Every spring cleaner worth her salts knows the best way to get rid of clutter and effectively cleanse storage spaces of unused and unwanted possessions is to play the game “Keep, Toss, Donate.” For those not in-the-know, the game entails sifting through common storage spaces, including closets, garages, attics, and basements, and placing every item into one of three piles: one for items to keep, one for items to throw away, and one for items that can be donated for others to use. It is an effective way to quickly rid your home of unnecessary clutter ― unless you are doing it wrong.
Whether this is your first time playing “Keep, Toss, Donate” or you aren’t certain that you are following the rules correctly, here is a simplified guide to knowing which of your possessions you should keep, toss, and donate.
What to Keep
The first major criterion for holding onto something is regular use. Perhaps obviously, if you use something every day, you probably shouldn’t consider giving it up. However, the definition of “regular” might change from person to person or item to item. For example, you might consider an annual donning of your formalwear enough to store your ball gown or tuxedo, but a single yearly use of your family boat probably isn’t worth the cost of keeping it.
The second rule for keeping is good condition. You want to avoid holding onto too much old, worn-out, and broken junk, which quickly qualifies your home as a hoarding paradise. Everything you keep should look new and be in working order. The only exception for this is sentimental value. Family heirlooms might have a vintage appeal, but it is probably worth the expense of repairing and restoring beloved sentimental items to keep them from complete disintegration.
What to Toss
The best word to describe the items in your “toss” pile is “garbage.” Though other sites may explain them as things you cannot possibly reuse or upcycle, this kind of thinking can easily become impractical. The internet has taught us that nearly anything can be transformed into something potentially valuable, so the question isn’t whether the item is useful; it’s whether you will devote the time and resources to making it useful. If the answer is no ― which it almost always is ― then items like old bicycle inner tubes, chipped plates, ratty clothing, and outdated food should go straight into the trash can or recycling bin.
What to Donate
Not everything you don’t keep should be thrown away. While you don’t use many of your possessions regularly, someone else might. Local, national, and international charities gladly accept donations of your old belongings to help people in need.
The requirements for donations vary depending on what or where you expect to give. Generally, rare or expensive items, like electronics or collectibles, have a market regardless of their state, but more common possessions, like clothing or small appliances, should function well and look good.
Some charities are extremely specific about the type and quality of goods they will take. For example, Boat Angel takes in only boats and cars, though they are less concerned about donations’ condition. Likewise, some charities gladly accept any donations regardless of condition. Places like women’s shelters are happy to take in nearly anything, from hygiene products to clothing to reading materials. After finishing your game of “Keep, Toss, Donate,” you should do some research to determine the best charity for the items you want to give away.
What to Do With Everything Else
Unfortunately, clutter can come back quickly, even after a long, rousing game of “Keep, Toss, Donate.” To prevent the necessity of playing every other weekend, you should investigate potential sources of new possessions that are clogging your closets and filling your garage. For example, subscription services may be fun, but if you aren’t using your new items between shipments, your home will be cluttered again in just a few weeks. You should cancel all but one subscription box ― as well as unread magazine and newspaper subscriptions while you’re at it.
If you did decide to keep some potential garbage in the hopes of completing a fantastic upcycle project, you must complete that undertaking as soon as possible. Until the job is done, your progress remains worthless clutter that is negatively impacting the look and feel of your home.
“Keep, Toss, Donate” is an important game ― one that you and your family should play at least once a year. Like Monopoly, it might not be fun while you’re playing, but when it’s over, you’ll feel closer (and cleaner) than ever before.