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Home clutter culprits: 10 big and small items it's probably time to say goodbye to

From old tech to that broken vacuum cleaner, Laura de Barra shares her must-go list.

LAURA DE BARRA regularly brings her lifestyle and home maintenance masterclasses to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on This week: an expert guide to decluttering, starting with the ten items it’s finally time to remove from your rooms.

IN MY WORK with rental properties, I see a lot of recently-vacated apartments. It’s always the same items left in drawers, cupboards or bags, usually left behind as people didn’t know how to get rid of them, or they were long forgotten.

If you feel your home is due to purge, here are some items you’ve probably forgotten about, and how to dispose of them.

1. Old phones and other unused tech
Although it may not be of any use to you anymore, there are many places that will happily take your old phone, camera and other tech. Many charities will either reuse, donate or sell your old phones, so this donation can go a long way. You can also pop your phone up on a market site and offer it to someone who needs on, free of charge. Don’t forget to check if you still have accessories, charges or the original boxes as it can really help the next user. If the tech is broken beyond repair, take it to your nearest WEEE facility for recycling. Whatever you decide, make sure you wipe all personal data, take out any batteries or parts that cannot go in recycling and clean the item down.

shutterstock_640219993 (1) Shutterstock / diy13 Shutterstock / diy13 / diy13

2. That forgotten vacuum cleaner
I can’t even tell you how many abandoned vacuums I come across. Some will have been abandoned in favour of a cordless vacuum, others have simply broken. If it’s the latter, you need to bring it to your local WEEE facility, as it’s an electrical item. Some electronic stores or vacuum brands will also have drop off points or a free returns service that will take care of recycling it for you. If you know it has more life left in it yet, you can donate your old vacuum once charity shops open again. Just make sure you hand it over with an empty, clean waste compartment and any accessories you may have. 

3. Old or unnecessary batteries
These gals can spend a lifetime moving with us from house to house, drawer to drawer. Most people know that they cannot go in the regular waste bin but don’t know how to actually dump them properly. The next time you go to the supermarket, take note of where the battery collection is. Almost all supermarkets have a battery disposal bin that’s free to use. 

shutterstock_197883374 (1) Shutterstock / silabob Shutterstock / silabob / silabob

4. Coins from your holiday stash
If you have currency that you will not use laying in a drawer, the best thing to do is to donate it. The ISPCC for example will take any note or coin and even just €5 can help answer one call to a child that needs it.

5. Duvets and old bedding
There is always an old duvet or blanket to be found in a home! If you must throw it out, it goes in the general waste but always see if you can wash it and donate. You may not have any use in an old duvet but there are many places that will. Charity shops typically cannot take used bedding for hygiene reasons, so instead call your local animal shelter who will tell you if your donation is a good fit.

6. Stacks of paper and documents
When gathered together, the amount of paper hiding around your home will likely shock you. Spend a weekend going through the stored paper in your home and you will see how much of it is actually wasted space. You can recycle all old bills, junk mail, cards, wrapping paper and so on, just make sure you are shredding anything with personal info. Once that’s done, go paperless for your bills to stop them building up again.

shutterstock_116827417 (1) Shutterstock / RHIMAGE Shutterstock / RHIMAGE / RHIMAGE

7. Out-of-date or unwanted cosmetics
Most people do not realise when their cosmetics actually go off. There are two symbols on the packaging that will tell you when these should be dumped. One will have a date, the other will have a drawing of a tub and lid with a period such as ‘12M’ (12 months). That’s how long you have to use your product after opening it. If your cosmetics are past their best, check if the brand offers a returns incentive. Many will give you a free product or discount on your net purchase if you return some old items to them for recycling.

8. Out of date food and dry goods
The end of the month is when you should be moving anything close to use by date to the front of your cupboards to remind you to use them. However, for many people it’s an end of year task which often leads to a lot of old products being thrown out to make room for Christmas supplies. When you’re clearing out, have your bins open nearby. You can assess each item, and, if needed, empty its contents into the correct bin and its packaging in to another. It’s always handy to have a site like open too, to double check anything you’re not sure of and avoid any errors.

9. Sports equipment
Unused tennis rackets, footballs, hurls and so can hide out of sight for years. These are items that many charities would love. Once charity shops are open again, check who is taking old sports equipment in your area and free up some space.

shutterstock_184945304 (1) Shutterstock / Laborant Shutterstock / Laborant / Laborant

10. Tupperware
If you have lots of mismatched Tupperware and lids taking up space, you’re not alone. One thing you can do to reduce your waste is to buy a pack of stretchy lids that can fit most boxes. This means you will not need to chuck the lot and what you have has a new lease of life. For the items you will need to get rid of, you must check the type of plastic it is (many with have symbols or numbers) and recycle accordingly.

Want more tips and hacks? Laura de Barra’s debut book, Gaff Goddess: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help You Run Your Home is on shelves now, published by Transworld Ireland. Buy it here or in all good bookshops, and follow Laura on Instagram for even more cleaning and lifestyle tips.

More: How to load a dishwasher properly… according to someone who actually knows>

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