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Why is it that the older we get, the more stuff we seem to accumulate? And not only that, but we tend to feel an unnecessary attachment toward everything. From your daughter’s science fair project to a concert autograph from your early twenties, it’s always hard to part ways with our possessions—despite the fact that we hardly think twice about most of them anymore. When you’ve racked up years worth of belongings that you need to get rid of, it’s hard to know how to declutter your home. That’s why we have your solution—it’s time to officially Marie Kondo your life. (Tiny houses are popular for a reason, you know!)
From bras that don’t fit to spices that expired years ago, here are 45 things it’s time to toss if you’re a woman over 40 (or you’re simply looking to take the next big step in DIY closet organization). Something doesn’t spark joy? Get rid of it! And, let’s be real here—do you actually need souvenir shot glasses from your girls trips decades ago, or those bridesmaid dresses collecting dust in the back of your closet that you swore you’d have an occasion for eventually? One word in big, bold letters: no! Those take up major space (and we have some fabulous small bedroom storage ideas for you here). Of course, there’s zero judgement for having any of this stuff on hand, but let this be a reevaluation of what you own versus what you actually need.
Multiple Remote Controls
If your coffee table is littered with remotes connected to the TV, DVD player, stereo, and who knows what else, it’s time to consolidate to an all-in-one device.
Nothing screams “college dorm room” more than this bed-couch hybrid. Pass this one on to your kids and make use of the leftover space with a new plant or art installment.
A Piggy Bank
It served its purpose as you collected pennies growing up, but a classy coin purse does the same job—minus the bulk.
We’re all for an aesthetically pleasing perfume bottle display. But let’s get real—you’ve probably locked down your signature scent ages ago, so there’s really no need to hold onto a handful of scented vials that are basically just for looks.
Plastic Wine Glasses
As your wine collection improves, so should your wine glass situation—because even the grocery store Chardonnay you snagged for your monthly book club meeting deserves to be sipped in nothing less than the best.
A Dust Ruffle
It’s basically just an excuse to hide clutter that you probably forgot existed. Ditch the skirt and relocate your monsters under the bed to a hallway closet or bathroom shelf.
While washing your towels after every three uses and giving them a vinegar treatment will typically keep ’em fresh, if they’re discolored, it’s time to pony up for new ones.
Shoes That Hurt
No matter how cute they are or how perfectly they pair with your LBD, if your heels hurt so much that you avoid wearing them—or worse, wear them and have to hobble all day—add your kicks to the donation pile.
Shoes That Smell
Like it or not, your shoes are already tracking bacteria all over your house. Don’t let the stench travel too. If the odor reaches your nose, buy some new sneakers.
Souvenir Shot Glasses
If you can toss back a tipple in one of these and think back fondly on the trip you took, then by all means, keep one or two around for a wild game night. But if your collection is filled with unsentimental gifts, give something else the chance to gather dust.
You have the photos, you have the memories, and you don’t need the clutter. Can’t seem to part with all that taffeta? Turn them into dress-up clothes for your little one.
Bras That Don’t Fit
If your girls are bulging out, your straps are digging into your shoulders, or your cups are gaping, it’s time to give up on your old standby. Same goes for any bras that are really starting to show their age.
We’re not referring to the style of your jeans, but rather those jeans you’ve held onto since you were 20, hoping they’d one day fit again. As Marie Kondo would say, don’t keep anything in your closet that doesn’t spark joy. Same goes for things that don’t button.
We don’t know why socks always run away after laundry sessions, but we do know that their fallen brethren aren’t worth holding onto. Unless you’re really into puppets
Yes, your kid is #1, but if your kid is also no longer actually a kid, take a #shelfie of all of the participation trophies she’s gathered over the years and frame that instead to make room for more memories.
Go ahead and treat yourself to a fresh bottle that won’t make your fingers smell like vinegar every time you eat a French fry. You deserve it.
…or basically any decor that looks like you bought it in your college bookstore. If it’s a poster you love, frame it. Any inexpensive frame will do!
CDs on Display
…that is, if you haven’t touched them since 2010, because Alexa plays all your music now. If that’s the case, let something more useful take up the space.
Ancient Gardening Gloves
Of course there’s nothing wrong with getting a little dirt on your fingers, but if your gloves are too beat up, you could be susceptible to injuries. Consider repurposing them and the rest of your old tools into pretty DIY projects.
You take pride in your backyard, and the simplest way to show that to your guests is by upping your chair game.
Basic String Lights with Broken Bulbs
With so many dreamy ways to decorate year-round with twinkly lights, why settle for standard strands when bulbs now come in so many different magical styles?
The rule of thumb is that ground spices are good for about two to three years, while whole spices can last up to four.
Cookware With Last Year’s Breakfast Baked On
Some things, like the cast iron skillet you inherited from your mom, can stand the test of time. But that once non-stick pan you bought at the dollar store should probably go if it still has residue or rust, even after you’ve given it the white vinegar treatment.
If you upgraded to a smartphone years ago and that flip phone is still sitting in your junk drawer, donate it to someone who can get more use out of it than you will. Contact your carrier to see if they work with any charities, or look into organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers.
Those annoying things are always causing dents in your favorite dresses and getting tangled up in your freshly organized closet. Switch to wood or fabric and upcycle the wire ones for a craft.
Makeup That’s Past Its Prime
Concealers and liquid foundation can last for six months. After that, you risk bacteria growing in the vial (lovely!) while mascara should be chucked after three months. The good news is that your favorite lipstick and gloss can keep for two years.
Odds are your favorite Chinese food place has an online menu. Trash the papers, but keep the coupons.
If you can no longer remember where you met the person whose card has been living in your wallet for two years, then say goodbye. However, if you happen to be holding onto a stash of contacts you want to network with, then use a rainy Sunday to digitize the good ones and recycle the duds.
Sure, paint that’s stored properly in a dark, dry spot can last for a decade, but that doesn’t mean you should hold onto that chartreuse can you thought was a good idea in 1999 but never used.
This one should go without saying, but why are they so hard to part with?
If it starts to permanently smell like leftovers, gets cracked or is discolored from too much time in the microwave, you should replace the plastic containers.
Unless of course you plan to use those abandoned buttons for a cute craft or have them prettily organized in a Mason jar, those stray buttons lingering in old coat pockets aren’t doing you any favors.
Old Holiday and Birthday Cards
There comes a time in every adult’s life when she should say sayonara to cousin Susie’s generic greeting card from 2013. Ditto for the one with the photo of her sweet kids and Santa—you can cherish that pic on Instagram, anyway. If you’re looking to make your own cards (even though they might be destined for Susie’s wastebasket too) here are some jolly tutorials.
Creepy Old Dolls
If they start to give you the willies, or look like they’re always judging you, don’t keep them around.
Craft Supplies From a Forgotten Hobby
Tried to take up knitting but never got the hang? Thought you’d become a master scrapbooker but got bored after the first page? There’s no shame, but there’s also no reason to keep that stuff from a bygone impulse sitting around.
If you have no interest in revisiting Rebecca (so eerie!) or other books you’ve read before, donate them to your local Goodwill or public library.
Tax Returns From Years and Years Ago
But be sure to shred them, just in case.
A Box of Cords
If you didn’t know what they did in the first place, odds are they won’t come in handy anytime soon. And on the off chance you do find yourself in need of that mystery plugin, there’s always Amazon.
Collections You’re Saving for Your Grandkids
While they someday may appreciate the souvenir snow globes you picked up on your travels, or your fine china, they might ultimately see these tokens as more of a burden than a blessing. When you’re determining whether or not to let go, ask yourself if the item will have value for them (even if only intrinsic) or if it’s truly only something you appreciate.
Laundry Day Shirt
It’s stained, has a few holes, and you probably have a pair of pants (and okay, undies) to match. Rather than keep these items around for when you’ve cycled through your good clothes, make room in your closet for something a little less…lived in.
Red Party Cups
Unless you’re hosting a tailgate or a beer pong competition (in which case, invite us over!) opt for shatter-proof cups that don’t look like they belong to a college student.
Chintzy Hair Ties
If they cause knots, or pull out your mane, upgrade to hair ties that don’t cause so much damage like yoga bands or scrunchies (yes, they’re making a comeback).
Your Child’s Old Art
No, we’re not totally heartless, and yes, you should most certainly keep the ones that bring a smile to your face—but you don’t have to hold onto every bunny your little one ever drew. Here are some nifty ways to display the art you love, and for the rest, snap a photo for posterity—they take up less space.
Why not slip on (see what we did there?) a pair that’s more fun or extra cozy?
If you’ve tried everything from a spritz of hairspray to this recipe to make your petals last longer, but they’ve finally met their maker, to the compost pile they go. Same goes for dead plants. No green thumb? Try a houseplant that’s harder to kill.
No, we’re not saying you have to have perfectly pressed sheets every time. But if your linen is, more often than not, wrinkled, it’s time to invest in an iron.
We understand that there is such a thing as organized chaos, but even if you know where everything is, to the outside world it just looks messy.
Fake plants may have been a great décor accent when you were younger, but they also scream that you’re not responsible enough to care for living plants.
Everyone has their favorite junk foods and there’s no need to cut them out completely, but sugary snacks shouldn’t make up most of your pantry like it did in your 20s.
Everyone needs a folding laundry rack for delicates and whatnot, but it shouldn’t linger after the clothes are dry. Find an efficient storage space so that you can put it away as soon as you’re done with it.
Small Trash Cans
Small trash cans are a recipe for disaster and will ultimately make you appear more messy than you are. Find a big enough bin to prevent overflow and avoid the extra headache.
There’s certainly a time and a place for paper plates—barbecues, birthdays, carnivals—but none of which involve everyday use in your home.
For some reason, it can be hard to part ways with a dish sponge. But at a certain point, holding onto that expired sponge does more harm than good.
Empower yourself not to rely on TaskRabbit or a handyman to fix your loose ends in your home. Bulk up your toolbox and take care of business yourself.
Something You Don’t Love
Your home is your space and everything inside should be something you absolutely love. So ditch that ugly bowl you got as a gift or the hand-me-down couch from your first apartment that you never really liked. It’s time!
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