How to stop unwanted junk mail in 3 steps

July 30, 2020

I know many us are tackling the to do list at home lately, right? One of my items has been to go through paper files we haven't touched in years. Our file cabinet was overflowing (and the piles next to it were as well!). 

I finally got through all of it and everything is organized again. While working on it, I was reminded of these helpful tips that have helped to lessen the amount of paper and junk mail we bring into the house. 

This is another aspect of the huge purge I completed years ago. My biggest nemesis when it comes to clutter has always been PAPER. Can I get an amen? 

It's the thorn in my side, the pain in my neck, the fly in my ointment:
how to stop junk mail from coming in the house
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. 
See my policies and disclosure page for more information. 

But you know what? Over the past couple of years I've mostly conquered it. Almost. Enough that I don't feel like it piles up on the counters anymore. 

These are my tips on mail specifically -- when it comes to papers from school, good luck to you my friend. :) Ha! No, that stuff immediately goes to a spot in our mud room that I'll show you in a minute. 

This is for those of you who want to try to control the paper and lessen what you bring into the house. These tips work and I promise your paper load will lighten if you try them yourself!

Step 1: Go electronic for bills.

If you can go electronic -- do it. We have gone paperless with many companies, but still have a few to go.

I'm slowly going through the utilities, investment companies, bank statements and everything else we get on a monthly basis. I used to hesitate when it came to not getting a paper statement, but I'm slowly getting with the times. I realized, how often do we really look at them?

Bank statements more so than anything else -- but I think it's far more secure to keep them virtually than on paper. (I know that can be argued but in general.)

Also, it takes mere seconds to log on to see a specific statement. I used to keep them all in the file drawer and that took a lot more time to dig through. Most companies will gladly switch you over and I find it far easier to keep up with. And LESS MAIL. That is our goal folks!

Step 2: Unsubscribe from catalogs and junk mail.

You may not have heard of these sites, but they are extremely helpful in lessening the amount of mail you'll get. I'll go into detail about each one below...

1. Catalog Choice: Opt out of catalogs that come in the mail.

I looove a good catalog. They are my jam. But sometimes we grow out of them, just don't care to get them anymore, or get on a list we don't want to be on.

If this is the case for you, try Catalog Choice. I've used it for years and it works:

opt out of catalog mailings

You have to create an account and then you can search literally hundreds of catalogs to unsubscribe. It's awesome and within a couple months they will stop coming to your door. 

I made the mistake of signing up for Restoration Hardware once…and if you get them you know that their catalogs are RIDIC. I feel like I kill a tree every time they send them out. This is a great option to lessen the load in your mailbox and in your house.

2. DMA Choice/Do Not Mail: Opt out of junk mail in all forms

Did you know you can opt out of all kinds of offers and junk mail? It helps lessen the paper you'll bring into your home tremendously. I use DMA Choice for many marketing mailings. Sign in and you can opt out of catalogs, credit offers and magazine offers:
three easy ways to lessen junk mail

You can edit your choices at any time!

Then you can go and unsubscribe from pretty much anything else at the National Do Not Mail list: 

opt out of junk mail online

This one gets pretty specific -- chose exactly what you want to get offers on. Can you imagine not getting a million political mailers this fall? That dream may be realized. :)

3. Opt Out Prescreen: Stop all credit and insurance offers

Years ago credit offers filled up our mailbox. Then when we paid off all of our debt (and knew we wouldn't be opening credit accounts), we knew we could do without them.

Opt Out Prescreen allows you to unsubscribe from credit and insurance offers easily and quickly:
opt out of credit offers junk mail

You'll have to opt out every five years, or they'll add your name back to the list. They do offer a lifetime option now, but you have to mail that in.

Remember you'll need to do this for each of you in the home who get mail. Marketers focus primarily on women in the household so even if just the female does it, it will help tremendously. 

Step 3: Get rid of paper before you walk in the door.

I keep bins by the garage door -- one for paper recycling (mail without our name or account numbers) and one for shredding (everything else). My goal is to get rid of 90 percent of the mail before I even walk in the door. Most of the time it's 100 percent. ;) 

bins with lids for recycling

IKEA has nearly identical ones as well! I remove the lids so I can easily chuck stuff inside. 

When I keep up with getting rid of most of our mail before I even walk in the house, the paper clutter is kept to a minimum.

What does make it in goes directly into this paper organizer in the mud room:
paper and mail organization mud room

That one from Target isn't available anymore, but this one is similar (and has drawers!). 

All of these tips work to bring you less mail and paper to begin with. You can tailor them to what you want and can alway go back and edit most of them if you change your mind.

I can guarantee the paper you'll bring into your home will lessen within two to three months. And that is the first and most important step to getting control of it! 

Do you have any tips when it comes to mail? If you have any tips on organizing receipts for tax reasons, I'd love to hear them! 

stopping junk mail in three easy steps

See more of our home here. To shop items in our home, click here! Never miss a post by signing up to get posts via email
Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. Great post! I also have an issue with mail. I need to go paperless, but for some reason that scares me. I need to get over it. Here's my post about simplifying mail and also your purse!

  2. Thank you for cluing me in to Catalog Choice and DMA Choice. I didn't know they existed so I'll be contacting them asap. Why do catalog sellers seem to believe it's ok to share their customers' names and addresses with third parties, when they have not been given permission to do so??? A single catalog purchase usually triggers an avalanche of unsolicited junk mail that persists for YEARS. It's mail that was never asked for and is not wanted. The practice is so common and annoying that I've stopped ordering stuff from catalogs altogether. I now buy whatever I can't source locally from Amazon, which thus far appears to have the good sense to keep its customer lists confidential. Catalog companies ought to wake up and smell the coffee!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share this!

  4. great post, thank you sarah! subscribing to magazines also gets you on junk mail lists, even if you specifically ask them not to share (sell?) your information.
    one concern about the bin in the garage: privacy. once that junk mail is picked up by the trashmen, you never know who might see it. its good to remove any personal information from discarded junk mail, especially the credit offers. better to be safe than sorry.

    1. I believe it about the junk mail! We don't put the junk mail in the trash -- we recycle paper and shred anything with our address or info on it. :)

  5. Great post. Definitely one of my biggest issues too.

  6. I started a system a few years ago that has been incredibly impactful. I got a small (and pretty- so I don't mind it sitting on a shelf) file box. I made a few folders such as ads, current bills, shred, to file, and one for the kid's school. Each day I deal with all of the mail, either recycling or placing into one of these folders. When a bill comes in with confirmation that they received my last payment, I move the old bill to the shred folder. I shred once a week and file the "to file" folder once a month. This has dramatically cut down on paper clutter in our house!

  7. I still get the paper copies of bills & statements, but I have a home-based business so I still need a lot of the papers for tax documentation. Why should I have to use my paper and ink to print out the documentation? But, I've gotten smarter about retention. I have a "this year, last year, tax docs and need to save filing" system. The rest I am shredding after the tax returns are filed. And I get rid of excess paper asap. I have three small stacking buckets that I use - trash, recycle and shred.

    Re getting bills online - make sure you check your spam folder. My neighbor always had her credit card bill put in that bucket and had to pay late fees since she didn't see the bill. And, as you get older (like me), you may want to switch back to paper or make sure that your executors know your passwords to email and have a good checklist of emailed-bills. My sister/nieces would have no idea what I have outstanding if I don't leave a good trail. I was lucky in that both my Dad & Aunt left good trails for me to follow - Dad left me a binder of info.


  8. I've started to take the time to write "Return to Sender" on mail that I didn't ask for and putting it back in the mailbox. I don't know if those companies have stopped sending me mail yet, but I get a small bit of satisfaction knowing that now they get to take care of disposing of it and I don't have to. ;)

  9. Thanks for this. I recently started getting all of my dad's mail on top of what we already received, and I'm completely overwhelmed.

  10. I stopped almost all of my unwanted mail several years ago. Whatever I receive that has a "POSTAGE PAID" envelope is immediately filled with everything that was in the incoming envelope (Including that envelope)and I write in red marker, "NO THANK YOU" on the main enclosure and send it back to them. Since they have to pay the extra postage for all that paper they mark you off the list rather quickly. it works for me ! Alice

  11. Wish I knew how to not receive so many unknown phone calls. Especially, the ones that want money. They are worth causes, some of them, but we can't give to ALL of them. Thank you for the help with unwanted mail.

  12. Those bins are PERFECT! I am searching for them NOW but haven't been able to locate them at the Container Store website. Any chance you know the name of them or the ones from Ikea?

  13. Aha! I found them!

  14. Something that has worked SO well for me is to walk directly to our recycling collection bin at the side of the house from the mailbox. All the junk that doesn't need to be shredded goes directly in there and never makes it into the house. The stuff that needs to be shredded goes into my purse and I shred it at my office (so I don't have to keep a paper shredder at the house and deal with the mess and disposal of the shredded paper). Because we have switched mostly to electronic billing, that leaves a very minuscule amount of paper that has to be dealt with - life changing! Thanks for all the tips on unsubscribing - I am going to sign up there as well!


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!