of it. My philosophy is that if I’ve refused an item three times and someone gives it to me anyway, I’ve earned the right to ditch it on my way home. I have an Invisible Door Laser that doesn’t allow items like this to cross its path. For example 2 years worth of New Idea magazines that my friend’s mum palmed off on me? THOU SHALL NOT PASS! A super ugly, free-with-purchase vase that I tried to refuse as the pushy sales assistant shoved it into my bag? THOU SHALL NOT PASS! Treat items like this as the plague they are and remember the catch phrase… THOU SHALL NOT PASS!

Just Say No

I live in Fitzroy in Melbourne where space is scarce and the population is transient. I currently have about 6 boxes belonging to various friends in the storage cage of my apartment. This is not a problem at all, because I’m not looking at it. I don’t even know it’s there most of the time. However I have a friend whose OS boyfriend is storing boxes at his place IN HIS KITCHEN. They are stacked in the corner of the kitchen, driving him mental on a daily basis. Hells no. If you have space and you don’t mind, then fine. If you end up having to make a table out of someone elses boxes of crap, just so they’ll fit in your house, it’s time to say no my friend. N. O.

imageI’d now like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the mascot of the Smaggle month of organisation. This is Jonathon The Organisation Crustacean. He’ll be around this month to give little tips and provide round ups of this months posts. He’s very serious about organisation so it’s best not to fuck with him. He was created by my super talented artist friend Arran Mckenna of Draw Fun Stuff which is a very funky drawing school in Canberra. If you’re keen to learn how to draw things good and learn to do other stuff good too his next lot of classes start on 11th February. 

 * Do a Facebook shout out or send around a group text to find the owner of rogue items.

* Have a Returns Drawer and check it regularly so you can return items to their owners.

* Don’t bring any crap into your house. Ever.

* Just say no.

Is your house full of other people’s crap? How do you keep it under control?


  1. I love Jonathan.

    • Tahlia Meredith 8 years ago

      I was just about to leave the exact same comment 🙂

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 years ago

        He’s got so much character doesn’t he?

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      He’s great isn’t he? My mate does the best animations.

  2. Can you and that crab move in with me? I neeeeeeed you.

    I love the way your mind thinks. My head hurts from nodding along to this post.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Jonathon is VERY serious about organisation. Can you handle it? 🙂

      We do think alike don’t we my dear?

  3. Tahlia Meredith 8 years ago

    Also I enjoy the quiet Zoolander reference at the end there, well played.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Thanks babe. I knew you’d like that one. 🙂

  4. Nicole 8 years ago

    I haven’t even read the whole post yet, I just had to come to the comment section straight away to say that the Returns Drawer is genius! I guess that’s the upside of not knowing anybody here. We don’t have any of their crap sitting around our house.
    What’s the consensus on presents that seem like the person giving them to you has never met you before? Are we supposed to hold on to those for a certain period of time so as not to hurt feelings? or is that fact that it looked like they didn’t think about you at all during the gift-buying process enough ammunition to donate/discard it immediately?

    Jonathan’s a keeper.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Fuck no girl, ditch that shit. If they put no thought into buying it they’ll forget about the second they give it to you.

  5. Nessbow 8 years ago

    Oh, I need to forward this to my mother. I love her, but she’s the worst for palming off her unwanted crap onto other people. When I moved into my flat, she got so excited that I had loads of cupboard space, and has managed to begin using my flat as an extension of her house. I need to start getting her stuff back to her house.

    Oh, and Johnathan is adorable by the way!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Oh that’s so typical! My brother used to do that when we lived at home together. He’s gather up some stuff that he didn’t want and then leave it on my bed and then get super angry if I tried to throw it away.

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 8 years ago

    I hate having the responsibility of having other people’s stuff! So far I have some things for two friends and it’s taking up room in our space deprived place so hopefully they’ll come and pick them up soon!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      That annoys me SO MUCH! I’m like ‘Come and get your shit before I throw it at you!’.

  7. Amber-Rose Thomas 8 years ago

    Awesome post Smaggles, I have a box of stuff by my door that is ‘lost & found’ -some of it is just stuff I don’t want anymore and I encourage guests to look for their own belongings and to re-home any of my old things as they leave.

    Also, can I just say – please don’t throw away anything that has been left at your house without doing some kind of Facebook shout out or something first? I stayed at a friends uni dorm room after a night out, and went home in the morning in my sensible shoes and accidentally left my expensive high heels there. That weekend he moved home, and his Dad (weirdo) sorted through his stuff for him and THREW AWAY MY SHOES. Didn’t even take them to a charity shop, just chucked em away. Without asking. I was FURIOUS. My fault perhaps for leaving it there, but seriously, don’t throw away something you don’t recognise without asking first. 🙁 I’m still in mourning for those shoes. <3

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Oh no! That’s awful! That’s why the Facebook shout out is so important. You poor thing. I had a similar experience where I left a necklace at a house that my mate was housesitting and I asked to get it for me and he never did. It just stayed at that house. It was an awesome resin one that I made as well. So annoying.

  8. Erika 8 years ago

    Our returns drawer is actually the top of the bookcase in the front entry. Right next to where I plonk my handbag. So it gets returned as soon as I’m heading in that direction.

    We’ve also got a gifts drawer – as I see things that go “YES, buy me, I’m perfect for xyz” throughout the year, they get filed in the drawer, makes birthdays and Christmas so much easier and less painful financially.

  9. Laurie M. Rauch 8 years ago

    Oh, I wish I’d read this earlier. I love the ‘Thou Shalt Not Pass’ because I’m a hoarder and I don’t like to throw things out, so when people are like, hey you can use this, it ends up at my overly packed to the rim house. It also explains the two bags full of used, stained, and not at all still soft towels that I managed to acquire that are now functioning as rags and floor mats because there’s no way I’m using those on my skin… (I so should have not let them pass…)

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      Oh honey, you HAVE to get rid of those. Like stat.

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