| Family First Feature |

10 Things to Toss

Here’s my list of the top ten things people aren’t throwing away, but really should — and how to do the deed



es, we know: Pesach cleaning is really about chometz. But while we’re emptying out the cabinets anyway, it’s the perfect opportunity to purge. Your home has been waiting for this.


1. "E-Waste" (Old Electronics)

The “sort of working” cordless phone (as long as you don’t need the number 7), the camera that doesn’t zoom, the MP3 player that doesn’t play, the extra cell phone you may need someday, the broken laptop with important information on it (I don’t remember what, but I’m sure it’s important…), batteries (do these work?), the printer/fax machine that could be fixed (it’s cheaper to buy a new one!), and wires upon wires upon wires….

These items are in the first box I throw into the trash when I help people organize their homes — and my clients thank me for it. Half of it is clunky junk not worthy of the space it takes, the other half is unidentifiable, and none of it is ever used.

Dump the Junk

You can deal with this quickly. Pull out a few old electronic toys this afternoon and have the kids check all the batteries in them. Toss any electronics you haven’t used in the past year. Any wire that’s stuck in a tangle is one you obviously haven’t needed. And if you do, the local hardware store will be happy to sell you another one for a few dollars. 


2. Online Shopping Fails 

This is the newest type of clutter I find in my client’s homes. The intricate organizer that doesn’t actually organize, the funky sandwich cutters that are the wrong size for the shape of bread sold in your country, the throw pillows you thought would match the couch, the jacket that came in the wrong color and you didn’t have the time to return, the silicon butterfly pan that you bought on a whim and never used…. We save these items because we spent money on them. What we don’t realize is that not only did these items waste our money, they’re also wasting our precious space!

Dump the Junk 

Do a quick walk through your home and gather up these items. Post them in your local paper for sale, individually or as “best offer,” and if that fails, as giveaways. Even better — place them next to the garbage dumpsters. They’ll be gone in minutes.


3. Outdated Toys 

Many of the toys we own bring back warm memories, but honestly, their time is over. Brace yourself, children of the ’80s and ’90s: Bristle Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, baby toys such as stacking rings and snap-lock beads, that rotary phone on a string (what is that, Mommy?), Care Bears, My Little Pony, Life, Bingo, Etch-A-Sketch, and (dare I say) slinkies are all a thing of the past. Whether it’s because the more successful Magna-Tiles and Clics have been taking over, or the flashing lights and noises coming from the latest baby toys make that stacking tower look boring… no one plays with these oldies-but-not-goodies, so just let go, and make room for more Playmobil in your home.

Dump the Junk 

If your toys are still in good condition (and I doubt they are), call your local chesed organization to collect them. If you’re really emotionally attached, clean your Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs well, and put them away to be used just on Pesach. For one week there’s a slight chance they’ll entertain someone….

4. Magazines

No more than three months’-worth of magazines should remain in your home. Use your magazine rack as a guide — the amount it holds is the amount that belongs. (Aha moment!) If you’re holding onto specific issues because there’s an article or recipe you want to reference, clip it and file it away. If you’re holding onto the magazine simply because you haven’t read it yet, by now it’s old news, so just toss it.

Dump the Junk

If you’ve been meaning to create an article or recipe file and still haven’t, delegate this job to a helpful child. Give her guidance on what type of articles you enjoy saving, and do a quick edit of her work when she’s finished. Even better — throw them all out and start this project with the upcoming magazines.


5. “Heirlooms”

Our homes are full of these. You need to define what is sentimental, valuable, or actually useful, and what’s antique garbage. Just because Bubby owned serving for 12 of the finest (and ugliest) china, doesn’t mean you have to own it as well. Although vintage is in, you’re not going to reach for Grandma’s old sheets when you’re making the beds. Hold on to Zeide’s Kiddush cup, but not his old ties. Anything sentimental should be stored in a way it can be enjoyed — on display or in an album. If it’s just collecting dust at the back of the basement and doesn’t have any true value, you can part with it.

Dump the Junk

If you think the item truly might be valuable, contact an antique store and price it. Contact your local chesed organization to make a pickup of anything useful, and throw the rest in the trash.


6. Serving pieces

At some point in your development of your balabusta skills (or lack thereof), you acquire a personal mehalach on how you cook, how you serve, what kitchen gadgets work for you, and which are nonsense. If you’ve reached this milestone, you can safely give away the serving platters you received as wedding gifts and never toiveled, the three-tiered petit four platter you toiveled but haven’t yet used, and the crystal wine decanter you never touched. These large and impractical items shouldn’t take up prime real estate in your kitchen.

Dump the Junk

Donate them to a simchah gemach. Your petit four platter will actually be used and will make someone’s simchah look spectacular. And if you ever do need it, you can simply borrow it back.


7. Historic Notes

When was the last time you looked up an answer to a hilchos Shabbos question in your seminary notebook? Did you open your old tefillah notes to reinspire your worn-out Shemoneh Esrehs? Does your husband still “hold of” the notes he took the last time he learnt the sugya? Does he refer to them? Can he even find them? There are notebooks upon notebooks, and many kuntrasim (published booklets) filling our shelves, taking the rightful place among all the new seforim we bring into our homes each year. If your go-to for inspiration is the neighborhood shiur, the Chazak hotline, or the Torah insights from your weekly magazines — you can safely put your seminary notebooks into genizah. If your husband’s notes are rotting in the bookcase and no one is collating them to write his magnum opus… you can ask him if he wants to part with much of them as well. While you’re at it, say goodbye to your collection of dirty bentshers, torn sifrei Tehillim, and worn siddurim.

Dump the Junk

I agree it’s incorrect to call this junk, but it nevertheless should be put into your local genizah receptacle. If you’re not sure what qualifies as genizah, check out gniza.org.il/en/ for a detailed list and answers to all of your genizah sh’eilos.


8. Items waiting for Eliyahu Hanavi

You know the bag with the sweater that was left at your 14-year-old’s shalom zachar, the pen you took home from someone’s office, the flip-flops that were mistakenly swapped at the pool, and the doll your daughter adopted and you don’t know from whom. How long do you have to hold onto these items? To what extent do you have to go to return them? There are answers to these halachic sh’eilos. It’s worthwhile to bring this bag of questions to your posek instead of having them take up prime realestate in your closet. For example, Rabbi A. Wiesenfeld, in his sefer “The Halachos of Hashavas Aveidah,” writes on page 84: “What should one do with all of the various items that guests and visitors have left in his home over the years? One should record in writing each item, and then he may use or discard the item. If/when the owner is located, he should give the owner the value of the item.”

Dump the Junk

Often, it’s complicated to find the contact information to return an item or doing so entails an embarrassing phone call. Get it onto your to-do list this Erev Pesach. Do what you can to return the items. And if it’s not feasible, ask the appropriate sh’eilos.


9. Shoes

Many homes I’ve seen could pass as a shoe store! Shoes to match the brown, black, blue, and beige outfits, flats, heels, sneakers for errands, sneakers for exercise, and a few extras for winter, summer, and in between, Crocs, light slippers, heavy slippers, Uggs, rain boots, warm boots, the favorite worn-out shoes (a few pairs of those), and the just-in-cases (a few pairs of those too)… The wife of the house has taken up all of the shoe space on her side of the closet, as well as her husband’s — and then complains that her husband leaves his shoes in the middle of the room! It’s time to pare down.

Dump the Junk

Get rid of one third of your shoes. Start with the ratty ones and then move on to the just-in-cases. Then give away the ones you thought were comfortable, but really aren’t. Next, get rid of two to three pairs of sneakers. If you’re on a roll, be brave and get rid of one or two pairs of shoes in perfectly good condition that you simply don’t wear.


10. Single Socks

These are not worth your precious time or energy. Throw them all out and start over. You should see the laundry baskets full of pair-less socks people hold onto — for years! If you must, set the timer and spend five minutes pairing up socks. To avoid the single sock scene completely, if your boys are close in age, buy all of them the exact same color and design so every sock you pull out is a pair. If you have a range of foot sizes in your home, choose a different color for each boy: All blue socks are Moishy’s, all grey socks are Chaim’s, and all black socks are Yaakov’s.

Dump the Junk

No regrets here. Just put it all straight into the garbage.

If you took this list seriously, your home just lost 100 lbs! Take a look around. You can see what’s in the closets, and nothing is falling out of the cabinets anymore. Amazing! Now you can start searching for chometz.


Yael Wiesner, author of How Does SHE Manage (Feldheim), works as a professional organizer and interior designer around Israel. She crafts beautiful rooms that will streamline your day, maximize your space, and increase efficiency in your home.

(Originally Featured in Family First, Issue 685)

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