BREAKING NEWS Alexander Rossi has won the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500.

Organizing clutter: What to toss and when

How to reasonably handle the paper clutter

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 6:20 pm

Download audio

WASHINGTON – Many people are guilty of hanging on to some things a little too long, or just ignoring piles that they’d rather not tackle.

In a quick guide to decluttering your home, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, identifies the biggest hoarding culprits and when to toss them.

Kiplinger’s Janet Bodnar says getting rid of paper is the toughest task.


Make an “action pile” full of bills you have to pay, wedding invitations and permission slips, Bodnar suggests. Then go through it each week to keep it under control.

As for bills and statements, you can throw them away depending on their type.

“Most financial documents can be tossed after three years. The one exception is tax returns, which you should keep for life. You can ditch the supporting documents after three years (six if you’re self-employed). Hold on to year-end investment statements and documents showing your purchase price for stocks and mutual funds so that you can calculate the cost basis when you sell,” the article says.

When it’s time to toss important documents, invest in a good shredder, Bodnar says.

Also try saving copies of bills as PDF files on your computer or in a cloud file, so you can access them if you need to, but they don’t clutter up your home, Bodnar says.

Appliances and electronics

Check if the local government or electric utility offer a “bounty” program, which will help you recycle that old fridge or dishwasher. Find the nearest recycling center here. Most manufacturers and retailers will take your old appliance when you buy a new one, the article says.

Hazardous waste

Recycle paint, solvents and pesticides carefully, the article says. has a list of options for where residents can drop off automotive and home-improvement waste. Take fluorescent bulbs to stores like Home Depot, Ikea and Lowe’s.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

Advertiser Content