Stop the Clutter

Things to get rid of right now. Ready to declutter your house? Start here with these items you're sure not to miss.

1. Cardboard food boxes.  Ditch the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that go with your cereal, snacks and dry goods. They're ugly, take up lots of space and don't keep your food fresh. Instead, opt for glass jars (like HGTV Magazine did here) or airtight food storage containers.

2. Dirty air filters.  It’s important to schedule a maintenance checkup for your HVAC system every spring and fall, but in the meantime, filters need to be checked once a month. When they’re dirty, change them; dirty filters shorten the lifespan of your system.

4. Clothes you don't wear.  Donate or sell any items of clothing you've had for more than a year without wearing.

3. Old shoes.  Get rid of any shoes that are broken beyond repair, worn out or missing a mate. Can't remember the last time you wore a still-good pair? Donate to a thrift store.

6. Old  toys.  Donate toys your child has outgrown, then get ideas for upcycling hand-me-downs they can't bear to part with.

5. Socks without a mate.  We all have that bag of socks without their, ahem, sole mate. If you've done a full round of laundry without finding their partner, it's time to let them go.

7. Expired or unidentifiable medications.  Dispose of old prescriptions and anything you can't identify — but because meds are considered hazardous waste, it's important that you follow the FDA's guidelines. Also, check with your local pharmacy or law enforcement agencies, many offer year-round or seasonal drug take-back days so you can safely drop off unwanted meds for proper disposal.

9. Old food.  Throw away any canned goods past their expiration date. If you discover still-good packaged food you didn't like or won't eat, donate to a local food pantry.

11. Old chargers and cables.  A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

13. Appliance manuals.  Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

excerpt borrowed from hgtv.com

8. Expired makeup.  How long have those cosmetics been lurking in your makeup bag? Mascara should be replaced every three months. Foundation and concealer are good for about a year, while lipstick, eye shadow and blush should be replaced every two years.

10. Old spices.  Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

12. Old paint.  Properly sealed (read: air-tight) paint can last for up to 10 years if kept at an even temperature and prevented from freezing. However if, like most of us, you store leftover paint in the garage or shed, the temperature swings will cause it to break down much quicker. If you have old paint cans with bulging lids, leaky seams or, once opened, a thick layer of dried paint on top, it's time to give that can the toss. But, before tossing, research safe disposal steps by contacting your local household hazardous waste center. If the paint is still usable, you may even be able to donate it to a local charity, like Habitat for Humanity or even a local scout troop or school that could use the paint for crafts.

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