Jennie James

Jennie James

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Pros tell you what not to declutter

A person taking declutter notes on a paper (list; keep, recycle, thrash, donate, sell)

Photo: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Moment / Getty Images

As you decide to declutter your house, or just a specific room, remember there are a few things you should keep.


Always Declutter: Manuals for appliances and electronics should always be decluttered. They’re all available online now.

Never Declutter: Important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, immunization records, marriage certificates, and other legal documents should be filed away and kept forever. Even consider a small fireproof safe to store them in.”

--Kitchen Supplies--

Always Declutter: Still hanging onto that odd wine glass or that food processor that doesn’t work properly? Dump it (or donate, if they're in good condition). Get rid of duplicate items.

Never Declutter:  kitchen items or tools you use regularly (or perhaps seasonally like a turkey baster).

--Household Paper Products--

Never Declutter: Was your favorite brand of toilet paper on sale or did you go overboard in the paper towel section at Costco? Even if you have an over-supply of these types of non-perishable items—there’s no need to declutter, especially because you will use them eventually.

--Sentimental Items--

Always Declutter: We all have things we plan to scrapbook or put in a box for safekeeping, but rarely does that day come. Cohen tells me to declutter ticket stubs, Playbills, and “all the random items that you are saving for sentimental value.”

Never Declutter: On the other hand, there are some sentimental items you should never declutter, such as irreplaceable family heirlooms and items that you truly cherish. If you plan to pass these items down one day or you look back on them often, keep them. However, if you have tons of photos you'd like to keep but don't want to spare the physical space to store them, consider using a source such as to digitize the images and make them easier to share.


Always Declutter:  Tiny hotel toiletries and other samples should be disposed of, at least most of the time. Be honest with yourself about how many you can reasonably use before they’re past their prime. Yes, even toiletries have expiration dates. For any items that are still good but that you won't likely use yourself, check if a local shelter accepts donations o unopened toiletries.

Never Declutter: If you have half-full bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, or other products that you use regularly—don’t declutter those. It's a smart idea to have a backup on hand if your refills get delivered late or your local store runs out. 


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