It’s a new year. Now that the dust has settled, you want to maintain the great start you’ve accomplished. That means you gotta make like Elsa in Frozen and just “Let it go! Let it goooo…” That’s right, I’ve caught the purging bug, and I’m talking about getting rid of clutter. After the materialist pressure of the holidays, it always feels good to go through your home and do a quick purge. This January, take on this cleaning challenge and get rid of the unnecessary. Don’t think, just act. Here are a few things you can go ahead toss without guilt or a second thought:
1. Chipped vases and dishes
Guilty of hanging on to chipped cups? Yeah, me too. It seems weird to throw away something that is only partially broken, but the fact of the matter is that I’m less likely to use a dish that’s cracked, so why not just get rid of it? Lighten your kitchen cabinet’s load and toss chipped ceramics (P.S. check here if you want to learn about recycling ceramics).
2. Books you’re never going to read again
Call me old-fashioned (“you’re old-fashioned”), but I like owning books. I like reading things digitally, too, but paper books are a more intimate experience. That being said, I also support getting rid of books that aren’t currently sparking joy in your life. If there are books in your home that have served their purpose (i.e. you read them, you experienced them, and you probably won’t crack them open again), set them free. Take them to a book donation bin (like Better World Books or Big Hearted Books), or drop them off at your local thrift store. You also might be able to donate them to your local library if they have a Friends of the Libraries program.
3. Socks with holes in them
Unless you’re an darn good darner, the holes in your socks are only going to get larger. Throw them out now. This is a great time to do so, too, because you probably got new socks for Christmas, right? In with the new, out with the old and holey. Addendum to this cleaning challenge: The same can be said for any underwear in the same condition, or single socks without mates.
4. Dead and dying houseplants
Trust me, as a millennial who can’t afford to buy a house and compensates by filling my rental with houseplants, adding this one to the list hurt a little. I love my plant babies, even the ones that appear to be dying. But sometimes you just gotta let ’em go. Plus, if they are dying, chances are they aren’t doing anything to improve the smell of your house.
5. Expired medicine
Take a moment to go through your medicine cabinet and toss out anything that’s expired. Make note of any medication that you need to replace right away, like pain reliever or Neosporin (note: Read this article on how to safely dispose of expired medicine).
You don’t need all the magazines you have in your house. I know you don’t, you know you don’t. Unless a magazine constantly inspires you, toss it in the recycling.
7. That pile of documents that needs shredding
Somewhere near your front door, close to where you put your mail, there’s a second pile of papers, consisting of old tax paperwork, those credit card offers that have way too much personal information on them, and expired credit cards. That’s the pile that you keep forgetting to take care of, so here’s a reminder to do so! Schedule yourself a little shredding date, and completely discard the pile. If you don’t have a paper shredder in your home, you can take your sensitive documents to places like The UPS Store, Office Depot, and Staples.
8. Empty bottles and jars
When I was a sophomore in college, my roommate held on to every single bottle of alcohol we consumed, and used them to “decorate” our home. He lined the top of our kitchen cabinets with them, and to be honest, I kind of thought it was cool. In retrospect, it was definitely not cool. Trash-chic is never a good look (neither is using excessive alcohol consumption as a theme for decorating your kitchen). The compulsion to hang onto glass recyclables is a real thing, though, even now that Bacardi isn’t a part of my weekend diet. Take this cleaning challenge: recycle any glass jar or bottle that isn’t frequently being used.
9. Old corks
Again, it’s not always cute to decorate with the by-products of alcohol. Ditch the cork collection. Recycling notes: Natural corks are biodegradable, which means they’ll break down in a landfill. Synthetic corks are made of #7 plastic, so check with your local recycling service for acceptability.
10. Expired makeup
It’s a sad reality, but makeup expires. While you may be able to get away with using expired face powder, blush, and bronzer, you really should ditch your out-of-date eye liners and mascaras (I won’t get into the nasty details here, but bacteria in and around your eyes just isn’t worth it).
11. Free tote bags
I love that plastic bags are out, and reusable totes are in. LOVE IT. What I don’t love is how frequently I end up with a free one. Companies are giving their branded tote bags away like candy (hey, free advertising!), and I can attest to the reality of the unintentional bag hoarding phenomenon. I’m here to tell you that you can, A.) refuse these free tote bags, and B.) get rid of the ones that you don’t like using. Narrow your tote bag collection to just a few that you always carry to the store with you, and donate or recycle the rest.
12. Greeting cards
It might feel wrong to discard this year’s Christmas card from your first-cousin once removed, but you probably should. Unless it has sentimental value, get rid of it.
13. Refrigerator magnets
If it has a company logo on it, toss it immediately.
In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says to “Discard everything that does not spark joy.” As you work through this cleaning challenge, take these words to heart. Ask yourself “Does it spark joy?” as you move through your home and rid yourself of clutter. Keep only things you like, things you need, and things that make you happy.