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Out of Service

What’s taking up prime real-estate in your home? Guidelines for when to buy, when to keep, and when to toss

  have a confession to make.Please don’t judge me.

I don’t iron.

I own an iron — I bought it as a kallah. It’s still standing in the back of my storage closet, prim and pristine, in its original packaging. I have an allergy to fussy children’s clothes and my husband wears non-iron shirts.

I’m not the only person who has housewares languishing untouched. From exercise bikes to waffle makers, everyone I know owns something she never uses, and most of us own several.

Sigh.

But why? What makes us buy and keep this stuff, and how can we avoid it? Is there a secret list somewhere of perfect housewares that are actually useful?

I did a little research to help me discover which items were awesome and which were useless.

I began by polling my long-suffering family and friends.

Most of the answers they gave were kitchen items. Grill pans. Sheet pans. Blenders. Mixers. And, umm… most of them ended up on both lists.

Sister-in-Law X is obsessed with her grill pan. Mother-in-Law hasn’t used hers once.

My best friend finds her mandolin (the multi-blade vegetable slicer, not the musical instrument) indispensable. My mom’s lives in the basement, sad and alone. It did try to eat her finger the first time she used it, so she has an excuse.

This one loves her mixer. That one can’t be bothered to schlep it out. She never touches her metal sheet pans. I use mine several times a week.

Deeper sigh.

The most commonly unused item? Blenders. They’re bulky, heavy, and hard to clean, and most people end up using either the mini ones or the immersion (a.k.a. stick/zhuzher) blenders. No one uses the real deal blenders, right?

Except for Sister-in-Law Y. She can’t live without hers. But she also put her treadmill on the “indispensable” list, so she doesn’t count. (Why, yes, she does have a high-powered career and a large, beautiful family, which she raises in an immaculate home while supporting her husband in klei kodesh. Also, she likes salad. We love her anyway.)

Common Clutter Culprits

It was time to consult with the experts. Maybe they could help me sort through this confusion.

I don’t know anyone who admits to a degree in uselessness (though I do know a fair few who have useless degrees), so I reached out to two professional organizers instead. After all, it’s their job to help us toss the clutter and utilize wasted space. I wondered if they saw any patterns regarding what they were encouraging others to toss.

I approached them with some trepidation. There are few things that terrify me more than organization.

Turns out that organizers are really nice people, even to those who bother them during vacation to ask questions about useless stuff.

So, what do they see neglected most often in clients’ homes?

It’s extremely individual, both agreed, but they do see some patterns.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 668)

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