24 Things in Your House That a Professional Organizer Would Throw Out

Updated: Jan. 12, 2024

Get your trash bag ready! An expert organizer shares her list of the top items she'd throw out without a second thought.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Learn more.

1 / 24
Fridge magnets in a rainbow of colors

Refrigerator magnets

You won’t find magnets stuck to the refrigerator in a professional organizer’s home. Throw away the ones with weak magnets that keep falling off onto the floor. Then discard the outdated business card ones, the save-the-date ones and the ones with last year’s calendar.

2 / 24
Different corksrew and cork wine opener

Flimsy kitchen utensils

The wine opener that never works well enough is just one of the tosses you can make from your utensil drawer. Professional organizers would also ditch the slotted spoons and pancake turners that bend under the weight of food. And add the garlic press that is too delicate to mince a clove of garlic to the toss pile. Now you’ll have room for one of these 19 Test Kitchen-approved kitchen gadgets you’ll wish you had years ago.

3 / 24
cleaning tool on dirty floor in bathroom

Broken cleaning tools

Professional organizers dislike cleaning tools that don’t get the job done. If the item is meant to help make your cleaning chore easier, but it makes it more difficult, then throw it out. This includes the cracked dustpan, the broken laundry basket, the broom with the handle that keeps falling off and the leaky bucket. These are the 10 cleaning mistakes that are actually making your home dirtier.

4 / 24
Plastic containers for food on wooden background

Storage solutions

Professional organizers love storage solutions but not every container works well. If the bin, basket, or box didn’t solve your problem, then throw it out; otherwise, it just adds to your clutter. Consider passing along storage containers to a teacher who might need them. By the way, these are the organization products that professionals use.

5 / 24
Mason jars

Secret stash

Even professional organizers keep odd things like those plastic clips from bags of bread or rinsed out glass jars. The key is to know when you are saving too many, and they are becoming clutter. For example, if you’ve kept every rubber band from every fresh produce purchase, then it is time to throw some away.

6 / 24
White mug

Swag and freebies

Try to resist bringing home one of every free item offered at street fairs, lectures and conferences. Professional organizers throw away extra wall calendars, promotional coffee mugs, water bottles plastered with logos, jar openers, pill organizers and excessive quantities of free chip clips. Speaking of chips, do you know the reason why chip bags are half empty?

7 / 24
Pens and pencils in metal holder in front of wall background

Writing implements

If it doesn’t write, then why keep it? Professional organizers always throw out pens that don’t work. They also pitch empty mechanical pencils, eraser-less #2 pencils and dried out markers and highlighters without caps. Speaking of pens and pencils, here’s how to write a recipe like a pro.

8 / 24

Reference material

You’ll rarely find a space-hogging phone book in a professional organizer’s home. They also let go of encyclopedia sets and textbooks; consider donating those through Better World Books. And unless you need the thesaurus and dictionary for playing Scrabble, pass those on, too. Once your shelves are free, fill them back up with these regional cookbooks.

9 / 24
Close up Vintage Compass Instrument on Top of a Wooden Table with Folded Maps

Trip memorabilia

Outdated maps will only get you lost, so professional organizers advise recycling them. Out-of-date travel guides and old brochures are filled with obsolete information, so don’t bother keeping those either, for a potential future trip. Before you toss just anything in the recycle bin, make sure it isn’t one of these 15 things that shouldn’t be recycled.

10 / 24
Hand holding capsules pills white on wooden background.

Expired things

While frozen, fresh and canned foods come to mind, these are not the only things in your home that expire. Once they reach their best by date, it’s recommended to throw out medications, vitamins and supplements. You can search for a local drug take-back day at DEA.gov.

11 / 24
Artistic squirrel brushes, tubes of oil paints and watercolors on a wooden background.

Hobby supplies

Once you’re finished with a hobby, professional organizers advise donating the equipment to someone who will use it. Whether you have woodworking tools, scuba fins, camping gear or a set of watercolors, if you are no longer using it then toss it out of your house.

12 / 24
VHS Tapes

Outdated technology

The VCR and boom box have been replaced with more up-to-date technology, so donate the old stuff. Recycle floppy disks and ancient laptops, obsolete phones, VHS tapes and more through Goodwill’s Ecycle program. Or check out Earth911 for a convenient hazardous waste drop-off location.

13 / 24
Power strip extension cord on carpentry woodwork woodwork desk

The “to-be-fixed” pile

All those broken items you have waiting to be fixed; professional organizers either fix it or ditch it and so should you. If you’ve already replaced it, you don’t miss it, or it is too costly to make the repair, there is no sense keeping said item around.

14 / 24
Buttons and threads

Parts for discarded items

Toss the accessories and instruction booklets that go with things you no longer own, like the tiny bag with a spare button for the blouse you donated and the owner’s manual for the television you had ten years ago.

15 / 24
Doctor bandaging patients leg in hospital

Unmatched things

If they’re meant to be mated up and you’ve hopelessly lost or ruined one, then why keep the other? Consider donating single shoes or winter gloves missing their mate to amputees through OddShoe. And dump that sad, single sock missing its partner.

16 / 24
Clothing donation box on wooden background

Bags for donation

That bag of donations that’s been riding in the trunk of your car for a month, it’s time for it to go. Professional organizers have a standing pick-up scheduled or they routinely drop things off at a donation location to prevent them from piling up at home.

17 / 24
Multiple Sports Trophies

Awards and trophies

Just because it has your name engraved on it does not mean you have to keep it forever. Professional organizers preserve the memory by taking a photo of the accolade, then they donate the trophies, plaques or awards of excellence through places like AwardsMall or Medals4Mettle.

18 / 24
antique cedar chest with vintage linens, photographs and knicknacks

Dust collectors

Dust collectors are without a doubt on any professional organizer’s throw it out list. These include photo frames without photographs inside, collections you don’t care about and knickknacks that lack a very special meaning.

19 / 24
Weights and mat at a gym

Improve-me items

The treadmill you used for a week that’s now a makeshift clothes rack or the green smoothie maker you tried once and haven’t touched since—give away those items you purchased with the hopes of making a change, but the change didn’t stick. Instead, get healthy with the help of some of these good-for-you recipes.

20 / 24
Wrapped gifts

Gift wrap collection

Torn or bent to/from tags are promptly recycled by professional organizers and the crushed bows must go! Other items that make the throw it away list are scraps of gift wrap, tangled rolls of ribbon, and faded gift bags. Instead of wrapping paper, use one of these super cute packaging ideas next holiday.

21 / 24
Cloth hangers in a pile

Clothes hangers

You’ll rarely find empty hangers taking up space in a professional organizer’s closet. Clear the clutter by returning the wire ones to the dry cleaners. Then let go of the other unused hangers like the ones with weak clips and the small hangers that don’t slide on the closet bar.

22 / 24
Home decor - various neutral colored vases on rough distressed wooden shelf against grey wall.


Professional organizers will ask you how many bouquets of fresh flowers do you have out at one time? The answer helps you realize that you don’t need more than two or three vases. Bring the extras to a local florist or fill them with flowers from your garden and gift them to someone. Check out these pro flower arranging tips for your next bouquet.

23 / 24
Pile of paperwork against a textured green cubicle wall

Random papers

Expired coupons typically can’t be redeemed in the United States but are collected by Troopons to be used overseas by the military. Recycle take-out menus and business cards for people you don’t remember. Let go of the receipts you don’t need, old shopping lists and now-obscure notes you made to yourself.

24 / 24
Newspapers and magazines on old wood background.

Junk mail

They call it junk for a reason. Professional organizers immediately recycle unwanted catalogs, fliers and advertisements. While you’re at it, toss the huge stash of greeting cards and return address labels sent to you from charitable organizations. Check this out if you want to stop the junk mail from coming in the first place.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest