Throw Away 50 Things!

It is time, yet again, to grab a drawer, closet, refrigerator or medicine cabinet and start chucking stuff.  You may think we just finished the most magical season of the year, but the truth is … it has just arrived.

It is THROW AWAY 50 THINGS season, which is only eclipsed in terms of excitement by the one day a year your hair, nails, outfit and skin look good, by some miracle, all at the same time.  Sadly this “time” is usually at 1 a.m. after coming home from a bar and is also mainly imaginary.

January is traditionally the clearing out, decluttering, cleaning up, paring down season. That’s why plastic totes, cutlery trays and storage towers are on sale this month.  But those things really just help your organize or hide your crap,  when what you really need to do is get RID of it.

As fond as you are of the operation manual for the 20 year old VCR you threw out 9 years ago, you can probably part with it without consequence.

I have an entire folder filled with useless manuals. It started out as a great way to keep track of all them and has ended with me housing manuals from products that have long been thrown out, given away or deemed hazardous by all countries but China.

So that is the first thing I tackled in my Throw Away 50 Things Challenge.  My collection of manuals.






I had a manual on how to operate my toaster.  A toaster.  How to operate it.

I’m pretty confident in my toasting skills so I took a risk and threw it out.

The second thing I tackled was the entire closet that the manual folder is in.  I lost count, but I threw out approximately 14,543,256 things.

This is what it looked like when I started.  I’ll allow you a moment now to snoop through all of my things as I know you will.  It’s human nature.




And after a few hours of  chucking and reorganizing …




It still doesn’t look like something that would be in Martha Stewart’s or even Jon Stewart’s house but it’s better than it was.  The next time I go to Ikea to pick up a hotdog, I’ll check the As Is section for more shelves so there isn’t as much wasted space.


Now I just have to tackle the other side of the closet.




Oh, you finally made it to this sentence did you?  Dirty gawker.

Now it’s your turn.  Throw Away 50 things and make your life easier, more organized, simpler and safer (no one should own 30 year old fireworks).  Once you do it, let everyone know what you got rid of in the comment section.

More organizing incentives coming up on Wednesday, this time … the freezer.  How I got twice as much into the same amount of space, which is not unlike what I’m currently doing with this year’s thighs in last year’s jeans.

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  1. Diana says:

    When you get totally organized .. Can you come over my house and help me in my sewing room ?

    Girl you got much more ambition than I do today .. Keep it up (just don’t throw out the kids or the animals !!).

  2. Debison says:

    Is it wrong that I find great joy in throwing things away? I love the feeling after Christmas of a decluttered house (since the tree is now down and I have regained square footage). Every day this past week I have recycled or thrown LOTS of things away. It feels refreshing to me.

  3. Laura says:

    I am currently selling my junk on Facebook neighbourhood swap groups. But what on earth should I do with my dvds and cds?

  4. barbee says:

    Sorry- but that is nothing in my world of crap piles. But I am inspired.

  5. Sheryl says:

    I had a booth at a flea market yesterday and afterwards, I only brought home one box and took six to Goodwill. I’m sorry, I didn’t follow your advice and throw it away but now someone else can take it home and save it to throw away NEXT year.

  6. Karen says:

    I know. I chucked the majority of my DVDs a few years ago but I can’t bring myself to get rid of my CDs. I also can’t bring myself to transfer them to my computer and then to my iPhone. I choose to pretend they don’t exist. ~ karen!

  7. Karen says:

    Don’t forget I threw out/gave away/sold almost everything in my house a few years ago. (I tend to be a bit extreme) So this is maintenance. But I have no doubt you have an impressive amount of crap. 🙂 ~ karen!

  8. Marilyn Harrison says:

    I/we have started to tackle our filing cabinet and, wow, ,,lol, it’s amazing just how much paper work we had kept.
    We do this at least once a year and it keeps getting to look the same each time. .
    Feels like we go in circles.
    We do a lot of shredding papers ,well I do it.
    Ok….your turn people .

  9. Jennifer (the 2ND one) says:

    I woke up one day last week feeling like I wanted to organize something. This is unusual, so I went with it. I organized my makeup drawer, realizing that I didn’t need to root through 10 purple eyeliners every single day, when I really only use one. Then, still amazed at my enthusiasm, I went for… the kitchen junk drawer. I literally found 54 batteries that have not expired and 3 that had. Now I’m encouraging everyone in the family to use battery-operated items. I got such a good feeling from organizing and purging that I haven’t felt the need to clean anything else since! Too bad my Christmas things aren’t put away yet…

  10. Cynthia says:

    I threw out daggy knickers. It’s the best way to force myself to buy new ones.

    Then I gradually went through every drawer and cupboard in my house. What a show-off. I threw out patty cake pans , boxes that I might use to post stuff to someone, daggy tea towels, worn shoes and ones that annoy me.

    I can’t bear to throw out one thing. A beautiful cream with coffee lace negligee set that is all permanent pleats and diaphamous. Just like something from the fifties. I have worn it once and often think of chopping it up to make a dress, but surely someone will need a negligee set one day.

    I even tried to give it to the crazy lady who dresses like Marilyn Monroe in our city, but got tired of waiting in the mall for her to turn up. Maybe she saw me first.

    Then I got on ebay and bid on five pairs of shoes, two Glomesh coin purses and a tapestry purse. So far, I have won three pairs of shoes and three purses.

    See? You have to create a void as nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it up with new shoes and purses.

  11. Grammy says:

    Forgive me, but your “before” looks better than most of my “afters”. No, I am not proud of that. It’s just that I have a million excuses (beginning with I’m old, I’ve lived in this house nearly forty years, I have a husband who always puts things where they don’t belong) blah blah blah. See how a really experienced slob can find an infinite number of reasons for why throwing 50 things away only makes it look better for about 5 minutes before all the other crap has expanded to fill the tiny spaces that were cleared?

    It so happens that I had already pledged to myself that this month I am going to throw a whole bunch of things away, and I devised a way to shame/motivate myself into actually doing it: take a picture first, then after. So now I’m feeling pretty good because you took a before/after picture so that means I’m doing it right. Right? I began yesterday. I threw away all my not-perfect undies, then stuffed all my not-perfect or mismatched socks in a bag to use for dusting and hand puppets and other useful things, which made my dresser drawer full of only nice things. I also cleared out all the outgrown clothes in my grandson’s room. Tomorrow I start on my bedroom closet. I would win a prize if it was a competition for how many things get thrown away simply because I have so much useless stuff to choose from.

  12. Cyndi P says:

    ONLY 50?
    Girl, I wanna chuck 50,000 pieces of crap. I’ve been on a purge binge for the last year and a half
    and have only scratched part of that itch. I was in the craft industry for a long time and did many crafts prior to that, you can’t even imagine how much I had crammed everywhere I could possibly shove something into!
    Now I have it pared down to just two rooms.
    I’m a purging Ninja…a slow Ninja, but a Ninja none the less!

  13. Karen says:

    Ha! There’s the spirit, you nutjob. I like that! Purge until paralysed little Ninja. ~ karen!

  14. Jennifer says:

    I have the same (probably 2) folders filled with manuals for every single thing we have bought in the past 10 years. I think about those folders while I’m Googling how to fix one of the things we have bought in the past 10 years!! I’m chucking them all tomorrow! It will free up some space for all those hard copies of our tax returns! ( that we look at like, never!)

  15. Tasha says:

    My husband actually thinks the “Go through everything and get rid of stuff you don’t use” thing that we do in the first week of January is better than Christmas. Because we feel guilty about chucking stuff, he took pictures of them, made a pdf, and emailed it our neighbours. We “shared” about half the stuff and the rest went in the dumpster.

    One trick that we do, is if there is something we are not certain about, then we/he writes, “If not used by December 20XX, throw away.” That way, when we pull out the unused, but awesome thing (I am looking at you, great salad spinner), and I see that I did not use it in 12 months because it said that, there was no discussion about keeping it. If I had used it, I would have washed that notice off. Sigh. It was an awesome spinner, and I hope my neighbour uses it more than I did.

  16. Claudia says:

    We DID transfer the CDs to the computer (and to the mobile phones), as soon as it was possible. But we still keep the CDs… (in a big drawer that is so full of stacked CDs that noone ever dares open it lest the whole drawer might break off. Or the whole cabinet that contains the drawer might collapse…)

  17. Debbie says:

    If they are kid dvds and cds, you could donate them to a school or a hospital. You can also recycle them. I found this site for Canada: and I know about this site for the US:

    There are other sites for information, but I am too tired! Good night!

  18. Debbie says:

    I use my salad spinner weekly. It saves me having to dry greens with towels or paper towels and does a better job. I have two sizes!

    Do you have a Freecyle network near you? It is an awesome thing. Sort of what you did with your neighbors, but organized. Check it out and see if there is a group near you. I love Freecycling!

  19. Alison says:

    I just kicked my sh*thead boyfriend and all of his stuff out; does this count towards my 50 things? I mean, there’s still more to organize, but I feel like a whole human being is a good start…

  20. judy says:

    Boy does this hit my shame-guilt nerve. I am definitely ADD although when I was a kid 70 years ago they called me “scatterbrain” and Hey! Stupid! Because what was in my peripheral vision was always more interesting than what I was supposed to be attending to. So for the last umpteen years I have vowed that when they cart me out of here the Damn house will be “lovely”. We have pretty things-enough to open a Junk Shop-but everything is always catty-wampus. I constantly tear things apart to organize and wind up with huge piles of stuff on the bedroom floor for days. After the 98 lb. Dog sleeps on it for a few nights and I wash and dry it all again I stuff it in big green trash bags and hide it in the back bedroom. I have done this now three times! I am going to take your advice-I am not going to even look at it I am not going to look at it muse about if I should save the not so nice for cleaning clothes or cleaning cloths I am going to Pitch it. I feel very happy right now and since its 2:24 in the morning I think I’ll go to bed. Whew! You may have fixed what’s left of my life. Thank You!

  21. janni says:

    Alison~ You rock! Letting go of (or kicking out ) people who drain the life out of you is the best ever! Congratulations on your new start.
    Best wishes, Janni

  22. janni says:

    Truly, thanks for sharing the pics of your less than perfect closets.
    Janni 🙂

  23. Mama Toto says:

    I’m inspired – I like the idea of taking before & after pictures. Most people have a junk drawer – we have a junk closet! I think I have to pretend that we’re putting the house up for sale, or doing a house exchange. I’m just amazed at all the CD’s you have! Have you ever counted them? Regarding manuals – I cut off the other languages!

  24. Debbie Bashford says:

    4 large green garbage bags full of clothes are now in the trunk of my car to be taken to the second hand store.

  25. Terri in Colorado says:

    I bought one of those roll-out cabinet shelves last summer. Finally installed it on New Years, and reorganized my pots and pans. I found several orphan lids that don’t fit any pan I own. I understand how socks can go missing in the wash, but pans? Really?

  26. Tigersmom says:

    In my opinion, that definitely counts. It even earns you a pass if you feel the need to bask in having your stuff wherever you want it for a while. Congrats on your new freedom from a sh*thead.

  27. Tigersmom says:

    This task is my current mission. We’ve only been in this house 3.5 years and the amount we have accumulated is nutty. Apparently there is a down side to having loads of storage in a home for a person who thinks they should keep everything because they may find a use for it eventually.

  28. Alice says:

    I hope people are donating usable things and recycling. Please, throwing away anything that can be used in some fashion is just moving your clutter on to the public. (Sorry to be so preachy.)

  29. Good morning Karen!
    I’m ahead of you (for probably the only time in my life!)…I started this last week. The things I found in my medicine cabinet! Mostly cos it’s so high up (safety!) that I need a ladder to reach it, so when stuff is put there, it’s never taken out by me!
    Started on freezer this morning..3 month old, dried-out naan bread, ugh!

  30. Su says:

    it sooooo counts….

  31. Denise says:

    Does it count if your DH gets your son (who moved into his own house in JUNE) cleared out a large trash bag will of clothes to donate (not to mention a big assed boom box) and took another basket of clothes to his place?;)

  32. Diane says:

    I save all my manuals electronically. You can get alm0st every manual online. I am also not sure how many lint rollers one person needs?!? But you have inspired me to take the plunge in a closet I have been ignoring. I am pretty sure the monsters are having a party in there and won’t be happy when I begin the exorcism, but I will do it anyway. I am brave and am ready to eliminate the load o’crap I have been composting for so long! Thanks Karen!

  33. Barb says:

    Timely topic! I “might” be having company this month so thought the purge should start now. And when I have the urge, I’d better go for it before it passes (usually all too quickly)! The guest room is presentable and I moved onto and completed the linen closet. Next is the kitchen, which I’ve avoided for years. It’s always seemed a herculean task to pull everything out and pitch…but I’m inspired! If I don’t reappear in two days…come and get me!

  34. burbhappy says:

    yeah for the lint roller noticers – !!!

  35. Mary Werner says:

    I can’t do it – I would have never thrown out the toaster manual – I keep crap like that to make journals and stuff for my art. At least that is what the hoarders always say – they need it. But every time someone wants something they come and ask me and I can go directly to the pile that contains their item. I wish I could throw it out – but I have a personality disorder I’m sure that allows me to see potential in every stinking thing that comes to me free. Karen, why do you have what appears to be 4 lint rollers? I can see a trio of variegated sizes and a large beautifully colored one that I bet cleans up with water. What’s up with that collection?

  36. Susan says:

    Daggy knickers. What a wonderful expression, love it! I go about it the other way – buy new ones with the intention of throwing out the daggy ones and all it does is gives me extra time before I have to do a laundry. You go through them in order: most comfortable, next best, ones that don’t fit quite as well, the new ones you’ve been saving for a doctor’s appointment, and then you’re down to the daggy ones that you were going to throw out. Next time. That’s the worst (or best) part about living alone – your laundry days are dependant on your supplies of underwear.

  37. Heather says:

    18 months ago I moved from a 2400 sq foot house to a 750 sq ft apartment. Hubby retired & is now living his dream at the cottage (1000 sq ft) & since I am not ready to retire (I am MUCH younger 🙂 )I got an apartment for my daughter and myself. (Note: no, we are not separated…we just spend a lot of time apart. After 30 some odd years that is not necessarily a bad thing.) So when the house sold we had to purge which I have to say was a very difficult thing as we lived in the house my husband grew up in for 60 some odd years so you can imagine how much STUFF we had. (just to clarify- I didn’t live in the house for 60 some odd years) So we donated tons, sent tons to the cottage garage & then stuff to my apartment and the garbage. I would unpack boxes at the apartment & decide…nope…don’t need that…pack it back up again…donate it. We are still going through boxes at the cottage & every time we open another box we end up chucking most of it. In the summer we put a table at the road with a big FREE sign. In cottage country people are always looking for stuff.

    Last year I signed up for the January Cure on Apartment Therapy and again this year:
    I don’t follow it step by step but it’s an incentive. Despite only being in my apartment for about a year and a half I still end up purging.

    So this month’s purging? Expired food items!! On the list…my pile of papers…the stuff that just keeps getting thrown on THE PILE. I need mood music & wine to get through that.

  38. Tracie says:

    I’m ready. I couldn’t bear to take my tree and decorations down until yesterday, but now that I have, boy am I ready! I will let you know how it goes…

  39. nancy says:

    Done and done. All last week I did closets, drawers, the dreaded spice/baking supplies lazy susan (scary)….have filled up the recycle can and have boxes and boxes of hazmat stuff (old lotions, shampoos, expired otc meds, scrips, ointments, electronics) that I don’t want to go to the landfill or water treatment plant…and that’s my tip to you: haz mat that kind of stuff if you can. Think about where that 1/2 bottle of lotion will end up.

  40. MelissaM says:

    Regarding the manuals, I keep them for major appliances. I actually have organized binders, one for “stays with house” with stuff like the furnace info, stove, fridge, etc. and the other for stuff we would take when we move (like a toaster, but I’ll admit I don’t keep those manuals. Like for the freezer.) When we moved, we left the “stays” binder. It was done for us when we bought our first house, and I appreciated knowing when the dishwasher was installed (and that there were colored panels stored in the door if we wanted to swap out the color) and having the a/c info, etc.

    The stuff in the “keep” binder can be helpful to know you bought the XYZ-123 widget machine and that part you need to replace is ASDF1.01 or whatever.

    I should mention, this is one of the few areas of my life that I am actually organized. But I like to think it helps.

  41. kari says:

    The BEST count ever!

  42. Carolyne says:

    Last year we took on the “Minimalism Game” for two months. Not so fun by the end of the month.

    the rules. on the first day of the month throw out 1 thing ( and yes, throw means donate, give, sell, etc.), just get it out or your house. On the 2nd two things, on the 3rd three things. Sounds easy. Not so much on the 31st when you have already tossed over 450 things.

    Hubby found it very stressful. but we did get rid of almost 1500 things over the two months.

  43. magali says:

    Done! It seems every time you give us this homework I am about to or have just moved. When it was time to pack the junk drawers I actually sorted and threw out/recycled everything I could instead of shoving everything in a box like I wanted to do. *proud face*
    Now we are in a sublet with all our stuff in storage until we find where we want to live. Should I do the owners a favour and sort one of their closets?!

  44. Kendall says:

    My children say, “If you stand still long enough, Mama will clean you out and organize you!” This may in fact be true! I really do love a purging/cleaning out/moving on/organizing project. I really do. I find it quite Zen. But, I recognize that not everyone feels the same.

    Cleaning out isn’t just a blip on the to do list of the mom. It can be the responsibility (Zen inducing pleasure) of the entire family!

    Uniting a family on the verge of a purge is a great way to start:

    I’m off to meditate- aka clean out the pantry.

    PS I find your blog quite enjoyable!

  45. Kitten Caboodle says:

    Nope. Not weird at all. I live to throw things away – it is very satisfying. I guarantee you I threw 25 things away this past weekend without even thinking about it. Off the top of my head: a mostly dry bottle of Krazy Glue that I knew would be completely useless when I actually needed it, an olive jar when I realized I had two half-full jars in my fridge (no clue how that happened), two used gift cards, and, from under the sink: a 1/4 container of Swiffer Wet refill pads that had completely dried up, at least 3 sponges and two 7-year old ant traps from a box of 8. (Do ant traps expire? Don’t know, don’t care.)

  46. Beth Howard says:

    But what’s on the very tippy-top of the whole shelf unit? Looks like some cassette tapes and a manual that you thought you’ d lost and have really needed. By the way, I transferred all my CDs to the computer, then immediately got a ransomware virus. I refuse to be manipulated by annonymus cyber thieves so I lost all my music and photos. The only cure for the virus is to have your computer totally wiped clean and then reinstall everything. Anything not backed up previrus is gone. :'(

  47. Carswell says:

    You need several lint rollers if you have furry companions of the four legged variety. They’re great for getting pet hair off furniture – way better than a vacuum.

  48. Dan says:

    If you’re going to encourage us to snoop through your cupboards, please make the images clicky to a bigger version so we can really dig in, mmmmkay? What we have now is the equivalent of looking into your neighbour’s kitchen with binoculars. And the last time my, ummm, *coworker* did that……well, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, can you?

  49. Beth Howard says:

    The upside is that my computer is totally clutter-free!

  50. Kathy says:

    4 sticky lint rollers? tsk tsk 🙂

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