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26 Things in Your House That a Professional Organizer Would Throw Out

Get your trash bag ready! An expert organizer shares her list of the top 26 things she'd throw out without a second thought.

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13 things personal organizers wont tell you junk drawerJohnrob/iStock

Time to toss

Organizing your home is about more than just rearranging the things you have—it’s also about getting rid of the things you don’t need. Professional organizer Jamie Novak provides a guide to the things you probably have around that you’re better off tossing, from superfluous pens to single socks. You can also get started with these 65 old things it’s time to toss.

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Different corksrew and cork wine openeroizostudio/Shutterstock

Flimsy kitchen utensils

The wine opener that never works well enough is just one of the tosses you can make from your utensil drawer. Professional organizers would also ditch the slotted spoons and pancake turners that bend under the weight of food. And add the garlic press that is too delicate to mince a clove of garlic to the toss pile. Now you’ll have room for one of these 25 kitchen gadgets you’ll wish you had years ago.

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Pens and pencils in metal holder in front of wall backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Writing implements

If it doesn’t write, then why keep it? Professional organizers always throw out pens that don’t work. They also pitch empty mechanical pencils, eraser-less #2 pencils, and dried out markers and highlighters without caps. These are things a professional organizer would never keep in their home.

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Old books in the LibraryAlexeiLogvinovich/Shutterstock

Reference material

Organizing books is a serious art. You’ll rarely find a space-hogging phone book in a professional organizer’s home. They also let go of encyclopedia sets and textbooks; consider donating those through Better World Books. And unless you need the thesaurus and dictionary for playing Scrabble, pass those on, too. Then check out how to stylishly organize your bookshelves.

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Trip memorabilia

Outdated maps will only get you lost, so professional organizers advise recycling them. Out-of-date travel guides and old brochures are filled with obsolete information, so don’t bother keeping those either, for a potential future trip.

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Hand holding capsules pills white on wooden background. Medical supplies. Natural supplements and vitaminsgustavomellossa/Shutterstock

Expired things

While frozen, fresh, and canned foods come to mind, these are not the only things in your home that expire. Once they reach their best by date, it’s recommended to throw out medications, vitamins, and supplements. You can search for a local drug take-back day at Check out these non-food things you didn’t realize had an expiration date.

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Storage solutions

Professional organizers love storage solutions but not every container works well. If the bin, basket, or box didn’t solve your problem, then throw it out; otherwise, it just adds to your clutter. Consider passing along storage containers to a teacher who might need them.

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Artistic squirrel brushes, tubes of oil paints and watercolors on a wooden background.The palette of twenty-four colors .Used tools for artists and schoolchildren. Tools for art. Set of artistic toolsiiiphevgeniy/Shutterstock

Hobby supplies

Once you’re finished with a hobby, professional organizers advise donating the equipment to someone who will use it. Whether you have woodworking tools, scuba fins, camping gear, or a set of watercolors, if you are no longer using it then toss it out of your house.

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video cassettes and DVD discvandame/Shutterstock

Outdated technology

The VCR and boom box have been replaced with more up-to-date technology, so donate the old stuff. Recycle floppy disks and ancient laptops, obsolete phones, VHS tapes, and more through Goodwill’s Ecycle program. Or check out Earth911 for a convenient hazardous waste drop-off location.

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The “to-be-fixed” pile

All those broken items you have waiting to be fixed; professional organizers either fix it or ditch it and so should you. If you’ve already replaced it, you don’t miss it, or it is too costly to make the repair, there is no sense keeping said item around.

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Colorful buttons and threads on wooden background, top view. Tailoring equipmentNew Africa/Shutterstock

Parts for discarded items

Toss the accessories and instruction booklets that go with things you no longer own, like the tiny bag with a spare button for the blouse you donated and the owner’s manual for the television you had ten years ago. Here are some things Feng shui experts want you to throw out right now.

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Empty canning jars sit on a wooden table.Southern Light Studios/Shutterstock

Secret stash

Even professional organizers keep odd things like those plastic clips from bags of bread or rinsed out glass jars. The key is to know when you are saving too many, and they are becoming clutter. For example, if you’ve kept every rubber band from every fresh produce purchase, then it is time to throw some away.

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White mug on the desktopinspired_by_the_light/Shutterstock

Swag and freebies

Try to resist bringing home one of every free item offered at street fairs, lectures, and conferences. Professional organizers throw away extra wall calendars, promotional coffee mugs, water bottles plastered with logos, jar openers, pill organizers, and excessive quantities of free chip clips.

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Unmatched things

If they’re meant to be mated up and you’ve hopelessly lost or ruined one, then why keep the other? Consider donating single shoes or winter gloves missing their mate to amputees through OddShoe. And dump that sad, single sock missing its partner.

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old broomStephen Outram/EyeEm/Getty Images

Broken cleaning tools

Professional organizers dislike cleaning tools that don’t get the job done. If the item is meant to help make your cleaning chore easier, but it makes it more difficult, then throw it out. This includes the cracked dustpan, the broken laundry basket, the broom with the handle that keeps falling off, and the leaky bucket. Here are 10 more things to get rid of in your bathroom right now.

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Clothing donation box on wooden backgroundsirastock/Shutterstock

Bags for donation

That bag of donations that’s been riding in the trunk of your car for a month, it’s time for it to go. Professional organizers have a standing pick-up scheduled, or they routinely drop things off at a donation location to prevent them from piling up at home.

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Multiple Sports Trophiesfs24/Shutterstock

Awards and trophies

Just because it has your name engraved on it does not mean you have to keep it forever. Professional organizers preserve the memory by taking a photo of the accolade, then they donate the trophies, plaques, or awards of excellence through places like AwardsMall or Medals4Mettle.

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antique cedar chest with vintage linens, photographs and knicknacksPattie Steib/Shutterstock

Dust collectors

Dust collectors are without a doubt on any professional organizer’s throw it out list. These include photo frames without photographs inside, collections you don’t care about, and knickknacks that lack a very special meaning.

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Improve-me items

The treadmill you used for a week that’s now a makeshift clothes rack or the green smoothie maker you tried once and haven’t touched since—give away those items you purchased with the hopes of making a change, but the change didn’t stick.

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Minneapolis, MN/USA. January 5th, 2019. Cookbooks on display on a shelf in Minneapolis including “Cooking at Trader Joe’s” and “ Gourmet Meals in Minutes.”Jeff Bukowski/Shutterstock


If you search online for culinary inspiration then you can let go of almost all, if not all, of your cookbooks. Recipes are everywhere and most times we end up falling back on our go-to recipes. Most friends of the library groups accept cookbooks for their book sales.

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Christmas presents laid on a wooden table backgroundHalfpoint/Shutterstock

Gift wrap collection

Torn or bent to/from tags are promptly recycled by professional organizers and the crushed bows must go! Other items that make the throw it away list are scraps of gift wrap, tangled rolls of ribbon, and faded gift bags.

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Blender with touch-screen in the kitchen. Electric Kitchen and Household Domestic Appliancevoffka23/Shutterstock

Fad clutter

You could not resist that 2 a.m. infomercial and now you’re the owner of the latest craze in kitchen appliances, workshop tools, or some other must-have item that you never use. Professional organizers remind you that keeping the item won’t bring back the money you spent; so it’s best to pass it along to one of these organizations that accept almost anything.

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clothing hanger on the brown wooden tableRuslan Grumble/Shutterstock

Clothes hangers

You’ll rarely find empty hangers taking up space in a professional organizer’s closet. Clear the clutter by returning the wire ones to the dry cleaners. Then let go of the other unused hangers like the ones with weak clips and the small hangers that don’t slide on the closet bar. Once you’ve completed this task, start fixing these other big closet-organizing mistakes you’re making.

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Home decor - various neutral colored vases on rough distressed wooden shelf against grey wall.Svetlana Lukienko/Shutterstock


Professional organizers will ask you how many bouquets of fresh flowers do you have out at one time? The answer helps you realize that you don’t need more than two or three vases. Bring the extras to a local florist or fill them with flowers from your garden and gift them to someone. Here are 43 things to get rid of in the next 43 days.

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Empty paper sheet on refrigerator door. paper note with magnetPatty Chan/Shutterstock

Refrigerator magnets

You won’t find magnets stuck to the refrigerator in a professional organizer’s home. Throw away the ones with weak magnets that keep falling off onto the floor. Then discard the outdated business card ones, the save-the-date ones, and the ones with last year’s calendar.

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Pile of paperwork against a textured green cubicle wallIoana Davies (Drutu)/Shutterstock

Random papers

Expired coupons typically can’t be redeemed in the United States but are collected by Troopons to be used overseas by the military. Recycle take-out menus and business cards for people you don’t remember. Let go of the receipts you don’t need, old shopping lists, and now-obscure notes you made to yourself. This is one of 26 secrets professional organizers won’t tell you for free.

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 Newspapers and magazines on old wood background. Toned image. Victoria 1/Shutterstock

Junk mail

They call it junk for a reason. Professional organizers immediately recycle unwanted catalogs, fliers, and advertisements. While you’re at it, toss the huge stash of greeting cards and return address labels sent to you from charitable organizations. Check this out if you want to stop the junk mail from coming in the first place. Next, check out these 30 things you should throw out ASAP.

Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a cleaning and organizing expert with more than 20 years of experience. When she's not on deadline, you can find her searching for the mango slicer that mysteriously disappeared from her kitchen utensil drawer. The author of "Keep This, Toss That: The Practical Guide to Tidying Up," she covers cleaning and organizing for