Did you know you make more mistakes when you’re in a messy environment than when you’re in a clean one? How many things do you have surrounding you this minute that you haven’t used in months…or years? If the answer is “Too many to count,” that’s a shame, since research has found that donating unused items makes you happier, and increases happiness in recipients. So while those items are literally taking away from your happiness, they could be increasing somebody else’s. Of course, there are also items that are no longer usable, and just need to be thrown out. It’s okay to admit when that’s happened. The question is: are you any good at admitting it? If throwing items away – even useless items – causes you pain, you may have some hoarder tendencies.
With the seasons turning over and the air feeling so light and bright, this is a great time to make your indoor environment feel light and bright, too. It’s too common to hang onto things we rarely use in case we “someday” need them. Hey, you probably have a friend who can lend you a tent or ball gown if that “someday” ever comes, but in the meantime, if you haven’t camped or attended a gala in the past few years, maybe the associated items don’t need to take up storage in your home. For spring cleaning season, here are things to donate and throw out.
Throw out: clothes with holes
Why are you wearing clothes with holes in them? Are you the drummer in a grunge band? Are you camouflaging yourself in rags during the apocalypse? No? Then throw those items out. Clothing is one type of item that depreciates in value so drastically (unless it was worn or signed by a celebrity), it’s worth mere pennies a few years after you bought it. So you aren’t throwing real money away by throwing out clothes with holes in them. Meanwhile, when you wear these clothes, you feel like trash. You subconsciously send yourself the message that you are not worthy of fresh, new, crisp clothing. Oh, but you are!
Donate: clothes that don’t make you feel good
Perhaps you have clothes that are in very good shape. They’re only lightly worn. They even come from excellent designers. Objectively speaking, they’re quality pieces. But, for you, they represent something that isn’t happy. Maybe you bought them during a difficult relationship or got them as a gift from a family member to whom you no longer speak. Maybe they’re too big and are from a time in your life when you weren’t personally happy with your body. Maybe they’re just from a style phase that you went through that so isn’t you anymore – and never will be again. They could represent something positive and happy to somebody else. So donate them.
Throw out: stained/tattered towels
Used towels are, unfortunately, not really something most donation centers are looking for. And towels that have loose strands, frayed edges, holes, and/or stains have a similar effect on you as tattered clothes: they make you feel that you’re not worth the good stuff, which is a lie. So throw those out and replace them with fresh sets. Walking into a bathroom with fluffy, clean, new, matching towel sets – bath, face, and hand – makes you feel like you have your life together. As for caring for your towels, The Cleaning Institute recommends washing them after every three to five uses.
Donate: gifted decorative items
Sometimes friends and family buy you decorative items for your place without really asking what you need, or even what your style is. They’re nice pieces, but you just don’t personally believe a marble giraffe statue, a portrait of Cher, and a giant lava lamp go with the look you’re trying to create. Donate them to a local donation center and there will be somebody with a safari chic style who will love that giraffe statue. A Cher fan will go nuts for that portrait and hang it in their ’70s-themed home. And a lover of all things ’90s will be ecstatic to get that giant lava lamp.
Throw out: these old hygiene products
There are some personal care items that we use a lot, but we certainly don’t replace nearly enough. Think toothbrushes, loofahs, hairbrushes, combs, reusable razors, shower caps, makeup sponges, and shower slippers. These items go through a lot. They collect dead skin cells and hair and dust and bacteria. And they sit in the often damp environment of our bathrooms, developing mold right before we reuse them. Be honest: when did you last replace that polka dot reusable shower cap? The edges weren’t orange when you bought it. It was $5. Replace it. Throw anything worn out directly in the trash can.
Donate: hopeful kitchen items
You had high hopes that this would be the year that you became a gourmet chef. You were going to make custard and spiral-ey things and reduction sauces. And you purchased some pretty intricate kitchen appliances on the Home Shopping Network to sort of light a fire under you’re a** to make those creations. Then you realized that you mostly still prefer your spaghetti dinners and taco nights, and the appliances sat untouched, collecting dust on your countertops and making your kitchen look cluttered. Somebody, somewhere, will actually put those appliances to use, but perhaps can’t afford to buy them brand new. They’d be so delighted to find that barely-used spiralizer on a shelf at a thrift store.
Throw out: expired emergency foods
You did a good thing when you bought a closet full of canned goods and bottled water a decade ago, in case an earthquake or some other natural disaster or the apocalypse meant access to fresh food became impossible. The problem is, that was a very long time ago, and now, many of those foods may have expired. It’s worth checking and throwing out the stuff that’s gone bad. Replace it with new canned goods. If you have canned goods that will soon go bad, that you don’t believe you’ll use in time, donate them to a soup kitchen or church that has a food pantry program with the explanation that these must be used sooner rather than later.
Donate: hopeful hobby items
Your kayak. Your knitting kit. Your jewelry-making kit. The canvas, easel, and paint set. The scrapbooking set. You have all of these items connected to the hobbies you hoped you’d get into. You really wanted to be a hobby person. Instead, you’re a person with a busy career and social life who doesn’t have enough downtime to hobby but has plenty of nonsense stacked up in her garage or closet. Donate it! There are individuals who are truly into those hobbies and are always looking for affordable ways to keep them up since supplies can get expensive. Think of the kid who will be thrilled to use that jewelry kit to make bracelets for her friends.
Throw out: Deteriorating shoes and purses
When your shoes and purses are falling apart, you just don’t feel right. These are your body’s “end pieces.” The final touches to your wardrobe. Honestly, you can look sharp in old clothes so long as you’re wearing fresh shoes and carrying a nice bag. Accessories make or break a look, and if yours are literally breaking, you just can’t feel good when you go out. So if you have shoes or handbags with exterior materials peeling and falling off, throw them out. You don’t need pleather boots with half the pleather off, or a handbag that’s crumbling at the edges.
Donate: Lightly used jewelry
We accumulate a lot of jewelry throughout our lives. Since it takes up so little room, we feel we can pick up as many pieces as we want, and often receive them as gifts. But unused items collecting dust are probably not going to get worn too many more times. So if you never have and never will wear those feather earrings, shell necklaces, massive turquoise rings, stud earrings shaped like ladybugs…you get the idea…donate them. They could be somebody else’s style. They could be the little treasure somebody picks up at a thrift store that lights up their day. For now, they’re just cluttering your jewelry box. (On that note, donate old, unused jewelry boxes too).