The One and Only Rule You Need to Know When Deciding Which Kitchen Items to Donate and Which Ones to Throw Away

published Jan 15, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

For many of us, January is a time for ruthlessly purging any unwanted items from every room of the house. For me, this is especially true in the kitchen, which, thanks to a gift-filled holiday season from friends and family who know me well, has acquired several new goodies and gadgets. But as well-intentioned as we are about getting rid of things that no longer serve us, deciding what to do with all those unwanted items can be such a dizzying task. How do you decide what to give away and what to throw away?

I chatted with professional organizer Holly Blakey of Breathing Room, an organization and styling company based in the Bay Area, to help figure it out. According to her, the answer is shockingly simple.

Only donate items that are in good condition.

“It’s amazing how many people try to donate items that have pieces missing or look like they’ve been through the wringer,” she says. “I always tell my clients that it’s better karma (or simply just being a better human!) if you only donate items that are in good condition.”

As to what exactly “good condition” means, use your best judgment to assess if an item is too far past its prime to donate. Blakey says to avoid donating items that are, “chipped, cracking, fading, [or have] a burn or melt mark (you know — it got left too close to the burners!).” If something in a pair or set is missing its mate, she also suggests tossing it. Likewise, if there’s a piece that you just don’t know what it is, it’s probably ready for the bin.

An exception to the rule: You may want to repurpose something rather than sending it to the landfill. Old kitchen tools (that aren’t dangerously cracked or broken) can be great for imaginative play (especially as sand toys!) for small kids. Just be mindful not to overload their play storage with your old junk.