25 Things to Purge From Your Home Before 2024

Start the New Year off on the right foot by purging clutter, trash, and unused goods from your home.

By Steph Coelho and Bob Vila Staff | Published Nov 29, 2023 11:38 AM

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Woman selecting clothes from her wardrobe for donating to a Charity shop.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Clutter is more than just unsightly. Over the years, researchers have linked clutter with problems like low mood, shame, guilt, and poor life satisfaction. A 2009 study found that mothers in cluttered home environments had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Cluttered surroundings can even affect mental focus and quality of sleep.

Don’t let your clutter drag you down! Instead, recognize how these items are probably taking up unnecessary space in your home, put on some music, and get to work tossing and reorganizing. Just think how much lighter you’ll feel when it’s all done and you’re ready to focus your energy on a brighter, less cluttered new year.

1. Expired Pantry Goods

An open pantry cabinet with shelves of spices and other packaged dried food.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Take everything out of your pantry, check each label, and then toss anything that’s past its expiration date. While you’re at it, wipe down the shelves and make a mental note of any staples you’ll need to stock up on the next time you shop for groceries.

RELATED: 17 Pantry Foods That Never Expire

2. Stained Tablecloths

A glass of red wine spilled and staining a white tablecloth and napkin.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Take inventory of your tablecloth collection. Pay particular attention to the ones that get a lot of use, and accept (finally) that that wine or gravy stain is never going away. Get rid of or donate tablecloths that you no longer use, and consider buying a new one to welcome the new year.

RELATED: 25 Things Your Local Thrift Store Doesn’t Want You to Donate

3. Broken Christmas Ornaments

A broken Christmas ornament on a wood surface with pine needles and other Christmas decorations.

Photo: istockphoto.com

During the holiday season, Christmas ornaments may become damaged by enthusiastic children, curious pets, or mere clumsiness. If they can’t be easily fixed with some glue and a little time, the broken ornaments need to be weeded from the pack.
It’s tough to throw away ornaments that bring back happy memories, so consider upcycling the fragments into playful wall art. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, now’s a good time to go through other seasonal decor and get rid of anything that’s damaged or dingy, or that you just don’t like or use anymore.

4. Mismatched Food Storage Containers

A pile of colorful plastic food and tupperware containers.

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After your New Year’s festivities, you may want to send guests home toting containers of delicious leftovers. Take control of your food storage containers now to avoid the frantic, last-minute scramble for usable receptacles. Throw away containers without lids, and vice versa. Donate any you don’t need.

5. Magazines

A stack of open magazines on a coffee table.

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If you’re a reader who still likes to get his or her news in print form, it’s time to go through that ever-growing pile of periodicals that’s collecting dust in your living room. Keep a few on hand for guests to peruse, whether in the den or the bathroom, and recycle the rest. Don’t worry: If you have a magazine subscription, there are more on the way!

6. Old Makeup

Large pile of assorted cosmetics on top of a wooden dressing table.

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Most types of makeup are past their prime after about 6 months—mascara, especially. And as makeup is exposed to air, makeup brushes, and fingers, it becomes host to tons of bacteria. Stay healthy and beautiful by throwing away your cakey makeup and opening up space for the fresh palettes and trends to come in the new year.

7. Old Electronics

A pile of old cellphones, broken smartphones, and vintage mobile phones at junk shop.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Do you have a box of old phones or music devices sitting in your closet? If you no longer use them, they’re just taking up room. Before you drag them to your town’s next electronic waste event, take the time to find out if they are worth anything if you trade them in. Apple and some other phone manufacturers and service providers offer cash back or rebates in exchange for old electronics.

RELATED: 13 Retailers You Never Knew Would Recycle Your Old Stuff

8. Books You Don’t Read

Old books on a home bookshelf with the pages facing out.

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If your bookshelves are overstuffed, consider winnowing your collection and donating your discards to local charity book sales or used book shops. Keep those volumes that have a special place in your heart; favorites can stay right where they are. But moving forward, instead of sacrificing money and space to buy more books, visit your local library for the newest releases, in either hard-copy or e-book form.

9. Clothes That No Longer Fit

Dowdy women's clothing hanging in the closet.

Photo: istockphoto.com

According to one study, 85 percent of women hold on to at least a few pieces of clothing that no longer fit. Clothes that can’t be worn, even high-quality splurges that you dream of fitting into again one day, simply crowd the closet with clutter and your mind with a touch of unhappiness and regret. Go through your closet and discard anything that doesn’t fit or is no longer in style. Donate items you don’t need or want to those who can make good use of them.

RELATED: What to Do When Your House Has No Closets

10. Outgrown Toys, Games, and Puzzles

Colorful plastic and plush toys in a children's room.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Kids grow out of their toys and games quickly, and anything that they play with takes a lot of abuse. Give the playroom a refresh by donating unused toys, passing along gently used playthings to family and friends, and throwing out whatever’s been loved too hard. (If nostalgia hits you hard, pick out one or two items as keepsakes.) As you sort, toss out games and puzzles with missing pieces—they’re not worth the frustration.

11. Extra Craft Supplies

A chiid doing arts and crafts at a table covered in paper, paint, and other art supplies.

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If you’ve worked on any DIY projects this year, there may be a lingering surplus of crafty items on hand that you may not use again. Donate the extra glitter, paint, and baubles to a classroom in need, and reward yourself with a well-organized craft room that’s primed for action.

12. Surplus Yarn

Several colorful bunches of yarn in red, blue, yellow and pink.

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Are you a knitter? Take inventory of your yarn collection before you start your next project. If an abundance of yarn is cluttering up your living room or closet, consider donating the surplus to local knitting circle charities that can use your cast-off yarn to knit items for those in need.

RELATED: How to Knit for Beginners: 6 Key Stitches to Know

13. Accumulated Emails

A woman going through her emails on a laptop in a home office.

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Don’t head into the new year with a cluttered inbox. Get started now sorting through your emails, and you’ll feel like a weight has lifted off your shoulders by the time the ball drops. Delete junk mail, respond to messages you’ve been meaning to, and sort everything else into labeled folders. Inbox Zero isn’t wishful thinking: All it takes is a bit of focus, determination, and time.

14. Christmas Lights That Don’t Work

Throwing away damaged Christmas lights in a garage bin.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Grab that mess of holiday lights in your storage space and start detangling the wires. Test each strand and get rid of any that aren’t working. Before you put them away again, sort lights into two separate bins—indoor and outdoor—and consider either purchasing a few holiday light storage reels or containers, or DIY-ing your own solution.

RELATED: Don’t Throw Your Old Christmas Lights in the Trash—Do This Instead

15. Papers and Broken Stuff in Your Junk Drawer

A junk drawer full of eclectic household items.

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If it’s been a while since you last organized it, your kitchen junk drawer is probably overflowing. Now is the time to get it under control. Toss out expired coupons and flyers, recycle old batteries, and throw out any receipts you don’t need anymore. Get a drawer divider and use it to group together like objects, such as chargers, paper clips, rubber bands, and other junk-drawer denizens.

RELATED: Why Every Home Needs at Least One Junk Drawer

16. Excess Wrapping Paper

Several rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.

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Not many people need dozens of rolls of gift wrap. If you have more than you can possibly use in the near future, consider donating the extras to a charity gift-wrapping service. As you’re winnowing, get rid of the scraps of wrapping paper that you swear you’ll use one day, but never do.

17. Kitchen Utensil Drawer Surplus

Hands of a man taking a wire whisk from the utensil drawer in a home kitchen.

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Transform your kitchen utensil drawer from clutter central to clutter-free with the help of a few dividers (or a flatware organizer) and a whole lot of purging. Get rid of duplicates and warped whisks, and donate any utensils that you never use.

18. Expired Medicine

Man reading label on bottle of tablets in front of open medicine cabinet filled with pill bottles.

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You can free up a fair amount of shelf space in your medicine cabinet by getting rid of expired medications you no longer take. To dispose of them safely, check with your pharmacy or local police department to see if they take back prescription medicines.

RELATED: 20 Household Items That Must Be Disposed of As Hazardous Waste

19. Unrecognizable Packages in Your Freezer

Frozen vegetables in a plastic bag being placed inside a freezer full of frozen food packages.

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What’s in the unlabeled ziplocks at the bottom of your freezer? Throw away anything that’s been sitting there for longer than a year. If you have no idea how long something’s been in there, toss it anyway, and be sure to label freezer contents appropriately in the future. If you’re throwing away a lot of food, maybe it’s time to adopt a new meal-planning strategy that will help you make better use of the food you have.

RELATED: How to Organize a Chest Freezer

20. Health and Beauty Products You’ll Never Use

A collection of toiletries including bars of soap and bottles gathered with towels on bathroom counter.

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If you always swipe the free toiletries in a hotel room, you’ve probably amassed quite a stockpile of small bottles. Gather them together, along with all those gifts of soaps, bubble baths, body lotions, hair products, and other beauty items that aren’t your preferred brands, and donate them to a shelter or social services program that collects hygiene products.

21. Bills, Statements, and Other Paper Mail

A woman opening bills while sitting at her desk.

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After you’ve paid your bills and reviewed your other incoming mail, you probably don’t need all of that paper cluttering up your house, especially given that this information is available online now. Clear up your desk space and take some time to tackle the papers in your “to shred” pile. To cut down on the amount of paper that enters your house, reach out to providers to sign up for paperless billing, and think about stationing a small recycling container right where you bring in the mail.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Paper Shredders

22. Your Old Movie Collection

A collection of DVDs on a shelf.

Photo: istockphoto.com

When was the last time you actually watched a movie on DVD or Blu-ray? If you still have these discs taking up valuable real estate in your home, it may be time to let them go (especially if you don’t have a DVD player anymore). With so many movies available digitally, it’s hard to justify storing physical copies of shows and movies on your shelves. That space may be better used for toys, crafts, and hobbies.

23. Takeout Utensils and Condiments

A pile of plastic disposable forks and knives with napkins wrapped in plastic.

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Over time, packets of utensils and ketchup from takeout orders pile up. You may virtuously hold on to them, fully intending to use them, but the collection just grows. Look locally for a shelter or food bank that will take them off your hands. And if you still have a collection of takeout menus hanging out in a kitchen drawer, toss them in with recycling—they’re probably all available online.

24. Socks Without Mates

A person's feet wearing jeans and two different socks.

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The dirty little secret of every laundry room is that basket of lonely socks waiting to be reunited with their mates. Start the year off with a clean slate: Go through the basket one more time, and then throw out any singletons that remain.

RELATED: How to Darn a Sock by Hand

25. Dingy Sheets and Towels

Cotton textiles in shades of green and beige in a stack with frayed edges.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Sort through your linens and get rid of thinning, ragged towels and worn-out or stained sheets. Use the discarded towels as rags or donate them to a local animal shelter. To keep the closet under control, hold on to no more than three sheet sets per bed and three sets of towels per person. If the count falls short, take this opportunity to give yourself a little linen upgrade. Tidier closet and nicer linens—it’s a win-win!