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7 Things Almost Everyone Forgets to Declutter

By Katie Holdefehr | December 30, 2020 | Real Simple

When was the last time you organized your liquor cabinet? Or sorted through your jewelry box? We thought so. While some areas, like our cluttered closets and kitchen counters, are quick to come to mind when we're on an organization spree, others are easy to forget. From the outdated media formats piled in the back of a cabinet (hello, CD stash) to the books overflowing the shelves, here are seven things almost no one remembers to declutter.

1. CDs, DVDs, 8-Track Tapes, and Records

Depending upon what decade you grew up in, you may have a collection of CDs or vinyl records lying around. If you no longer even own a Discman or record player—or haven't dusted them off in years—it's probably time to get rid of this stash.

If the records aren't scratched and the tapes still play, some secondhand stores will accept them. Popular albums can be sold on eBay, Etsy, or other sites.

2. Books

For many, books are very personal belongings. So personal, that even the mere mention of decluttering a book collection is enough to elicit an emotional response. But chances are, many of us are holding onto books we will never (ever) crack open again. Old college textbooks, tax how-to manuals before the advent of internet, and that copy of Moby Dick you promise to one day finish fill the shelves.

Take a critical look and sort out anything you know you'll never read again. Donate books that are still in readable condition and relevant. Outdated materials, like that 2002 book on how to code, can get recycled.

3. Candles

If you get gifted luxury candles at every birthday and switch out scents with the seasons, you may have more candles than you know what to do with.

Sort through your collection to find any candles with just a small amount of wax remaining. Follow our trick to remove the wax (hint: your freezer can help) and then repurpose or recycle the glass jar.

4. Liquor Cabinet

Since many liquors are shelf-stable, it's easy for our liquor cabinets to forgo a proper decluttering. Decades later, you might find that bottle of scotch you were gifted and never opened.

First, look for any bottles that may have gone bad. In general, cream liqueurs last less than two years and opened vermouth lasts up to a couple months (check the expiration dates to be sure). For shelf-stable distilled liquors like vodka, rum, or tequila, evaluate what you actually drink. If there are bottles you haven't touched in many years, consider giving them to someone who will enjoy them.

5. Jewelry Box

While our clothing closets typically land on the top of our organizing to-dos, we oftentimes forget about jewelry and other accessories.

Sort through your collection to find pieces you no longer wear. Make sure heirlooms you'd like to pass down are properly stored and protected, while outdated costume jewelry can be donated or sold.

If you have valuable jewelry to sell, including diamond rings, check out Worthy. A team of gem experts will do all the work for you: evaluate the piece, take beauty shots, and put the jewelry up for auction online.

6. Old Tech Devices

Maybe in the same cabinet as those dust-collecting DVDs you'll find old flip phones, a VCR, and a hulking laptop that feels as sleek as a phone book. Part of the problem with tossing out these antiquated tech devices is what to do with them. To recycle small devices like cell phones (as well as VHS tapes and CDs) safely and securely, check out GreenDisk.

Best Buy will recycle many devices for free, including laptops and TVs, but they have a donation limit of three items per household per day.

7. Travel-Sized Toiletries and Cosmetic Samples

Whether collected from hotel stays or by wandering along the cosmetic counters at the mall, it's easy to amass a large collection of teeny-tiny toiletries. Follow these steps to evaluate what to keep, recycle, or donate.

This article was written by Katie Holdefehr from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Katie Holdefehr
Real Simple

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