12 Things You Might Not Have Thought To Toss During Your Spring Cleaning

Buckle up for more Spring Cleaning Content. At the end of May, I’m moving for the second time in five months. I wasn’t originally planning on doing a big “spring cleaning”, since I cleared out so much stuff when I moved at the end of December. However, when we found a nice new apartment (in a much better location) and decided to move again, I realized I definitely didn’t feel like moving all of my crap for the second time in less than a year. Call me lazy, but I’d rather kick my ass into major spring cleaning mode now than lug all of my junk to another apartment (especially because we’ll actually have to climb stairs to move into this one, unlike our current place which is ground-level).

I’ve already started with my closet (which will be a process for sure – one that TFD very well may hear about in greater detail as I get deeper into it), but I’ve also come up with a list over the past few days of some other things that I’ve been eliminating in preparation for move #2 – things that I’d hardly ever thought about getting rid of before.

1. Food.

Although I think it is super important to be mindful food purchasing and making sure you only buy what you’re going to eat, obviously from time to time you slip up and get things that simply go unused. But having a pantry cluttered with random non-perishable items that you don’t see yourself ever touching just wastes space, and distracts you from the items that you will actually use to cook with. I’m weird about this, and sometimes will leave milk in my fridge that I know is expired because I’m disappointed in myself for not consuming it before it went sour. That’s a little extreme. Don’t be like me – just throw away food you’re not going to use.

Side note: obviously donate things that aren’t expired. But if you have milk that’s been in your fridge for three months, just throw it away please.

2. Old bedding/linens/towels.

If you’re like me, you have a lot of “backups” for things like kitchen towels or bedsheets, but really, you probably should just be washing yours regularly and worry about buying new ones if the ones you regularly use suffer some sort of irreparable damage.

3. Expired beauty products (especially those you haven’t touched in years).

Obviously things that are way past their expiration date should go, but they should especially go if they are an orange-scented lip balm that you loved in 7th grade and can’t actually believe you still have, and definitely don’t use, but keep because you did love it once so you think you might love it again someday. (Totally random example, definitely not pulled from my real life.)

4. Pens that don’t work.

On my desk, I have a little cup full of pens. Today while on the phone making an appointment with my doctor, I was frantically searching for a pen to scribble down the date and time of the appointment, and found that basically none of them actually have any ink in them. I eventually found one and wrote it, but immediately after I got off of that call, I went through the cup and tossed every pen that didn’t work.

5. Very functional pieces that you just aesthetically hate.

For me, this is essentially just every piece of furniture Drew purchased or acquired before we met. His lamps make me cringe. They’re super functional lamps – they do exactly what lamps need to do. But I hate looking at them, and therefore never even turn them on, so I do definitely plan on getting rid of them, and eventually replacing them if we find that we need more lighting in our new place.

6. Old schoolwork/papers (once you’re sure you no longer need them).

I held on to a lot of notes from classes thinking “maybe one day I’ll want to learn French and I’ll reference my notes from my freshman year French class!” even though I know very well that the notes are shit and won’t help me one bit. If you’ve graduated from school and still have notes/work that isn’t relevant to your career path, you can safely toss them.

Same goes for textbooks – I truly don’t need any of my undergrad textbooks, because lest we forget that someone working in the communication field will likely never need an earth science textbook. If you work in a field where you may want to reference things from books (like my boyfriend, who has a shit ton of textbooks that I can’t fault him for owning, because he actually looks at them), then by all means, keep them. If you know you won’t touch it and you’re just keeping it because it cost you $200 + a small chunk of your soul, just get rid of it.

7. Kitchen tools that literally suck.

Basically pans that are peeling and knives that are too dull to use in a real, functional way. It isn’t really worth it to have 10 knives that are dull – you’re probably almost never going to need to use all of them at once. Toss them in favor of ones that actually cut through food instead of just making squishy dents in it.

8. Things that are aesthetically pleasing to you, but got “hidden” because they clashed with your décor, and now you just keep them on the off-chance they’ll match your shit again someday.

Maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I have a bunch of really pretty picture frames and little things that I find highly aesthetically pleasing, but they somehow clashed with everything else I owned, so I put them “away” (i.e. hid them under my athletic clothes) to be taken out someday when I have a space where they will look nice. Mostly, it is just depressing to see a pretty turquoise frame hiding under my running leggings and knowing that I’ll most likely never use it. This goes for pretty much anything you like, but just don’t currently use – if you don’t have a good space for it now, chances are you never will.

9. Very practical/useful things that you have literally never touched.

I have two staplers, but I’ve literally never stapled anything at home in my life. Why do I have one? Why do I have two?

10. Half-burned candles in scents you don’t really love.

Candles that don’t smell amazing are not worth the fire risk. Also, I hate having a tray full of candles that I’m just trying to “get through” so I can start burning the ones I actually like. I actually avoid burning candles I love when I have ones I don’t love because I don’t want to run out of the one I love and be stuck with only the one I hate. Candles are supposed to add to your life, not be a weird chore for you to overthink about.

11. “Just in case” medication that you’ve never really needed to take.

Fact: your bathroom is not a pharmacy. Additional fact: you probably live near a pharmacy.

This means that while it doesn’t hurt to keep a bottle of ibuprofen at the ready, you probably don’t need to have six bottles of Robitussin hanging around just in case you get sick, even though you know you very rarely do. If you come down with something, go out and grab some medicine. But you probably don’t need to have a stockpile of drugs in your cabinet.

12. Anything that has never been taken out of the package.

I have a lot of little things that I picked up when I moved and then never opened because I either didn’t care enough and forgot, or realized that they didn’t quite fit in my home. I’ve been hanging on to them hoping they’ll find some use in my next place, but to be honest, I think I need to just get rid of them – they do nothing but take up space.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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  • FYI, you can take your cooking knives to be sharpened 🙂 If you do, be careful! After you’ve been working with dull knives for a while, it’s shocking when they cut through things easily again.

    https://bybreannamarie.com/

    • Stacey Ewasko

      Yesss! I bought my husband a knife sharpening class for Christmas (which he asked for and was so stoked about) and now even our shittiest knives are like new. In fact I think they are sharper than they were when I got them.

  • Sarah Mo

    If you’re getting rid of old medicine, most pharmacies have a program where they’ll take it back. Just make sure to never flush it!

    • Holly Trantham

      I didn’t know about that — thanks, Sarah!

  • Roxanne Earley

    7,8,9,10 100% Yes and THANK YOU. Also, very glad I am not alone in overthinking how and when to use my favorite versus my least favorite candles.

    • Mj D’Arco

      I tend to have a candle for the living room, and one for the bedroom. I avoid buying more than that for that reason. I’d rather spend 30$ on a Voluspa I know I’ll fully burn than 30$ on 3 bath and body ones that will give me a headache and be hard to burn..

  • Dianna Martin

    If you are getting rid of old sheets/bedding/towels, consider donating it to an animal shelter. They are always in need of those items.

  • mngirl

    There are definitely ways to donate, gift, or upcycle all of these items–something to keep in mind as we declutter. “Tossing” something should be a last resort! With a little extra time & effort we can work to keep things out of the landfill.

    Some resources:

    https://www.freecycle.org/

    http://www.goodwill.org/

    All great items Mary, thank you for the inspiration!

  • Lauren Howard

    For the medicine part, if you have prescriptions to get rid of for some reason, see if a community health center or free clinic will take them, it never hurts to ask!