Spring Cleaning: 50+ Things to Toss Right Now

Spring Cleaning Cover

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Spring Cleaning Cover
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Process of Elimination

Spring often brings an urge to purge. A disorganized home can make you feel overwhelmed, and decluttering can actually help save money and even bring a little extra dough. Even if the overload isn't so bad you're thinking of renting a storage unit, being honest about what you actually use and what's gathering dust can help you make smarter buying decisions in the future. 

Less clutter can also keep you from buying the same item again because you can't find what you already have. Clearing the entire house of clutter takes time, so start by targeting these things you can throw away now. 

Related: 17 Places to Donate Clothes and Clutter for Money


1. Clothes

One of the biggest areas of embarrassment for many people is their closets. As a rule of thumb, get rid of anything you haven't worn in the past year. Taking inventory with each change of season is a good way to identify what you do and don't wear and, in the end, what you should clear out. 

Related: Common Household Items You Can Sell for Cash

Kids' Clothes

2. Kids' Clothes

After cleaning out your own closet, tackle the kids' closets. Children's closets get even more cluttered because they outgrow things constantly or (let's face it) stain or rip them. Make it a habit to donate unworn or outgrown clothing, and toss/recycle those that are ruined.


3. Shoes

Go through and toss any shoes you haven't worn in the past year and any that are simply worn out. No sense keeping them if you won't or can't wear them. Tip: When you buy new shoes, part with at least one pair to keep the clutter at bay.

Wire Hangers

4. Wire Hangers

Wire hangers can actually damage your clothes. They simply don't offer enough support for heavy clothing, and over time the clothes can become misshapen, especially in the shoulders.


5. Formalwear

That bridesmaid dress may have cost more than you wanted to spend, but it won't be seeing any action anytime soon, if ever again. Why not donate it and free up closet space for something you'll wear often? Bridesmaid dresses make great prom dresses for girls who can't otherwise afford them. Ditto on that old suit: Give it to someone who's down on their luck and interviewing for jobs (try an organization such as Dress For Success). 

Related: 80 Things You Don't Need to Buy

Single Socks

6. Single Socks

Everyone likely has a few loose socks without a mate. Designate a space in your dresser where they can hang out for two weeks; if you can't complete the pairs, into the trash they go. 

Related: Practical Things You Can Do With an Orphan Sock


7. Old Towels

How many towels do you really need? The book "Unclutter Your Life in One Week" offers a simple formula: two sets for each occupant and guest room in your home (use one while the other is in the laundry). Consider donating the rest to a homeless shelter or an animal shelter. 

Related: Decluttering Projects You Can Easily Tackle in Less Than 30 Minutes

Bed Pillows and Mattresses

8. Old Sheets

Sheets don't need changing more than once a week. Sure, kids have accidents, and people get sick on occasion, but two sets of sheets per bed (three at the most) should suffice. The rest you can go ahead and get rid of now.

Related: 14 Things in Your Bedroom You Should Get Rid of Immediately


9. Sunscreen

Not only does sunscreen have an expiration date (typically within three years), but if it's exposed to extreme heat (say, sitting in a bag on the beach) it can break down much faster. Definitely dispose of any sunscreen that's expired, but also dump any that's been exposed to hot sun. 

Related: We Tried 4 Organic Sunscreens and This Is the Best


10. Mascara

Mascara has a 3-month shelf life once opened. Beyond that, it can start to break down and cause skin and eye irritation, beauty experts say. Many women likely have expired mascara in their makeup bag right now. Tip: Write the date you opened the mascara on the tube, so you know when to throw it out.

Eye Shadow

11. Eye Shadow

Unlike mascara, eye shadow (powder) can last up to two years. But if you're hoarding colors for that rare occasion when they might come in handy, chances are you won't come back around to them. And if you do, it's likely healthier to just get new shadow.

Papavarin Karnjanaranya/shutterstock
Nail Polish

13. Nail Polish

When nail polish begins to separate, it's time to toss it. You can only wear so much polish at a time anyway, so cleaning out old bottles or colors you don't love is a good way to declutter.

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Hair-Care Products

14. Hair-Care Products

Like makeup, hair-care products have a limited shelf life, whether they are marked or not. Three years is typical. After that, they can become ineffective, and grow mold and bacteria. Toss anything older than three years and anything you haven't used in the past year. 

Related: We Tried 7 Shampoos for Dry Hair and This Is the Best

Old Toothbrushes

15. Old Toothbrushes

While it may be tempting to stockpile toothbrushes from the dentist (most give you one at every visit), they should be replaced more frequently than that. Whenever you get a new one, just replace the old one to avoid getting a collection going. And if you haven't changed out your toothbrush in the past four months, or you've been sick recently, swap out your toothbrush now.

Hotel Toiletries

16. Hotel Toiletries

It's tempting to scoop up all those toiletry samples as you check out of a hotel — you'll use them eventually, right? Most likely wrong. If you have tons of little bottles taking up space in your bathroom, it's time to let them go. Many homeless shelters can use them.

Related: Bathroom Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

I Finished My Prescription
Charles Wollertz/istockphoto
Foods with Freezer Burn
Condiment Packets
5-Day-Old Leftovers
Old Spices

22. Old Spices

Like other food items, spices carry an expiration date. Toss them if they are expired or if they've lost their smell or taste.

Old Dish Sponges
Wine Crasher
Valentyn Volkov/shutterstock

24. Wine Bottles

Old wine bottles, especially unusually colored ones, may seem worth saving for flowers or a craft project, but if you haven't gotten around to using them yet, chances are you won't.

Coffee Mugs You Don't Use

25. Coffee Mugs You Don't Use

Think about how many separate cups of coffee or tea you actually drink in a day. Most likely that number is low, so why would you keep a dozen coffee mugs? Get rid of all but two or three favorites for each coffee drinker. Keep a few extra if you regularly have company.

Kitchen Gadgets

26. Kitchen Utensils

Have a drawer full of unused kitchen utensils and excess cutlery? Time to clean it out. Throw away plastic utensils along with those condiment packets — again, why save them? You likely have plenty of real silverware, so use that. Get rid of any utensils that have been mangled by the dishwasher or garbage disposal, and those that are broken.

Related: 50 Kitchen Gadgets That Are a Waste of Money

Food Storage Containers
Evgenia Bolyukh/shutterstock
Baking Sheets

28. Baking Sheets

Baking sheets that sport cooking spots or rust aren't worth keeping. Don't fall into the Pinterest trap of thinking you'll repurpose them as memo boards or chore charts. Chances are you won't.

Takeout Menus
Liz Van Steenburgh/shutterstock

29. Takeout Menus

A stack of takeout menus shouldn't take up prime kitchen real estate. These days, you can find menus online for just about any restaurant. The same goes for restaurant coupons. In fact, a quick search online might reveal even better coupons than the ones you've collected.

Choose a Bag over a Cart

30. Reusable Shopping Bags

Take inventory of the reusable shopping bags you have. They seem to be given out at every event these days, and you really don't need more than three or four. That's plenty to cover a trip to the grocery store.

Paper and Plastic Shopping Bags

31. Paper and Plastic Shopping Bags

Sure, having a few paper or plastic bags handy for trash or messes is a good idea, but storing bags filled with bags just isn't. Check to see if your local grocer has a place to recycle bags or, if not, put them in your recycling bin. 

Related: 31 Products to Help You Use Less Plastic

Broken Electronics

32. Broken Electronics

Do you have a broken TV stored away in the hopes that one day you'll have time to fiddle around and fix it? Chances are you won't ever get around to it. Ditto for that laptop that stopped working last year.

Device Cords
Suradech Prapairat/shutterstock

33. Device Cords

Unlabeled, unrecognizable electronic-device cords are useless. Rather than take the time to figure out which items they fit, toss them. You must have been using the devices just fine without them, or with a different cord. If a discarded cord turns out to be necessary, getting a replacement shouldn't be too difficult or expensive.

Shawn Hempel/shutterstock

34. Movies

It's definitely time to get rid of those old VHS tapes, if you haven't already. Who has a VCR anymore? At least DVDs and Blu-rays are still being made and sold — but with most movies and shows streaming and available for download, those discs won't be necessary for long. Start by discarding the movies you didn't like.

Old Bills and Statements
Quang Ho/shutterstock

35. Old Bills and Statements

If a bill has been paid, hold onto it until you're sure payment was received. Beyond that, there usually isn't a reason to keep bills and statements. You can probably find all the old ones online if you need them. But use a shredder to destroy old bills instead of just tossing them — for security's sake.  

Related: How Long You Should Keep Your Tax Returns 

Instruction Manuals
RAGMA IMAGES/shutterstock

36. Instruction Manuals

After initial setup, instruction manuals usually find their way into a random drawer never to be needed again. These days you can find just about any instruction manual online, or outlined in a YouTube video demo. Get rid of the paper versions today.


37. Books

Once they've been read, many books can be passed on to someone else to enjoy. Reserve valuable shelf space for absolute favorites — until they fall apart from rereading.  

Old Magazines
Iryna Tiumentseva/shutterstock

38. Old Magazines

Even more so than books, magazines and newspapers are unlikely to be reread. Toss them when you're done, instead of cluttering your space. Memorable articles can almost certainly be revisited online.


39. Expired Coupons

How many coupons do you have that are actually current? Make a habit of sorting through them every week or two to weed out those that are expired.

Flu Season is Long
Brian A Jackson/shutterstock

40. Old Calendars

While it might be hard to part with a calendar full of stunning photography, there's no point in keeping it. Ditto for old paper planners. Just make sure to shred any pages with personal information on them.

Greeting Cards
Suphaksorn Thongwongboot/shutterstock

41. Greeting Cards

It's so nice to get a birthday or thank you card in the mail, but with rare exceptions, don't be sentimental: Once you've read it — and maybe, in the case of holiday cards, displayed it for a week or two — it's time to part ways.

Hue Ta/shutterstock

42. Receipts

This is a tricky one, because you may need some receipts for taxes or other purposes. But more and more stores these days offer the option of an email receipt. And they can process a refund onto a credit or debit card without a paper receipt. If you do need a receipt for a warranty, you can snap a picture and save it in your phone.  

Filled Notebooks and Coloring Books
Wasan Srisawat/shutterstock

43. Filled Notebooks and Coloring Books

You don't need to hang onto a notebook or coloring book once every page is full. If you jotted down important information at some point and no longer need it, just be sure to shred those pages.

Old Toys

44. Old Toys

In homes with kids, toys seem to be everywhere. Toss any that are broken or dirty beyond repair, and any toys that haven't been played with in the past three months. If there are batteries required and you still haven't replaced them, pass on the toy to someone willing to revive it. 

Related: 50 Toy Fads That Drove the Grown-Ups Crazy

Expired Car Seat
Old Craft Supplies

46. Old Craft Supplies

Paint, glue, markers, and the like dry out. Toss anything old that can't be used. Most people don't need a ton of crafting supplies. Consider paring down to just one tub of supplies and donating the rest to a local school. 

Musical Instruments No One Plays
Audrius Merfeldas/shutterstock

47. Musical Instruments No One Plays

Did your kids try to learn the recorder or take up the violin for a year, only to leave the instrument gathering dust? If it's in decent condition, you can sell it to someone who will use it.  

Games With Missing Pieces
Diane C Macdonald/shutterstock

48. Games With Missing Pieces

If that old game taking up space doesn't get played anymore because it's missing pieces, toss it. Ditto for that incomplete deck of cards sitting in a drawer.

Extra Vases
Uximetc pavel/shutterstock

49. Extra Vases

Vases are one of those things you tend to accumulate without realizing it. Whenever flowers get delivered, they typically come in a vase. It's time to get rid of all but one or two favorites unless you make a habit of displaying fresh flowers in every room.

Office Supplies
Kids' Schoolwork
Sinart Creative/shutterstock

51. Kids' Schoolwork

If you have school-age kids, you know the amount of paper that comes home. It sometimes feels like you should save every worksheet and piece of art, but you don't need to. Snap pictures and save digital copies of your favorite drawings and school papers instead of letting the originals pile up.

Dirty pillow from saliva stain on the bed.

52. Old Pillows

Old pillows are another prime candidate for replacement during spring cleaning. Over time, they can lose their supportive shape and accumulate unseen grime. Despite their innocuous appearance, pillows can harbor sweat, oils, and dead skin cells that penetrate the fabric of pillowcases and make them a breeding ground for dust mites. These unwelcome guests can then trigger breathing problems like asthma or allergies. 

Manila Folders

53. Unnecessary or Expired Documents

Old or expired documents are another key target for disposal as they can clutter up your space and could even pose a security risk. Over time, we tend to accumulate a variety of papers like bills, receipts, bank statements, and other personal records. But once they serve their initial purpose, they become irrelevant — and holding onto them not only takes up valuable space, but also increases the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Consider shredding these documents for added security. 

Related: Here's How Long You Should Keep Your Tax Returns and Why