Spring Cleaning: Things You Should Throw Away Now
If you’re trying to get motivated to work on some spring cleaning projects, this article that we were interviewed for on MSN has some good inspiration. Here’s the full article: “Spring Cleaning: Things You Should Throw Away Now”
Every year, when spring returns, many feel the urge to clean and organize their homes. While some things are clearly meant for the waste bin—ratty winter gloves, the dog’s almost-gone rope toy, the kids’ well-worn sneakers—you may overlook some of the less obvious things to toss. Monica Friel, chief executive organizer with Chaos to Order, Inc., in Chicago, shares her ideas for clearing out those forgotten needless items that ought to be in the trash.
Cleaning up after a paint project usually means trashing the used drop cloths and painter’s tape, cleaning and storing paint brushes and rollers, and storing any remaining paint. More often than not, though, that leftover paint just sits on the shelf and is never used again. Instead, Friel recommends recycling that old paint: “Earth911 is a great website to research how to recycle anything,” she says. “It’s great to use if you want to get rid of paint, which can be hard to do.”
When people replace their cell phones, cameras, laptops or other electronics, they normally tuck the old ones away on a shelf. But those obsolete items can really pile up. “Old laptops, iPods, printers and so on can cause significant clutter,” Friel says. “The sooner you can get rid of them, the better your chance of being able to make some money on it.” Sites like Gazelle, BuyMyTronics and NextWorth offer money for your old stuff, while retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy have trade-in programs.
Like dry goods and medicines, beauty products have a limited shelf life, and you should cull your makeup drawer of anything past its prime. Items you never or seldom use should be the first to go, followed by those you’ve had for a while. For instance, replace mascara every three months and foundation between six months to a year. Blush and face powder may last up to two years. Don’t forget to replace your beauty tools, too.
It’s easy to let magazines stack up. Maybe you haven’t read this one yet or that one has a great recipe, party idea or craft project you wanted to try some day. Whatever the reason, magazines can accumulate in seemingly no time at all. If you can’t remember whether you’ve read it or not, or if you can’t recall what recipe you wanted, it’s time for the magazines to go. Better yet, drop them off at your local recycling center.
Paper clutter grows every day—newspapers, junk mail, school work the kids bring home. Simply getting rid of paper clutter will go a long way in cleaning up and organizing your living space. Recycle what you can and throw away the rest.
Cleaning out a closet can be daunting, so start small—with clothes that are too small. Hanging onto clothing as motivation to lose weight isn’t serving you or your closet space well. Pick a shelter that could benefit from your donations before you get started, so that your motivation to give back outweighs the desire to hold onto anything unnecessarily. If an item is too worn to donate, see if there’s a textile recycling center near you.
The playroom is an area where you’ll probably always find something you think your kids could part with—though they might not agree, if they’re reminded of it. Similar to your clothes, pick a shelter or an organization like Second Chance Toys—which gives donated toys to children living in poverty. It will make it easier to honestly evaluate which toys aren’t being used when you know they’re headed to children who will be thrilled to have them.
Partially melted spatulas and chipped mugs aren’t just an eyesore, they might be a health hazard. Recycle or throw away items that are clearly broken, especially any worn-down plastics or cracked glass. It’s also wise to do an inventory of pots and pans while you’re at it. If any nonstick or enamel coating is flaking off or if you are starting to see the pot or pan’s copper core, it’s definitely time to replace.
When’s the last time you reread a book you own? And do you really watch every single one of your DVDs on a regular basis? This can be a good spot to spring clean first, since less cluttered shelves will bring about instant gratification and give you momentum to keep going. Plus, old books and DVDs can go to a good cause rather than collect dust on your shelves. Operation Paperback or DVDs 4 Vets give books and DVDs to American troops, veterans and military families. Children’s books can go to Reader to Reader, which will send them to kids in inner-city schools, Native American reservations and poor rural towns. Kids Flicks welcome DVDs, which are taken to children’s hospitals and pediatric wards around the country.
How many boxes or drawers do you have packed with tax-related papers and bills because you’re unsure when it’s OK to pitch them? Here are some answers that will hopefully clear up any confusion, along with some drawer space. The Federal Trade Commission recommends shredding paid bills, paid credit card statements and any receipts right away. Pay stubs, bank statements and paid medical bills can be shredded after a year and tax-related receipts, cancelled checks, W-2s and tax-deduction records can be shredded after seven years. However, hang onto tax returns indefinitely.