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A Professional Organizer Reveals: 9 Ways to Get Rid of Junk (Without Guilt)

You want to get rid of clutter and clean up your house, but it can be hard to part with sentimental items or throw things out for good. Here, a professional organizer reveals her secrets.

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How to ditch: Unknown cords

If you come across an unknown cord, label it “unknown” with an expiration date of one year. This gives you enough time to find the match. (For example, in eight months you might find it goes with a holiday decoration). If you find the match, re-label it. If not, toss it!

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How to ditch: Water bottles

Has your kitchen cabinet turned into a water bottle graveyard? Here’s what you really need. Keep two travel mugs and water bottles per family member who uses at least one per week. Keep only one per family member if they are used less often.

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How to ditch: Vases

For a clever way to toss unnecessary vases, fill them with flowers from your garden and give them away to friends and neighbors.

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How to ditch: A bathrobe you hate or never wear

No one says you have to own a bathrobe. Sometimes what sounds luxurious is just an extra thing to figure out what to do with.

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How to ditch: Single socks

If you have any orphaned socks, toss them in with your cleaning supplies. They work well for dusting.

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How to ditch: Manicure and nail stuff

If you never touch up your nails at home and always go to the salon, toss all your polishes. However, bringing your own color with you means you can touch up at home without an additional trip to the salon. Also, chances are you don’t need all the manicure tools that come in a nail set. Keep the ones that work well and toss the rest.

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How to ditch: Kids’ goodie bag junk

It can be helpful to box up and store the small plastic toys that come in goodie bags and drive-thru meals to use in future school projects, like three-dimensional dioramas.

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How to ditch: Old pens

When you find yourself constantly skipping over a pen in the drawer or pen cup, that’s a clue you need to toss it.

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How to ditch: A random sentimental gadget

Want to hang on to a sentimental gadget (like a vegetable peeler used by your grandmother) that no longer works very well? Blend it in with your kitchen décor as a piece of art. For example, you could place it in a clear mason jar on a kitchen shelf.

Keep This, Toss That

In her new book, Keep This, Toss That, professional organizer Jamie Novak reveals thousands of secrets, tips, and tricks to unclutter your life and save time, money, space, and sanity. Learn more and buy the book here.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat