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Gadgets and Cords
Recycle old phones, tablets and MP3 players at your nearest ecoATM station (there are more than 2,200 kiosks in 42 states) for cash back. Control cord chaos with a central charging station and a one-charger-per-device limit. Smartphones are the only exception. Professional organizer Jennifer Lava keeps multiples around the house—by the bed, on a desk, in the car—to avoid carrying chargers from room to room and misplacing them.
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There's no good reason to hoard two staplers or eight sticky-note pads. Every six months or so, scan your stockpile. Toss dried-up pens and markers, and give everything else a trial period during which you see what you use daily. For each of the keepers, store a refill or replacement in a nearby drawer or basket. Erin Rooney Doland, author of Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter, loves organizers and caddies because they help set space limits for your stash. Offer leftovers to a school or nonprofit.
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Entryway Closet Items
Contain the crazy in your foyer closet by performing a regular sweep of its contents. Pull out old jackets and winter accessories you no longer wear or that don't fit the kids anymore, and relocate off-season staples like gardening supplies and outdoor sports equipment. If you prefer shoes left at the door, declutter with a boot tray, rack or cubbies.
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Toiletries and Makeup
Free samples come at a cost: precious storage space. Take back your medicine cabinet and vanity by dumping expired, unflattering or impractical cosmetics, hair goods and body lotions. Donate full, unopened bottles to a local homeless shelter. In the future, avoid bringing home hotel minis—and buying in bulk. "We're lured by the savings but left with too much stuff," says Fay Wolf, author of New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else). "Never hold on to more than one backup for any of your products."
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Sheets and Towels
"A good rule of thumb for sheets is two sets per bed per season," says Lava. Similarly, go easy on the towels by holding on to two or three full sets—bath towel, hand towel, washcloth—for each family member. Oversize, bulkier styles take up more room in the linen closet, so keep that in mind when shopping or paring down. Local animal shelters will gladly accept cast-offs.
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Empty out your drawers and lay everything on a table. Group duplicates together—wooden spoons, rubber spatulas—and keep only the newest of each or the one that feels best in your hand. Weed out any specialty items you rarely grab. "Unless you're constantly making stuffed peppers, you don't need a bell pepper corer," says Lava. Recycle mismatched and stained plastic take-out containers.
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Set up a system for sorting and saving kids' projects and papers. "Assign a storage bin to each child, and when work comes home, place it in the container," says Doland. Every few months, go through the stack together and discard whatever doesn't have sentimental value. Snap a picture of anything you're on the fence about—you can create albums, books or slide shows from those digital files later.
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With the recent popularity of reusable shopping bags, your home may be on the verge of tote overload. To downsize your collection, fill a large carryall with eight favorites to store in the car for groceries and hang an extra near your entrance for grabbing on the go. Put one oversize tote in a central location for monthly donations of clothes, shoes and knickknacks from the whole family and get rid of the rest.