30 Things You Need to Throw Out Before the Fall

From summer stuff you never wear to expired sunscreen, here's a list of things to toss or store, and some items you'll want to have on hand for the next season.

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Summer Swag

Did you really need another disposable pen, or did you just grab it from the display table because it was free? Seriously, toss broken chip clips and logo-laden promo items like street fair jar openers and summer concert drink cozies. Then donate festival and arcade prizes, like that oversize teddy bear that’s about to turn into a dust collector—find out where you can donate almost anything. Keep the plush toys you can’t part with fresh and clean by laundering them in the OTraki large mesh washing bag.

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Seasonal Souvenirs

Keep the memories and lose the stuff: Photograph ticket stubs, postcards, cheap seashell rings, and broken braided shark tooth necklaces before tossing. Donate that souvenir given to you by a well-meaning friend that just isn’t your style (looking at you, howling coyote figurine). Invest in a digital photo frame to enjoy an ongoing slideshow of all the special memories.

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S’more Stuff

Use up any leftover marshmallows and graham crackers (they’ll go stale before next summer), then make space in your kitchen by moving the s’mores maker and s’mores sticks to an out-of-season storage spot, like your basement or attic. Add a reminder in your spring calendar about its location—you don’t want to have to re-buy it when you can’t find it next year. Other little-used space-hoggers to store or donate include the ice cream machine, frozen drink maker, and Popsicle mold. See there, now you have room in your kitchen cabinets for this compact Cuisinart Bread Maker. You can bake up a loaf of fresh bread to enjoy with your pumpkin spice latte.

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Farmers Market and Co-op Clutter

Farmer’s markets and local co-ops and CSAs will be closing down for the season, making this the perfect time to ask yourself, “Just how many berry baskets do I need to keep?” If you have extra baskets, bushels, boxes, or empty canning jars from your recent trips it’s time to return them—co-op organizers and farm stand owners will thank you. On your next trip try these eco-friendly, reusable, drawstring bags for carrying home your fresh fruit and produce—and try these tricks to organize your fridge.

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Summer Fun Tote Bag

You know that bag you toted around all summer long? The one still stuffed with summer leftovers? Donate the summer reading book club pick you never started, then get rid of the melted chewing gum and stretched out hairbands. Toss the trash, recycle the receipts, and rescue the loose change from the bottom of the bag. During the colder months keep your everyday necessities, like gloves and scarves, easy to grab on the go by tucking them in the pockets of this over-the-door organizer.

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Pest Control

No one needs to store almost empty pest control products or ones that never worked well to begin with. Your local municipal hazardous waste collection is a good way to recycle things like mosquito traps, bug lamps, bug repellent wristbands, and mostly burnt citronella candles. And in the wintertime repel rodents looking to nest in warm storage spots, like the garage, with scented Fresh Cab Botanical Pouches.

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Seasonal Gift Sets

Whether a houseguest gave you those lemon sugar drink stirrers or you bought a set of BBQ spice rubs on a whim, now is the time to enjoy them. This stuff doesn’t store well and, trust us, there are many more gift sets in your future. Come fall, treat yourself with this Godiva Hot Chocolate Selection.

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car trunk full

Clean Out the Car

Now that summer road trips are over, your car deserves a thorough detailing. Toss the trash including fast-food wrappers, and dig out stray French fries and all those Goldfish crackers your kids dumped in the door console. Then make room in the trunk for all that holiday shopping by relocating summer fun items, like folding chairs and beach blankets, to out-of-season storage. Finally, add a collapsible, multi-compartment trunk organizer with plenty of space for shopping bags. You can keep potted mums upright on your drive home from the nursery or transport dishes to holiday gatherings in the insulated compartment.

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Anything Borrowed

Remember that large salad bowl you borrowed from your sister-in-law and forgot to return? How about that oversized beach towel a friend left in your car after your last lake trip? Now is the time to give it all back. Return anything that you borrowed or that was accidentally left at your home over the last few months. Ensure anything you accidentally left behind can easily be returned by attaching these peel and stick write-on labels.

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Outdoor Fun

Between blow-up lawn dice that have sprung a leak and the broken ladder ball game, trash can pile up quickly. The warped flying discs, dripping bottles of bubbles, and tangled kites all make the outdoor “no-fun list” and need to be dumped ASAP. Then grab this 13-piece Snowman Decoration Kit, complete with hat and scarf, so you’re ready for the first snowfall.

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De-clutter Decor

Swap out summer stuff like seashell photo frames for fall-themed pieces. Lose the tattered “I’d rather be at the beach” welcome doormat, the threadbare sailboat throw blanket, and torn seahorse throw pillows. The sand dollar soap dispenser, the seagull shower curtain, and the starfish flower vase can be stashed away for next year. Make packing away seasonal stuff easy with these MaidMAX Storage Cubes with clear windows. There’s no more rummaging through plastic bins as the window lets you see exactly what is inside.

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Stacks of Paper

Purge the piles of seasonal papers like those fliers from summer concerts, the day trip brochures, amusement park maps, and random leaflets you picked up from tables at the summer street festivals. Before you recycle them, note events you want to head back to next year in this vacation journal, which also includes helpful checklists and space to list day trip ideas.

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Back-to-School Supplies

Even if you are not going back-to-school, late summer is still the best time of year to survey your supply cabinet. Donate any excess supplies to a local school supply donation drive. Recycle those things that are meant to stick but no longer do like sticky notes, return address labels, and three-hole punch paper reinforcements. Then stock up on holiday supplies like gift bags and bows. Keep them damage-free and orderly in this double-sided hanging gift gag and wrap organizer.

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Summer Staples

Unless you grill year-round, it’s time to purge the pantry and freshen up the fridge. Start using up those meats you bought in bulk, all those messy marinades, rolls that go stale, and summer salad seasonings. Going into the holidays, maximize the storage space and minimize the mess in your refrigerator with a six-piece set of Sorbus stackable containers—like these 41 kitchen organizing tips, you’ll wonder how you lived without them for so long.

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Random Kitchen Clutter

Make space by relocating that soft-side cooler and picnic basket you only use in warmer months. Finish up those packs of flip-flop and flamingo-themed paper plates and napkins—they’re not worth storing for a whole year. Then, toss these kitchen items today. Still need more space for all that holiday prep and cooking? Try this slim Rolling Kitchen Cart with two adjustable shelves, four hooks, and a wood top.

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Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

A quick scan of kitchen cabinets and drawers can yield easy space-making tosses: Look for summer-themed placemats with the backing falling off and the ratty seasonal kitchen towels. Don’t overlook the thermal travel totes with broken zippers, the leaking ice packs, the useless thermoses without lids, and the equally useless lids without thermoses. Be sure you have at least one insulated casserole carrier for the upcoming holiday potlucks and family dinners.

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Gourmet Gadgets and Recipes

Cracked corn-on-the-cob holders are no longer safe and neither are those rusty crab claw crackers. Splintered wooden skewers are certainly not something to store another season. Recycle clipped and printed recipes, after all how many recipes for potato salad do you really need? While you’re at it, check out your cookbook collection—that 250-page BBQ cookbook you never even opened? Donate it for someone else to enjoy. That will make space for the Ski House Cookbook, filled with full-color photos and 125 effortless, comforting winter meals.

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Specialty Summer Drinks and Glassware

Make room today by de-cluttering your kitchen drink cabinet. First, use up things that won’t keep well, like the margarita mix and coconut rum. Next, recycle the broken stuff, like the chipped glass drink dispenser, broken palm tree stemware, and cracked plastic coconut drink holders. Finally, recycle the refillable souvenir cups you never remember to bring back to the theme park anyway. Fill some of the newfound space with a few Yeti Insulated Mugs, ideal for hot coffee or soup on-the-go in colder months.

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Exterior Mess

Either commit to reusing those hanging flower baskets by filling them with fall flowers and foliage—or let them go. Cheap solar lanterns that no longer light up and bent metal garden art that can’t be salvaged also need to disappear from your life. Toss the faded door wreaths and cracked cafe light strands in favor of a seasonal Berry and Autumn Leaves light-up door wreath.

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Before and After Sun Skincare

Bottles of sunscreen and tubes of aloe gel don’t keep indefinitely. When open for a year or longer or exposed to temps of 75 degrees or higher, the active ingredients can become less effective. Always consult the manufacturer for specific guidelines but it’s a pretty safe bet you should toss the three-year-old self-tanner. Check to make sure you have plenty of moisturizers on hand, like Udderly Smooth, to soothe dry, cracked, winter skin.

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Swimsuits and Summer Outfits

Toss anything that got ruined like cork wedges that got wet or t-shirts with set-in mustard stains. Next, look for things you didn’t wear this season and super season-specific shirts (we’re looking at you, firework glitter shirt). Find out where to donate those, along with the sandals that pinch your toes. Next, dig through your swimsuit drawer and toss the stretched-out ones. Prep for muddy and snowy shoes with a waterproof boot tray.

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Storm Supplies

Emergency storm supplies do not last forever. Replace expired rations of food and water for your family and your pets. Check expiration dates on batteries, first aid supplies, and medication. Ensure you have an All-in-One Portable Charger, which will jumpstart dead car batteries. It includes a floodlight, phone charger, and USB power bank.

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Natural Treasures

Reconsider anything summer-y you brought indoors that once belonged outdoors, like the sea glass you scavenged from the beach, the driftwood you are using as a centerpiece, and all those rocks. Return them to nature and plan to hunt for more next season. In the meantime, you’ll be making space for autumn’s acorns and pinecones and the holiday’s holly branches. Display those autumnal treasures inside a Hurricane Glass with Flameless Candle.

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Tiki Torch

Garage Garbage

Bye-bye broken tiki torches. Adios overflowing box of stuff to sell at the yard sale you never hosted. Farewell no-longer-inflatable pool toys; ciao camping coolers that don’t keep things cold. Let go of the bent hammock stand, weather-worn grill cover, and these 15 things you should never store in your garage while you’re at it. With the broken summer stuff gone you’ll have space for an outdoor patio fire pit bowl, perfect for those chilly evenings.

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Grilling Gadgets

Take a minute to reconsider holding onto that BBQ grill pizza pan if you never used it. And do we even have to discuss that bent and downright dangerous grill cleaning brush? Toss it. Don’t forget to return the empty propane tank, too. Keep your grill safe and secure all winter with a waterproof BBQ cover.

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Unload Umbrellas

There are three types of umbrellas to pare down: First, any rain umbrella that broke in a storm or is not in working order; second, that torn patio umbrella that you kept “just in case.” Third, the pile of paper drink umbrellas that won’t ever see the inside of a glass because you forget you own them. The one umbrella you’ll absolutely want is the Better Brella. The reverse-open technology keeps the wet surface away from you.

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Chairs and Cushions

Fling the flimsy folding chairs, dump the dangerous deck chairs, and be gone broken beach chairs. The tandem swinging chair, hanging on by a rusty chain, is also not something you need to keep. And let’s not even bring up the gross chair cushions that are beyond being salvaged. Spoil holiday houseguests with this deluxe airbed with headboard and pillow top surface; the built-in air pump makes for easy inflation.

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Gardening Goodies

Let go of broken deer fencing, the cracked lawn sprinkler, rusty stakes, tattered ties, and faded herb garden markers. Seedling starters, unused fertilizer, and leftover soil can all be given to a local co-op or go back to a nearby flower nursery. Showcase your seasonal mums and pumpkins in a distressed oak whiskey barrel.

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Water Activity Equipment

It’s time to say goodbye to the trusty beach rolling cart with a broken wheel that you always meant to repair. And that raft that you never used because it takes two hours to blow-up can find a new home with someone who owns an electric pump. Now you’ll have space to store Flexible Snow Disc Saucer Sleds so you’re ready for fun in the snow.

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Empty Boxes

The boxes from your online orders—big and small, short and tall—get rid of them once and for all! Recycle these boxes now, or better yet fill them with donations and give them all away. You are guaranteed to get more boxes with all your fall online orders and holiday gift buying. Make recycling during holiday parties or while unwrapping gifts super easy with pop-up trash and recycling bins.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest