Recycled Milk Carton

Life tends to be busy and chaotic. Sometimes the chaos of life is reflected in the chaos of an overcrowded home. If you are feeling harried and overwhelmed, you may discover that you are surrounded by clutter. Going through your belongings and sorting out items to throw away, recycle, or gift to others doesn’t have to be a monumental task. In fact, you may feel your mental load lightens as you remove broken, unused, or unnecessary items from your house. Here are 15 items that you don’t need to have hanging around the house.

15. Holey Socks, Shoes, and Underwear

Lack Of Socks

Why is it so difficult to throw away holey items of clothing? Perhaps you think you will repurpose your holey socks into a sock puppet. Maybe you feel one day it will be crucially important to have that pair of stretched out undies available. The truth is, you are extremely unlikely to find a use for holey old tennis shoes, tattered underwear, or frayed socks. Make some room in your closet or dresser drawer and toss these items out.

14. Mismatched Socks

Mismatched Socks

Unless you are a tween rocking one magenta sock and one lime green, you probably don’t choose to wear mismatched socks. You may have collected a pile of socks that have lost their mates. Stop holding out hope that those missing mates will one day reappear in your sock drawer or clothes dryer. After a few laundry cycles, chances are those lost socks aren’t going to reappear.

13. Expired Makeup, Medications, and Food

Expiration Dates

You probably don’t intend to hang out to expired goods such as makeup, medicine, and food items. This challenge with this category is taking the time to inspect items for expiration dates. Plan to sort through your refrigerator each week, tossing out items such as expired bottles of dressing and wilted lettuce. Take an inventory of your medicine cabinet and remove drugs that are past their expiration date. The FDA website can help you find a location that accepts expired medications. Eye makeup such as mascara or eyeliner should be discarded after three months.

Related: Are Food Expiration Dates Definitive? You Might Be Throwing Good Food Away

12. Business Cards from Past Employment

Business Cards

The business cards that came in handy two jobs ago are useless to you now. Rather than hanging on to them, free up some space on your desk and place these items in the recycling bin. Other paper items that belong in the recycling bin are old calendars, old posters, and takeout menus. Chances are, if you want to order Chinese takeout, you can look up the menu online while you are looking up the phone number.

11. Old Phone Chargers and Electronics Cables

Electronics Cables

If old phone chargers, cables, and cords are accumulating in your closet, it is time to let them go. When you have a tangled mass of cords, it is highly likely you are no longer sure which appliances they go with. If you don’t know where to use an item, it is useless. When your cord collection has been hanging out in your closet for months or years, it is no longer needed. Avoid throwing these items into your trash can when decluttering. Instead, take them to an electronics disposal site.

10. Outgrown Toys

Children’s Toys

It can be difficult to part with a formerly well-loved toy that no longer sees the outside of a closet. It is fine to choose a few beloved childhood items to save into adulthood. However, donating usable items to someone who can enjoy them makes both of you feel good. You may think it wise to hold on to your children’s old toys for when grandchildren come along. However, many a grandparent discovers they would rather head to the store for shiny new items for their little ones to play with.

9. Clothing You Don’t Wear


If your closet is bulging or contains many items you never wear, consider sorting through your wardrobe to highlight the outfits you truly enjoy wearing. First, discard any items that are stained, frayed, or worn. Next, form a pile of clothing items that are still in good condition, but no longer to your taste. To this pile, add items that no longer fit you. These are the items you can feel good about donating to others who will enjoy wearing them.

8. Wire Hangers from the Dry Cleaners

Wire Hangers

If wire hangers are seemingly multiplying in your closets, it is time to get them out of the house. Consider returning these items to the dry cleaners to be reused. Other places that may benefit from hanger donations are schools, daycare centers, clothing resale shops, and shelters. Avoid tossing wire hangers into your recycling bin, as some centers find they get tangled up in their recycling equipment.

Related: 15 Surprising Items That May Not Belong in Your Recycling Bin

7. Supplies for Hobbies You No Longer Engage In

Yarn Supplies

You may have enjoyed a variety of hobbies over the years. Perhaps your shelves or closets can attest to the years you spent meticulously pasting photos into scrapbooks. Skeins of yarn, bolts of cloth, and collections of knitting needles may be other leftovers from previous hobbies. Be willing to pass on jars of beads of boxes of scrapbook papers to others who will use them. Toss out dried out tubes of paint, containers of glue, or stiff and worn paintbrushes.

6. Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic Bags

Unless you live in a community that mandates the use of reusable grocery bags, you may find these plastic items overtaking your supply cupboard. Keep a few on hand for lining wastebaskets or picking up after Fido on your daily walk. Then, make room in your cupboards by recycling the extra bags. Many grocery stores and department stores will accept plastic grocery bags for recycling. Enter your zip code at Earth 911 to find a recycling location near you.

5. Dish Sponges

Kitchen Sponge

Dish cleaning sponges are handy for scrubbing dishes, but they can harbor bacteria. Furthermore, you may notice that dish sponges can take on a funky odor. Make sure to clean and sanitize your dish sponge daily. Merry Maids recommends disinfecting your sponge by heating it in the microwave for two minutes on high. Daily cleaning keeps your sponges sanitized, but they won’t last forever. Replace your kitchen sponges every two to four weeks.

Related: 12 Tips for Loading Your Dishwasher for Peak Performance

4. Tired Toothbrushes

Toothbrush Holder

Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Bristles that are worn or splayed won’t be able to efficiently remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. You can get additional use out of old toothbrushes by sanitizing and saving them to use for cleaning jobs. Scrubbing grout, cleaning the rubber gaskets in your refrigerator door, or getting in the grooves when cleaning jewelry are simple tasks you can use an old toothbrush for. Once the bristles are worn beyond use, toss the brush in the trash.

3. Used Water Filters


If you use a water filter pitcher or faucet attachment, there is no need to hang on to the used filters. Brita recommends changing the standard filter in your water pitcher every 40 gallons. That may translate to about every two months. Meanwhile, the Brita Longlast filter will filter about 120 gallons of water. This filter should be replaced about every six months.

2. Old Magazines


You may be holding onto a stack of old magazines. If so, you may want to ask yourself how often you actually go back and peruse old articles. Recycling old magazines will free up space in your home and prevent you from eventually navigating your home through a maze of stacked magazines. If you want to share your magazines with others, check with your dentist, doctor, or local nursing home to see if they can use them. Preschools may enjoy using colorful old magazines to help tots practice scissor skills.

1. Old Bills and Receipts

Cash Register Receipts

If you’re not careful, you can find yourself living in a paper jungle. It can be challenging to know how long to hold on to bills, receipts, and other paperwork. The IRS recommends keeping tax records for three to seven years depending on whether you have filed a claim for debt reduction or have unreported income. Meanwhile, Suze Orman suggests shredding paycheck stubs, canceled checks, utility bills, and credit card receipts not needed for tax purposes after one year.

Related: 15 Secrets to Keeping Your House Cleaner Happy


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