One of the biggest reasons we hold onto clutter is because we’re not sure when we can get rid of stuff. Most items don’t come with an expiration date, and once we take something into our home, we tend to want to make use of it–even if we clearly have no need for it.
I’ve created a list of things you can get rid of right now. You have my permission to toss, recycle, donate, consign or even sell these items (not the ketchup packets, but maybe some old electronics).
Go ahead and just get rid of this stuff. It’s time!
1. Broken sunglasses. You say you’re going to buy one of those kits to fix them but you haven’t yet, so toss them.
2. Eyeglasses with the wrong prescription. Donate these immediately. Someone else could be using them.
3. Pens with no ink. The ink has run dry, and you’re not going to take the time to refill. Toss. Easy.
4. Food storage containers you never use. You bought a set or were gifted a set. You use 2 out of 5 items in the set. The other 3 are not useful and can be recycled or better yet, donated. This is why I hate sets: if only part of the set is useful, the other part is just taking up space. Instead, buy doubles of the sizes you actually use.
5. Old clothing that no longer fits.
6. Soy sauce packets. This is my number one Why-Are-You-Keeping-This? item. You’re not going to use these. Instead, buy a bottle at Trader Joe’s, or your local market and keep it in the pantry.
7. Ketchup packets.
8. Mustard Packets.
9. Packets of salt.
10. Scarves you never wear. This is one of my personal hoarding blind spots. Everyone gives me scarves as gifts. I love them, but I’m picky about them and out of the 20 or so I own, I only wear 5. How many do I need? Probably just those 5. Donate ones you haven’t worn in years, clean and store the ones you actually wear.
11. Newspapers more than 2 days old. If you want to hang on to the magazine insert (I’m thinking the Sunday Times Magazine) for a week, fine. But everything else goes after 48 hours. You’re never gonna read it!
12. Rubber bands. Why are you keeping these?
13. Plastic silverware. Especially those packets with a plastic fork, knife and napkin. Unless you entertain regularly, or eat on the go, you don’t need theses packets taking up space when you already have proper silverware in your home.
Take them into work and stash them in your desk for when you need extra silverware for your packed lunch. Or, just recycle them!
14. Old remote controls. Everything comes with a remote control these days: iPod speakers, my air conditioner, my fan. Why? If you don’t use it, trash it.
15. Miss-matched socks. Keep a small basket on top of your bureau for miss-matched socks. If after a month you haven’t found a match, either toss them or re-purpose them as dust rags.
16. Last season’s sunblock. Toss it. Sunblock slowly decays over time.
17. Waffle makers. I use waffle makers as a stand-in for all those kitchen appliances you never use. If you don’t use it, don’t give up valuable storage space for it. Either recycle it, donate it, or consign it.
18. Miss-matched Tupperware. Why do we hold onto these for so long? Do we think the missing bottom or top is going to find its way home? It’s not. Recycle it.
19. Used tissues.
20. Random cords you’ve been holding onto because you’re not sure what they plug in to. If you’re really not sure if you can throw it out, or, create a storage bin and label it “cords.” But really, I think it’s safe to toss these.
21. Leftovers more than 5 days old. Duh.
22. Magazines more than 2 months old. Exceptions would be issues you really, really love and refer back to often. Examples: the first issue of Domino magazine is a favorite of mine, a Martha Stewart holiday-themed magazine you leaf through each year. Make sure you have these stored properly for the long term and not just hanging around in piles. Everything else, recycle. If you haven’t read it in two months, you’re not going to!
23. Loose staples. Especially if you don’t own a stapler.
24. Containers that don’t close properly. If it’s a pain to use, you’re either not going to use it, or it’s not doing its job. Recycle it.
25. Old makeup. Imagine slathering 2-year-old cream on your face? You wouldn’t do that. If your cosmetics have changed color, emit an odor not listed on the bottle (aka, lavender-scented), or have changed consistency, dump it. If you haven’t used it in over a year, or if you can’t remember the last time you used it, dump it.
26. Old packs of gum where the gum has started to harden, or worse, ooze.
27. Shoes that pinch your big toe.
28. Shoes that are uncomfortable.
29. Shoes that no longer project the image you want to project.
30. Shoes that you haven’t worn in five years. Bottom line: your shoes should fit well, feel good and have the right look. If they do not, donate or consign them.
31. Greeting cards. Caveat: I keep greeting cards for a few weeks, then I recycle them. Most of them. Some I tuck away into a file box. Unless you are committed to storing your cards, it’s ok to toss them after a few weeks. You don’t expect anyone to keep yours, do you?
32. Broken umbrellas. Let’s be honest here: you’re not going to take the time to fix that. Toss it.
33. Expired coupons.
34. Old cell phones. There’s no good reason to keep these as they are likely outdated and just taking up space. Here’s a safe way to dispose of old cell phones: donate it.
35. Last year’s calendar. People hang onto these, I think in the hopes that they will transfer important dates from one year to the next. You have until January 31 of the new year to complete that task, but if you take longer than that, recycle it.