8 Things You Should Never Throw Away (Or You Might Regret It)

Save yourself from decluttering remorse.

Whether you're prepping for a move, applying the KonMari method to your unruly closet, or simply tidying up, getting rid of clutter is generally a good thing. It only becomes an issue when purging a few possessions escalates into a full-on frenzy. Suddenly, you're mindlessly tossing everything you can get your hands on into a box for the curb, and then later, you realize you got rid of that one thing you needed. Cue: declutterer's remorse. To avoid going overboard, remember that taming clutter doesn't mean parting with everything you own. While you clear out your space, keep an eye out for these eight items you should never throw away.

woman at desk with computer
Edmund Barr

Old Electronics

Tired of your old phones, computers, and TVs gathering dust in the basement? Think twice before tossing them out with the trash. Gadgets like smartphones and computers that contain personal information can pose a privacy risk if they fall into the wrong hands. Always wipe the device of all personal data and files before you discard it. And because some electronic components are considered hazardous waste, reusing or recycling your electronic devices is always better than tossing them in the trash. Search for local e-cycling centers and retailers (like Best Buy and Staples) that accept old electronics.

Important Documents

As you sort through old receipts and school papers, make sure your important documents don't get mixed up in the to-shred pile. You should always keep physical copies of financial documents like loan or investment statements, insurance papers, tax records such as W-2 forms and filed returns (to be safe, hold on to these for at least seven years), and identification documents like social security cards, birth certificates, and passports. Organize this paperwork in a safe spot, such as a fireproof safe or lockable file cabinet, that's easy to access when needed.

Handwritten Notes

In our digital age of emails and text messages, receiving a handwritten note is extra special. So while you're clearing paper clutter from your office drawers, consider keeping handwritten letters, cards, and other ephemera (like recipes written by your grandmother) that have sentimental value. Re-reading a handwritten note from a loved one can help you relive precious memories years later. To preserve these papers for years to come, store them in a box with a lid to prevent them from gathering dust, or consider turning that special note or recipe card into a personalized keepsake like a printed tea towel or engraved cutting board.

vintage family photographs
SetsukoN/Getty Images


Scrolling through your phone's camera roll just isn't the same as holding a treasured memory in your hands. Even if you have digital copies, you may want to keep those printed photographs (especially of family members, pets, or favorite vacations) to flip back through later. Be sure to organize the photos in albums, photo boxes, or frames for safekeeping.

Unworn T-shirts

During a closet purge, that stack of t-shirts you never wear is probably one of the first things to go, but these shirts can still serve a purpose, even if they're stained, ripped, or otherwise unwearable. Keep a few tees around to reuse as cleaning rags in place of paper towels. Cut them into squares for tidying up the kitchen, bathroom, and more. Old t-shirts also come in handy when you're working on particularly messy DIY or crafting projects.

storage shelves with books against wall
David Tsay


Once you've finished up your reading list, don't just toss those volumes out. Use books to accessorize and add color to built-ins, open shelves, and coffee tables. You can also use the pages for a variety of clever book crafts. If you're really looking to purge your hardcover collection, consider dropping them off at your local library or a book donation dropbox.

Emergency Supplies

If you haven't touched your box of emergency supplies in the past year, that's a good thing. But it doesn't mean you'll never need it, so your home emergency kit is one thing that never counts as clutter. Stock a box with water bottles, non-perishable food, a radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, and other supplies, and keep it handy in case of a natural disaster or other emergency. Check the kit about every six months and replace any expired or out-of-date items.

Heirloom Furniture

That coffee table or wingback from your grandmother holds a lot of family history that can be passed down to future generations. But if it's not quite your style, ask if another family member wants it before you resell or donate it. Or, if the piece doesn't hold too much sentimental value, try refreshing an old piece of furniture with fresh paint or new hardware. Otherwise, consider renting a storage unit to get unwanted heirloom furniture out of your house while still keeping it in the family.

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