I knew this was going to be a tough week because it involved our upstairs bathroom – especially the closet shelf that held medical supplies. Once a visitor opened the door and said, “Hey, you’ve got a whole pharmacy here!” Now technically this closet isn’t a drawer but it held many things that I knew needed to be cleaned out so I decided to redefine the four shelves as “drawer imposters.”

Days 365+69e ADAD Give Aways.

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First, let’s start with the easy part. I finished up our 4th bedroom which is for guests but still holds some family members’ stored stuff. I picked out some things to give away that I thought were no brainers. Several were vetoed by family members who shall remain anonymous since it would be embarrassing to out them as still wanting to keep Dashboard Confession t-shirts that no longer fit and various other frayed t-shirts. I reorganized some stuff and threw away miscellaneous old papers. I consigned the t-shirts to the “Wait” pile which means wait till I can persuade the hoarders to release the t-shirts.

Now the challenge – the bathroom. Several shelves were relatively easy. Does anyone polish shoes anymore – other than in airports? I found some red and blue shoe polish. Neither Jim nor I own any red or blue shoes. I reviewed all of my sheets, blankets, and towels. Even though last year I gave away quite a few, and  even accounting for an extra sheet set for each bed, I still had an embarrassing amount to give away. I’m pleased to give the twin size sheets to our local Catholic Worker House.

Days 365+69e mattressPause for Vogt mattress rant: Part of my reluctance to give more sheets away earlier was my annoyance at the mattress/sheet industrial complex who I am convinced changed the height of mattresses just to sell more mattresses and sheets to fit them. (That’s why I saved more fitted sheets than I need lest I no longer be able to buy ones to fit our mattresses. Mattress manufacturers used to recommend buying a new mattress every 8-10 years. Now they are saying every 5-7 years. Jim and I have had our current mattress for 42 years – since our wedding. Before you gasp in horror, I must say that I have no trouble sleeping, the mattress feels comfortable, and it was a good quality mattress to start with. I’m sure some people would benefit from replacing their mattress more frequently than this but, barring bed bugs, I take this 5-7 year advice with a big grain of salt. End of tirade.

The  "Health Shelf" Before

The “Health Shelf”

Then I got to the “Health Shelf.” I knew this would be a challenge since I was going to have to check prescription expiration dates on medications that were so old that I could barely read them. How much baby powder does one need if you no longer have any babies? (even after invoking the visiting grandchild clause). Yup, somebody may get lice again, but would a 20 year old dab of the remaining Nix do the trick? We had lots of old laxatives and anti-acids in many forms, some of them discolored when I opened the containers – and I’ve never had a problem with constipation or gas. Finally, I still had lots of shampoo, conditioners, lotions, etc. that I bring home from hotels. At least I know I can give them to our local Mary Magdalene House that offers showers and toiletries to the homeless.

Interesting find: I found a small acupuncture kit that a visiting Korean left with us probably a decade or so ago. She showed us how to use it and it still has most of the supplies in it. Unfortunately, the directions are all in Korean, my memory of Korean script has deteriorated, and I don’t have a current use for it – even if I could find a Korean translator. I hate to throw it away, but I suppose there’s no reason to keep it. It doesn’t seem quite right to take a partially used kit to our local Korean restaurant or Korean Christian congregation.

10 Drawers reviewed 3 of which were empty.
1 Drawer had t-shirts that have to be put in the WAIT pile
6 Drawers and shelves had things to Give Away or Throw Away


  • 2 blankets
  • 1 bed pad
  • 5 sheets
  • 6 pillow cases
  • 3 towels
  • 22 individual size shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and soaps.
  • 1 toothbrush still in original package

Throw Aways

Days 365+69e ADAD Throw Aways

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  • 15 prescriptions dated from 1994 – 2004. I know, I know, many would say that an Rx even 1 year past its expiration date is too old but the particular Rxs I saved aren’t likely to biodegrade much. (See Johns Hopkins Medicine Alert.)
  • 5 laxatives
  • 15 toothbrushes. (I planned to give away 7 of these that were in good condition and sterilized by running them through the dishwasher, but neither of my sources would take them. I probably wouldn’t either if I were them – except for the fact that I can vouch for them.
  • Nit for lice
  • Old sore throat lozenges
  • Old lotions from hotels that became so coagulated they were unusable


  • Days 365+69e ADAD RazorsI found two mysterious contraptions that may have been in our house when we bought it 32 years ago. I’m not even sure what they are. My guess is that the red object may be a razor blade sharpener. The other one may be a pencil sharpener.  Perhaps they are antiques. Perhaps they are worthless. Perhaps I could sell them on E-Bay and get some money. Perhaps I don’t have the time and should just pitch them.
  • I also found several very old metal razors. Ditto


  • 10 toothbrushes. I sterilized a few good ones in case guests forget theirs plus several for cleaning in small places.
  • A whole bunch of other stuff

1.  Some stuff has a shelf life. According to a Johns Hopkins Medicine Alert, the expiration dates on medication are usually conservative and many (if stored well) can be safe and effective for years after the expiration date. Of course the operative word is “can.” Without analysis, there is no guarantee.
2.  Some people aren’t as ready as I am to give away their unused stuff. I really thought a number of my family’s stored commemorative t-shirts would surely be released for give-away, but I was wrong. I invoked the “Better to Maintain the Relationship Than Have a Clean Draw” rule of thumb.
3.  My time is worth more than being pure. How good or useful does stuff have to be to keep it (or give it away instead of throwing it away or recycling it)? Few people probably sharpen their double edged razor blades any more. Few people use the old fashioned razors for shaving. Even though my sterilized toothbrushes were clean, the two facilities for homeless people would not take them. I have a cool porcelain toothbrush holder for 4 toothbrushes but the newer chubby toothbrushes won’t fit in it. How far should I search for a receiver? Maybe I could sell them on E-bay to a collector but that would take my time to figure out how to do it.