Decluttering in December? Before you minimize your screen, hear us out. We get it: This time of year is super busy, and spring cleaning isn’t for another few months. But what better time to clear the way for better (and safer) things than before the year ends? Set yourself up for success (and less mess) in 2019 by taking some time to declutter now.
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Here are a few things to say goodbye to with 2018:
1. Anything you’ve been meaning to donate
You know that trash bag of clothes in your trunk that never made it to Goodwill, or the pots and pans gathering dust in your basement storage? Now’s the ideal time to drop them off. Not only does donating to thrift stores or charities reduce waste and help those in need; giving away your old clothes or housewares can qualify you for a tax deduction on this year’s taxes—but only if you donate before the last day of 2018.
Keep in mind that to qualify for a deduction on your donation, you’ll need to give to a tax-exempt organization, and if the gift is valued at more than $250, you will need a receipt. Here’s more info on tax-deductible donations, brought you by TurboTax.
2. Late-model gadgets
That lime green iPod or iPhone from 2008 might be a relic of nostalgia for your high school days, but it’s probably just gathering dust in a drawer—and chances are, you upgraded long ago. First, take a deep breath, then decide how to re-home your treasured devices of yore. But before you toss them in the trash, consider the environment; it’s best to either donate or recycle.
3. Paperwork past its prime
Have you been holding onto that instruction manual for the tablet you bought last year just in case? Chances are, you can find it online (via your tablet). And that print-out from your visit to the doctor? That’s probably logged in an online portal, too. Same goes for credit card statements. To clear space for the new records and paperwork you’ll likely accumulate over the next year—and the paperwork you actually need to keep, like birth certificates and car titles—recycle any manuals or documents you can easily find online later. (Just make sure to shred or destroy anything with personal information on it to protect your identity).
4. Inexpensive, trendy clothes and accessories
New year, new wardrobe isn’t necessarily a thing, but honing in on a more ethical, thoughtful shopping practice? That’s something we can get behind. Before the new year hits, take some time to declutter your closet and get rid of anything—including clothes, undergarments, purses, shoes, and jewelry—that doesn’t fit, anything damaged, and anything you don’t absolutely love or haven’t recently worn (we like the six-month rule). While you’re at it, make sure all your summer and fall clothes are packed away for the season, too.
5. Expired cleaning items
Did you know Clorox wipes, peroxide, and even bleach have a shelf life? Since winter is prime time to de-germ—and spring cleaning is around the corner—it’s important to keep your go-to cleaners up-to-date, safe, and effective. Use December to get rotate out your old cleaning supplies, and replenish them before the January cold virus hits.
6. Expired medicine cabinet items
You’re an adult: Over-the-counter medicines, separated lotions and nail polish, and years-old makeup don’t belong in your bathroom. Not only do these items create unnecessary clutter in your precious bathroom space; they might also be unsafe to use. Throwing away will have to do for skincare and makeup, but to ensure safety and to protect the environment, you’ll want to bring expired medicine to designated collection sites.
7. Expired food
Out with the old, in with the new. A clean break on the calendar is the perfect opportunity to bid a final farewell to that half-used, crusty salad dressing in your fridge. In preparation for the new year, go through your refrigerator and pantry and clear away anything that’s past its prime—expired condiments, stale cereal, anything that isn’t safe or palatable. Bonus: On top of the decluttered kitchen space, you’ll also have plenty of room for hearty, comforting winter staples (and, obviously, hot chocolate).