10 Things to Toss From Your Attic ASAP: How Many Are Hiding in Yours?

Most of us don’t give our attics a whole lot of thought unless we hear creepy sounds emanating from the dank place. Typically, we stash stuff and shut the door as the piles up there grow higher and higher.

Clearing the clutter, however, can clear the way for so many possibilities. Some people renovate their attics, transforming them into playrooms, loft bedrooms, offices, and more. And even if you have no grand plan for the extra space, it’s still good to take inventory up there to see what you really need to keep in this space—and more important, what you don’t.

Here are 10 things to clear out of your attic ASAP. Be ruthless. You’ll feel cleansed afterward, at least spiritually.

1. Heaps of holiday decorations

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If you use them each year, great—leave them be. However, if you haven’t put up that giant glowing reindeer in decades and there are boxes of ornaments that never make it onto your tree, it’s time to take inventory. Donate what you’re not using to clear up some space. And keep the temptation at bay to break ’em all out at once and go full Griswold.

2. VHS tapes, cassette tapes, and CDs

If you have every episode of “Charles in Charge” on VHS (or Betamax? Anyone?), countless cassette tapes of Whitesnake and Winger, and no working machine on which to play any of them (or desire to ever hear them again), then what the heck are you saving them for?

Family memories and anything special should be digitally converted to preserve them. Getting rid of the rest, however, can prove difficult—and not just because you’re emotionally attached to those old episodes of “Survivor.” It turns out that video and cassette tapes are some of the most difficult to recycle because the tape inside and the plastic outside must be handled differently.

To recycle these correctly, the experts at Green Citizen say you should remove the tape on the inside and toss it in the trash. The remaining plastic cartridge can be recycled.

3. Outdated electronics

From old TVs to defunct DVR players, MP3 players to video game systems, if they’re outdated or no longer working, there’s no reason to keep them. You really believe you’re going to use that Walkman again? You won’t. Don’t just ditch your electronics gear in a dumpster, though; find a way to donate, recycle, or resell them.

4. Piles of paperwork

Is it prudent to keep old receipts, tax records, and other financial documents for eternity? When it comes to truly important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, estate planning documents, and military discharge papers, the answer is yes. However, the rest of it can go after a period of time.

Experts say tax records should be kept for seven years while items like ATM, bank deposit, and credit card receipts can be tossed after you reconcile them with your monthly statement.

5. Old clothing

Your daughter’s first Easter dress (and every cute outfit since then), your son’s Cub Scouts uniform, prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and so many other sentimental items of clothing are difficult to let go of. But what exactly are you planning to do with them?

If the answer is just keep them, you might want to think about donating, selling, or doing something with them, like making a quilt from the material.

6. Furniture

Not only can furniture take up a lot of room, they are also attractive to pests and rodents that would just love to make themselves comfy in the stuffing of your sofas and chairs. See which pieces you might be able to refurbish and use, and think about donating or selling the rest. If you have collectors’ items or heirlooms, make sure you get advice on how much they might be worth. (Have you seen “Antiques Roadshow”?) Clearing your clutter could bring you a pretty penny!

7. Old school papers and art projects

Memories are great, and of course you want to save some special school projects, report cards, and such. But if you have boxes of every worksheet and every coloring page your kids ever laid their grubby hands on, it might be time to sift through it all and decide how much of it anyone will ever want to look at again.

When it doubt, consider taking pictures of some of the special items and store them digitally while clearing out the real deal.

8. Old baby gear

If you stashed your kids’ high chair, crib, car seats, and other baby gear up there just in case you’ll need them again—and you’re now well past the childbearing age—clear it all out. Besides, baby items often get updated for safety, so saving it for your future grandchildren isn’t practical. Seriously, it’s just taking up space.

9. Old photographs

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you throw them out, but finding a better place than your attic for them is a good idea. If your attic isn’t climate-controlled, there’s a good chance they can be damaged by humidity and extreme temperatures. You’ll find out too late, so keep this trauma from happening in the first place.

10. Cardboard boxes

Sure, you got attached to them during your move—the good ones made it all so much easier. Not to mention the fact that you probably had to beg, borrow, and steal pay a hefty sum to round them up. But if you have no plans to move again any time soon and are just keeping all those boxes for someday, then it’s time to move on and let those boxes go. Not only are they likely to get damaged by the aforementioned elements of an attic that’s not climate-controlled, but they also take up a lot of space. If you still aren’t convinced, at least break them down so they’re flat.

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