Perishable Clutter

One thing I haven’t brought to your attention for a long time is the fact that some items left unused can perishe over time. Therefore, without you realising it, some items in your home may slowly be becoming useless while you wait for “someday” to arrive when you will have a use for them. I know I have encountered some incidences of this during my decluttering experience ~ Elastic that lost its stretch, electrical item than no longer worked, shoes that the fabric perished on, lipstick that smelled off… I always feel it is such a shame that these things end up going to waste.

Below is a list of items that can perish over time when not being used

  • Elastic:- Found in webbing in sofas and chairs, clothing items particularly underwear, fitted Sheets, bandages, hair Bands…
  • Electrical Appliances:- Especially anything with a heating element, a printed circuit board or drive belt.
  • Foam linings or filters:- As in Ski Goggles, some Vacuum Cleaners…
  • Plastics:- Some soft plastics go sticky and some hard plastics go brittle.
  • Rubber:- Seals on washing machines etc – Rubber Bands – erasers.
  • Leather Goods:- Leather items need cleaning and conditioning on a regular basis and can go stiff when not taken care of and also mouldy if not stored properly.
  • Photographic Gear:- If not stored properly mould can grow and eat into camera lenses, leaving permanent scars. Films, colour slides and photos can loose their colour and clarity over time.
  • First Aid Supplies & Medications:- Medications and ointments go out of date, bandages and the rubber in eye droppers can perish.
  • Drive belts:- Both times my clothes drier has gone into storage the drive belt froze into a D shape and made an awful clonking noise and had to be replaced.
  • Glue:- Items that are glued together such as shoes can separate, and tubes and bottles of glue can dry up.
  • Pens:- The ink dries up and/or the ball gets stiff and scratchy.
  • Batteries: Remember to remove batteries from toys and gadgets if they aren’t being used as the batteries can ooze acid and ruin the item.
  • Food: This one is a no-brainer.
  • Wine: some are meant to be stored some aren’t.
  • Make-up: The oils in them can go rancid and smell bad. Also bacteria can build up putting you at risk of infection (in particular eye make-up)
  • Textiles: Clothing and other items made from wool may become moth eaten if not stored properly. (Submitted by Willow @ )

This list of perishable items is always available here. However, I dare say it is by no means comprehensive. So if there is something that you feel needs adding please contact me and I will be pleased to include it on the page.

Today’s Mini Mission

There are certain items that nearly everyone owns, if you don’t have a use for such an item, why keep it. Declutter it now. In Australia most homes have a BBQ, a laundry basket and trolley, a deep fryer and a second television, we weren’t using ours so we saw no point in keeping them.

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t stock up on perishable items unless you are certain you are going to use them before their used by date expires.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. So true, Colleen. I am trying to convince my husband that it is false economy to keep things. And bad for the environment.

    First we buy something we don’t really need and don’t use. Meaning we spend money we have worked hours, days, weeks for. (And the environment suffers in the manufacture and transport and packaging of the item.)

    Then we store it. Costing us money to buy for storage and a bigger house. (And we all know the cost to the environment of a large house.)

    And then when we go to use the item, it has perished, gone off, has holes, doesn’t work or become an expensive home to bugs, spiders, and other nasties.

    I am trying to convince my husband that we should donate things like jumpers that haven’t been worn for many years, and won’t be worn for many more. Better that someone who needs it, who needs tobe warm, gets to wear the wool jumper than it clogs our cupboard and is an expensive feed for moths.

    Much better to not buy multiple of things or things we just like but have no need for. Think of the cost savings. And the ultimate saving: our time. Money not spent equals hours not worked equals freedom.

    • Hi Lucinda, I understand your frustration. Perhaps you need to use the Leading Question Technique on him. . First question ~ “Do you like working?” Second Question ~ “Do you feel like you earn enough money per hours to compensate you for your efforts/stress/time”… and go on from there to “Don’t you think it would be wise no save money for an early retirement rather than waste it on stuff we don’t really need.”

      I wish you luck trying to convince him.

      • Love the idea, Colleen. Now I need to work it into a conversation without my husband being onto me. (We both work in a job where we use this form of questioning on others.)

        But using logic on our own life is another thing entirely. We can all be blind to our motivation or the consequences of our choices.

  2. Colleen, this is a good list and topic. Here in the heat of Arizona some things go bad even faster than other areas–like rubber bands, glue, anything rubber or plastic, etc. I used to buy some of these things in bulk because it was cheaper in the long run, I knew I would use it, and it was easy to store. Not any more.

    • Hi Deb J, quite often people do this over and over again without even thinking of the economical effect in the long term. They see the cheaper price for the initial outlay and don’t think past that. I have been guilty of this in the past myself.

  3. So true. I am working thru my pantry, eating down items which have been sitting there too long or are approaching their expiry date. Likewise the freezer as foods lose their goodness after certain periods in the freezer.

    Batteries. I should have been a Boy Scout as I used to love to be prepared for all possibilities and eventualities. And so we had a battery box with all sorts of size batteries in an assortment of quantities. I haven’t added to it in a few years and just buy in what we need on an as-needed basis these days. The problem is that what is left over is not useful sizes to anything we have left in the house and not sure if they’re too old. Not sure how to tell if batteries are still any good, but I thought I could list them on freecycle and explain the situation and it could be a 50-50 chance of a great freebie or not so.

    Over the last 3 months I have had to replace one by one the AA size batteries in 2 out of 4 torches and 2 remotes, so I’m happy to keep a 4 pack of AA batteries in my desk drawer to tide us over should something else need replacing, I can replace these with another 4-pack then rather than another 10 pack or 20 pack like I would have in the past. At least when I open the pack of batteries I know its probably only been bought in the last month or so, given the turnover.

    • Batteries will last unused for about 2 -3 years apparently. I normally buy a 10pk when I need some. Sometimes 6 at a time, so then I have only a few as spares. We also use rechargeable batteries in our computer mouse etc. (things that we use all the time) These last for a few years until the charge doesn’t go for as long. They are more expensive to buy upfront (and you need the charger too) but save in the long term. They are worth considering. Less to dispose of.
      Just remember with normal batteries, they could have been on the store shelf for a while too. So maybe a year or so would be a safe length of time if you are concerned. I know i have had unused batteries over a year and they have worked fine. Just keep in a cool dark place.

  4. These are great reminders! I was recently on the hunt for a thing for the day and looked through my jewelry box. I found a watch that I hadn’t worn in years that had battery acid seeping out of it. I would have never thought about a watch battery exploding. I used to have a few inexpensive battery powered watches in different styles. Now I have a single, higher quality solar powered watch. I love it and wear it everyday. No more time and expense wasted getting new watch batteries! And because I have only one watch that is very special to me, I take better care of it.

    • Hi June, not only that, you now don’t waste time deciding which one to wear. Thank you for sharing this little story of less is best. I really enjoyed it. I actually don’t own a watch anymore I just check the time on my cell phone.

  5. I have a couple of friends who are nurses (one is a wound care specialist) and both have told me that ointments often go off before the expiry date, and ideally should be discarded properly once whatever treatment it was bought for has been completed. The air exposure once the tube has been opened lets in bacterias etc.

    The exception is medical grade Manuka honey for wounds, burns etc. It will never go off. Pick a medical grade UMF – I think 20+ is the ideal – this isn’t supermarket grade honey. Both nurses keep it stock in their homes. Apparently it can also treat athlete’s foot, though I think that might be a bit sticky.

  6. I just remembered that paint dries out as well, be it wall paint or for artistic purposes. There’s not much sense in stocking too much paint at home.
    Also, musical instruments or parts of them can perish as well, when you don’t use them. So, be sure to store them properly and clean them and care for them – but best of all, use them regularly.

    • Hi Sanna they are two really great tips. I had a bad experience with a musical instrument not being stored properly once and it got a very musty smell about it. I would like to point out that I was not the one who didn’t care for it, but that is another story. I actually had to leave the instrument out to air after cleaning it and also put new foam and lining in the case. I just could not get the musty smell out without doing that. I think heavens that I am capable of doing little repairs like this otherwise I never would have been about to sell that instrument.

  7. Thank you for reminding me. I just pulled my calculator and saw that the batteries oozed acid. I’m going to take them home and discard them properly.

    At home, I have got a lot of ointments. The problem is that my doctor prescribes me a lot and changes my prescriptions often. My cabinets could rival a pharmacy!

  8. Spot on! Today I threw out red curry paste with a 2006 expiration date. It still had been good Years After that but now it didn’t taste like much anymore.

  9. I have cleaned out a couple of areas in the last week. The bathroom cupboards which I have a go at regularly but this time I got rid of a huge amount of stuff. Loads of medications that have expired, creams for psoriasis, the first aid box was full of things never used and a decade out of date. Odd knick knacks, candles. It was like a light bulb went on and I saw the stuff more clearly. I have three very large built in cabinets far larger than a usual sized cabinet and it has been easy to just leave things in them ‘just in case’. And that is not counting the undersink cupboards in both bathrooms! There is such a thing as way too much storage. I also pulled out every single toilet bag/case and got rid of all the freebies and just plain unused ones. I have finally got the message that if I have a container or a bag I WILL attempt to fill it somehow so out they go. I chucked out much of the items in them as well. I corralled ALL remaining medications/sticking plasters etc into one tidy container with drawers and labelled it all. I chucked out the tiny and useless first aid box. I cannot BELIEVE how nice it is to open those cabinets and see space! No more pushing things aside to find what you need. I now have a clear space for my toothbrush charger on its own shelf (the plug is in the cupboard).

    The other area was the garage and the scary paint/chemicals cupboard. It is high and hard to see into and gets ignored. I found a whole lot of useful stuff I didn’t know I had and got rid of about a third of what was left that was never used or expired. I was excited to find a tube of silicon remover and another silicon grout tube – until I realised they were solid and the expiry date was 2003!! A decade of shelf space taken up there! I don’t want that to happen again.

    This website has been tremendous for me and I want to thank you. The reminders, the invitations to take a tough look at what I keep. It keeps me motivated and on track and slowly my house is lighter and more usable. It is so wonderful to be able to let things go and I have lost weight as well so I am shedding a lot of my old ways. I don’t need all that stuff around me. I am at the point where I want to sell some furniture and clear out the larger items as some of them are empty. Never in a million years did I think that would happen.

    • Joanne – I’ve also been clearing out in the bathroom vanity – I’m writing a comment on Friday’s Favourites that might find entertaining.

    • Hi Joanne, that sounds amazing! congratulations in all the good change!!

  10. This is a wonderful list. I haven’t considered many of these before.

    Thanks for enlightening us (or reminding, whichever the case)