Whatever you do, don’t toss out these six things.

By Marla Christiansen
Updated December 18, 2018
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Nothing is quite as liberating as thoroughly clearing out your home. Eliminating excess clutter will leave your place feeling more spacious and your mind more at ease. While most of the items you throw away won’t likely be missed (or even remembered!), there are a few things that may leave you with a creeping sense of regret should you get rid of them. When trying to minimize clutter, it’s important to thoughtfully weigh each item's worth. While there’s a lot to gain by reducing your dependence on stuff, there are a few things you should never toss just for the sake of making space.

1

Though most piles of papers can be fed to the shredder almost immediately (especially that big pile of junk mail), there are some documents you’ll need to keep throughout your life. These include personal documents, such as your birth certificate, social security card, health records, marriage license, and the deed to your home. Once disposed of, identifying documents can be very difficult to replace, so save yourself a headache later and hang onto them. Tax documents and other financial papers should usually be kept for at least seven years before discarding. These records are essential when starting a new job, applying for a loan, visiting the DMV, or searching for a new house or apartment.

2

In this digital age, physical letters, cards, and messages are becoming increasingly rare. For this reason, personal notes from those near and dear to you can be good to hold onto. While this doesn’t mean that you should keep a backlog of every birthday card you’ve ever received, reserving a few meaningful messages is a nice way to remember the people in your life.

3

Photographs are one of the few ways we can capture the past and remind ourselves of the people, places, and things we love. Old pictures are irreplaceable mementos that should be preserved and shared with family members who may be interested in ancestors they’ve never met. Keeping shots that reveal your life’s story is a simple way of sparking joyful memories that might otherwise be forgotten.

If you have a huge stash of old photos you're storing, it can also be a nice idea to get these images digitized. This way, they will last for longer and can be more easily shared among family members. Here's one easy way to digitize your most precious photos.

4

You’re never truly finished with a can of paint, even after the final coat dries. High-traffic rooms are prone to wear and tear, meaning they’ll need to be repainted or touched-up every few years. Save yourself the headache and transfer remaining paint into smaller, air-tight jars labeled with the color name, number, brand, and what in your home is painted that color. Then, ditch the empty, bulky paint cans to save space.

RELATED: 14 Absolutely Perfect Paint Colors

5

There are a few things that get better with age, and heirloom cookware is definitely one of them. Kitchen items like stoneware, enamelware, and those made from cast iron are not only excellent to cook with, but are extremely durable. While you should definitely ditch chipped enamelware that is no longer safe to eat from, rusty and damaged cast iron cookware can be easily cleaned (just follow these steps). When maintained properly, these seasoned kitchen tools can be passed down for generations to come.

6

Even if antiques you've inherited from family members over the years don't match your personal aesthetic, it’s a good idea to save pieces that are one-of-a-kind or no longer sold, as they could wind up becoming a serious investment. Tea sets, jewelry, vintage toys, and items with old advertising on them are things that always tend to appreciate in value. If you simply don’t have the storage space, consider having the item appraised so you can get a better idea of it’s worth.