75 Things to Throw Away, Donate or Recycle Right Away

It happens every January…the holiday decorations come down and the itch to get organized begins. It really is the perfect time to tackle those closets and drawers, to purge and declutter all the corners of your home. I actually love this process–I think it’s so cathartic, and there’s nothing better than getting rid of all the unnecessary and broken items taking up space. When your space is organized and decluttered, it brings peace and clarity, and I know that for me, I just function so much better when my home is in order. To help the process a little, I’ve made a list of things to throw away, donate, or recycle, based on each room in your home!

I totally understand how it happens. You get busy, and things that are broken are get pushed into a drawer or stacked in the corner to take care of later.  Over time, it all adds up, and it then you might not know where to start.  I’ve created a list that’s organized by room, so you can tackle it a bit at a time to make it more manageable.  If you’re feeling really motivated, or if you have a block of extra time, go ahead and do the whole list!

Things to Throw Away, Donate or Recycle


Each room in the house has the potential for decluttering! When I’m going through the house, it’s easiest for me to separate it by room, and then even within that room if I need to. For example, if it’s the bedroom, I might concentrate on the dresser drawers first, then move to the closet or nightstands.  I’ve found that when I do it on a regular basis, it doesn’t take me too long, but if it’s been awhile, I might need to carve out a little more time to complete each room.

Let’s take a look at each room in the house…


There’s a good list of items in your bathrooms that can be disposed of, including old makeup. Go through your medicine cabinet and look for expired medicine. Expired sunscreen, old toiletries and hair ties, broken brushes, old toothbrushes, dried up nail polish, and even old towels and bathmat are possible items ready to be tossed. Although it’s a good idea to keep a stack of old towels for all the inevitable messes sure to happen! 


When you go through nightstands, there’s sure to be some clutter!  It’s often a spot where extra items can accumulate. Go through dresser drawers and closet to discover stained or ripped clothing, old purses and belts, clothes that no longer fit, broken or unused jewelry, unmatched earrings, and even empty shoeboxes and old plastic hangers.  It’s a great time to go through all of your old t-shirts, pajamas, and socks (are you missing matches?). Some of these things can and should be tossed, but others can be recycled or donated (if they are in good repair).  


Is it just our house, or do have a mismatched collection of plastic storage ware? We seem to always have too many lids or not enough! They’re one of the things on my list to go through when tackling the kitchen.  Old pots and pans, expired spices and canned goods, broken appliances, unused or old recipe books, and any chipped plates or glassware are items that can be thrown away or possibly donated. Check your utensils too! Spoons famously go missing at our house…


The office is treasure trove of items with the potential to be decluttered.  Many people have told me that it’s often the room where all the excess and extra “stuff” gets placed. Go through books and magazines, to see if there are any that can be donated. Shred old receipts that you no longer need. Check for expired coupons, junk mail, old school papers, warranty manuals, and business cards, incorrect address labels, and outdated software.  Other items that can be thrown away are pens, markers, and highlighters that are dried out, as well as unknown or unnecessary keys and filled notebooks. Outdated or broken computers, old cell phones and electronics, along with old charging cords are also good to have on your list for review. There are a myriad of office supplies that may not be needed and could be donated, recycled, or thrown away. 


Oh, the playroom!  I try to go through this space often, to weed out unused toys for donation. But there are quite a few things that may need to be throw away as well.  Broken toys, games with missing pieces, dried out markers, broken crayons, and old coloring books are destined for the trash bin, unless there is something that can be recycled.  If you have a collection of unloved stuffies, it may be time to donate them to someone else.  Old CDs, DVDs and even VHS tapes could be laying around!  My kids help with this process as well, and it’s good to get them involved in caring for their space and old things.

Linen Closet

Pillows can and should be replaced on a regular basis, depending on their type and quality. Blankets and bedding that are torn, stained, or in disrepair can also be discarded. If they’re unused and in good repair, consider asking around for places that accept gently used bedding for donation. 

Garage and Basement

These can be the ultimate dumping grounds for stuff! Odds are, you have something in either or both of these spaces that you can get rid of.  Old paint, tires, and rags, broken or outgrown bicycles and other sports equipment, broken tools and appliances, and old holiday decor are items that could be laying around your garage or basement.  Collect like items such as screws into one container, finding a place for them to be.  


Other items around your home that may be ready for decluttering include:  old cleaners, detergents, and batteries, unused craft supplies (or empty), old newspapers.  They can be considered for donation, recycling, or the proper disposal.  


For a printable checklist, click and download below!

More details on how to either dispose of, recycle, or donate your items..


Many of these things can and should be thrown away, but others can be donated or given new purpose. Anything broken or in disrepair can be disposed of or recycled properly, but there are plenty of things worth donating. Books, DVD’s, outgrown bikes, unused holiday items and decor that are in good shape are all things that can be taken to your local thrift store, shelter house, or Habitat Re-store.

When disposing of medicine, make sure to follow the FDA’s guidelines. Paint is another item that needs to be carefully disposed of. Consider donating leftover paint to nonprofit organizations or charities–give them a call to see if it’s something they can use. If not, the paint will need to be evaporated and solidified before collection by your local waste management authority. Call 1-800-CLEANUP for more information. Any document that contains any personal information (like all of your receipts) should be shredded, not thrown away.

How to get started in the decluttering process 

Make organization a doable project–you don’t have to do it all in one day! Make a goal and start small–maybe a drawer or two a day, a closet, or a room–depending on how much you need to do and what fits into your schedule But the key is to make it a consistent effort–do something every day, and you will see real progress.  I’d also suggest writing on a calendar what you plan to do each day, so you already have it scheduled and know it’s part of your to-do list.

Print and have a list handy.  Not only does it track your progress and keeps you organized, but it will show you how far you’ve come and what’s been accomplished.  

Have boxes or bags ready and labeled—throw away, donate, and recycle.  When you’re finished each day, and at the end of your process, you’ll be able to follow through more easily. Find out ahead of time how to properly dispose of certain items (things like old paint, tires, medicine, and any hazardous materials), as well as the best places for donation. Consider that the items best for donation are those that are new or gently used, clean, and in good repair. 

You might also be interested in how I clean my home, and other organizing ideas!

*Originally posted January 7, 2017. Updated 2020.

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