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How to dispose of clutter: 10 things people collect and tips to get rid of them

Updated on March 16, 2011

How did I get this much stuff? Why am I holding on to this? These are typical questions for people when doing seasonal cleaning or when moving.  You know why you keep some things, but there is no logical reasoning behind others.

1. Used/wrinkled printer paper

If you have a printer, chances are you've taken a jammed piece of paper out, smoothed it, and kept it to write notes on later. Soon you have a stack of perfectly blank sheets, and are collecting more. Add to that the sheets that have old information printed on one side, but are blank on the other side.


When printing things that you know you will only use one time, like timetables or directions, feed a used sheet into the printer and print your information on the blank side. If the paper is too wrinkled to go through the printer, recycle it.  Keep a box by or under your computer desk for these sheets, then empty it periodically.

2. Old magazines and catalogs

Subscribe to any magazines?  Buy Reader's Digest or other impulse magazines at the checkout?  Get catalogs in the mail?  Chances are you have a good-sized collection hanging around on a table or a bookshelf.


As you read, tear out the pages that interest you.  Put each article you want to keep in a single page protector, then put it in a three-ring binder.  Write the name of the magazine, the issue, and any other pertinent information on the edge of the page protector with a permanent marker.  Then recycle the rest of the magazine.

3. Junk mail

We all get junk mail.  Some of it goes into the recycling as soon as we see what it is, but some needs to be opened before we can figure out it's junk.  It usually gets tossed into a pile to be dealt with later.


Open it along with your other mail, recycle the parts that don't have personal information on them, then put the rest in a box to be shredded later.

4. Used electronics

Have an old computer, monitor, cell phone, printer, tv, dvd player, or other electronics laying around? Chances are you've kept it because it actually works but you have upgraded your technology.


Dispose of your working electronics by donating them to a non-profit group that refurbishes them. Do a web search to find groups in your area that take these kinds of donations. You can also give them to people who send requests via Freecycle.

5. Chipped, stained, or broken kitchenware

Chipped mugs, stained cookware, bent silverware. If you've gone through at least one set of dishes, you know about this. It's hard to let go of things just because they are discolored or have a minor chip. If it's major, you know you need to trash the item.


Minor chips in ceramics and glassware mean you need to throw it away. These can harbor bacteria, even when you wash the item thoroughly. So, for your health, trash it. Same goes for scratched cookware. If cookware or serveware is stained inside, you can keep it without guilt. If it is stained on the outside, think twice before holding onto it.  Bent silverware is only useful as art, so throw it out or give it to a local metalcraftsman if they will take it.

6. Extra hangers

Do you seem to collect metal or plastic hangers?  Most people do, so giving them to your friends only worsens the problem.  Besides, then they might turn around and give them back to you.


Leave the hangers at the store when you buy clothing.  If you take clothes to a drycleaners, take extra hangers with you.  You can also donate them to your local thrift store, as most of their donations don't come on hangers.

7. Promotional magnets or other items

Many people seem to hang onto magnets from businesses they don't frequent, just because they are magnets.  Why have something on your fridge promoting a place you've never been?


Donate magnets, keychains, and other items to a thrift store, where collectors will see them.  If you have a whole shoebox or more, sell them in a lot on eBay.

8. Scratched CDs or DVDs

If a CD or DVD doesn't play right, it is not useful to anyone other than as an art project.  Most times, you cannot take the scratches out more than once.


Buy a new one and trash your old one. If you don't want to trash it, see if you can donate it to an art group.

9. Shortened crayons or pencils

Have children?  Then you have a collection of crayons and pencils that are too short tobe sharpened any more.


Throw the pencils away once you have used all the lead that you can.  Unwrap the crayons and use them sideways for art projects like rubbings, or fuse them together in a multicolored stick by melting them.

10. Candle stubs

Why do we keep candles that are too short to be lit or that have their wicks submerged in wax?  Do we think we can ever use them again?


If the wick is fine, just submerged, light another candle and melt the wax by holding it into the first candle, then pour the wax out until the wick is uncovered.  You may need to scrape more wax from the wick once you can get to it.  With pillar candles, periodically pour the wax off if the wick gets submerged, before the wax hardens around the wick.  If the wick is gone from a pillar candle, but you still have wax left, insert a votive or a tealight.  If you have a stub of a taper candle, dispose of it or give it to a local candlemaker.


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    • TinasTreasures profile image


      7 years ago from California

      What a great list! Thanks for sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      8 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Some great ideas. Cookware stained on the outside though? No harm, no foul. It still works perfectly well--stains don't affect the usefulness of the item: can't afford to get new, so I keep using it. Rust? That might be another matter. ;-)

      But THANK you for posting the link to FREECYCLE! I've been hearing and hearing about that..and cannot seem to ever find it. Typing it in just seems to get me to a search engine page full of ads for stores like Staples, Target, etc. Phooey!

      And thanks much for becoming my 1st fan on Hub Pages!


    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      9 years ago from Washington MI

      Great recycling ideas for STUFF just laying around.

    • bingskee profile image


      9 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      am very good at decluttering but i am impatient of people who likes to clutter...!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Oh, what a collection of suggestions of how to declutter. I especially like the one about what to do with excess hangers. Will do that from no own. Great, great hub.

    • simplyjo profile image


      9 years ago

      Gee these are some thrifty tips. thanks for sharing :)


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