38 “Useful” Things You Should Probably Get Rid of Anyway

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Just like finding the right meal-planning method or exercise regimen, finding the right decluttering motto can be the key to keeping your home clutter-free. Many find an admonition by William Morris helpful when deciding what to keep and get rid of: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” But this popular decluttering criterion could actually become a pitfall if you’re not careful.

Things which we “believe to be beautiful” may not present too much of a problem. While beauty is subjective, of course, beautiful is a pretty strong word and should help weed out most decorative or sentimental items that an owner only feels so-so about. “Know to be useful,” on the other hand, can trip us up. Much of our clutter, in fact, is due to the notion that whatever it is, we’ll use it or even need it someday.

If we want to be strict about having a home full of only things we actually need in our lives right now, we need to let go of the mentality that something might be useful someday, or to somebody else, or any other number of “just in case” considerations.

Here are some things that could fit that clutter-enabling mold. If anything below strikes your conscience, consider this list permission to let it go without guilt.

  1. Extra serving platters
  2. Leftover party decorations
  3. Used party decorations
  4. Nearly consumed craft supplies that aren’t being used
  5. Extra whisks and spatulas
  6. Empty paper towel rolls
  7. Egg cartons
  8. Empty shoe boxes for storage
  9. Small appliance boxes in case you need to return or sell the item
  10. Odd-shaped pots you never use
  11. Old chargers
  12. Old small appliances
  13. Extra planters
  14. Too many extra rags for big clean-ups
  15. An over-abundance of mugs
  16. Small condiment packets
  17. Outdated manuals or books on a particular subject
  18. Magazines you’re saving for art projects
  19. An overflowing collection of plastic grocery bags
  20. Too many reusable grocery bags or totes
  21. Totally warped baking sheets
  22. Hobby supplies for a hobby you no longer pursue
  23. Broken objects you plan to fix
  24. Jars
  25. Travel mugs
  26. Water bottles
  27. Unused cleaning tools and/or supplies
  28. Cookbooks that you haven’t opened in months
  29. Plastic food storage containers that are stained or warped
  30. Takeout menus
  31. Chopsticks from takeout
  32. Baskets that you have no use for
  33. Used twist ties
  34. Table linens that are stained or ripped
  35. Coupons you won’t actually redeem
  36. Spices that have expired
  37. Curtain rods
  38. Baby kitchen gear over five years old

Including an addendum to the “know to be useful” phrase can help you detect if you’re keeping to much. Think of it this way: “Do I know this to be useful in my actual life these days?”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 38 “Useful” Things You Should Still Declutter Anyway

What do you hang on to because it’s “useful”?