A new home means a fresh start: new paint, a new bedroom, even a fresh take on arranging your old furniture.
But your new space won’t feel so wonderful if it’s weighed down with junk you didn’t bother ditching during the move. Now’s the time to purge your home—and we’re not talking about just sifting through stacks of magazines while you binge on Netflix.
“Your possessions should have three purposes: function, aesthetic purpose, or sentimental value,” says Christina Giaquinto, a professional organizer in Franklin Lakes, NJ. “Pick up each item in your home, and ask yourself, ‘Why do I have this item? What does this item do for me?'”
From doodads you picked up at the flea market to jewelry you never wear to a pile of untouched cat toys, there are a lot of things you should toss or donate before packing up the truck. But here are nine of the most common offenders.
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1. Old towels and linens
When’s the last time you bought new towels? If it’s the last time you moved, turn those suckers into rags and buy something new. After years of use and hundreds of washings, there’s no denying your fluffy bath towels have lost some of their plushness.
Ditch old bed sheets, too. Fitted sheets lose their elasticity over time, and exposure to sweat and oil can cause unpleasant stains.
2. Your juicer
We all have goals. Running three times a week. Cleaning every Sunday. And starting each morning with a glass of cold juice pressed from spinach, kale, ginger, and pineapple.
Don’t give up on achieving your dreams—but if you’ve tried to make a change and found it didn’t work with your lifestyle, don’t hang on to the dregs of disappointment. Maybe getting up a half-hour early every morning to juice isn’t for you. Assess your achievements at moving time, and donate everything that didn’t work out. At least you’ll have room for your next wild aspiration. Perhaps a set of dumbbells?
3. Unworn clothes
Organizing a closet before a move should be simple. A keep pile, a toss pile, and a donate pile—right? But we all have those jeans we keep around just in case we finally lose 15 pounds. Or a dress tucked deep in your closet in case you ever go clubbing again. (Never mind that the last time you were out of the house after 10 p.m. was the night your first child was born.)
Watch out for clothing you’re keeping “just in case,” which take up precious room in your closet. And even if you do lose the weight, or get an invitation to a bachelorette party in Vegas, you can always buy (or rent) something new—and we bet you’ll love it even more.
4. Duplicates and souvenirs
Clutter accrues in the strangest places—like your mug tree or your dining hutch. You might have started out with two novelty mugs, but now you own a coffee cup from every place you’ve visited. Ever.
“Try to keep only one from your favorite vacation,” Giaquinto says.
Look for duplicates throughout your kitchen. Do you really need three bread pans? Or more than one cake platter?
“You should only hold on to what can fit neatly in your space,” Giaquinto says.
5. Collections you’ve outgrown
One day, many moons ago, you told your mom you liked elephants. You were 12.
Your next birthday: an elephant necklace. Your graduation gift: a porcelain elephant statuette. Your housewarming gift from your aunt: an Etsy elephant print.
It’s too late to convince everyone you’re not a loxodonta-phile, but it’s not too late to trim down your collection. And when Mom stops by and looks confused, just say, “I had to. I couldn’t fit it into our new space.”
6. Cosmetics and toiletries
Like most things in life, skin and beauty products don’t last forever. So before you move, ditch the pile of half-used products you’ve amassed under your bathroom sink; that goes for skin creams, sunscreens, shaving cream, beard oils, deodorant, and even soap.
Ladies—make sure to toss the nail polish.That stuff has a shelf life of only two years, meaning you’ll likely never finish a bottle before the polish gets gunky and hard to apply.
Same goes for cosmetics: For example, you should replace your favorite mascara every three months. Otherwise, you risk exposing your eye to contaminants and air particles.
7. Space fillers
Sometimes, when moving into a new home, we buy stuff just to fill the emptiness. Ugly side tables, a TV stand three shades darker than the rest of your furniture, or that annoying inspirational wall art that’s long past being cool (if it ever was).
Your next home doesn’t need to be a blank slate, but do yourself a favor before moving in by ditching furniture and decor you’re “meh” on. And next time, buy slowly and ponder exactly what you want before plunking down cash.
8. Cords and cables
You don’t know how it happened, but suddenly you have 34 micro-USB cables and seven random charging cables that seemingly belong to nothing and everything at the same time.
Save yourself from future headaches, and get rid of duplicates now—as well as anything that doesn’t have a match. And take advantage of the move to sort the remaining cords and cables into an organized system.
Go through all your old paperwork, setting aside documents you should keep (tax records, closing documents, recent bank statements) and ditching everything that’s no longer necessary—like old insurance policies. Create a filing system you’ll stick to, since that paperwork’s gonna keep coming, and promise yourself you’ll go back through everything once a year.