How to Declutter Toys (Without Tantrums!)

Trying to figure out how to declutter toys without your kids losing their ever-loving minds? Check out these rules for decluttering toys to help you figure out how to get rid of toys once and for all (and without the drama!)

I live in a small house. No amount of storage bins, toy chests, or storage are going to change the square footage up in here. And with every holiday, birthday, and “just because” package, this house just gets more and more full of friggin TOYS.

And as much as our kids love their toys (well, some of them anyways), we do not love having every square inch in our homes covered with their things.

So over the years, we’ve developed some rules for decluttering toys (and clothing, and books, etc) that have really helped us cut down on the mess and make picking up rooms SO much easier. 

Getting your kids used to getting rid of their toys is definitely a process, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as it might seem. Here are our very best tips on how to declutter toys, and clever hacks to get your kids excited about purging their toys in the process. 

A set of stackable rings on a tower. Text overlay: How to declutter old toys. Without tantrums!

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Rules for Decluttering Toys

Before you get started with decluttering toys from your playroom, we find it best to agree on a few simple rules together before you begin.

Here are our family’s rules for decluttering toys:

  • All toys must fit into their bins/baskets/toy chests. If your Barbies don’t fit in the Barbie bin, for example, it’s time to let some go (see our “This or That” section, below).
  • Anything that is broken must go. Is that toy missing an arm? Does the helicopter motor no longer go? If they can’t be fixed, they cannot stay. There’s no use in keeping something you can’t even play with. 
  • Anything with missing pieces must go.  Two pieces missing from that 24 piece puzzle? Have you lost have the cards for that game? If it can’t be upcycled or reworked in some way, that toy needs to go!
  • Anything that is way too young (or old!) for them should be handed down. Sometimes our kids get REAL sentimental about something they shouldn’t. A toy TV remote for example, or a ratty stuffy from the baby years. If it’s not truly sentimental, gently let your kids know that they’re too old for that toy now, and they need to give it to someone younger.

How To Declutter Toys in Secret

When our kids were younger (4 and under), they knew that anytime they went to grandma’s house for the weekend, they’d come home to a clean room. 

What they didn’t know is that meant we got rid of toys in the process. 

Take the chance to get rid of the toys you KNOW your kids won’t miss. If you’re not sure, put the toys away (see “Put Away for Now” below) and see if they notice. If they still haven’t said anything after a couple of weeks, you’re good to pass the toys along.

Related Post: Tips for Getting Your Preschooler to Clean Their Room

Toy Buyback Program

To be fancy, we call this the Toy Retirement Incentive Program. Fancy name, easy project for the kids! I put an empty bin in the hallway and when it’s full of toys to donate, the kids get a prize.

Could be an ice cream, could be a new toy they’ve been asking for, could be cold hard cash. Just last night my kids filled a bin – in record time – for $5. 

A plastic bin full of old toys to be given away.

Purging Toys: This or That?

My kids end up with a lot of toys that are pretty similar to each other. And we just don’t NEED a ton of Barbie cars. Since most of these came to us as generous hand me downs from friends or cousins, I’m more than happy to pay it forward and send one or two along on their merry way!

If I asked my 4 year old to get rid of one of her Barbie cars, she would absolutely protest. But I let her know she got to keep one of her two pink cars and she quickly grabbed the one she uses most often and the other one got put in the donate pile. 

Put Away Toys “For Now”

There are some toys that, frankly, I’m not totally sure my kids are ready to get rid of. Maybe I’m even a little unsure if I am ready to get rid of them! I like to put away toys we’re not sure about “for now.” Hide them away in a closet or the garage and give yourself a time frame of how long you’ll hold onto the toys.

Then, if no one asks for that toy after a week or two or even a month, it’s time for it to go. Sometimes we think we’ll miss something and then when it’s gone we realize we didn’t really need it that much anyway.

Purge Toys by Giving Them to Someone You Know

My kids are much more generous when they know where the toy is going – and who is going to be playing with it. When we had a family that had a new baby at church, my kids were happy to gather up some baby toys to pass on.

This is a great strategy for getting rid of some toys your kids may have aged out of.

Let Your Kids Hold a Toy Sale

Our kids love planning little events and LOVE buying things with their own money. We love getting rid of old toys no one plays with but that somehow are still scattered across the house.

A child led garage sale is a win-win. Let them pick out what they want to sell, price the items (you may need to help here), set them out and do their thing!

Child sitting in front of a blanket with toys arranged for a garage sale.

Another great option is to sell them on Facebook Marketplace or any other local buy/sell/trade sites.

Related Post:  5 Tips for Selling Your Stuff on Facebook Buy Sell Trade Groups

Don’t Let Decluttering Toys Become a Battle

Whatever you do, don’t end up in a full on tug of war with a Dr. Strange action figure (said Jaymi, who has ABSOLUTELY been in a tug of war over a Dr. Strange action figure).

If your kids are anything as stubborn as ours, this will just cause your kids to double down on how much they definitely NEED 17 identical little figures, and we don’t want that.

If this happens, let go of the project for now and come back later with a new strategy. You’ve got time on your side, and you can stand to let this battle rest for a day or two before taking up the torch again.


It does take some practice, but as soon as you figure out how to declutter toys, your home (and your sanity) will be in SUCH better shape. With a few rules for decluttering toys, and a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be on your way to a neater playroom in no time. 

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