Let It Go: 14 Things to Trash Without Thinking Twice

It’s a new year, which means it's time to get started on your home resolutions for 2016. The best place to start? Out with the old! While it can be difficult to let go of prized possessions, the relief that comes along with decluttering can be well worth the brief pangs of sentiment. Start lightening your load with these 14 items that you can—and should—toss right now.

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  1. Magazine and Newspaper Clippings


    It's time to admit that your noble plans to read all those thoughtful essays and try all those yummy-looking recipes are probably not going to come to fruition in this millennium. If there are clippings you’re just not ready to part with, snap a pic (try the iScanner app) and store them on your hard drive, then recycle the rest to eliminate paper pileups for good. 

    Related: 10 Lazy Tricks for a Clutter-Free Home


  2. Unused Hardware and Extra Parts


    To get down to the nuts and bolts of your hardware collection, set aside some time to sort and organize your assemblage of bits and pieces. Get rid of extra parts to machines you no longer own, toss the Allen wrenches and other tools that came with your assemble-it-yourself furniture, and throw out rusted odds and ends you thought you might need one day. With an orderly stash to draw from, you'll find that your fix-its will be quicker and easier.

    Related: 13 Lazy Cleaning Tricks for a Spotless Home


  3. Shopping Bags


    How many empty paper or plastic shopping bags do you have stashed in the cabinet under the sink right now? Probably more than you could ever use in a lifetime. Recycle the extras, and consider carrying reusable tote bags to cut down on future bag buildup.   

    Related: 8 Organizers You Need for Everyday Clutter


  4. Instruction Manuals


    Most manufacturers now put their user's manuals online, eliminating the need for insane stacks of them on your counter or in the junk drawer. Download any that are related to large appliances or expensive purchases and store them in a folder on your hard drive, then toss that stack of paper manuals into the recycling bin.

    Related: 20 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Home Improvements


  5. Plastic Containers


    Sure, they’re great for leftovers, but do you really need an entire kitchen cabinet full of plastic receptacles? Not to mention all those mismatched lids! Pair up tops with bottoms, then recycle the strays. Although it’s wise to keep a few plastic containers around so you can store that last piece of cake or send some leftover casserole home with your guests, consider purchasing a set of glass containers instead. They'll repel stains and odors and last for years to come.

    Related: 12 Bite-Size Projects to Rescue Your Tiny Kitchen


  6. Old Clothes


    Always remember the golden rule of closet organization: If you haven’t worn it in a year, it doesn’t need to be taking up precious space in your bedroom closet. It might be difficult, but donating, reselling, or tossing items that aren’t the right size, fit, or style will give your closet more breathing room and make keeping it organized less of a chore. 

    Related: Organize Closets with 11 Things You Already Own


  7. Grubby Grooming Supplies


    Old lipsticks and eye shadows have no place in the bathroom vanity. Most makeup and grooming products have a shelf life of a year or less, so don’t let outdated extras loiter longer than necessary. And that hair gel you hate and that lotion that gives you a rash? Time to say goodbye to those too.

    Related: Boring Bathroom? 7 Fixes for an Old Medicine Cabinet

    Flickr via debtex

  8. Gifts That Missed the Mark


    As much as we appreciate our friends’ generosity, we don’t need to hold on to every scented candle or holiday-themed candy dish that comes our way. Take a moment to appreciate the sentiment of gifts past, and then pass them along to a local thrift store or donation center. 

    Related: 9 Tips and Tricks to Cut the Christmas Clutter


  9. Broken Furniture


    Yes, you could get that chair’s wicker seat rewoven, but will you? If an outdated piece of furniture that you keep meaning to refurbish has been taking up space for more than a year, it’s time to let it go. Post it under “free stuff” on Craigslist, donate to charity, or simply drag it to the curb. You might be amazed at how much space your basement or garage suddenly has to offer.

    Related: 10 Ways to Give Furniture a Fast Facelift

    Flickr via briancweed

  10. Outdated Electronics


    If you have a stash of aging devices and orphaned cords cluttering a spare drawer in anticipation of a “what if” situation down the road, it’s time to clear them out. Some gadgets, such as old phones or TVs, may be worth selling or giving to organizations that will refurbish them or pass them on to someone in need, which makes the purging a win-win.

    Related: 10 Trash-to-Treasure Ways to Reinvent Old Tech


  11. Financial Papers


    Save your tax returns, deeds, leases, and—if you itemize expenses—your relevant bills from the past seven years, and file them neatly away. Everything else can go right into the shredder and then on to the recycling bin. To organize your paperwork going forward, sign up for electronic billing and save those docs in a neat little folder on your hard drive.

    Related: Under $50: 10 Must-Haves for an Organized Desk


  12. Expired Medicine and Food


    For both food and drugs, expiration dates provide simple guidelines for what to keep and what to toss. First, take a quick look in your medicine cabinet and remove old over-the-counter remedies and any expired prescriptions (check with your local pharmacy for the best way to dispose of them). Then, hit your pantry and kitchen cabinets to winnow out those ancient muffin mixes and canned peas that have passed their use-by dates.

    Related: 14 Instant Fixes for a Total Pantry Makeover


  13. Old Craft and DIY Supplies


    If the baskets of yarn and knitting needles just fill you with guilt about the scarves you never finished, pack them up and send them off to the secondhand store—along with those woodworking tools you used once and never touched again. Clearing these out will make you feel unburdened, refreshed, and ready to take on new creative projects.

    Related: The Essential Toolbox: 12 Tools You Can't DIY Without


  14. Single-Use Kitchen Tools


    That salad shooter may have seemed incredibly clever when you picked it up on sale a few years ago, but then you realized that it's a pain to use and a chore to clean. Sift through your kitchen utensil drawer and trash any tools you haven't used in a year or so. After you've done a thorough purging, you'll find it so much easier to find and use the tools you actually need!

    Related: 10 Kitchen Updates You Can Do in a Day


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