Decluttering. Getting organized. Downsizing. These are some of the top things that come to mind when people begin working on their New Year’s Resolutions each January. The start of a new year makes many of us feel like it is time to clear out the old items and habits that carried us through the prior years, and 2021 is no different. In fact, for many of us getting rid of some of the clutter from the previous year is even more important this year than it ever has been before, due to the mixed feelings many of us have about 2020.
Where do you start? Many people follow the process of starting with one drawer, then moving on through a room, hitting all the drawers, cabinets and closets they encounter along the way. But believe it or not, there are still things people miss as they go through their decluttering routine. Don’t let these things wait until another year before you give them the heave ho! Here are some of the top things we recommend getting rid of as we march full force into 2021.
Trash Those Half Burned Candles
If you’re a candle fan, you likely have a cabinet shelf or drawer full of candles you’re not quite a fan of. Maybe the smell wasn’t quite as floral and fantastic as described, or perhaps the candle burned in a lopsided fashion and is now misshapen and unattractive. Whatever the reason, a lot of us begin burning a candle but tire of it at a point, while also feeling like it would be a waste to throw it away. Now is the time to clear out the collection. If a candle has been in storage for more than six months and you aren’t prepared to burn it today, it’s time to toss it in the trash.
While we are on the subject of scents, the same philosophy should lead you to get rid of any perfume bottles that you are no longer using. If you never quite fell in love with the scent, there’s no need to continue holding on to the bottle. Chances are good you won’t change your mind and suddenly adore the smell of gardenias when you you’ve never liked them before, so if a perfume has not been used in 6 months, go ahead and let it go.
Now is the Time to Donate Old Clothing
If you are diligent about storing clothes that are out of season in an out of the way space, it may be easy to forget just how many items you’ve grown tired of. Since you are likely now dragging out all of your cold weather attire, go ahead and get rid of any pieces that no longer work for you. Anything that is too big or too small should be tossed first, along with anything that is grossly out of style. But if you are still left with a great deal of clothing that you rarely wear, take some time to seriously evaluate whether or not the items are your style and something you would enjoy wearing. Ignore how much you may have spent on the forsaken items – that amount is a lost cause, and wearing something that you find unattractive or uncomfortable is not going to win back the cost of the item.
When we tell you to get rid of your old clothes, we are also talking about that stack of t-shirts you have from old 5Ks, forgotten rock bands and more. As it turns out, a lot of us don’t actually wear t-shirts that often, but they do seem to be a common component of swag bags and free gifts. If you won’t wear them, get rid of them. This is true even if you have some sentimental feelings of attachment to the shirt. Snap a picture of the shirt or even of yourself wearing it, then send it on to the donation pile.
Only Hold on to Books That you Love
If you are an avid reader then chances are you both love the look and feel of a real book, and also have read books you didn’t exactly love. Are you holding on to those books anyway? While an expansive library can be impressive, shelves full of paperbacks that didn’t leave you delighted don’t add value to your collection. Keep the books that were meaningful to you and that you can see yourself going back to again and again. If a cover is particularly attractive, part of a set, or is a leather bound classic, hold on to it. If however the book is one you didn’t care for and doesn’t fit any of those criteria, go ahead and hand it off to the donation center.
Freshen Up Your Linen Closet
Did you know that experts recommend you wash your bath towel at least every two days? Otherwise you are encouraging bacteria growth. Unfortunately, frequent washing of this nature will cause your towels to wear out much more quickly. Now is a great time to check the towels in each of your linen closets to make sure they are still in good shape. Replace any that are thinning or ragged around the edges, but don’t throw them away. You can use these aging towels in your garage or shed, or if you have pets keep them on hand for accidents and baths. If you don’t see yourself using them for any of these purposes, you can always donate them to your local animal shelter or humane society.
While you are evaluating the age and condition of your towels, give your sheets and other bedding a look as well. Thin and threadbare sheets are also candidates for the trash pile. If you are someone who likes to change the look of their bedroom out regularly, you likely have multiple comforter sets stored away. Blankets are another item that seem to multiply around the house. Do a full purge of the linen closet and get rid of some of those sets that are no longer being used in your home, keeping in mind that it is usually a good idea to keep a spare set in each size around in case of emergency spills and tears.
Clear those Older Condiments from Your Fridge
There are two types of people in the world – those who will throw away a container of salad dressing that is still 1/4 full just to make room for something new, and those who will flip the bottle upside down and struggle to get out every last drop. No matter what side of this you normally fall on, now is a great time to clear out all of the older, expired and almost completely empty containers from your fridge. Make a shopping list as you work so that you can plan to replace any items that are actually needed. Your recipes will benefit from the infusion of freshness that comes with purchasing a fresh stock of these aging ingredients.
Purge Your Pantry
The refrigerator isn’t the only place where old food tends to hide. While the shelf stable items in your pantry may not go bad as quickly as their refrigerated cousins, it is still possible for dry goods to overstay their welcome. Any packaging that includes a “best by” or “sell by” date should be inspected to see if the contents are still inside the safe date. Most non-refrigerated items will last for a short period of time after this freshness date, but do not keep things that have aged out by several months.
Toss Out Imperfect Pots & Pans
Were the ads for those scratch proof pots and pans a little bit misleading? It seems that after a while, no matter how expensive or well rated a set of cookware is, you will eventually see scratches in the nonstick coating. That doesn’t just cause food to stick to the pan – it can also be dangerous to your health. Nonstick coating can contain perfluorooctanoic acid (known as PFOA), which is a known carcinogen. Most manufacturers are phasing out their use of this type of coating, but if your cookware is older, it may still contain this harmful substance. Also, if your food is sticking to a pan, you likely aren’t using it very often anyway, so there’s no harm in letting it go. If you have any pans with less nonstick coating than you prefer for cooking, go ahead and toss them out.
Another place in the kitchen that needs your attention is the plastic and glass storage container shelf or drawer. If you are missing the lid to a container, or if the lid no longer forms an effective seal, it’s time to toss the set. Unless your large Pyrex bowls double as mixing bowls, toss the lid and the container so that you aren’t frustrated by the inability to track down that lid at a later date.
Kitchen Utensils and Tools that Don’t Quite Work
Many of us hold on to tools that are only partially effective for the task we need them to perform. A flimsy wine corkscrew is unneeded if you have a better one, and a weak power drill shouldn’t be kept if you have already purchased a much stronger one. We tend to hold on to things like this “just in case” our primary version breaks. However, it’s a new year so let’s say goodbye to the just in case mentality. If something is new and works great, toss the older item it is replacing. This will save you from having duplicates of items, and keep you from reaching for the not so good one to perform a task.