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How do I get Rid of Junk?

Michael Pollick
Updated: May 17, 2024

Whether it's called a spring cleaning or not, many people make an annual effort to get rid of junk that has accumulated over time. Sometimes the result is a clutter-free home and garage, while other times it's more of a pruning and rearranging of sacred objects. It can be difficult to get rid of junk, especially if that junk has sentimental value, or may prove useful at some later date. Getting rid of true junk and clutter may be a dirty chore, but it can also be rewarding.

One way to get rid of junk is to recruit helpers for a blitz cleaning effort. Some volunteers may take on the house itself, while others clean out the garage, attic or other storage spaces. This approach generally takes no prisoners, since the cleaners may not have any sentimental attachment to the things they encounter. If it does not serve a clear purpose, it is considered to be trash. A centralized sorting table can be set up for questionable items, but the rest of the clutter is destined for the trash bin of history.

If there are a number of usable items among the clutter, a private garage or yard sale may be in order. Many people get rid of junk by placing it in their yards or garages on the weekends and holding a public sale. This may require some advance work on pricing items, setting up the sales area and advertising the event, but the end result would be some cash profit along with a less cluttered home.

Some people get rid of junk by donating it to local charities, especially those with existing thrift stores. Actual junk should be not be donated, of course, but usable items such as clothing, furniture, appliances and tools can be resold at deep discounts to the needy. Donations to recognized charities are usually tax-deductible, so taxpayers who itemize can realize some financial benefit as well. A number of charities can make arrangements for picking up large items such as mattresses and furniture, which makes things much more convenient during an annual cleaning.

If the cleaning project is truly beyond the scope of a few volunteers and garbage bags, you may be able to rent a commercial dumpster unit for a few hours or days to hold all of the junk. Sometimes it becomes necessary for a house to be completely emptied in order to be renovated or put on the market for resale. If such a wholesale cleaning becomes necessary, as in the case of an estate liquidation, a commercial dumpster and/or the services of a professional cleaning company may prove useful.

In recent years, a number of people have turned to Internet auctions in order to get rid of junk. Either a person registers for his or her own account with a reputable Internet-based auction website, or the items may be placed on consignment with intermediary companies which handle all of the technical details for a percentage of the sales price. One man's junk may indeed be another man's treasure, so putting it on public display may be the best way to put in the hands of people who truly want it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Apr 16, 2014

@bythewell - You might want to talk to a psychologist about it if it starts getting in the way of your life. Often hoarders don't start out as hoarders but as pack rats who gradually get worse and worse until they end up having to rearrange their whole lives around their stuff.

Honestly, I feel the urge myself a lot of the time and I don't want to throw out anything. I have to remind myself that once it's gone, I'll never think about it again. I have honestly never thought to myself, darn, I wish I had kept all those cardboard boxes, they would come in handy right about now. It's hard to chuck something out, but once its gone, you can stop worrying about it.

By bythewell — On Apr 15, 2014

@Mor - I have trouble even doing that. I tend to collect a lot of stuff, because I worry that I might need it one day and it doesn't make sense to throw it out when that might still be true.

I'm not so bad that I would keep anything that wasn't useful, like glue that had dried or something like that, but I do tend to end up with a lot of scrap paper and plastic containers from ice-cream and stuff, just because I think I might need them one day. I don't know how to overcome that impulse.

By Mor — On Apr 15, 2014

I find that it's easier to get rid of junk if I know that it will go to someone else. So even if I can't manage to sell it off in a garage sale or on the internet, I would still try to donate it to a thrift shop or something like that. If it's anything useful, I also offer it to friends and relatives and put it up on Facebook that I don't want it any longer and see if there are any takers.

If all else fails, I would probably take it apart and try to recycle it. I really don't like throwing stuff out. Even electronics and things that I wouldn't know how to take apart usually have companies that are willing to take them as salvage.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
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