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Spring Cleaning: 14 Things to Purge Immediately!

Clothes and Shoes. Go through your closets and get rid of anything that is damaged or that you don’t use. Shoes that are pinched, uncomfortable, scuffed, or out of fashion—donate them! If they are soiled beyond cleaning, or if they are missing a mate, toss them! Same goes for clothes. If you haven’t worn it in the past twelve months, chances are you’re not going to wear it any time in the next twelve months, either. This includes formal wear, Halloween costumes, and sentimental apparel from high school! If you harbor nostalgic feelings for the item, but it doesn’t fit and/or you know you’ll never wear it, why not take a photo to post to social media? That way you’ll have a memento that doesn’t take up any space, and all of your friends will be excited to see and comment on the photo.

Hoarded Paper. This can take many different forms, but nearly everyone has it. Maybe you have a collection of all your paper bills from the past decade, hogging up the filing cabinet or just moldering in cardboard boxes. Maybe it’s old receipts from previous tax years that you no longer need. Maybe it’s expired coupons, or paperwork on every appliance you’ve purchased in your adult life. Or maybe it’s your kids’ schoolwork. Whatever it is, chances are you’re never going to need it, and it’s just taking up space that could be filled with something cool, or replaced with wonderful, easy-to-clean NOTHING! Recycle it now!

Wire Hangers. For one thing, wire hangers look kind of junky. And for another, they can actually damage your clothes. The only things wire clothes hangers are good for are a) bending out of shape to clear clogged bathtub drains, and b) jimmying the lock on a pre-1995 car. If you think you might run into either one of those problems in the coming year, maybe keep one or two in your garage with the rest of the tools. If not, toss all of your wire hangers and replace them with plastic or wooden ones.

Mate-less socks. If you’ve gone through three laundry cycles since the mate went missing, you’re probably not going to find it. Put the lonely sock to rest. In the trash can.

Old Towels and Linens. The general rule of thumb is that you should have two sets of towels for each member of the family, plus one set for a guest. (Two sets per person so that one can be used while the other is being laundered.) If you have any more than that, it’s most likely wasting space. If your old towels aren’t worn out enough to throw away, you might consider donating them to Goodwill or to your local animal shelter. Or if you’re short on cloths for cleaning, cut the old bath towels up into smaller squares and transfer them to the rag bag.

Anything Expired. Go through your kitchen, your bathrooms, and wherever you store your cleaning products. Check the expiration dates on EVERYTHING. Hair products. Cans of food. Makeup. Condiments—ESPECIALLY condiments. Vitamins and medications. Packages of frozen peas and anything freezer-burned. These things may seem small and insignificant, but once you clear them all out, you’ll realize how much space they took up altogether.

Lidless Food Storage Containers. It happens. Tupperware lids get lost. Or, sometimes, the lid is right there in the lid drawer and it’s the container itself you can’t find. Either way, no reason to hang onto these items.

Instruction Manuals. It is the age of information and we no longer need to hang onto the user guides for every appliance, device, and gadget that crosses our threshold. Most likely, you are still hanging onto manuals for items you’ve long since gotten rid of, but even if all of your manuals are current, you probably don’t need to keep them. Instructions for almost any product you can think of can be found on the manufacturer’s website these days, and more general troubleshooting and repair advice abounds on YouTube.

Empty Jars and Bottles. We do it with good intentions. We hang on to spaghetti sauce jars because you never know when you might need a jar! Or we keep old wine bottles because they’re pretty to look at. The problem with this is, those jars and bottles add up quickly and end up taking up SO MUCH SPACE. And they collect dust like nothing else. And while it is true that a jar is occasionally a handy thing to have around, the truth is there’s almost always an almost empty jar of something in the fridge when we find ourselves in need. Just eat the last pickle, wash out the pickle jar, and use that. No need to store all empty jars under your sink for eternity.

Dead Electronics. There are two reasons why people don’t throw out their old electronics. Either they lie to themselves and say that they are going to fix it one day (or use the parts for something else), or they don’t know where to properly dispose of the item. Let’s clear up both of these reasons right now. No, you’re never going to use the old parts from your first laptop. And in order to find out how to properly dispose of electronics in your area, simply check online (or call) your local waste management authority.

Pots and Pans. If you hate cooking with it, it’s time to toss it. Same goes for spatulas, ladles, and other cooking utensils.

Chargers and Cables for Devices You No Longer Own. Don’t feel bad about getting rid of chargers and cords you never use. You don’t even have to throw them in the garbage. You actually CAN donate these to most Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, and believe it or not, people actually buy used cords and cables for all kinds of projects.

Kitchen Gadgets. From your apple corer to your salad chopper to that weird wire cheese slicer, spring cleaning is the perfect time to get rid of all those random gadgets taking up space in your kitchen cabinets. Don’t feel bad! If they are still in good condition, you can probably sell them on eBay for a little extra scratch.

Old Textbooks. Many people lug around their old textbooks from college (or even high school) through moves and marriages and job changes, all through their adult life. These heavy tomes that take up a whole bookcase on their own feel like something you ought to hang onto—after all, they represent four or more years of your life, and all that learning that went into making you the smart professional you are today. But do you ever re-read them? Have you ever, even once, cracked the cover on any of those books? If not, do yourself a favor and pass them on. If they aren’t too out-of-date, you might be able to sell them to incoming college students on eBay. If they’re old, though, donating them to your local thrift store is a great way to give them a new life.

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