When Billy and I moved from Los Angeles to New York City, we hired a moving company to pack and ship our belongings. (That turned out to be a disaster, which is a blog post for a different day.) As we unboxed our possessions, I was shocked at the amount of junk and useless stuff we accumulated over the years. It felt like every half hour we were filling up a new trash bag of items we no longer wanted. Right then, I told myself I was going to make it a priority to deep clean and weed out unnecessary belongings regularly. Then, last summer we moved again and as we packed up our stuff, I was surprised all over again by the amount of random things we had. Below, I’ve outlined 85 items that you might think you need, but you probably don’t.
- Books you’ve read but didn’t like or books you’ll most likely never read.
- All the vases you’ve saved from floral deliveries (keep one or two and get rid of the rest) and also toss any that are chipped and cracked.
- Broken picture frames.
- Candles that you haven’t lit in a while or that no longer smell good.
- Outdated barware that doesn’t fit your aesthetic.
- Excess or damaged flower pots.
- Knick knacks that no longer fit your decor style.
- Miss matched glasses and an overabundance of mugs.
- Cooking utensils you no longer use.
- Dull kitchen knives.
- Duplicate kitchen supplies.
- Broken pots and pans.
- Tupperware with missing lids.
- Multiple water bottles.
- Reusable plastic cups from fast food stops and theme parks.
- Used birthday candles.
- Expired pantry items.
- All the non-perishable food you’ve been storing “just in case.” Keep some and donate the rest.
- Cookbooks you haven’t opened in years.
- Promotional magnets or magnets from places you’ve never been.
- Packets of condiments from takeout orders.
- Takeout menus.
- Coupons that come in the mail and sit in a pile collecting dust.
- Clothing you haven’t worn in more than a year.
- Items you planned on getting tailored and never did.
- Anything stained or ripped.
- Clothing that’s too big or too small.
- Clothing with the tags still attached.
- Swimsuits that are stretched out, faded, or no longer fit.
- Worn out running shoes.
- Ripped socks or socks that have no match.
- Shoes you haven’t worn in over a year.
- That surplus of extra hangers.
- Blankets with rips or stains.
- Mismatched or worn out bedding.
- Broken or tarnished jewelry that can’t be fixed.
- Expired or empty perfume bottles.
- Expired supplements, prescriptions or over-the-counter medicine (here’s how to dispose of them).
- Expired beauty supplies and samples.
- Old makeup (here’s when you should toss it out.)
- Dried out nail polish and colors you no longer wear.
- Stretched out hair elastics.
- Hotel toiletries.
- Duplicate supplies: hairspray, face wash, brushes, etc.
- Old self-tanners or SPF.
- Faded and bleach-stained bath and beach towels.
- Old electronics like remotes, cell phones, adaptors, cameras, laptops, etc. (Anything of value, sell or donate).
- Extra cords and wires that you’re not sure what they belong to but they’ve been sitting in a box for months.
- Dead batteries (here’s how to find out if they still work and here’s how you should get rid of them if they don’t).
- Random tools (purchase a tool set instead)
- Multiple light bulbs (invest in Smart Bulbs instead—I’ve had the same ones for over 6 years).
- Extra screws, hooks, brackets, and allen wrenches that came with your furniture.
- Keys: you don’t know where they go to or they haven’t been touched in years.
- Excess amount of umbrellas (one for each person in your household is enough).
- A random glove because you keep hoping you’ll find its mate.
- That stack of shopping bags you have for whatever reason.
- Multiple vinyl grocery bags (keep one or two and throw the rest away).
- Bent or scratched gift bags.
- Outdated decor that you never use.
- Holiday decor (that you don’t love) which takes up excess space (think, pillows, hand towels, and knickknacks).
- Expired cleaning products.
- Extra curtain rods and/or curtains.
- Magazines you’ve been saving to make a collage “someday”.
- Dried up and excess pens and markers.
- Planners from 2021 and beyond.
- Stacks of blank notebooks and journals you’ll never use.
- Duplicate items like staplers, scissors, paper hole punches.
- Surplus office supplies: sticky notes, pens and pencils, index cards, folders, etc.
- Old documents and receipts (scan or take photos and save them on your desktop).
Garage, cellar, or storage room
- Outdated sporting equipment and uniforms.
- Broken bikes, skateboards, and scooters that you’ve been planning to fix for years but they’re still in the same spot.
- Old furniture and rugs that are collecting dust.
- Old and unused appliances.
- Clothing you and/or your kids have outgrown.
- Kids toys that are broken, missing parts, or no longer enjoyed.
- Toys you hope will become valuable someday.
- Dance recital costumes.
- Childhood trophies and ribbons.
- Electronics from the 80s and 90s: radios, DVD players, CD players, and tape players.
- VHS tapes, CDs, and books from your childhood.
- Stack of coolers.
- Multiple suitcases.
- Excess tools or duplicate items.
- Extra cardboard boxes.
- Expired or unused chemicals like motor oil, paint cans, pesticides, fuel, gasoline, etc. (Here’s how to dispose of them safely).
Decluttering tips and tricks
Create four categories (keep, donate, sell, and toss) and stick by them.
If you haven’t decluttered your space in years, it may end up being a pretty extensive project. I like to break it down by room, then by wall, and then by area so I don’t get overwhelmed. I’ll start with one small section and lay everything on the floor. From there I’ll separate my items into piles based on the four categories mentioned above. Anything in the “keep” pile, I’ll put away before I move onto the next section. In a different area, I’ll put everything I’m planning on selling or donating so it doesn’t get mixed in with the items I’m going to toss. As for the things I’m getting rid of, I keep a trash bag in the corner of the room and throw out any junk. Once I’m finished and there’s nothing left on the floor, it’s onto the next.
Where to sell and donate
When it comes to selling your items, the possibilities are endless. To do it online, check out websites like Poshmark (sell your clothing, accessories, beauty and wellness products, home decor, and electronics), The RealReal (for luxury items), DeCluttr (electronics and tech), Ruby Lane (antiques and vintage), Etsy (art, antiques, and unique items). Then, there are sites where you can get rid of just about anything—Craigslist and Facebook MarketPlace (ideal for bulky items and local pickup), eBay (shipping and local pickup)
For donating or selling in person, places like Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Co., Goodwill, Out of The Closet Thrift Stores, Savers/Value Village, and ReStore all have locations throughout the U.S. (You can also offer things to friends who might find them useful.)
Specific to NYC, there’s Beacon’s Closet, Housing Works, City Opera Thrift Shop, Vintage Thrift Shop, L Train Vintage, Raggedy Threads (there’s an LA location too), and The Thrifty Hog.
When I lived in LA, these were a few of my favorites: The Closet Trading Co., Trove LA, NCJWLA Council Thrift Shops, Jet Rag, Wasteland, The Way We Wore, Recess LA, The Midnight Mission, and Hidden Treasures.
*This article contains some affiliate links.