Published on December 31, 2019

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Despite diligent spring cleaning and seemingly constant decluttering, it’s only a matter of time before hangers are fighting for real estate in our tightly packed closets, beauty products are invading our medicine cabinets, and kitchenware is taking over entire cabinets. That’s without mentioning the junk mail, takeout menus, stray pens, and paper clips that creep into junk drawers until they can no longer close.

Beyond pure impracticality, mess can actually have a negative effect on our brain. “When [clutter] becomes excessive, it can threaten to physically and psychologically entrap a person in dysfunctional home environments that contribute to personal distress and feelings of displacement and alienation,” explains Catherine Roster in an article in Psychology Today.

It’s been almost two years since the Marie Kondo craze began—which begs the questions: How neatly folded is your underwear these days? Do your three cheese graters each spark joy? Whatever happened to your “one in, one out” policy? If you, too, have let clutter run wild this year, here are 45 items you can toss, repurpose, or donate. Not only will hosting holiday parties be much easier when you aren’t stuffing stray newspapers and remotes in already overflowing closets at the eleventh hour, but you’ll also start the new year with a clean slate.

In the Bathroom

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

The amount of products that can pile up in a medicine cabinet over the course of a single year can be scary. There aren’t enough shelves in the world to hold all the creams, butters, sprays, and oils that keep our skin clear, our hair shiny, and our wrinkles at bay. Take a moment to go through all of these and donate any product that’s unopened or gently used to a charity like Beauty Share Project. While you’re at it, take a full assessment of your bathroom accessories and linens, and toss or upgrade anything that has seen better days.

Toss:

Expired toiletries, cosmetics, prescription medications
Old nail polishes, lipsticks, and blushes in colors you’ll never use
Old exfoliating gloves and loofahs
Ratty, stained, or ripped towels
Moldy shower-curtain liners
Worn-out, unraveling bath mats

Replace:

In the Bedroom

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

There is bedding and miscellaneous nightstand clutter, and then there is everything wardrobe related. First, catalog your bedding and say goodbye to anything that’s ripped, stained, discolored, or simply worn. Then determine the culprit areas in your room that attract clutter—under the bed, the bedside table, the dresser—and toss or donate anything from old books you won’t read again to a broken bracelet.

Finally, tackle your closet. Make three piles: toss, donate, or keep. Then reorganize everything you’ve decided to keep. You’ll be amazed at how much space you can gain when you do this every six months.

Toss:

Old or stained bedding
Nightstand clutter
Old or stained duvets and pillow inserts
Under-bed clutter you forgot about
Clothing that no longer fits (or you just don’t like)
Worn pajamas and lingerie
Mismatched socks
Dry-cleaning hangers
Broken jewelry

Replace:

In the Dining Room

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Unless you’re a seasoned entertainer, the dining room is probably the room in the house that stays the tidiest. That said, it’s never a bad idea to do a quick walk-through. Is the space a breeding ground for kids’ homework? Put anything that’s out of place either back in its proper home or in the recycling bin, and take an inventory of your serveware while you’re at it.

Next, open up your buffet or hutch. Is it filled with stray birthday candles, mismatched napkins, and yellowing place cards? Are you holding onto tablecloths that don’t fit your table? By tossing, donating, and relocating, you might use the room more often.

Toss:

Mail, old homework, and other papers taking over the table
Stained or mismatched linen napkins and ill-fitting tablecloths
Mismatched place cards, candles, paper napkins
Mismatched serveware (or duplicates)
Buffet drawer junk

Replace:

In the Entryway

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

As the gateway to your home, the foyer gets messy fast. Start small by going through the contents of your console table, then check the bins that house the jumble of footwear, sports equipment, and winter accessories underneath. Don’t forget to tackle the coats, shoes, hats, scarves, and bags in the entryway closet, too. Once you’ve decluttered, create an organization system. Corral items in baskets by type: bags, beach essentials, sports gear, etc.

Toss:

Old mail, receipts, warranties, newspapers, user manuals
Worn-out outerwear, footwear, bags
Seldom-used sporting goods
Unused keys and electronics
Mismatched gloves
Junk drawer clutter

Replace:

In the Kitchen

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

The trick to a successful kitchenware purge is to be really honest with yourself about what’s useful and what’s simply taking up space. Do the same thing with your pantry—throw out anything you know you’ll never eat or is past its due date. Remember: You’ll enjoy the benefits of extra storage space much more than you will those napkin holders you haven’t taken out of the box once.

Toss:

Broken or mismatched cookware, dinnerware, drinkware, flatware
Bulky appliances that no longer serve a purpose
Unused kitchen gadgets and utensils
Scratched or burnt pots and pans
Takeout menus
Old, falling-apart kitchen towels and sponges
Unnecessary duplicates
Expired foods
Novelty mugs and cups
Old cookbooks you no longer use

Replace:

In the Living Room

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

December is the perfect time to take a fresh look at everything in your living room before ringing in a new year. Sift through every surface, from the coffee table to the magazine rack to the bookcase—this is a good time to donate board games nobody plays, decorative accessories you no longer love, and books you’ll never read again.

Toss:

Tchotchkes that have no sentimental meaning
Piled-up magazines
Art you never got around to hanging
Useless remotes and electronics
Worn-out pillows and throws
Coffee-table clutter
Dead plants
Burnt-out candles
Unused board games

Replace:

See more ways to get organized: 
Not to Be Dramatic, But This $30 Target Organizer Saved My Life
We Asked Beyoncé’s Closet Stylist How to Make Our Clothes Double as Decor
Yes, Garage Shelving Can Be Chic

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