10 Things You Should Purge Today

CC BY 2.0. Gabriela Pinto

Go through your house and toss these items. You don't need them.

Sometimes we all need a fresh perspective on our homes – specifically, what needs to go and what deserves to stay. Melissa Maker, book author and founder of a Toronto-based cleaning company called Clean My Space, is really good at this. She has made a number of popular videos listing “things you should toss now.” I’ve watched a number of these videos and always finish feeling inspired to purge. Here are some of her suggestions, gathered from three separate videos.

1. Nasty dishcloths

You know when you encounter an old cloth at the bottom of the drawer that’s supposed to be clean, but really it just smells like bad cheese? A cloth that, no matter how many times you launder it, continues to reek? Yeah, those need to go. They’re not even useful for cleaning since they already smell to begin with.

2. Boxes

Chances are, you’ve bought something that comes in a box and then kept the box, thinking it will come in handy if you ever need to return the item. Don’t fall for that thinking, especially if you’ve had the item for a few months by now. You’ll almost never need that box; U-Haul and other moving companies may take flattened boxes in good shape. Check with your local library to see if they can use them or post them on a sharing site for someone who is planning a move.

3. Pillows

It’s tempting to cling to old pillows with the excuse that they might come in handy for emergency overnight visitors, but as long as you already have a couple stashed away for that purpose, there’s no sense in storing extras. Plus, if your old pillow is used enough to throw out, you probably don’t want to give it to a guest. You can donate these to animal shelters or use them for packing or craft material.

4. Free samples

Everyone in the minimalism/decluttering/zero waste world will tell you to avoid free samples at all costs. But if you do fall victim to their clutches, Maker suggests using within 2-3 days or stashing the best ones in a travel kit. The rest can be given away or donated to a housing shelter.

5. Cleaning products

Preferences change when it comes to cleaning products, or else bottles get forgotten in hard-to-reach cupboards. Get rid of the extras, keep only what you like to use, and make sure it’s handy. Either make a concentrated effort to use up the rest or donate them to a neighbor.

6. Old nail polish and cosmetics

Do you find yourself shuffling through a dozen bottles of nail polish before you find the color you want, or riffling through various shades of the same color of eye shadow? Do yourself a favor and keep only the ones that bring you joy, à la Marie Kondo.

7. Plastic containers

Doesn’t everyone have a nightmare drawer of Tupperware, where you can always find a container and a lid... but they never seem to fit together? It’s time to move beyond the frantic searching and trying. Keep a minimal number of containers, or else switch to glass containers, which, for some inexplicable reason, don’t seem to get lost so easily. Reduce the number of sizes and shapes you have. I’m a big fan of glass jars because I can always find a lid. Old plastic containers can be retired and used for mixing things in the garage or craftroom, or for organizing odds and ends in a desk or junk drawer.

8. Old electronics (and their cords)

Obsolete technology has no use in the house. As Maker laments her husband’s tendency to keep all his old phones, she points out that their future children will likely not be interested at all in seeing what the iPhone 4s looked like. They’d rather go to a museum to see it. The same goes for cords. Keep only the charging cords that you’re currently using.

mug collection

Ewen Roberts/CC BY 2.0

9. Jewelry

Tastes change, things break, pieces get lost. Do a jewelry purge every few years. Sell any silver or gold, or offer less-valuable pieces to a young acquaintance who may appreciate the boost to their collection.

10. Mugs and cups

We’ve all got those coffee mugs and water glasses that we secretly hate and avoid using. They sit at the back of the cupboard, occupying valuable real estate. Move them out and keep only the ones you love in your cupboard; retire the old ones for camping, to store things in the garage, for use in the garden, or donate them to a secondhand shop.