Unloading Household Clutter

A trip to Susan Hodara's attic is like visiting a house of horrors. There's so much stuff, it's hard to know where to begin to sort through it.

Susan says, "I think of it sometimes like purgatory. They go up to the attic as a step before going to the garbage."

If you'd like to clean up the clutter in your home, Consumer Reports can tell you how to get rid of practically anything.

A good place to start is with old computers and TVs.

Kim Kleman with Consumer Reports warns, "But they can contain hazardous compounds. So don't just throw them out."

Stores like Staples, Office Depot, and Best Buy will recycle old gear, although there can be a small fee. And they also take old cell phones.

Kim suggests, "Before you donate any phone, remove all your personal information. Manufacturers' websites can tell you how to do that."

And don't let your old books die a silent death. Instead, go online to sell your used books at sites like Cash4books.net and Bookscouter.com.

If you have toys or baby gear, before you donate an item, make sure it hasn't been recalled by checking the recalls.gov website.

Kim says, "Hundreds of children's products have been recalled in just the past year alone. You don't want to pass off an unsafe product to someone else."

And if you have old stuffed animals like those in Susan's attic, try a local animal shelter. Turns out they can be a lot of fun for cats who are waiting to be adopted.

Old batteries are another pesky product that can pile up. You can put alkalines in the trash, but rechargeable batteries should be recycled. Consumer Reports recommends checking Call2Recycle.com and Earth911.com for a nearby drop-off site.

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