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De-clutter checklist: What stuff you should toss now

Jul 16, 2016

woman tossing trash into wastebasket

You have to be in the right mindset to purge your over-crowded home of excess stuff. It might help to give yourself a de-clutter checklist, so you can focus on what stuff you should toss right now.

Books and magazines. Anyone one who is a reader knows how easy it is to build a large stash of reading material, but if you have books and magazines that you don’t intend to read again, pack them up. You can recycle magazines, or give them to a local physician’s office. Senior centers and nursing homes welcome these donations, as well as libraries.

Neglected or broken kitchen gadgets. Face up to the fact that if that small appliance or really cool gadget has been unused for months (or longer), you don’t need it taking up space. I’m sure that coffee grinder was irresistible back then, but now you use a different coffee system. Toss the broken items, and donate the rest.

Plastic storage containers with no lids. How many of these are cluttering up your kitchen cabinets? Pull out all of your plastic containers. Match them up to a lid or get rid of them (and vice versa with your lid stash). Most of this plastic is recyclable, so let them become reincarnated into something useful.

Expired spices and non-perishables. Remember when you bought Chinese five spice for a recipe long ago? Well, it’s probably expired by now. Dried herbs and spices lose their power after a year or two, so purge them from your cabinet. And check out your cans, salad dressings, and boxes of miscellaneous mixes. Just because they’re called “non-perishable” doesn’t mean they last forever. Salad dressings have a very short shelf life, for example.

Excess toiletries. How many bottles of half-empty shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion do you have in your bathroom cabinets? Clear them out. And while you’re at it, replace the toothbrushes. Also, browse your medicine cabinet and throw out any medications that have expired.

Junk drawer. Everyone has one (or more). It is the dumping ground for all those things you think you need to save but have no good place. Pull out the junk drawer. Throw away all those loose paper clips and rubber bands, chewed-up pencils, 5 year-old receipts, sticky notes, and penlights (don’t you have an app on your phone for that?).

Bedroom drawers. Like the junk drawer, your dresser probably has collected clutter—orphan socks and earrings, watches that don’t work, sunglasses that have gone out of style, and miscellaneous cases (glasses, phone, tablet, wallet).

Music and movies. Sort through your collection. Get rid of any you honestly don’t intend to listen to or watch. And if you have VHS, well, welcome to the 21st century.… Transfer them to a format you can actually use.

Outdated décor. Sometimes you hang or display a piece, and then forget about it. Wander through your home and look for those decorative accents that just aren’t your current taste.

Returns. We all have items we borrowed from someone, and forgot to return. Pull them together and tag them for the recipient. Then make an effort to purge them from your home to their rightful owner.

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