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4 Spring Cleaning Purges (And What to Do with the Cast-Offs)

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As you’re spring cleaning, find new uses for the things you’re purging.

This time of year, I’m excited to get my house in shape for spring. I want it to be airy and orderly, and ready for summertime adventures. To get rid of winter’s detritus, usually some major purging and decluttering is in order. This year I’m focusing on four areas of my house, and I’ve already determined what I’ll be doing with the purged items. If a springtime-ready house sounds good to you, read on for ideas on how to do your own spring-cleaning purge.

What to Purge: Winter Gear

Whether you have kids who are quickly outgrowing their clothing and shoes, or you just have an abundance of coats, mittens, hats, and other cold-weather gear, it’s a really good idea to clean and organize these items before you put them away. Wash and dry everything, then sort it to determine which items are outgrown or need to be replaced due to wear. Make sure gloves, mittens, and wool socks have their mates.

How to Upcycle It
Sweaters you no longer want can be used for craft projects, swapped with friends, or donated to a clothing drive. Mittens or socks that have lost their mates are great to use as a dust mitt. Down coats that are in good condition should be donated to a shelter or other organization where it can be passed along to another user. But if they have holes or are otherwise too worn to donate, consider using the filling for throw pillows.

What to Purge: Cold Medicine
Fingers crossed that colds, sore throats, and flu are behind us, and we can dispose of old prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine. Sort through your medicine cabinet to get rid of any meds that are past their expiration date. Be sure to dispose of medicine properly.

How to Upcycle It
Many medicine bottles are made of #5 plastic, so check with your municipality to see if it’s accepted in your curbside recycling program. Or apply your own cute label to it and use it to store other things. They’re great for holding travel sewing kits or knitting accessories like needles and stitch markers. If you’re planting a garden this spring, pill bottles are also ideal for storing unused seeds.

What to Purge: Books and Magazines
I spent a lot of time this winter holed up on the sofa, reading stacks of books and magazines. I’m eager to find new homes for those that I’ve read.

How to Upcycle It
Donate magazines to a senior center, shelter, or school, or use them for crafts of your own. My kids love to cut out the pictures to make collages, and I love the idea of rolling magazines up to make “reeds,” and then using them to build something useful, like a storage box.

What to Purge: Bedding
As you swap the heavy quilts and down comforters for lighter blankets, it’s a good time to take stock of your linen closet. Wash all of your winter bedding (use cold water and natural detergent, and line-dry for the least impact to the environment), and before you put it away for the season, make sure that you don’t have unused extra blankets, pillows, and other bedding taking up space. Check your sheet sets too; I recently cleaned out my linen closet and discovered that I had several sheet sets for a bed size that we no longer owned!

How to Upcycle It
Animal shelters are always in need of old sheets and towels to use as bedding or cage liners. Sheets, since they are so large, have a multitude of other uses: turn them into garment bags to protect off-season clothing, cut them up for rags, use them as drop cloths for painting projects, or keep one in the car for a picnic blanket. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could even repurpose a favorite patterned sheet into a wraparound skirt.

What are you hoping to clean out this month? Tell us in the comments below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • chelly c. 4 years ago
    It's important to contact some places before you just drop off your up-cycled magazines. Some places actually have contracts with subscription services and can off display the ones that are part of that service. Our local senior center has a subscription contract and said that if they took them, they would just end up throwing them away.
  • Susie C. 4 years ago
    I take magazines to the Y for folks to read while on the treadmills. I take unused material, sewing notions and yarn to a retirement center that has a sewing group.
  • Audrey N. 4 years ago
    I saw a really cute post on how to turn d sweaters into mittens. Great idea.
  • Bren S. 5 years ago
    I take magazines to the library and recently donated craft supplies that we weren't using to my son's school.
  • Denise B. 5 years ago
    My goal is to purge and organize two big closets in my laundry room. They became the "dumping ground" over the fall/winter, and I plan to get them back in shape. I usually donate household items and gently-worn clothes to a local thrift store that benefits organizations in my local community. However, I know I'll find things in the closets that I'll forget I had, change them up a bit with some paint or something, and use them in a whole new way in my house. It's fun...but throws me way off task!!! :)
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