Reveal, Reinstate, Repurpose: The three Rs of forgotten, unloved gadgets

Decluttering experts are often telling us to eradicate unused items from our homes. This includes large gadgets, particularly in the kitchen, which take up space on worktops or in cupboards and go virtually unused from one month (or even year) to the next.

Worse, it can be tempting to buy more gadgets, often on a whim of the latest fad, when in fact existing gadgets could quite adequately perform the required tasks.

To my shame, I recently added something to my Amazon wish list which a gadget gifted to me at least two years ago could perform perfectly well – and do more besides.

For the past month or so, every time I’ve watched a YouTube video, I’ve been greeted with a grinning chef extolling the virtues of Sage steamers and poachers. My interest was piqued, until I saw the prices, so I took a look around at some less expensive and nearly equivalent items.

I found one I liked the look of and added it to my Amazon wish list.

And then it dawned on me that a multifunction rice cooker I’d been gifted several years ago could do many of the things I needed.

OK, it may not be able to boast the “steam zone” or have the complete precision control, but for the type of family cooking I do, it would be just fine.

I knew exactly where it was – sitting in its box in a less-than-easily accessible kitchen cupboard next to the dishwasher.

I could tell it was at least two years since I’d received it, as the box had brown packing tape around it, and we moved into our current house in the mid-winter of last year.


Having opened it up, cleaned it, read the manual and looked at some sample recipes, I’m now hooked on it as my latest gadget. It steams veggies more efficiently and with reduced aroma, and leaves at least one hob space and pan free. It cooks really good rice (as its name would suggest). It can even make sponge-based cakes.

Money and space saved.

It also means some of my cooking routines can be automated (no standing over a pot of boiling rice ensuring it doesn’t froth and boil over) so I can spend more time with the kids rather than in the kitchen.

So it’s time to tame those gadgets.


Get the gadgets out from wherever they’re hiding. You’ll never discover a use for them if they are stuck in hard-to-reach cupboards, in the loft, under a pile of other items, or in a room where they’re not going to be used.

Until you take a look at each item and see what it can do (you may well have forgotten, or downplayed it) you won’t know if it’s usable or not.

Make sure it has all the parts that make it work. Read the manual, or — if it’s lost — go to the manufacturer’s website to download one. Find out how it works.


Before you decide to ditch a gadget, try using it for a while. It may mean a change of routine to incorporate it, but you may find it becomes an integral part of your lifestyle.

Perhaps it’s not the dream gadget you once thought it was, or you have another frequently-used item which does the same or similar thing, or does it better. You won’t know until you try it.

You may well be able to buy a gadget which does the same thing a tiny bit better, but ask yourself whether it’s worth ditching something you already own, and spending money, on something only slightly different.


Gadgets can often be used in more ways than at first glance.

I’m not suggesting doing something life-threatening or damaging. Always take note of precautions listed in the manual.

However, some gadgets are multi-purpose, even if their primary purpose is the reason you bought or were given the item in the first place.

Check out some (sensible) YouTube videos or online forums to see what uses other people have put your gadget to.


The worst thing you can do for your gadgets is to neglect them.

A well-loved, well-used gadget can never be considered clutter (even if it sometimes does seem to get in the way – you’ll find a way to make things you love work for you).

Clutter is no-one’s friend (except dust).

Of course, recycling, giving away or selling items is still an option, but hopefully you can see how a little bit of creative thinking could see currently unloved products given a new lease of life.