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7 things you can absolutely get rid of while spring cleaning

Because what else are you going to do while sitting at home avoiding the spread of the coronavirus?
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By Caroline Moss

It’s almost here! Spring cleaning! Okay, yes, you can clean anytime you want, but a) uh, no thanks and b) nothing feels as, well, right as flinging open the windows on that first 60 degree day in March or April and just getting right down to it so you can be your Best Self. Plus, what else are you going to do while sitting at home avoiding the spread of the coronavirus?

Spring cleaning came early for me this year, as I moved across the country from New York to California at the end of January. Between Christmas and Feb. 1, I challenged myself to get rid of as much as I could. I’m not hoarder-status, but honestly...I’m close. I assign sentimental value to lots of things and therefore end up feeling guilty if I get rid of any of those things.

It helps that my mom is the opposite (for her birthday a few years ago I got her one of those big dumpster containers so she could throw out all of my dad’s stuff). This is great because she doesn’t make me feel bad for wanting to donate or junk things. But still, a massive purge freaks me out. What if I want to use that thing I bought three years ago (and never use)?! I mean, one day maybe I will! And then what?

In my quest to succeed at spring cleaning, here are seven things I realized I absolutely did not need to hold on to (and maybe you don’t, either):

  1. Any linens I look at and don’t want to use. You don’t need 12 extra fitted sheets. You just don’t. Keep three of your favorites, commit to a timely laundry schedule and donate the rest to a Goodwill, or, if they’re not in amazing condition, an animal shelter. This goes for towels, too!

  2. Anything I haven’t worn in one calendar year. As the song goes, “Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you have to do is…” admit to yourself that you are never going to wear that dress again. Whether it’s because it doesn’t fit or it’s just not your style, don’t feel bad. Donate it or use an app like Mercari or Poshmark to sell it and get a few extra bucks in your pocket.

  3. 9,000 mugs. Every person in your house gets three mugs. That’s it. That’s IT. THREE MUGS EACH. Choose wisely.

  4. Bric-a-brac I inherited from a dead relative. When my Grandma died in 2016 at age 100 (!), my aunt had me come over to choose some of her costume jewelry to keep. At the time, I was still grieving and I assigned a lot of value to each of these pieces of jewelry. I took almost all of it and filled up multiple shoeboxes of necklaces, brooches, earrings and bracelets. Um..I don’t really wear jewelry. After four years, I realized I had never once worn a piece of my grandma’s stuff. I picked out two pieces and donated the rest of the four massive boxes to Housing Works. Keeping her wares was not a measure of how much I loved my grandma. Once I realized that, it was easier to part with the collection.

  5. Books! There’s no rule that says you have to keep every single book you’ve ever purchased, and libraries can always use donations. If you have some meaningful titles that you want to hold close, set those aside. Challenge yourself to pick 20 books you can donate and you’ll be surprised at how much lighter your load feels.

  6. That shoebox of old cords and chargers and cables and batteries and your old camera from college and your first cell phone. Just. You don’t need anything in that box. Please get rid of that box (look for an e-waste drop off in your area!).

  7. Papers! Papers, papers, papers. You do not need to haul your tax returns from 2011 into 2020. I always challenge myself by labeling one shoe box “Sentimental” and using it for all of the birthday cards, notes, postcards, etc. I get throughout the years. Every year I cull it down so that the box isn’t overflowing. I take photos of all the letters I have to part with and then make a designated digital folder on my phone where they all live...not taking up space.

As I was following my own rules, I realized it was super freeing. I am not at KONDO level yet (I still don’t totally feel comfortable thanking my socks, you know), but it was nice to just feel like I was able to donate so much stuff to my local Housing Works and Goodwill locations. I ended up clearing about 16 huge garbage bags full of things I didn’t want to take with me into the move and now, months later, if you asked me to list 20 specific items I gave up, I know I couldn’t do it.

If you’re apprehensive about going too gung-ho and fearing that you may purge so much stuff that you’re left with not enough, try sorting the items you’re pretty sure you want to get rid of and keeping them in a bag near the door for two weeks.

If you don’t find yourself searching high and low for something in one of those bags, you know it’s a safe bet to let them go.