7 Things You Shouldn’t Get Rid Of When You Declutter

things NOT to throw away

A lot of us simply have too much stuff, and while I’ve written extensively on getting rid of stuff by decluttering, this post is focused on things you shouldn’t get rid of. While getting rid of unnecessary items that are cluttering up our homes and storage units can feel very liberating, I’ve also experienced the regret of having gone overboard during a clutter purge, and it can be just as miserable as being overwhelmed by clutter!

So today I thought I would take a slightly different different approach to the decluttering conversation by focusing on the things you may not want to get rid of. So without any further ado, here are 7 items you may regret throwing away!

7 Items You’ll Likely Regret Throwing Away

regret throwing away

1. Leftover Wall Paint

One look at your scuffed up mudroom wall or that grease stain next to the oven can have you wishing you had held on to some of that leftover paint from the last time you painted! Sure, there are ways to match an existing paint color (or at least get pretty close to it), but it would be a lot easier if you could just grab the exact same paint out of your garage.

Any time you finish up a painting project around the house, you can plan ahead for those moments by transferring some of the leftover paint to a smaller, air-tight jar. Label the jar with the color name, paint number, paint brand, and jot down where in your home you used that specific color.

The smaller containers won’t take up as much space as bulky paint cans, and you’ll know exactly where to find what you’re looking for when the high-traffic areas in your home could use a touch-up.

regret throwing away

2. Handwritten Notes And Cards

In this digital age of texting and email, handwritten letters, cards, and messages have become increasingly rare. While keeping every letter or birthday card you’ve ever received probably isn’t advisable, I do recommend keeping a few meaningful notes and cards from your loved ones. Those heartfelt messages could very well become treasured memories down the road!

regret throwing away

3. Important Documents

A good rule of thumb when it comes to tax documents or other financial records is to keep them for at least 7 years before tossing them in the shredder. (This is the longest period of limitations the IRS has to assess additional taxes, and although it only applies only to those who have filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction, it’s always better to be safe than sorry where the IRS is concerned!)

In any case, those important financial documents can come in handy in the event that you start a new job, apply for a loan, visit the DMV, or buy a new house or apartment. For non-financial documents with important information I may need, I like to take a photo or scan them and store the files in a password-protected folder on my phone and computer. That way, those documents are both backed up safely and easily accessible to me, even when I’m out of the house.

(Tired of papers cluttering up your office? Check out these tips for organizing your paperwork!)

regret throwing away

4. Cookware

When you purchase high quality cookware made of stone, enamel, or cast iron, part of what you’re paying for is its staying power. In fact, a lot of heirloom cookware is not only durable, but can actually get better with age.

Any of your cookware that is damaged or rusty can be tossed, but as long as your other pieces of sturdy cookware are properly cleaned and stored, they’ll last you a lifetime. And if you have cast iron pieces, make sure to season and clean them properly so you can pass them down for generations to come!

regret throwing away

5. Jars And Other Reusable Containers

Not only can glass jars and plastic containers be reused for food storage, they can also be used for a number of crafty DIY projects! You can turn old mason jars into beautiful water candles, and empty yogurt containers make great storage jars for spices and condiments.

The possibilities are endless, but in case you need a few ideas to get you started, check out this list of ideas for repurposing old containers.

regret throwing away

6. Belts

While holding onto any sort of clothing can be a burden if you don’t have much closet space, belts are small enough to be considered an exception. As long as your belts are in good condition, you can roll them up, hang them, or otherwise stow them away until you have need of them.

regret throwing away

7. Original Packaging From Luxury Items

Did you know having the original packaging of a luxury item usually increases its resale value? If there are certain items you splurge on like designer shoes, expensive watches, or fancy phones, be sure to hold on to the boxes, bags, and other packaging they came in.

If you ever decide to sell those items, having the original packaging may give you an advantage in the marketplace. The original packaging can also help protect items from dust and damage if you ever need to store the item away!

What item(s) would you add to this list of things worth keeping?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • I always enjoy your emails. I am in the process of moving. While sorting the items, i came across old tax returns from 1998. Yikes. I shredded, and shredded, etc. i kept the last 7 years. Thanx for your helpful tips.

  • I would add that utility bills with your name and the address on them, one for every place you have lived in for the last 10-20 years, are useful for some government paperwork. I try to keep one from the start and end of each address change.

  • I keep leftover paint sealed in half gallon Mason jars on a bottom shelf in a closet in the house. The lid is labeled with the brand, type of paint & color name. I also take a picture of the color code label before tossing the original can. On the sticker I write what the paint is for – wall, trim, exterior, etc. We’ve had too many times where we went back later & the ink had faded too much to read it. Today’s labels have enough information that all I have to do is show the picture to the person working the paint counter & they scan the barcode & fix what I need from the original color codes. No paint matching necessary.

  • I have a good set of Stainless Steel 3 plys pots and pans well worth the money
    paid back in 1974 before getting married, still using them daily and are still in great shape. I always say to my original husband if we ever have a fire first thing we have to grab before exiting is my pots and pans, our family pictures and your 2 Labrador Retrivers of corse, if we have time! Everything else is replaceable

  • As a painting contractor I’m going to disagree with you on the saving old paint issue – after about a year, once opened, paint pigments will start to separate and deteriorate, even if kept well sealed. And then touch-ups are very obvious. We do recommend people keep the old can – or at least the label with a note as to where the paint was used – if it needs to be matched in the future. And any paint you store needs to be kept from freezing, because then it definitely can’t be used. So don’t stick it out in your garage.

    • My father was a painting contractor and had his own business for years! He did well enough to raise 4 children and we never wanted for anything. Interestingly, I LOVE to paint and redecorate all the time! It is nothing for me to go to a garage sale, buy something simple but beautiful (in my eyes) and then have an excuse to redo a whole room around it. However, I didn’t know about not being able to keep paint! We had a heated garage (just a wood burner in there) and one whole wall had shelves full of cans of paint. Many times, when someone needed to paint something, they would come over to our house, and dad would take them to the garage and fix them right up!! I am talking about the ’60s and the ’70s, though. Maybe some paints were different then? And I am sure that latex holds up better/longer than oil-based.

  • I have a question on the IRS time limit. I thought that if they found something wrong they could go back as far as they wanted. If you don’t have the paperwork you could be in trouble. Is this not true?

  • This is a little off topic, but relevant… Yes, save those old cards, photographs etc. AND write down anything you can remember and put that with each. Reminisce with the original author and/or family members while they can still remember, and write down all you can. I have lovely old photos and cards from before I was born but sadly didn’t think to write down the many stories that go with them. We all heard the tales many times when we were young but memory is a funny thing and no one who’s around now recollects many details.

    • If we buy anything over $5, we make sure to break down the box so it’s flat and place inside the paper receipt (if it wasn’t purchased online) as well as the user manual (these themselves are stored inside a zip lock bag). In some cases, we even keep all the original packaging.

      We write the date we don’t need to keep it anymore so we can recycle it later. If it’s something we think we might one day want to sell OR give away, we’ll keep the above for a long long time.

      Why? If we need to return it to the store or ship it back to the manufacturer, this makes that process a whole lot easier. Returning purchases nowadays is easier than ever, but beware that some require the item to be in its original packaging.

      This is especially true for high-end tech, clothing, and personal items.

      I learned this lesson with a laptop I purchased a year or so ago. I had to mail it in for a warranty repair and didn’t keep the packaging. Not having the original packaging meant going to the store and buying items (like bubble wrap, box) that I normally wouldn’t have around the house.

  • I had to laugh when you said to save things that came in boxes if you should decide to sell them at a later date. That’s not a option in my family. I use the cloth bags sheets come in for small pillows and other small items. Sheets, blankets etc. don’t leave my house until they are so wore out the only way they are getting out is when they are tore into rags for my husband when he works on our cars. Clothing is another thing that stays until it can no longer be worn. I just bought some skirts, blouses and some dresses last year when my 30 year old clothes were no longer acceptable to go out into public. I then wore them as night clothes until they just had to be turned into rags. We don’t waste anything in our house. Our motto is if its not broken don’t touch it and is has been our motto for 50 years as of April 3rd.

    • That sounds a lot like my late Grandmothers family. Her family saved old clothes and used the scraps for quilts or even little rugs made from the scraps. My mom inherited one from her brother. It had actually been one Grandma had made and when my Uncle who had never married died – the surviving siblings sorted through his things and decided what objects they wanted. My mom several years ago was describing the rug and was told that it was worth at least $200. It’s probably worth more now that it’s an old method and in very good condition.

  • I definitely agree about the handwritten letters. My Grandma (mom’s) mother died when I was 3 and one of my sisters was a baby. I was too young to even remember her and most half of my siblings were born after Grandma died. These are amazing. They gave me a glimpse into her personality. She was a school teacher and had excellent penmanship. My mom also has saved letters from when she and my Dad were dating. Anyway these letters are over 50 years old. I told my siblings about this box. My mom was cleaning out our garage and had also been wracking her brain trying to find the box. My siblings thought it was neat.These are the type of things worth saving.

    • My mother has alway also saved Dresses that my Sisters and I wore for baby blessing outfits. My Grandmother actually sent 2 . One was a bigger size which two my sisters used. The one I used looked like a fancy dolls dress. Its gotten a little yellowed over the years. I would love to take it somewhere that knows how to restore items and then put it in a shadow box.

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