75 Things No Woman Over 50 Should Own
At a certain point, an inventory purge is the responsible move.
There are innumerable small joys to look forward to when you turn 50. You no longer have to make excuses about bailing on after-hours obligations. You never get bothered about questions regarding when you’re going to “settle down.” Oh, and there’s no offense taken when someone doesn’t ask to see your ID at a bar.
However, with age comes responsibility. And as a bona fide adult, you have the responsibility to ditch some objects from your ever-growing inventory. That rude animatronic fish on the wall? So long! Clothes that haven’t fit in years? Donate them! The prescriptions so expired they actually qualify as antiques? Discard! And that’s just the beginning. We’ve rounded up every item that a woman over 50 should clear out of her home, from serious fashion don’ts to grievous décor offenses. And for more ways to make your next chapter the best one yet, discover these 50 Life Changes to Make After 50.
Pens that don’t write
Mark our words: That pen with the dried-up ink will be the only one you can find when you need to sign something important. Ditch it now and save future you some serious frustration.
It may be nice to assume that you’ll fit into your size 2 clothing from college once again at some point, but hanging onto aspirational clothing isn’t going to make you slim down—it’s just going to clutter up your closet and make you miserable. As a general rule, if you haven’t worn something in six months, it’s time to give it the heave-ho.
You may think you’ll eventually use those antibiotics or painkillers from a prior illness or injury, but hanging on to expired medications is not only a bad idea, it could be a dangerous one, too. Medications can lose their potency over time, and taking pills long after your doctor prescribed them may mean you’re setting yourself up for potentially serious interactions if you’re on other medications or if your health habits have changed.
Manuals to appliances you don’t own anymore
That blender you got rid of five years ago? That printer that stopped working when Reagan was still in office? If you don’t have the appliance in question anymore, the manual won’t do you much good, either. Toss ’em!
Old makeup isn’t just out of fashion, it’s a safety risk, too. While those blue eyeshadows and frosted lipsticks certainly date your look, they could also be harboring a host of bacteria that can make you seriously sick.
Your pillow isn’t as clean as you think. By the end of a single week, our pillowcases have more bacteria on them than your average toilet seat. And the pillows inside them—the ones you never wash—are even worse. If you want to stay healthy and make you bed less of a petri dish, it’s time to ditch any pillows that are visibly stained or yellowed.
Once you’ve hit 50, there are many things you deserve in life, and a comfortable bra is one of them. If you’ve got a bra that feels more like a torture device than a means of support, it’s time to send it packing.
Every piece of art your kids ever made
Sure, those amazing art projects or the particularly sentimental pieces you made with your kids can remain part of your permanent collection. However, those lumps of clay with pipe cleaners stuck into them, those collections of popsicle sticks held together with gum, and those macaroni jewelry boxes should be ditched once and for all.
You may have been proud of your perfect GPA in high school, but holding on to those old report cards—especially if you’ve been displaying them—is keeping you stuck in the past. Besides, you’ve got plenty of other things to be proud of by the time you hit 50!
We’re not suggesting that you have to ditch every distressed item in your closet just because you’re over 50, but the non-functioning ones need to go. Those tank tops with broken straps, leggings with tears, and sweaters you’ve safety-pinned back together no longer deserve space in your closet.
There are only three things broken chargers can do for you: clutter your space, frustrate you when they don’t power up your devices, and maybe give you the occasional electric shock. If they’re frayed or have stopped working, it’s time to say goodbye.
New Year’s Eve in 2005 may have been fun, but there are better ways to remember it than keeping those novelty glasses from your friend’s party around. If they’re not from the current year or a fond reminder of another major life event, like meeting your spouse, it’s time to let them go.
By all means, keep the AOL address if it suits you. But those CDs promising you 50 free hours of internet access? They’re no longer necessary.
Slow and steady really does win the race when it comes to weight loss. And as you age, loading your body with questionable substances that may have ill effects on your digestive system or heart is a risky game you don’t want to be playing.
Socks missing their mate
Your dryer is a sock-eating monster, but that doesn’t mean your drawer needs to be a makeshift memorial to its surviving victims. If it’s been over a month since you last saw your single sock’s mate, it’s time to toss it.
Unless you’re a secret sorceress, you’re never going to bring those house plants that have seen better days back to life. So instead of letting them rot in your house any longer, compost them if you can or get rid of them by another means.
Shoes that give you blisters
You have more than half a century of wisdom at your disposal, meaning you’re too smart to think that those incredibly painful shoes will magically become comfortable. And considering that tight or uncomfortable shoes can cause or exacerbate all kinds of foot problems, from ingrown toenails to bunions, there’s no time like the present to ditch that painful footwear.
Old holiday cards
That’s right—it’s time to rid your space of those old holiday cards that don’t mean anything. You can, of course, keep the ones that do, but that season’s greetings pop-up you got from your accountant can’t be that sentimental.
A lava lamp
Lava lamps are essentially little more than period dressing for shows about the 1970s at this point. If you want to create an interesting focal point for a room, a great piece of art always works better.
Shoes with holes
While you don’t need to get in the habit of tossing every worse-for-wear item in your house, if your shoes are full of holes, it’s time to let them go. They’re never going to be magically wearable again, and in the meantime, they’ll only bring down your otherwise put-together wardrobe or make your closet smell like dirty socks.
Skateboards are a great way to get around… if you’re Bart Simpson. By the time you hit 50, it should be clear that there are more civilized ways to commute, and most of them won’t leave you with a broken ankle.
Entire wardrobes for future grandchildren
You may dream of the day when you have tons of grandkids running around your house. That said, keeping entire wardrobes for children who may never exist not only clutters up your space, it may make things uncomfortable if your kids aren’t planning on becoming parents. A choice item or two is fine, but donate the rest to those who need children’s clothes now.
Old financial documents
While some documents—like the title to your house or car, or anything else that proves your ownership of an item—are worth keeping, anything else can be done away with.
If you haven’t needed a tax return or other piece of financial paperwork for five years, you can probably safely shred it. But if you’re worried you might need that document again in the future, just always scan it and save it as a digital file first.
Remote controls for devices you don’t use
Those remotes for your old TV will never come in handy again, so safely dispose of their batteries, and see if the company that made them will recycle the remaining parts for you.
Do you really need 400 questionable mayo packets? Is there a soy sauce shortage in your town? Have you ever actually used the duck sauce in that drawer? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”—and we assume it is—it’s time to bid those sauce packets a fond farewell.
Dangerous beauty products
At one point, you may have been convinced that you could safely and effectively give yourself eyelash extensions or perm your hair at home, but by 50, you definitely know better. If a beauty product seems like it may be injurious or downright dangerous, you should ditch the ones you have and avoid buying any more in the future.
Old crafting supplies
If you’ve never actually picked up those knitting needles, have an art supply cart full of construction paper you have no use for, or are practically hoarding Mod Podge, it’s time to unburden yourself. While they’re doing little more than cluttering up your home, those art supplies might actually do some good if you give them to a local teacher, rec center, or a family with limited resources.
Overdue library books
Libraries are an amazing resource, but they only work when people actually do the right thing and return those books in a timely manner. Do you really want a kid to fail his or her book report because you couldn’t find time to return that copy of Bridge to Terabithia?
Dried up paint
If you’re doing some mid-life decluttering, it’s time to get rid of those dried-up paint cans once and for all. If you’re worried you won’t be able to remember what paint colors are in your home, fear not: Big chains like Sherwin-Williams will keep your paint preferences on file, so you can have them mixed again without bringing in an old can from your basement.
A great highlighter can do wonders to brighten your complexion. A swipe of glitter, no matter if it’s on your face or body, will just make you look like you’re on your way back from a rave… 20 years ago.
A piggy bank
If it’s your beloved childhood piggy bank or something belonging to your children, you get a pass. However, if it’s actually where you’re storing your extra cash and coins, it’s high time to toss it. After all, that’s what banks are for.
That hot pink sign proclaiming your living room has a bar? It’s not exactly adorably whimsical when you’re an adult. By the time you’re over 50, novelty signage doesn’t hold the appeal it did when you were in your 20s.
Your home isn’t a dorm room, so it’s time you ditched the décor that says otherwise. Besides, butterfly chairs are about the flimsiest furniture you can buy, meaning one wrong move can land you on the floor.
If it’s cold out, wear a scarf that covers your neck and chest. Ditch the skinny scarves that just look silly.
Novelty salt and pepper shakers
By 50, your kitchen should be more than just a place to store takeout menus. And if you’re a competent cook—or at least trying to become one—that means the days of novelty salt and pepper shakers should be behind you.
Fuzzy dice aren’t an elegant addition to your set of wheels. Plus, in certain states, it’s actually illegal to have them hanging from your rearview mirror—and are those fluffy eyesores really worth a ticket?
Anything made of wine corks
If you like wine, chances are you’ve had a few good bottles by the time you hit 50. However, the best way to commemorate them isn’t by hot-gluing them together and making trivets.
And in the same vein, you should definitely ditch those empties gathering dust above your kitchen cabinets. A collection of empty wine bottles does not a Tuscan kitchen make.
It’s not that peasant skirts are too young for you. The issue lies in their universally unflattering fit, hippie vibe, and propensity for collecting a truly disgusting amount of street debris as you walk.
Mardi Gras beads
You don’t actually need to dress like an extra in a 1970s mobster movie to hit the gym. Track pants’ lack of aesthetic appeal combined with that insufferable swishing noise they make every time you take a step should put them at the top of your donation pile.
A dish of seashells
The logic behind a bathroom dish of seashells has never made much sense. Is it that there’s water in the bathroom, so it must be some kind of indoor beach?
Whatever the intent, unless your entire design scheme is beach-themed (and there are more subtle ways to achieve that, by the way), it’s time to ditch the shells.
A black light
There’s only one reason a black light should ever enter your home: You’re the subject of a documentary crime series and the police are searching for clues. Otherwise, this dated décor is always a mistake.
They’re uncomfortable. They haven’t been in style in 10 years. They leave you with the weirdest tan lines. They have to go.
A vinyl tablecloth
Vinyl tablecloths are perfectly acceptable for children’s birthday parties and picnics. However, inside your home, you should be using the real thing or going commando.
Unless you actually work on a farm or at a rodeo, it’s time to ditch that cowboy hat. If you really need to cover up that bedhead, there are far more stylish options out there, from wide-brimmed sun hats to elegant scarves.
Tapestries look great in two places: museums and castles. (Please note: Your living room and bedroom are not the two places.)
Anything with an alien on it
The truth may be out there, but that doesn’t mean your own quest for extraterrestrial life deserves a spot on your wall. The same goes for clothing bearing the image of visitors who may or may not come in peace.
Framed photos of your high school or college sweetheart
If it’s been more than 20 years since you dated someone, it’s pretty strange to keep their framed picture around in your home. The only exception to the rule: If they’ve passed away, you’ve got good reason to keep their memory alive.
Super-long fingernails aren’t exactly a sophisticated accessory at any age, but press-ons are a particularly bad look. If you want perfect-looking nails, a set of acrylics are a better bet—and they won’t come off when you’re cooking.
He’s Just Not That Into You
If you’re over 50, you should have a decent grasp on when men are interested or not by now. You don’t need a book like He’s Just Not That Into You to remind you of the signs that someone doesn’t want to date you. You’ve got a better compass via your mind, your gut, and your heart.
A CD tower or rack
CD towers are big, they’re bulky, and they’re wasting space, holding tons of technology that’s quickly becoming obsolete. But if you simply can’t part with your CD collection, get yourself a binder to house them instead.
If you’re from certain parts of the Middle East, a keffiyeh might be an everyday accessory, and with good reason—it’s useful and part of your heritage. If you’re not, it’s time to develop your own style instead of appropriating another culture’s.
A pageboy hat
Unfortunately, you’re likely not starring in a remake of Newsies—so it’s time to ditch the pageboy hat. Not only will these caps ruin your hair style once you remove them, they also scream, “I’m desperate to look younger.”
Clothes with any writing on the rear
There’s no reason a self-respecting person of any age should have a pair of pants proclaiming something about them or their assets.
A sorority banner
Of course you can still look back fondly on your sorority days after 50. But that doesn’t mean a big flag with your Greek letters on it belongs over your living room sofa. It’s time to fold your sorority banner up and keep it as a memento—not as décor.
Old cell phones
There’s no reason why you should have a cell phone that you don’t use or isn’t working. If you didn’t trade it in to earn some money back, it’s no good to you anymore.
Giant platform shoes
Considering that your risk of a fracture tends to go up as you age—which is particularly true for post-menopausal women—super-tall platform shoes are probably not a great choice.
Red plastic cups
College accoutrements, like red plastic cups, shouldn’t be claiming space in your kitchen cabinets. You can get inexpensive glass cups at any home goods store, and at least they won’t make your house look like you’re about to host a beer pong tournament.
It’s easier than ever to date, no matter what your age. Things that might get in your way, however, include outdated rulebooks, like The Rules, that tell you how to behave. If you want to call someone you’re interested in first, go for it!
You’ve kept yourself alive for more than five decades—shouldn’t you be able to afford a similar courtesy to a living plant by now? Even if you don’t want something high-maintenance, succulents are easy to take care of and can brighten up a space much more effectively than a plastic fern.
A collection of hotel soaps
There are tons of ways to commemorate those amazing trips you’ve taken. However, if the only thing you’re taking away from your journey is another bar of hotel soap, you might not be totally getting the spirit of the whole travel experience. The good news? If you do find yourself with a variety of extra soaps, charities like Clean the World will take them off your hands and turn them into clean, usable soap that gets donated to communities in need.
A talking fish
When’s the last time someone came over to your house and said, “I sure wish there was someone here to sing ‘Friends in Low Places’ and make a joke about my mama”? If you’re scratching your head to come up with an answer, it’s time to ditch the wise-cracking fish.
Indoor wicker furniture
Wicker furniture has a time and place, namely summer and outside. If you’re using wicker in place of traditional furniture, it’s not only a bad look, but you’re also virtually begging for anything you wear around it to get snagged.
Any book by the Kardashians
There are tons of great books full of inspiring life advice out there. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for anything allegedly penned by reality TV’s royal family.
A collection of plastic utensils
Ask any environmentalist and they’ll tell you: Single-use plastics are one of the biggest threats to the environment and continued habitability of our planet. Reusable cutlery really only takes a few seconds to clean, and better yet, it won’t melt the second you stick it into hot food.
That signed Eagles poster, that Grateful Dead blanket, and that tambourine you stole from Phish have a place in the basement or attic as keepsakes. But you probably also have band memorabilia from groups you’ve since lost your passion for, and it’s time to let them go.
A collection of your ex’s clothing
Yes, everything that used to belong to your ex is perfectly worn and soft and just the right kind of oversized. However, if you’re still wearing their stuff when you’re lounging around the house, you’re dwelling in the past and that’s not healthy. To the donation bin they go!
Good, inexpensive mattresses are easier to come by than ever these days, so why is that uncomfortable futon still sticking around? With so many cheap options out there that won’t make your home look like a dorm room, there’s no excuse to keep that lumpy excuse for a bed.
Framed autographs may have a place in touristy restaurants or at your local dry cleaner, but they’re not exactly charming accessories for adults. If you simply can’t ditch your autograph collection, at least keep them contained in an album.
If you want to give your hair some volume, there are plenty of ways to do so without looking like you’re auditioning for Jersey Shore.
Those dead-eyed frogs playing poker and that squirrel with a six-shooter may have seemed hilarious to you when you bought them a long time ago. But now, they are nothing more than an eyesore—and a seriously creepy one, at that.
Ruffled sheets and a princess-style bed can be adorable in a little girl’s room. In an adult woman’s room, however, they just make it look like you’re stuck in the past.
“Ruffly bedding evokes a very specific, long past time and screams ‘aged and staged,’ like bad motel décor or a dinner theater set,” says interior designer Denise Gianna.
The purpose of the bolero jacket has never been completely clear. What situation might you find yourself in where your shoulders are freezing, but your arms and torso need no extra cover? If you’re still wasting hanger space on these perplexing outfit additions, it’s time to get rid of them.
By the time you’re over 50, your home should be a reflection of your good taste, not a nagging reminder that you haven’t changed anything about your home in decades. “If you are over 50 and your home’s décor still features design choices that haven’t evolved since you hit your prime sometime between the mid-‘80s and late ‘90s, you need to redecorate or rethink your life!” says Gianna. And for more things to banish from your home, learn the 30 Ways Your Home Is Hopelessly Outdated.
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