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30 Items People Always Keep But Shouldn't

A clutter-free life is just seconds away.

If your jam-packed kitchen drawers and cluttered closets haven't already tipped you off, most adults have more items than they need in their home. According to one estimate, the average American household is home to 300,000 items, an undeniably large portion of which we'll never use again.

However, doing the dirty work of fully decluttering is easier said than done. The good news? If you're tired of sitting idly by as your house gets messier and messier, ditching these items that people always keep but shouldn't will put you on the path toward a clutter-free home in no time. And when you want to get a head start on your spring cleaning, start by ditching the 50 Things No Man Over 40 Should Own.

Clothes That Don't Fit

Woman looking at clothes in closet

It's nice to imagine that you'll one day fit into that little black dress or slim-cut suit again, but letting aspirational clothes clutter your closet will do little more than bum you out in the long run. As a rule of thumb, if you haven't worn something in six months, it's time to either donate it or toss it. And when you want a wardrobe re-do, start with the 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.

Expired Makeup

best skin

That foundation you keep telling yourself you'll wear again when you get your summer glow back isn't worth keeping around. According to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 97.9 percent of women polled admitted to using expired makeup, potentially putting themselves at risk for breakouts and more serious health issues, like staph infections, by doing so. Most cosmetics have an expiration date on their packaging, so go ahead and ditch anything that's past its prime. And when you want to reduce your risk of breakouts and other health issues, This Is the Safest Way to Clean Your Makeup Brushes.

Key Cards


While they clearly have limited functionality once vacation is over, many people find their wallets, nightstands, and purses still packing leftover key cards. While some industry insiders dispute the claim that key cards pose any kind of security risk, there's still no reason to keep your hotel cards after your stay's over. Do your best to return them to the hotel's front desk, or, if they make it home with you, cut them up and toss them. And when you want to make your next vacation extra special, book a room at one of the 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Luxury Hotels in the World.


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If you've got a backlog of tens, even hundreds of magazines, be honest with yourself: what are the actual odds you'll ever have the time or incentive to sit down and pore over all of them? If you're really intent on keeping some of them, cut out the images or articles you want to remember, store them in a folder, and recycle the rest.

Old IDs

Passport and plane tickets

That old driver's license or office security badge probably isn't going to come in handy anytime soon. If you're keeping old IDs around, there's no time like the present to get rid of them. Just make sure you cut them up first, in case they contain any sensitive information. And for more ways to keep your paper trail safe, learn The One Thing You Should Never Do with Your Boarding Pass.

Broken Furniture

couch in nautical living room home decorations

Let's be real: that old couch gathering dust in your basement that you swore you'd fix the springs on is never going to make it upstairs. If you've been holding on to damaged furniture for more than six months, toss it or donate it and give yourself something even better: the space it was taking up. And for more ways to spruce up your home, be sure to purge the 30 Decorations No One Over 30 Should Own.

Wire Hangers

no woman over 40 should have wire hangers in her apartment

In the immortal words of Joan Crawford, "No wire hangers ever!" But seriously, if you want to preserve the shape of your clothing and extend its longevity, it's time to get rid of those free hangers from stores and dry cleaners in favor of some non-slip or padded ones. And when you're ready to give your home a more thorough clean out, start by getting rid of the 40 Items No Man Over 40 Should Have in His Home.

Single Socks

Mismatched Socks, single socks, 40s

While there's still no scientific consensus on where all of our missing socks go, one thing is for certain: they're never coming back. Instead of watching that pile of single socks continue to grow as you wait for their mates to return, get rid of them—you won't regret it. And when you want to whip your closet into shape, follow the 20 Definitive Style Rules for Men Over 40.

Outdated Shoes

no man should wear cowboy boots to work

Those cowboy boots you wore in college may have seemed cool then, but the odds of them coming back into style anytime soon are slim. Fashion is often cyclical, but it takes quite a while for certain styles to return, if they ever do. If those shoes don't go with any clothes you own, or if they're falling apart, it's time to let them go.

Grocery Bags

Plastic bags

It's unlikely that you've ever said, "Boy, I wish I had a lot more plastic bags cluttering up my kitchen." While up to a trillion plastic bags are used each year, less than a quarter end up recycled. Whenever possible, bring your own reusable bags to the store, and as often as you can, bring your old plastic bags to a specially-designated recycling bin.

Extra Paint

Empty home

While keeping small pots of the paint colors in your home can make touch-ups a breeze, storing entire cans of paint you'll never use again does little more than waste space. Switch small portions of paint that you'll use again into more space-efficient containers (jars with screw tops tend to work well), and check out your local rules for how to dispose of the cans.


commonly misspelled words

Those paper receipts cluttering up your wallets and drawers probably won't come in handy six months from now. For items you might return, keep the receipt during the return period and then ditch it, and for anything that might need to be reported on your taxes, make a digital copy instead.

Extra Towels

no woman over 40 should have mismatched towels in her apartment

It may seem like a good idea to have a set (or two, or three) of extra towels in your house, but in many cases, those ratty towels you've been holding onto since your early 20s do little more than take up space. Unless you're planning a home birth or are preparing for a flood, you can probably safely get rid of any itchy or unused towels. And if you're feeling charitable, many animal shelters will be willing to take them off your hands for you. And you might be able to take a furry friend off their hands, so check out the 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting A Pet.

Sauce Packets

Sauce packets things you should throw away

We've all been there: you wanted duck sauce on your egg rolls one time, and now you've got a drawer littered with packets of the stuff you'll never use. If you were actually going to use those sauces, odds are, you'd buy them yourself. Save yourself some space by ditching any extras in your drawers.

Bad Cookbooks

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While we're not suggesting you ditch your first edition of The Art of French Cooking, it wouldn't hurt to get rid of some of those less-than-stellar cookbooks you've been keeping around since college. You can probably find all that info in Microwave Cooking for One on the internet by now, anyway.

VHS Tapes

vhs player

VHS tapes are antiquated, bulky, easy to ruin, and frankly, a terrible medium in general. Digitize those old tapes and you'll be astounded by the amount of space you save.

Used Toothbrushes

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That ragged toothbrush you've been keeping around in your bathroom—or that one belonging to an ex or former houseguest—isn't ever going to come in handy. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrushes every three to four months as it is, so make sure you're getting rid of any ones older than that—or any that look worse for wear.

Fitness Equipment

basketball office

Don't throw out your dumbbells or treadmill if you're using them on a regular basis. However, those half-deflated exercise balls, ab rollers you're always close to breaking your jaw on, or those gimmicky products (recall the Shake Weight, anyone?) that haven't worked for you, don't deserve to clutter up your space any longer.

Old Bills

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While keeping records of your finances is undeniably helpful when tax time rolls around, that doesn't mean you should be hoarding mountains of old bills. Digitize what you can, sign up for paperless billing whenever possible, and shred the rest. And if you want to find out how digital content creators are making bank, learn how one man made $16.5 million on YouTube last year.

Stockings With Runs

dressing well in your 30s 25 Things You Should Always Do at a Fancy Restaurant
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

We know: you're definitely going to fix those stockings with a dab of clear nail polish and they'll be good as new again. Spoiler alert: they won't. If you have stockings with visible runs in them, they should be phased out of your workplace wardrobe and tossed.


keys to house

The bad news: until we all have smart locks, you'll probably still need a key to get in and out of your home. The good news: you can safely get rid of all those keys that don't go to anything. Those loose keys in your junk drawer from old apartment can likely be taken to your local recycling center, or be donated to charities like Key for Hope, which collects keys and uses the money to feed the hungry.

Extra Pillows

Silk Pillow on Bed Anti-Aging

Sure, an extra set of pillows can come in handy on those occasions you have house guests staying the night. However, those ratty, flattened pillows you've been storing no longer deserve space in your closet. In fact, one study found that, over just four weeks without washing, pillowcases had upwards of 11 million colony-forming bacterial units per square inch.


words that reveal age

Unless your car can drive you back to 1995, odds are that CD collection isn't going to get much use. Luckily, digitizing your music is easier than ever these days, and streaming services virtually eliminate the need for physical copies of music, anyway.

Old Formalwear

no man should wear an ill fitting suit to work

A suit that still fits like a glove, your wedding dress, or that cocktail dress that makes you feel like a million bucks are all well worth keeping. That outfit you wore to your prom in 1994? Not so much. Fortunately, organizations like Dress for Success and Becca's Closet will take them off your hands for you.


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The remote for your TV is probably a non-negotiable part of your home entertainment experience. Those remotes for CD players you no longer own, your old VCR, or any electronics you no longer use on a regular basis are well worth clearing out, however.

Business Cards

business card, cultural mistakes

The heyday of the Rolodex is long over, so it's time to ditch that pile of business cards on your desk. Put any pertinent information in your phone or scan business cards you feel compelled to keep copies of, and chuck the rest.

Expired Medication

Pill bottles

Don't keep expired medications lying around; those aren't best by dates on your pill bottles, after all. Just make sure that when you're getting rid of those meds, you don't flush them. Most pharmacies will safely dispose of them for you instead.

Appliance Manuals

Red toaster

That toaster you set ablaze making pizza bagels is long gone, so why do you still have its manual lying around? Ditch those unused manuals ASAP, and when buying appliances in the future, check to see if the manual is available online before letting another unused pamphlet take up space in your house for the next decade.


Box of stuffed animals

Sure, your kids' toys are precious reminders of that idyllic time before they became hormonal teenagers. However, that doesn't mean you need to let them occupy space in your house forever. Anything that's broken, hasn't been played with in more than a year, or doesn't hold sentimental value is worthy of a trip to your local charity bin.

Relationship Artifacts

Coat check tickets

There's no denying that breakups are brutal. However, that doesn't mean you need to keep all those mementos from back when you were still together. Super sentimental stuff, like jewelry or photo albums might be worth keeping, but those ticket stubs, love notes, and pieces of your ex's wardrobe that they never picked up should be garbage-bound. And when you want to keep the flame in your current relationship stoked, choose from the 50 Best Birthday Gifts for Your Spouse.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more