10 Useful Items You Should Never Throw Out

Photo: Rina Pitucci

Whenever the seasons change, I get this itch to do a total cleaning to our drawers, kitchen shelves, and closets. Over the years, though, I've learned that sometimes my brain gets ahead of me with all this cathartic purging. I'm not advocating that you hold onto these things to the bitter end, but definitely give yourself some time before you decide to toss or donate them for good. (See also: 21 Disposable Products You Can Reuse)

You can repurpose a variety of items to meet your current needs — all while saving yourself money and more clutter in the process. Here are 10 items you might want to toss away with some smart ideas for how to use them in new ways.

1. Old T-Shirts

Before you take an armful of old t-shirts to the donation center, consider other ways you can use them in your home. You can cut them up into wash rags to save you cash on paper towels, for example. And if you're crafty, there are a number of upcycled clothing projects you can make, from fabric scarves to skirts.

2. Crib

Even if you don't plan to have any more babies, resist the urge to place that crib on the curb. You can make an awesome desk for your big kids using a little chalkboard paint and creativity. Simply cut a piece of particle board to the size of the mattress and adjust to the correct height. Add a chair plus some hanging accessories, and you're done!

3. Baby Gate

And that baby gate that's collecting dust? Keep it around if you suspect you might ever want to add a puppy to your family. If that's not the case, you can also use it in the garden as a frugal trellis.

4. Wine Corks

If you haven't heard, there's quite an assortment of wine cork crafts that are as functional as they are pretty. I love this wine cork kitchen mat that took over 240 corks and a lot of patience to make. If that project is a bit too advanced, start small with this wine cork bulletin board. (See also: 15 Common Kitchen Castoffs You Can Repurpose Into Cool New Things)

5. Wooden Crates

Fruit crates — old and new — can be reused for a variety of purposes. My favorite is this stylish rolling cart made from three crates on their sides. Just fasten together and add the casters, which you can find inexpensively at most hardware stores.

6. Plastic Spray Bottles

If you've finished your window cleaner or all-purpose suds, save those spray bottles and try making your own green cleaners to fill them with using ingredients like vinegar, water, and castile soap. You'll save money and improve your home's health — all while being green. (See also: How to Clean Everything With Just 3 All-Natural Cleaners)

7. Tea Tins

I'm a tea fanatic, so I have quite my share of colorful tins of all shapes and sizes. I use them to house supplies like paper clips and pushpins. I've also seen some cute indoor herb gardens or even candles made by melting wax into the container and adding a wick.

8. Picture Frame

We all have an old picture frame somewhere lurking in our closets. Put it to good use painting over the glass and making a functional DIY chalkboard. You can use it in your office or even incorporate it into your home holiday decor.

9. Window Shade

Changed your window dressings? No problem. Before tossing that old window shade, consider giving it to your kids as a roll-up blackboard. You can also use it for some sophisticated decor in much the same way. All you do is paint with chalkboard paint and draw on your desired image.

10. Toothbrush

According to the American Dental Association, you should be changing out your toothbrush every three to four months. Use the discarded brushes for cleaning your home. They work especially well in the bathroom on tough grout stains and other hard-to-reach areas that need a little scrubbing.

What do you regularly keep and re-purpose? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

I also don't throw these things. About the shirts, I just have these to be make-overed by my creative friend. Clothes are expensive and I want to find ways to wear different outfits everyday.

Guest's picture

Awesome post! Two things I always hold on to are the empty paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls. I love to use them when I do crafts with my daughter because they are so versatile. One day we could make a monster family and the next day beautiful flowers. I can never throw them out once a roll is empty.

Guest's picture

Awesome list! I don't throw away old shirts either, much to the chagrin of my wife. I don't do anything fancy with them, though--just keep wearing them (usually only indoors if the holes are out of control). Also, DIY chalkboard from an old picture frame is just brilliant. Definitely had a "why didn't I think of that?" moment.