Five Things You Can Throw Out Right Now

The challenge with spring cleaning is often throwing stuff out. Get started with this no-brainer list of items that have no place in your life.

Picture by Steven Hatfill/Getty Images

Note that getting rid of things rarely involves simply dumping them in the nearest garbage bin. If you can recycle or give something away, do so. But if you’re looking to break through the walls of clutter, these are all obvious places to start.

5. Random bathroom and beauty products

Even in multi-bathroom households, space is generally at a premium. Expired medications, three-quarter empty tubes, dog-eared toothbrushes, that hair colour you purchased for that one fancy-dress party . . . send it on its way.

4. Unused mobile phones

Keeping one older phone as an emergency replacement in case you lose your current one is OK. But there’s no need to keep your entire history in mobile phones stored in a drawer. Dispose of it sensibly instead. Picture by incase [clear]

3. Expired food

Yes, food will last beyond the best-before date, but it won’t last forever. Back in the mid-1990s, I helped a friend clean out her freezer and found a frozen packet of cream cheese from 1979. Attack your kitchen cupboards and dispose of anything which is well past the date. That will give you more room for stuff you might actually eat.

2. Broken appliances, toys, furniture, kitchen equipment . . .

OK: if you’re the kind of person who constantly builds and repairs things, hanging onto this stuff could make sense. But far more people delude themselves that they will perform those kind of clever reuse tasks than actually perform them. If you can’t remember why you kept it, get rid of it.

1. Old tax records

As we’ve pointed out before, you don’t need to keep tax records any longer than five years after your assessment is issued. Those records can be in digital form, and if that’s the case, there’s not much point in getting rid of them. If you’re hoarding documents more than five years old, keep the assessment, and shred and recycle the rest. (Don’t just chuck them out; the data on tax returns is potentially very handy for identity theft.)

If you’re looking to attack a specific area, check out our room-by-room spring cleaning guides from last year:

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