Let Go of These 8 Household Items as We Start the New Year

Reclaim your space by parting with things in your home you no longer use or have been damaged over time.

For many, the new year signals a chance to start fresh and create new goals for the 365 days ahead. When considering the aspects of your life that deserve a clean slate, why not start with your home, the place where you likely spend most of your time?

During the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it's natural for your home to fill up with things you no longer need or use (think expired beauty products, old credit card statements, and clothes your never wear). While you can dispose of those items whenever you want, there's no better time to do so than at the top of the year, when many people are beginning anew.

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How to Start the Decluttering Process

There are many areas of your home to consider when beginning the clean-out process. From large rooms like the kitchen to smaller nooks like cabinets, decluttering your residence can feel like a huge undertaking. "Start with one space at a time," says Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder of NEAT Method. "We always suggest starting with a smaller space first, such as a hall or linen closet or secondary bathroom, so you can get the hang of the process and feel a sense of accomplishment."

Old Documents

Although it may feel disconcerting to discard tax information or medical records, eliminating documents you no longer have use for is a necessary step towards decluttering your home. "In an age where almost all the information we want is accessible on the Internet, we don't need to hold onto papers and documents year after year," says organizing expert Tamar Prager, founder of tamarprager.com and host of the podcast The Paper Weight.

Discard anything that's expired or can easily be found online—think old warranties, tax documents dated seven years, and bank, credit card, and mortgage statements. Shred any documents with personal information. Miscellaneous items like old takeout menus, junk mail, your child's schoolwork, flyers, and coupons can also be tossed. "If you wish to hold onto anything, you can always scan items and store them on a cloud-based service," Prager says.

woman opening kitchen drawer
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Since the kitchen is such a large space, try not to be too precious about the items you choose to keep. "The simple path to opening up space in your kitchen is to set a very high bar for what gets to stay," says Prager. Keep items that are used often or have a specific sentimental value; everything else can be discarded, donated, or downsized.

Candidates to part with include duplicates or items that essentially serve the same purpose. Donate extra cooking utensils, knives, and servingware you never reach for. Any broken or damaged pieces can be tossed. "Just because they were used and enjoyed in the past, doesn't mean they need to stay in your home now that they've lost their value," Prager says. The same rule applies to any items missing their counterparts—like the food storage container you can never seem to find the lid for.

Expired Food and Pantry Items

Now is the time to dispose of that expired bottle of hot sauce in your fridge or the stale jar of oregano hiding in the back of your cabinet. Conduct a thorough inspection of your pantry to reveal expired or stale products. Next, comb through your refrigerator and look for any moldy or limp produce, condiments that have expired, and anything else that appears less than ideal for consumption.

Expired Beauty and Bathroom Products

Your bathroom is a hub for half-filled, expired, and rarely used items. To de-clutter this area, discard anything that smells or looks off, including products that have separated or changed in color. "Look for the small logo on your product that looks like a lid with a jar open—it will have a number and that number tells you how long a product is good for after you've opened it," says Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space. Items you love and use regularly can be kept, everything else should go.

Pile of Clothes
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Clothes You No Longer Wear

Downsizing your wardrobe can feel challenging, but it's a necessary step when trying to make room in your closet. Start by taking inventory of your clothes and accessories. Consider parting with pieces that you no longer wear and any items that have holes or stains. Rather than simply tossing them, consider donating pieces that are worn out, frequently overlooked, or no longer fit.

Worn Towels and Linens

Don't neglect your linen closet when you streamline your home in the new year. Now is a great time to go through stained or tired items. Old blankets and towels can be donated to animal shelters instead of being thrown away. While you're at it, go through any extra bedding you have lying around and see what's damaged or has missing components, like a lost pillowcase or fitted sheet.

Junk Drawer Items

Most houses have a designated drawer filled with miscellaneous items, ranging from old cell phones to stray pens and pencils. "Usually, this is the space where everything without a home ends up," Prager says. "Sometimes, they include useful items such as flashlights and batteries, and often they house items that we never touch, but can't seem to part with."

In the new year, rebrand this space in your home as the place where items with utility live, so you avoid the notion that any old "junk" can go inside. "It has a deliberate purpose," Maker says. Discard ink-less pens, dead batteries, empty tape dispensers, broken phone chargers, and other unusable items. Additionally, consider downsizing multiples of certain items, like paper clips and rubber bands.

Old or Broken Toys

If your child's toy box is overflowing, the new year is a great time to go through it and pick out any damaged or outgrown play-things. Once your kids have settled into the new goodies they received during the winter holidays, consider donating or giving away the old ones to friends and family. Toys and stuffed animals that have been lovingly destroyed over the past year can be discarded.

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