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15 Things a Professional Organizer Would Get Rid of Before Winter

If an expert wouldn't keep this stuff, why would you?

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Toss without a second thought

Winter is coming, and you’re about to spend more time at home—a lot more time. If you turn yours into a cozy oasis, you’ll be a lot happier about that. Doing it now will put you in the right mindset for this often-tricky season because you’ll feel ready to take it on as opposed to feeling overwhelmed when it hits. Organizing your space is really the key here, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a professional organizer. Clear the clutter by tossing old, broken, and used-up items, and then transform your abode with some useful (and fun!) replacements. One word of warning, though: Avoid these things professional organizers never buy so you don’t accidentally create more clutter.

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A crumbling fall wreath

Sure, it’s beautiful in its prime, but if the wreath hanging from your front door loses leaves every time you open and close said door, it’s time to toss it. Let go of the crumbling one you’ve had forever and trade it for a stunning juniper pine wreath. The greenery is a classic for the winter and can easily be dressed up for the holidays. What else should you get? Find the holiday decor that perfectly suits your personal style, based on your zodiac.

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Disintegrating party supplies

Prepare for your New Year’s celebration now by decluttering the decorations bin. Discard torn, bent, and broken leftover banners and balloons from Independence Day and Halloween. It may seem early, but it’s smart to take care of this before the craziness of the winter holidays hits. And it will be well worth it since you can ring in the new year on a clutter-free note and celebrate in style with some classy gold and black decorations. Did you know this is the reason we drop a ball on New Year’s Eve?

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Rusty barbecue tools

Get rid of those rusty tongs that just can’t be cleaned, as well as that super old grill spatula. Over the winter, you’ll be whipping up comfort food on your stovetop, where you can prepare just about any meal with a spurtle. Never heard of a spurtle? It’s the best parts of a spoon and spatula combined into one handy tool—perfect for stirring oatmeal, soups, stews, and broths. In addition to the spurtle, here are the 21 essential kitchen tools every cook should have.

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Tattered towels

If your pool and beach towels aren’t in tip-top shape, it’s time to say goodbye. But don’t just throw them out—donate them to a local pet shelter! Shelter volunteers are constantly cleaning and can put those old towels to good use. Now that you have the extra space in your linen closet, treat yourself to a fluffy set of highly absorbent Turkish towels. This time around, make sure you know these 10 tricks for making your towels last longer.

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Damaged tote bags

If you have a tote bag with a broken strap, it’s time to upgrade. Yep, you’ve been meaning to fix it, but let’s get real: If it’s been sitting in the back of your closet forever and it still has some beach sand at the bottom, it’s never going to happen. Toss it and go with a sturdier tote, like this oversize and super affordable canvas bag from Dalix. With more than a thousand positive reviews and a price tag of just $12.98, you really can’t go wrong. While you can stuff it to the brim, you really shouldn’t—for your own sake. Here are 8 ways to downsize your 10-pound bag—and avoid back problems later.

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Old baseball hats

The time has come to toss those baseball hats that are too worn to make it through another season. Keep yourself warm with a winter beanie that includes a Bluetooth speaker. Not only will you be stylish, but you’ll also get to enjoy your favorite tunes, cord-free. Whatever you do, though, don’t store it in a deep bin. That’s just one of the things you might be doing to your closet that professional organizers wouldn’t.

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Self-tanning lotion

The time for self-tanners is over, and that little bit left in the tube won’t be good next year. Plus, that tube is just taking up space. Swap it for a new bottle of nourishing hand lotion. Winter weather can wreak havoc on your hands, so prevention is key. This moisturizer from Bliss is a fan favorite, as are these 12 hand creams with nearly perfect reviews.

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Unused and broken outdoor games

With the cooler weather approaching, you’ll be more focused on indoor activities like jigsaw puzzles. Instead of packing away those outdoor games that are broken or missing pieces and saying you’ll deal with them next season, do it now. You’ll thank yourself in a few months. While you’re at it, also get rid of things like the dusty horseshoe game that no one has played in years. Before you take start that puzzle, check out these tricks to solving a jigsaw puzzle fast, according to jigsaw champions.

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Your seashell collection

If you’re holding onto summer by holding onto those seashells you collected on your beach trips, it’s time to let go. Crafty types might want to put them to good use in an actual display they can take out year after year. If you’re the furthest thing from crafty, clean house. That frees up space to display a set of birch bark flameless candles that look like they’re made by Mother Nature. Collecting seashells and stamps are common things to do, but these 10 utterly bizarre collections will make those hobbies seem quaint.

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Faded swimsuits

A chill in the air means it’s time to pack away the summer swimwear and bring out the sweaters. Before boxing up your swimsuits, be sure to discard the faded ones, the not-so-flattering ones, and the ones with stretched-out elastic. Over the winter, you’ll find yourself reaching for a comfy, cable-knit sweater, and who wouldn’t love one with pockets? You’ll want to live in this stylish, cozy, and super affordable cardigan. Here are another 65 things from Amazon you’ll use every day.

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Threadbare throw blankets

That old throw isn’t going to keep you warm this winter. You know which one we’re talking about—the stretched-out, fraying one with the hole in the corner. It was great while it lasted, but now it’s time for something new. Treat yourself to a heated and weighted blanket that feels like a hug as you curl up on the couch with a good book or your favorite Netflix show. If you think the heated component might be too much for you, try one of these other weighted blankets for every type of sleeper.

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Old spices

The time for the BBQ spice rub has passed, and whatever you have in your pantry won’t be nearly as tasty next summer. While you’re at it, ditch the expired spices, the jars with too little left to use in a recipe, and the flavors you just don’t like. That will make room for the Gourmet Collection’s mouthwatering spice blend to sprinkle on roasted veggies and French fries. It includes mustard, celery seed, and sage—perfect for all those comforting winter dishes. So, how long do spices really last? We’ve got the definitive answer.

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Leaky water bottles

Is your kitchen cabinet a cluttered mess of unused water bottles? Declutter your drinkware cabinet by tossing the ones that leak, the ones that are missing a lid, and the ones that sweat. Get ready for warm winter beverages with a sweatproof, insulated tumbler from Umite Chef, which has more than 1,600 five-star reviews. By the way, here’s how often you should wash your reusable water bottle.

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Broken flip-flops

The time has come to throw out the flip-flops with the uncomfortable toe peg and the ones that are so well-worn, they won’t make it to next summer. Make space in your closet and organize the shoes and sandals you do enjoy wearing. Then invest in a pair of cozy faux-fur slippers that will keep your feet snug and warm all winter long.

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Flimsy rakes

Do you have a rake with missing tines? Or one that’s too flimsy to actually get the job done? Dump it and make room for a more useful winter tool: the snow shovel. Make shoveling a whole lot easier by choosing an ergonomic option, like this Snow Joe Shovelution strain-reducing snow shovel. Your back will thank you. Here are more things you’ll regret leaving in your garage this winter.

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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