New Year, New You! How about your home? Look around right now: can you spot a dozen things you don’t need? I took a few days and did an overhaul on my own home, filling a 50-gallon trash can and taking an entire car load to Goodwill. Embracing Homemaking first posted this list of 200 Items to Discard in April 2015. In my opinion, not all 200 were a complete homerun but I’ve decided to share those I know I’ve been guilty of keeping or have seen with clients. Break this list down into 10 item chunks and get started!

Paper Items

1. Old product boxes. That box is not paying rent in your home and, even if you use them when moving they aren’t worth keeping. Unless you’re planning on reselling the item in the next month, you don’t need the box.

Magazine Spread You Don't Need2. Magazines. If you haven’t had the time to read it in the last month, you will never get to them. A recent client of mine was adament about needing certain articles for reference purposes. We reached a compromise and started a binder system (with sheet protectors) to properly maintain those articles. An even better option is to use OneNote or EverNote.

3. Old newspapers. Like the magazines: if you haven’t read them yet, you’ll never read them.

4. Catalogs. Flip through it, if you must, but shop online.

5. Books you’ve never read or will never read again. Haul them to Half Price Books and make a little cash to add books to your Kindle library. A full-color Kindle Fire is under $50!

5. Old textbooks. They very quickly lose their usefulness, even as reference material.

6. Old bills. Switch to online banking and stop the clutter before it comes in your home.

7. Paperwork you kept for you taxes that is more than 7 years old. Be sure to shred sensitive documents! I love my Fellows.

8. Paychecks older than 2 years. You don’t need them after you’ve filed your taxes.

Expired Coupons You Don't Need

9. Expired coupons. Bed, Bath & Beyond honors expired coupons but how many of those do you have? When was the last time you went? If you aren’t regularly using coupons, ditch the expired ones.

10. Notebooks with fewer than half their pages.

11. Old planners. Try using a BULLET JOURNAL and only have ONE notebook. See how here.

12. Old calendars. 

13. Junk mail. Obviously, you don’t need it, it’s JUNK!

Scrap Paper You Don't Need

14. Piles of “scrap paper.” Scrap paper: Pack Rat for “trash I hope to get one more use out of.” Shred, if necessary, and recycle.

15. Instruction manuals. Most are online now. You can also consider using an  e-home inventory system like HomeZada to keep track of all appliances, serial numbers, receipts, etc.

16. Business cards. Keep an electronic record.

17. Travel brochures. 

18. Phone books. Why are these still a thing? At best, these are a back-up booster seat.


19. Extra cups and mugs. How many does your family use in a regular dishwasher load?  Add a few more for company and be done with the rest. My husband and I did NOT need a dozen travel mugs and a pint glass from every brewery.

Mystery Freezer Food You Don't Need

20. Expired food in your freezer/pantry. If you can’t tell what it is, junk it.

21. Take out menus. They’re almost all available online.

22. Old spices. Spices don’t actually spoil but they lose their potency.  A good rule of thumb is 1-2 years for seasoning; 1-3 for herbs and ground spices; and up to 4 years for whole spices.

Packed Drawer of Plastic Food Containers You Don't Need

23. Unused plastic containers – especially those without a lid and those old plastic containers. Avoid containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 as they may contain BPA. I recommend getting rid of old food containers (like that Cool Whip tub) after a few uses.

24. Place mats, napkins, table cloths that never get used.

25. Duplicate and unused kitchen utensils. I recently said “goodbye” to the potato ricer I hadn’t used since 2009…

26. Cookie cutters. Unless you’ve used them in the past year and foresee using them again. Consider storing holiday cookie cutters with the appropriate decor.

27. Plastic children’s plates/cups they’ve outgrown.

Plastic Cutlery You Don't Need

28. Plastic cutlery. Invest in one set of reusable plastic cutlery per family member.

29. Mystery hard candy. Especially if you’re not sure where it came from or how long it’s been there. On this note, don’t be a cheapskate with holiday candy. Buy new candy every year; don’t put out last year’s holiday Hershey’s. As a former junk pit, I can tell you they taste icky.

30. Take out chopsticks. They are not meant to be re-used. I have the tongue splinter to prove it

31. Fancy serving bowls you haven’t used in the last year. Use them or sell them.


32. Plastic hangers from the store. I’m a big fan of velvet hangers because they take up SO MUCH less space in your closet. It can look like you did a major purge simply by changing hangers.

33. Wire hangers from the dry cleaners. These are disgusting. I get chills. I just, I can’t even.

34. Clothes more than 2 sizes too small.  Reward yourself with new clothes when/if you achieve your goal weight.

35. Damaged/stained clothing.

36. Clothes that make you feel ugly or fat. If you’re not sure what these are, try backward hangers for a few months.

37. Old and ugly t-shirts. If you don’t enjoy wearing it, you don’t need it.

38. Old sneakers. I keep only my most recently retired pair of running shoes in the garage for potentially dirty activities.

39. Extra shoe laces. I guess you can keep an extra pair for dress shoes and an extra pair for athletic shoes around but, honestly, I’ve never once had a shoe lace break.

Gross White Flip-Flops You Don't Need

40. Worn out flip flops. If they look like this, trash them. Ew.

41. Jewelry you don’t wear.

42. Orphan earrings. Though, I’ll admit I recently dug through the trash to find one I’d tossed because the partner was found!

43. Belts that no longer fit, are worn, or are out of style.

44. Purses/dufflebags/old luggage you don’t use. 

45. Old wallets. C’mon, you don’t need that battered, duct-tapped, velcro travesty from middle school.

46. Bed linens you don’t use. I probably don’t need flannel sheets in Houston. And I probably don’t need satin sheets because I’m not in my twenties 😉

47. Extra pillows. Especially lumpy ones.


48. Bent bobby pins.

49. Stretched out hair ties.

excessive hair tools50. Hair tools you no longer use. Unless you own a salon, you really don’t need 5 curling irons and a crimper.

51. Hair products you don’t use.

52. Unused perfumes and cologne.

53. Expired make-up. See this past blog for helpful info.

54. Make-up that isn’t the right shade. I can’t even begin how many times I have clients who want to keep an eyeshadow palate they hate just because it cost $50.

55. Old nail polish. If its dried up or you don’t love the color, say goodbye.

56. Old emery boards. Consider replacing them with a glass board.

57. Lotions, face washes, serums that you don’t use.

58. Expired over-the-counter drugs and vitamins. Expired vitamins do not go bad like food does and they do not turn into poison or toxins. Many expiration dates are set very conservatively and it’s not dangerous to take expired vitamins the vitamins will lose their potency.

59. Expired perscriptions. Visit for proper ways to dispose of them.

hotel toiletries60. Hotel toiletries. If they’re unused, consider donating them to a shelter. If you’ve already broken the seal, use it or lose it.

61. Old teeth whitening trays or strips. Use ’em up or toss ’em out.

62. Half used chapsticks – you probably used it when you were sick, anyway.

63. Expired sunscreen. Sunscreens can generally be used six months after their expiration but, if you squeeze some out and it seems to have separated or looks or smells funny, play it safe and toss the whole bottle.

64. Old towels that aren’t soft. In fact, throw out ALL your old rags and cut these into new rags.


VHS tapes you don't need65. Old technology (8 tracks, floppy discs, VHS tapes w/o a player, etc.). A few years ago, I used Roxio to transfer all my VHS to DVD.

66. Video games you’ll never play again.

67. Duplicate power cords. I think we had 15 micro-USB cables at one times… 

68. Cords that don’t belong to anything you currently own. I’m looking to you, Packard Bell Tower cord.

69. Old cell phones. Donate them to The National Network to End Domestic Violence.

70. Old cell phone stuff – Covers, styluses, screen protectors, etc.

71. Used ink cartridges. Recycle them for a little money back.

72. Outdated computer software. 

73. Random batteries, unless you know they’re new/unused.

CD jewel cases in a rack74. CD jewel cases. Put them in a binder with these pages.

75. Old boomboxes and stereo equipment. I remember my one and only trip to a pawn shop in Las Vegas to sell all my stereo equipment (a 6-disc changer, giant receiver, 5 speakers, cassette player and record player) just because I was tired of moving it from apartment to apartment. I haven’t missed it even once.

76. Remotes that serve no purpose. “What does this go to?” Get rid of it.


77. Old greeting cards. Unless you are a scrapbooker or are willing to commit to a simple storage system, like using specific memory boxes, you should toss them.

78. Old Christmas cards of your family. Save a few, recycle the rest.

79. Kid’s old art projects. Trust me, they’re not all sentimental masterpieces.

80. Old wedding favors. Keep a few, toss the rest.

81. Ticket stubs. If you want to keep them, get to scrapbooking or put them in the memory box with your greeting cards.

82. Old invitations. Again, unless they’re in a memory box or scrapbook.

83. Notes/gifts from old romances. Best case scenario, you never look at them again. Worst case scenario, your current love finds them and wonders why you still have them, casting doubt into your relationship. Alternatively, if you ENJOY looking through them and reminiscing, you may need to reevaluate the relationship.

84. Posters you’ll never display again.

Kid Stuff

85. Unloved toys. Remember: stuffed animals may have cute cuddly faces but they do not have feelings.

86. Games with missing pieces.

87. Baby items. Unless you are ACTUALLY planning on having another, no “just in case”!

88. Too small kid’s clothing. Only save favorites if you’re saving for another child. Sell the rest while they’re still in style.

89. Completed coloring books.

90. Markers without lids and lids without markers. 

91. Goodie bag toys from previous birthday party celebrations.

92. Near empty bottles of bubbles or little nubs of side-walk chalk. 


93. Half-used candles. If you haven’t lit in a month or more, you don’t need it.

94. Home decor you haven’t used since you redecorated.

95. Knick-knacks. If they don’t make you smile every time you see them, they’re just something else to dust. You don’t need them in your life.

Easter Deviled Egg Platter96. Holiday decor you never remember to set out.

97. Holiday decor that you use once a year. Like that Easter deviled egg tray that collects dust 364 days of the year! Buy a lovely one that you can use for other holidays, too.

98. Dried flowers. For instance, I kept every dance corsage as a teenager. It was pretty disgusting. Professionally dried flowers can look nice but they are still dust magnets.

99. Unused vases. You don’t need to keep every vase in which you’ve ever received flowers.

100. Unused picture frames. 


101. Paperweights. Unless your office area is lacking air conditioning and you rely on a massive fan, who needs a paperweight?

102. White-out bottles. They’re probably dried up, anyway. Check the Super Glue while you’re at it.

103. Pens and pencils. Every room doesn’t need a jam-packed jar of writing utensils. Also, I’d bet half of them no longer write.

104. Used tissue paper/gift bags. If they don’t look BRAND NEW, toss them.

105. Dry erase markers without a board. Also, a board without markers or both if you don’t use them!

106. Extra photo prints.

Laundry Room & Garage

107. Cleaning rags. A dozen or so should do it.

108. Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, shampoo that you used once and didn’t like. Donate to a local shelter.

109. Extra buttons. Please. When was the last time you replaced a button? And if you are diligent about it, there is very little difference between most basic buttons. I get it, there are occasional garments with VERY specific buttons so, if you have a dedicated, organized sewing/craft area, keep those (within reason).

Rusty Tools110. Sewing kits.

111. Extra hardware. For example, loose screws, nuts, bolts, etc. I have two small well-organized tackle boxes filled with these items. That’s it.

112. Unused flower pots. Plant a flower or toss the pot.

113. Rusty tools you’ll never use again. 

114. Lawn and garden pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers you won’t use.

115. Old sports equipment.

And Stuff You Don’t Need In the Rest of the House! 

116. Books of matches you never use. Save a few in case of a power outage or for the bathroom… just saying.

117. Things you’ve bought but haven’t yet returned. Check your receipt to see if you can still return them. If so, DO IT!

118. Old party supplies. Those two mismatched party hats and the used cake candles will not make anyone feel like it’s their special day.

119. Shopping bags. Keep a few reusable bags IN YOUR CAR and limit the number of plastic and paper bags in your home. If your plastic bags don’t fit in something like this, take the extras to be recycled at your grocery store.

120. Samples of any kind – Use, donate, or trash.

121. Organizing paraphernalia you bought to get organized that didn’t suit your purpose.

122. Mason jars (or baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc.) that you won’t use.

123. Stress balls and other junk from conventions. This ties in with #81.

124. Plug in air fresheners without a refill. Also, refills without an air freshener.

Promotion Crap125. Promotional swag. If the item doesn’t have a REAL use in your life, you’re just advertising for other people.

126. Lanyards from previous conferences. And toss out the name tags and convention bags while you’re at it.

127. Extraneous key chains. You’re not 12.

128. Recipe books you don’t ever use. This is a hard one for me because I love cookbooks… But even I most often look up recipes on my laptop.

129. Multiple bookmarks.

130. Combination locks – chances are slim you’ll use one again but if you do, they’re cheap to replace.

131. Empty bottles of anything.

132. Old prescription glasses. They make a great donation for the Lions Club.

133. Old sunglasses.

Spare Change

134. Spare change lying around. Roll it or take it to CoinStar for a gift card

135. Excess decks of cards.

136. Twisty ties. 

137. Craft supplies for a project that has already been completed.

138. Loyalty cards. Most programs will let you enter your phone number (keep your Plenti card!).

139. Gift cards. They are meant to be used!

140. Instruments you’ve given up on mastering years ago.

141. Magnets. Unless they are lovely or useful, discard. If they contain an outdated calendar, adios

If you want to see all the items that didn’t make the cut, visit the original post at Embracing Homemaking.