Getting started clearing clutter from your home can be really hard. Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, the important thing is to just get started — and the simplest way to do this is by getting rid of some of the items you probably already know need to go.
Read through this list and see if any of these 10 items are hiding out in your home, and commit to getting rid of them right away.
1. Stuff that doesn’t belong to you. Do you have piles of stuff by the door (or stashed somewhere out of sight) that you’ve been meaning to return?
Library books, items borrowed from friends and things you intend to return to a store are some of the most common ones — get these things where they belong, so they can stop tripping you up.
2. Books you read and didn’t like. Unless you read a book and loved it, and want to keep it to refer to or lend to a friend, it doesn’t deserve a permanent place on your shelf. This includes those books you started to read but just couldn’t get into and put back on the shelf — if you couldn’t get into it the first time, chances are low that you will ever read it.
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3. Broken or unused small appliances. While clearing clutter in preparation to sell our house, I discovered a broken coffeepot, broken coffee grinder and broken blender all hiding out in the back of a cupboard. If you have kitchen items that no longer work, be honest about whether you plan to fix them and get rid of them if not — save your precious storage space for items you actually use. Likewise, if you have small appliances you thought you would use more but rarely do (panini press?), donate or sell them.
4. Plastic containers without lids. Match up your reusable containers with their lids, and recycle the extras (many are recyclable, but check the specifics in your area). Also consider getting rid of surplus sets if you have a large number. One neat set — nesting sets are especially handy and take up little space — is probably all you need.
In fact, unless you bring food to work and need an unbreakable container, you may be better off with a set of glass bowls with lids, as these can do double duty for mixing and food storage.
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5. Unloved toiletries. From the bubble bath that irritated your child’s skin to the hair products that didn’t live up to their promise, bathroom cupboards are often filled with remnants of purchasing mistakes. Don’t let these unloved items get in the way of a streamlined morning routine — dump the products, recycle the containers and move on.
6. Old spices. Are there jars of spices gathering dust in the back of your pantry that you can’t even remember buying? Chances are, many of them need to go. The shelf life of most spices is one to two years; after that they lose flavor. If you have any doubt about whether a spice is still fresh (and you can’t find a date on the bottle), open it up and take a whiff — if the scent is very faint, it’s probably too old to use.
7. Out-of-date tech. If you’ve been holding on to your old cell phones and chargers, along with other miscellaneous tech devices, simply because you don’t know what to do with them, take a moment today to find out — try searching Earth 911 for a recycling collection point near you.
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8. Old cribs and car seats. Since safety standards are always evolving, that crib or car seat you’ve been holding on to with the intention of using it for your next child may no longer be considered safe. Car seats usually have an expiration date listed on the back; for cribs, you can check with the manufacturer to find out if your model meets current standards. If you find that you have some baby gear that is not up to current safety standards, you cannot sell or give it away — take it to the dump or a specialty recycling center instead.
9. VHS movies. If you have a collection of VHS movies but no longer own or use a VHS player, it’s time to give these away. If you’ve been holding on to your old VHS player because you have old home movies on that format, consider having these transferred to a longer-lasting digital format — and then give away the player and the old tapes.
10. CD copies of music you already uploaded to your computer. It’s common to listen to music primarily on a computer, tablet or phone — yet many of us still hold on to large collections of CDs. If you have already uploaded your music to your device, consider giving away the physical CDs.
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