Keep, Toss or Donate: A Simple Guide

When springtime comes around and the weather starts to finally turn nice again, homeowners and families across the country always start to think of one thing; spring cleaning. The fact is, spring cleaning is a ritual that’s been around for decades, an annual rite-of-passage that tells us it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new.

The only hold-up to spring cleaning really comes from the 3 biggest and most-asked questions that everyone always has, which are whether to keep something, toss it in the trash or donate it to goodwill or charity. This article will give you the help you need to answer all 3 and get your house spic-and-span for the new year ahead.

To Keep or Not to Keep

Although the term ‘spring cleaning’ conjures up visions of giving your home (or apartment) a deep clean, the truth is that most people get into spring cleaning to de-clutter their living space. That includes their bedrooms, closets, garages, attics, basement and any other area where they’ve stashed a lot of stuff that’s not being used. Clearing out closets for many is one of the biggest reasons to clean up in the spring, to make room for new clothing and shoes, although it’s certainly not the only reason.

Whatever you plan to clean-out, those 3 questions will start to gnaw away at your brain as soon as you start. Immediately your mind will begin to wonder what to do with all the things that, while you don’t want them, still have some value. That’s the key also, whether an item that you don’t use still has any value, and what type of ‘value’ that you’re talking about.

For example, a nice sweater or dress that’s still in good shape has monetary value and, depending on who purchased it and when/where it was used, might also have sentimental value. This can be said for practically anything in your home or apartment and, as you’re cleaning, it’s a question you’ll no doubt be asking yourself quite often; does this have any value to me? If it does, either monetarily or sentimentally, you’ll likely want to keep it rather than tossing it, although if you’re running out of space the decision gets a little bit more difficult.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Donating

If you’ve decided that an item you own doesn’t have any value to you, but it might have value for someone else, you can either decide to sell that item online or at a yard sale or donate the item to charity or goodwill. The truth is, however, that, unless you’re really hurting for cash-flow, donating your used stuff is a great way to help your fellow person while also getting your closet, garage or other living space back.

So, then the question becomes what to donate, and where? Also, what things are the best to donate and what things aren’t. You wouldn’t, for example, want to donate your old, grungy sneakers with the holes in the soles because, let’s be honest, nobody’s going to want them. That old toothbrush? That’s a definite toss. But clothing that’s gently worn, kitchen gadgets that still work and shoes that are still in good shape are perfect for donating and might really be able to help someone.

The biggest question to answer when thinking about donating something is simply this; does it have any value left that another person can take advantage of? If the answer to that question is yes then don’t toss it but donate it instead and give someone of lesser means the opportunity to use whatever it is you’re tossing.

When to Toss It

If you have something that has no value to you or anyone else, then tossing it in the trash is your best bet. That toothbrush we talked about is a good example, but it also applies to things that are broken, falling apart or just plain worn out. If you say to yourself “who would want this piece of junk?” then it’s likely that you should toss it and be done with it. Do remember the adage, however, about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure and really look at something hard before giving it the old heave-ho.

What Are the Things You Should Keep?

  • Winter clothing (for next year)
  • Clothes that still fit, look good and are in style
  • Anything you use once in a while
  • Anything with strong sentimental value
  • Anything with very high monetary value
  • Sports equipment you still use
  • Holiday decorations
  • Winter bedding like comforters

What Are the Things You Should Donate to Charity and/or Goodwill?

This assumes that you don’t want the item any longer and that it doesn’t hold any sentimental or high monetary value. Also, for the sake of this article, ‘charity’ is any organization that accepts donations and ‘Goodwill’ is the actual entity that has locations across the U.S.

  • Any clothing that’s in decent shape but you don’t want anymore
  • Shoes, sneakers and boots that are in good shape
  • Linens, bedding, towels
  • Electrical appliances that still work
  • Sports equipment you don’t use
  • Toys that still work and have all their parts (but ask your kids first!)
  • Books
  • Furniture
  • Costume jewelry
  • Paintings, posters and wall art
  • Pillows

What Are the Things You Should Toss?

  • Clothing that’s falling apart
  • Toys that are broken or missing many pieces
  • Broken electronics
  • Furniture that’s falling apart
  • Anything that you believe holds no value for anyone

At the end of the day, the choice of whether to keep, toss or donate falls on your shoulders. Keep in mind that, if you really want to keep a lot of things but you’re running out of space, you can always rent a small storage unit near your home to store those things until you need them, want to use them or have more space to store them.

Also remember that, if it’s still in good shape and working but you just don’t want it, donating your stuff is a very noble thing to do and will help others who don’t have it as good as you do. It might not be valuable to you anymore but, to someone else, might be exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Best of luck with your spring cleaning!

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About the Author: Rob Loveless