60 Things You Should Get Rid of Now to Declutter Your Home

Allie Johnson
February 6, 2019
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If your home is cluttered with a bunch of space-hogging stuff, deciding what to keep and what to toss can seem like a huge task.

So why not start with the items that definitely should go? Here’s a list of 60 things to throw away, donate or recycle right away:

60. Carry Out Menus

You didn’t enjoy that chicken shawarma you ordered last week, so there is no point in keeping the menu you ordered from around. Put those unused take-out menus directly in the nearest recycling bin. Besides, you can always find their menu online should you decide to give it another chance.

59. Cardboard Boxes

If you still have a stack of moving boxes lingering around your home, get rid of them ASAP. They can attract moisture and pests like earwigs and cockroaches. Donate them and another mover out there will be a very happy camper.

58. Unmatched Socks

Who knows where they disappeared to, but that other lost sock is never coming back.

57. Last Year’s Calendar

So what you love the pictures. Unless you are going to rip them out and frame them, you don’t love them enough to keep.

56. Extra Water Bottles

Getting free stuff is always fun, until you realize cheap doodads are taking over your home. Water bottles are often among the most ubiquitous promotional giveaways, and you’ll be surprised how many you can accumulate over time. They can also get funky or leak with age, so go ahead and get rid of the oldest ones first.

55. Stretched Out Hair Ties

If you think you are going to find a use for all those stretched out hair ties, think again. Keeping them will only serve to clutter up your vanity drawers.

54. Extra Buttons

When was the last time you sewed on a button? If the answer is never, then why do you have a drawer full of extra buttons? Keep buttons that you might need, but if you already donated that houndstooth jacket you don’t need the extra buttons it came with.

53. Ratty Old Towels

Your towels need to be replaced every few years. While you might keep a few around for cleaning up or stopping up surprise leaks, get rid of most of them. Most animal shelters are happy to accept old towels, by the way.

52. Old Toys

Whether you are lugging around your old toys from your childhood, or your own kids have grown up and moved out, it is probably time to donate your unused playthings. Unless they are ultra-rare or in their original packaging, they probably don’t have as much collectors’ value as you think they do. Find them a new home where they will actually be played with and appreciated.

51. VHS Tapes

Do you even have a working VCR any more? If the answer is no, then it’s past time to discard those VHS tapes. If you have some sentimental records on them find a service online that will transfer them to digital files. Tapes degrade over time so don’t delay.

50. Scratched Teflon Pans

besch?digte Teflonbeschichtung einer Pfanne

The coating on old nonstick pans can flake into your food. Also get rid of any pots and pans you never use, said Leslie Gail, owner of Declare Order Professional Organizing. “They’re just taking up cabinet space,” she said.

49. T-Shirt From the 5K You Ran Years Ago

If you have a lot of T-Shirts, arrange them from most to least favorite and cut your collection by at least 20 percent, said Enza Ketcham, a blogger and teacher from Kansas City, MO, who is decluttering to to put her house on the market.

48. Love Letters From Your Ex

You don’t want your husband, wife or current crush to find the steamy letters from Mr. or Ms. Wrong.

47. A Tangle of Random Cords

Purge any cords that go to old devices that are obsolete, broken, or lost.

46. Expired Food

Apocalyptic December 2012 Concept

Check your freezer for bags of shriveled peas and your pantry for stale food. Even canned food doesn’t last forever. Examine expiration dates and best by dates so you can cook up or donate anything that is nearing the end of its shelf-life. If it’s past due in the trash it goes, as most food banks don’t take expired items.

45. Unusable Containers

Get rid of any plastic food storage containers with missing lids. While you are at it, get rid of lids that don’t have containers, too! Reusing washable take-out containers is a good idea but they are prone to crack over time, so get rid of any that aren’t in good condition.

44. Stale Spices and Condiment Packets

Herbs and spices start to lose their flavor after a year or so. Old spices have no place in a gourmet kitchen. Same goes for condiment packets. If you haven’t used them in a year, you probably never will.

43. Your College Posters

Got your degree? It’s time to graduate to real art.

42. Books You’ve Read

Aside from classics you love, pass along or donate books you’ve finished, professional organizer Kim Oser, of Need Another You, recommends.

41. Supplies for a Defunct Hobby

Gave up a hobby years ago? Those knitting needles, jewelry making tools or scuba fins need to go. Craft supplies like glue, paint, and clay dry out over time.

40. Holey Socks and Underwear

Now that you have gotten rid of unmatched socks, you might as well get rid of any pairs that have holes in them. Same goes for your underwear. Seriously.

39. Worn Out Writing Instruments

Find and toss dried up pens and markers.

38. Paper Clutter

associated with old paper packs

Throw away old receipts, junk mail and flyers from past events. Papers strewn on flat surfaces create a feeling of anxiety, said professional organizer Sabrina Quairoli.

37. Old Makeup and Nail Polish

“Makeup is prone to bacterial contamination, discoloration and drying out,”said Nancy Haworth, professional organizer and owner of On Task Organizing, LLC in Raleigh, NC. Here’s a guide on what to toss when.

36. Sports Trophies

Do you really need a reminder that your junior high soccer team won third place in the regional championships?

35. Your 10 Books on How to Get Organized

Believe it or not, some people have three copies of the same organizing book. “Clearly the first and second copy didn’t help,” Oser said.

34. Stuff You Planned to Re-Gift

“Certain items are a total, dead, instant giveaway that you are re-gifting,” said Tonia Tomlin, founder and president of Sorted Out. Get rid of candles, soap, weird CDs and boxed sets of bath products, she said.

33. Useless Swag

Toss those “freebies” you got at conferences, mall cosmetic counters and sporting events, Haworth said.

32. Expired Medicine

Discard expired medicine safely. Old prescriptions can easily pile up in your medicine cabinet.

31. Fad Diet Books

If the grapefruit diet didn’t work 10 years ago, shed pounds by getting rid of the book.

30. The Rubber Band Ball from the Office Job You Hated

It was a symbol of resistance against your evil boss, but now it just brings back bad memories.

29. Plastic Produce Bags

Many people stuff these bags in a drawer out of guilt. Toss or recycle them and consider switching to reusable produce bags. Lots of municipal recycling programs don’t take plastic bags, but you can often find a collection bin at your local grocery store. While you are at it, buy a couple reusable shopping bags so you can avoid accumulating plastic bags ever again.

28. Cookbooks You Never Use

If you use recipe apps and websites, get rid of all but your very favorite cookbooks.

27. Dried Up Glue and Old Paint

Toss bottles of dried up glue and other old household products.

26. Bulky Paper Clips

Unless you can find an alternative use for binder paper clips, get rid of all but a few.

25. Old Sunscreen

Man with sunburned skin

Toss sunscreen that is expired or more than three years old.

24. Outdated Prescription Glasses

If your prescription has changed, donate your old glasses. You could get new lenses, but how many extra pairs do you really need?

23. Magazines from Months Ago

“Magazines are heavy, bulky and take up lots of space, said Stacy Erickson, owner of Home Key Organization in Seattle, WA. “Plus, you can find almost any article online now.”

If you have time, go through your old magazines and rip out or photograph pages that inspire you.

22. Mangled Wire Hangers

Toss these and unify your closet with sturdy matching hangers.

21. That Lotion That Smells Weird

Dispose of half-full bottles of body lotion, bubble bath or face cream you’ve had for a year. “If you haven’t made it through the bottle by now, you probably won’t,” Erickson said.

20. A Flimsy Wine Corkscrew

Ditch your cheap spare wine corkscrew and any other cheap kitchen gizmos you have in multiples. You only need one good one, even if you are major wino!

19. The Item Your Pet Destroyed

Part with the chair your cat used as a scratching post or the once pretty woven basket your dog chewed to shreds.

18. Jewelry You Never Wear

Get rid of jewelry that’s out of style, unflattering or doesn’t go with any of your outfits.

17. The Ratty Thrift Store Find You Never Painted

Broken old chair.

If you bought an item as a “project” you never completed, let it go.

16. Bad Photos

Still have physical photos? Get rid of old prints that are blurry, too dark, too light or where you don’t recognize the people or place.

15. Random Knick Knacks

Take organizing guru Marie Kondo’s advice and ditch stuff that doesn’t “spark joy.” If that pink flamingo brings you indescribable happiness, display it proudly.

14. Broken Laundry Baskets

If you can’t fix your broken laundry baskets, toss them.

13. Rusty Tools

Old tools on wooden background

If you don’t have the patience to restore your rusty tools, get rid of them.

12. Your Third Soup Ladle

Duplicate kitchen utensils clutter your kitchen, making it harder to cook. “Too many cooks” applies to spatulas too.

11. Old Christmas and Birthday Cards

Save only the most special cards. Snap photos of others, said Offir Gutelzon, CEO of Keepy, which lets you digitally store memories. While you are at it, recycle or giveaway unused wrapping paper and gift bags.

10. Old Credit Cards

Leaving expired credit cards lying around can put you at risk for ID theft. Shred ’em.

9. Your Point-and-Shoot Camera

Get rid of any outdated electronics, especially cameras made obsolete by cell phones.

8. Incomplete Games

Teamwork concept

“Go through all the games that are missing pieces and trash them,” Ketcham said.

7. Carryout Detritus

Chances are, you have a drawer stuffed with wooden chopsticks, thin napkins and flimsy plastic forks. Clear it out.

6. Furniture You’re Saving for Your Kids

It’s likely that your offspring won’t want the furniture in the future anyway, said Seana Turner, founder of The Seana Method.

5. Anything With a Broken Zipper

Unless you plan to have it repaired, a broken zipper renders any item useless.

4. Your Stash of Twist Ties

Toss old, ratty twist ties you saved from bread bags.

3. Travel Brochures

Recycle your collection of travel brochures from past vacations.

2. Old Cell Phones


If you’ve got your previous two or three phones, donate, sell or recycle them. But delete those nude selfies first, you rascal.

1. Worn Out Sneakers

Ditch your athletic shoes after 300 to 500 miles of running or walking, or 45 to 60 hours of aerobics, basketball or tennis.

Complete this list, and then you can tackle the more difficult decisions about what to keep and what to toss.
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