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11 Household Items You Should Never Throw Away

 Spending more time at home also means having more time to go through your belongings. Striving for minimalism and order is great, but being a good organizer is more than just getting rid of things, it is knowing how to repurpose ordinary household items into extraordinary essentials. In fact, some of the things that seem to obviously belong in the bin can be given a new life, and help you keep your home intact rather than create more clutter.

These are 11 such objects, which home organizing experts advise not to get rid of.

1. Shoeboxes11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, shoebox

Ah, remember the days when we needed several different kinds of shoes for running errands, going to work, and going to a fancy dinner party? Well, all these pairs might not be in much use these days, but if you happen to still have the boxes lying around, organizing experts advise you to keep them.

“When I take on a new client, I tell them not to buy any organizing products in advance because most people have enough containers throughout their homes that can be repurposed to hold other things,” Sharon Lowenheim, Certified Professional Organizer, told Reader’s Digest. The size and shape of shoeboxes do make them very practical for storage, just be sure to label the box so that you know what’s inside.

2. Mugs11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, mugs

Do you have a bunch of old coffee mugs that don’t get much use anymore? Instead of letting them collect dust in the back of the cabinet, you can give them a rinse and use them as modern decorations. The possibilities are many - you can upcycle your mugs into pen holders at your desk, candle holders, pots for herbs, or even reinvent them by breaking and mosaicing. 

3. Plastic jugs


An empty gallon or half-gallon container can easily be turned into a very handy mini shovel, perfect for pet food, gardening or even digging snow from car tires. Start with a clean, dry container positioned upright with the cap on. Use scissors to poke two holes: one about 2" below the handle, another on the opposite side an inch or two lower. Cut from hole to hole around the container to create an angled opening, then trim away any jagged edges. Discard the bottom of the jug.

You can use an empty milk jug as shown in the video, but of course, any plastic jug with the right shape will work, for example, a detergent container.

Related: Warning: Do Not Throw These Household Items In the Garbage

4. Documents11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, document folders

When moving or just doing a deep clean, you’re sure to run into some old documents and be puzzled as to what to do with them. If you’re in doubt, experts advise you to store them somewhere neatly and hold onto them. “Generally speaking, I never advise tossing legal documents, house documents, or tax documents,” says Shira Gill, an organizing expert, and author. You never know what situation may come up, in which these documents can be needed, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

5. Aluminum foil11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, aluminum foil

Used aluminum foil actually comes with a plethora of good uses and since the material is washable it lends itself perfectly to be reused. It can be a pot scrubber if you crumble the foil in a ball and use it to scrub off any sticky spots. Another way to repurpose old foil is by turning it into a silver polisher. Just submerge your silver in a foil-lined glass pan of boiling water. Add two teaspoons of salt and voila- in only two minutes, the chemical reaction will dissolve every tarnish with no damage to your valuables. 

Finally, aluminum foil also provides the easiest way to sharpen a dull knife. Make sure the foil is layered to be at least 3mm thick, to avoid any injuries and ensure the sharpening process is effective. If you have sufficient layering, simply run the knife’s blade on top of it.

6. Cooking oil11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, cooking oil

There are always a few drops of oil left at the bottom of the bottle which go to waste. Instead of simply tossing this last bit of oil, you can dab the bottle’s bottom with a cotton swab and apply the leftover oil to a creaky door hinge, and finally make it quieter. 

You also might want to know that it is perfectly okay to reuse frying oil, once you have strained it and removed any pieces of batter that might be leftover, and discarded all of the debris. 

7. Wine corks11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, wine corks

Next time you pop open a bottle of wine to complement your dinner or celebrate a holiday with champagne, hold onto that cork. With some patience, you’ll collect enough corks to make dozens of cool DIY projects. This easy to work with material truly provides endless possibilities - from a bulletin board to a drawer knob, we rounded up all the ideas for you in a previous article titled 15 Fantastic DIY Uses for Corks.

8. T-shirts11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, t shirts

It can be hard to let go of a beloved old t-shirt. But when the holes or stains, or even just discoloration, become too noticeable to wear in public, it may be time. Cotton t-shirts make the best all-purpose rags for dusting, wiping off counters, and even washing cars! They are easy to cut up and easy to clean - so they will save you money in the long run, too.

Related: 10 Handy Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes

9. Binder clips11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, binder clips

If you come across some binder clips while clearing out your home office, you’re in luck. Even if you hadn’t used them in years, do not throw them away - binder clips can be a great tool for clever solutions to many household problems. 

They can keep your half-empty toothpaste tube locked and loaded by rolling up and clipping the bottom, and of course, you can clip together open packets of potato chips and the like to seal them and keep the food fresh. Another option is to attach some clips to the edge of your desk to hold the ends of unused USB, power, and audio cables - and there you go, a cable corral. 

10. Squeeze bottles11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, kid squeezes honey out of bottle

 Step inside a fancy restaurant kitchen, and you’ll find out even chefs use this simple hack. When you run out of a certain condiment, give the squeeze bottle a good wash, and refill it with olive oil or a custom sauce or salad dressing to add a controlled dash of flavor or color to a dish. Moreover, the next time you make pancakes, you can fill that ketchup bottle with the batter and squirt out perfect portions of the batter without drips or spills.

11. Toilet paper tubes11 Household Items You Should NOT Throw Away, toilet paper tubes

For children, a handful of toilet paper or paper towel tubes can provide hours of fun in the form of binoculars or rockets, but be sure there are adult uses for these paper cylinders, too. You can make them into a handy dispenser by stuffing a bunch of grocery bags inside or keep extension cords from getting tangled by folding them neatly inside a paper towel tube.

Keep holiday lights from tangling in storage by wrapping them around the outside of the tube and taping down the end. This is also a convenient way to organize hair bands and hair clips. With a little bit of creativity, these seemingly useless objects can become indispensable. 

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