stack of fashion magazines on floor

Decluttering magazines

In these covidest of times, have you put your stack(s) of magazines to good use? Made the collages? Created the vision boards? Read all the articles you’ve been meaning to?

No? You’re not alone. The magazines have languished since well before the pandemic and you’ll still have them long after we’ve forgotten about covid if you skip this post.

Move your magazines

Whether you have a teetering stack on the corner of the staircase or a hefty selection of bathroom reading, magazines are a staple of the cluttered house. Every month, new issues arrive, to be flipped through before landing on the coffee table. You’ll read them later, when you have time really dig in. They collect dust and slither off the table onto the floor. This makes them unhappy – magazines want to be read or used.

Your coffee table is for the book you’re reading, the remote and a place to set down your cup of tea. Stacking it with magazines, no matter how organized the piles are, just crowds the table. When the pandemic lifts and we have people over again, no one’s coming to read through your magazines – they’re coming to see you!

How to declutter magazines

Almost all magazines come with a date printed on the front cover. Use that information to create rules that help you decide whether to keep them.

will you keep the last three months?

will you keep everything in the current year?

will you keep the last three issues?

READ MORE >>> How to declutter and organize

What to do with unwanted magazines

Recycle them. Because of hygiene worries, during covid times, your donations most likely won’t be appreciated or accepted.

Tempted to save them for post-pandemic donation? Unfortunately, no matter how interesting your period collection of People magazines from the Seventies is, there are few takers for out-of-date periodicals.

You could fuss around with listing them on eBay, but there are so many magazines in circulation that it’s very hard to find someone to take them off your hands.

You could also tell yourself you’ll drop off them off at child-care centers, hospitals and community college libraries, but you’ve been meaning to do that for years now, and still the stacks remain.

READ MORE >>> Best places to donate

Set them free and start fresh with the latest issues. If you find it’s been a while since you read a magazine and the format has changed or the articles have become less in-depth, this is a good opportunity to cancel your subscription. If you only ever kept a magazine because it was a freebie, take a moment when the next issue comes to read through and decide if it’s worth your time to allow it to keep coming into your space.

Convinced I’m completely out of order? Please send me pictures of your freshly-created vision boards and tell me how many magazines you read this week. If the magazines are being used, they’re not clutter but if they’re not, this is a good time to see if you can let a few of them go.

by Lucy Kelly


  1. I don’t subscribe to any magazines. My reading material of choice is books and most of my books are digital. But I deal with magazines with clients. You have great suggestions for getting rid of unwanted magazines. I’ll use them when working with these clients. Thanks.

  2. I’m definitely looking forward to the pandemic being quelmed. What a great idea to help people declutter in preparation for things opening up again!

    When I was growing up, my Mom would buy so many magazines and not read them. She just didn’t find the time, but she would envision having the time to read through the recipes or get all caught up on the latest Hollywood gossip.

    I may have thrown some out for her when I found really really old ones. I don’t think she noticed. (Not that I’m advocating that, at that time, I had the defense that I was just a kid trying to help.)

    1. It’s tempting isn’t it, Phaedra? Especially as a kid in that situation, it’s something you can do. But as you say, not the greatest long-term strategy. I really relate to your comment that your mom sincerely believed she would read them all – we want to read our magazines, but it’s so hard to find the time to sit down and do that.

  3. OOF! I come across this one a lot and there’s always so many of them. They’re bulky and heavy and slippery. I really appreciate your suggestions and will enjoy sharing this strategy with clients!

  4. I love this thought of yours, “ Set them free”. It makes tossing that much easier and the system for one in, one out, manageable.

    I rarely buy magazines anymore because I have Google. But when I do, if I find some thing keep worthy, I’ll tear it out and file it. If I put it aside and haven’t looked at it in a month, I set it free.

  5. The weekly magazines can pile up quickly. So it’s great to put a boundary around those types especially. The boundary can be a date or a container. I will keep the most current 6 issues and all the others older than that can be recycled. Or I will keep as many magazines as fit into this open bin. When the bin is full, it’s time to edit. Whatever parameters you put in place will help to keep a natural flow of in and out.

  6. I love magazines, and the only reason I’m dramatically down from my 17-subscription high of 20 years ago is because most of them went out of business. But I have a rule that unless I’m interviewed in a magazine (and then it’s marketing, not clutter), I have to get rid of the old when by the time the new issue arrives. It keeps my stack to one magazine of each title, only. And I am terrible at making vision boards, so thanks for the reminder.

    Hysterically funny truths!

  7. I have found that this is one of those possessions that some people manage easily (read and recycle), while others collect. The collectors truly enjoy the magazines, and look forward to reading them. Or, for many professionals, there is a feeling of “should” associated with the trade and professional publications. I love having some rubric in place for deciding how long and where to keep them. If you prefer to read them all at once, that’s fine. But don’t sacrifice your prime space to store them while you wait!

    1. True, Seana – many of my clients have trade magazines and journals they “ought” to read, but the information gets to them other ways and they have a hard time sitting down and reading magazines anymore. The tug to keep them is strong, though. The power of the written word!

  8. This is great! I rarely buy magazines anymore, with so much available online, so those I do receive come with me as part of a membership. I never thought to see if there is a way to opt out.

  9. I now have a mental picture of a magazine slithering of a table onto the floor – love it! I was reading my Real Simple magazine yesterday because the rule in my house is that the old one goes out when the new one comes in. I almost always follow that rule. It’s rare that a magazine sits around for more than a couple of months unread. Great tips!

  10. Great advice! I have a magazine rack hanging my bathroom wall. If I don’t periodically weed it, it gets dangerously stuffed and one time it actually fell on my head. It’s actually a good thing because it forces me to weed. For me, going back three months works pretty well — so as soon as the rack starts to look dangerous, I grab an armload of the ones I’ll never get to and dump them in recycling. I console myself with the knowledge that if I really want to read an article I missed, I can look it up online.