01 of 05
Why We Hold Onto Unnecessary Items
One of the biggest reasons we hold onto clutter is because we’re not sure when we can get rid of things. 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. Some items, however, are clearly destined for the trash heap.
Some items we keep because we're in the habit of needing written documentation. Menus, manuals, recipes, and other items were once available only in written form. Today, however, these items often count as clutter because the same information is available online with the tap of a finger.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
6 Things to Get Rid of in the Kitchen
Continue to 3 of 5 below.
- Plastic silverware. Unless you entertain regularly or eat on the go, you don't need plastic silverware 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.
- Condiment packets. No one needs to save condiment packets from fast food restaurants. Simply buy bottles of ketchup and mustard and toss those extra bits of plastic.
- Leftovers more than 5 days old. Few foods will hold up for more than a few days, so why keep them in the refrigerator?
- Utensils or appliances you never use. Perhaps you were gifted a set of plastic food storage containers when you prefer glass, or you somehow accumulated a number of unitaskers that you never remember to use. Or you dreamed of cooking with your waffle maker every weekend, but now you realize you prefer pancakes. If you haven't used it for over a year, it's time to recycle, donate, or consign it.
- Mis-matched or warped food storage containers. Go through your drawer of food storage containers and match every container to its top. Check to see if any are warped or otherwise unusable. Recycle anything you can't use.
- Expired pantry items. Spices lose their flavor over time, and other pantry staples, like flour and sugar, don't perform as well as fresh ingredients. If you haven't used a pantry item for six months, consider getting rid of it.
03 of 05
10 Things to Get Rid of in Your Office
Continue to 4 of 5 below.
- Newspapers more than two days old should be recycled. Unless there's a mention of your child or an article you absolutely need, toss any old newspapers. If you do want to keep an article, clip it and file it appropriately.
- Pens with no ink. If a pen isn't working, you don't need it.
- Power cords you can no longer use. If you’re really not sure if you can throw it out, or, create a storage bin and label it "cords." But in most cases, old power cords can't be used in newer devices.
- Magazines more than two months old. Magazines are tricky because they often contain recipes or articles you're hoping to read. If you're serious about a recipe or article, clip it and be sure it's stored properly for the long term. Everything else should be recycled.
- Expired coupons. These are useless; simply recycle them.
- Old cell phones. There’s no good reason to keep these as they are likely outdated and just taking up space. Old cell phones can be donated to organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which uses the proceeds from donated cell phones to send prepaid international calling cards to troops.
- Last year's calendar. People hang onto these, 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.
- Greeting cards. Some greeting cards, of course, have tremendous sentimental value. Most, however, are generic "happy birthday" cards that lose their significance minutes after they're read. Why save them?
- Receipts. Some receipts should be saved, especially if they represent tax-deductible purchases or items you need to try on. Otherwise, they should be pitched. Alternatively, get out ahead of clutter by opting for digital receipts whenever possible.
- Old crafting supplies. Unless you're an avid crafter, you are likely the proud owner of a dried out bottle of glue, various spools of ribbon and other miscellaneous items that are now useless or unlikely to be used. Get rid of the things that no longer work as expected, and donate other items to an elementary school art teacher or local YMCA.
04 of 05
8 Things to Get Rid of in Your Closet
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
- Mismatched socks. Keep a small basket on top of your bureau for mismatched socks. If after a month you haven’t found a match, either toss them or re-purpose them as dust rags.
- Eyeglasses with the wrong prescription. Donate these immediately. Someone else could be using them.
- Accessories you never wear. Donate items you haven't worn in years, and organize and store those you actually wear.
- Old clothing that no longer fits.
- Extra buttons.
- Broken sunglasses. You say you’re going to buy one of those kits to fix them but you haven’t yet, so toss them.
- Shoes that you haven’t worn in five years. Your shoes should fit well, feel good and have the right look. If they do not, donate or consign them.
- Old towels and bedding. Animal shelters gladly accept donations of old linens.
05 of 05
7 Things to Throw Away ASAP
- Old remote controls. Everything comes with a remote control these days: iPod speakers, my air conditioner, my fan. If you don’t use it, trash it.
- Last season’s sunblock. Toss it. Sunblock slowly decays over time.
- Old makeup. If your cosmetics have changed color, lost their scent, or have changed consistency, or if you haven't used them in over a year, dump them.
- Old prescriptions and other medications. Check expiration dates. If it's past its prime, toss it. Be careful, however: some medications can be misused or even sold if they are found in your trash. Opiates and a number of other drugs should only be disposed of properly; call your doctor to get the right instructions.
- VHS and cassette tapes. If you have old tapes with content you love, but no VCR or tape player to play them, have the contents converted to a digital format. Then toss the old tapes.
- Takeout menus. With apps like Seamless and GrubHub, you have access to any and every menu of all your favorite take-out restaurants. Why keep old menus?
- Product Manuals. Manuals are useful. After all, what if you can't figure out how to take it apart or remember how to put it back together? Fortunately, most manuals and troubleshooting suggestions are right on the product website.