Tips For A Stress-Free Toy Purge


box of toys. toy purge. Des Moines MomIt’s an all too familiar situation. Your child just had a birthday and you’re silently weeping to yourself buried under a mountain of toys.

Ok, that might be a bit over-dramatic (but maybe not). This was me after my 4-year-old’s birthday party. I became increasingly worried about our 6-month-old choking on all of those new small toy parts.

It was time for a toy purge.

I did some research and consulted my mom tribe and want to share toy purging tips with you.

I want to emphasize the importance of acknowledging that you should not throw away anything your child has an emotional attachment to. I was afraid of doing this in my first purge, but my 4-year-old did not miss the items I tossed. In fact, I found it was my own emotional attachment to the toys that was holding me back.

Many in my mom tribe said the same thing: Don’t involve your child until they are about age 10 or older. Wait until your kids are asleep, then get to work. From here, you will likely sort the toys you want to purge into three piles: throw away, donate, and put into storage.

How to Do a Toy Purge

Throw away

Unless you know your child’s most loved possession came out of a cereal box, just throw away any freebie that came from a parade, inside a fast food meal box, or who even knows where it came from? Throw away any string, stray sticker, or random broken piece of plastic. You might find all of the pieces someday, but …. we all know you won’t. If it’s plastic or paper, try to recycle it. I also have to fight my personal urge to think, “Maybe some other child will want this Barbie arm.” No. Thrift stores and Goodwill are not a trash can.


It’s hard to sell a toy privately unless you’re having a garage sale for other items. They are cheap to purchase anyway, so you likely aren’t going to make much money off of them. Consider donating gently used toys to the Animal Lifeline of Iowa Thrift Shop, Beacon of Life, Goodwill, Hope Ministries, the Not New Shop or St. Vincent De Paul.

Remember, thrift stores are not a trash can. Toys that are broken beyond repair or very dirty, just throw them out. You can donate unopened toys to Toys for Tots – and you don’t have to wait until the holidays to do so. You can even sell it on eBay and donate the proceeds if you enjoy the thrill of the sale.

Personally, I’m a fan of the “mom code” of just passing them down to the kids of your friends. I love doing this especially when I know the kids are going to light up when they see the toy! So many moms have given things to me, I love paying it forward.


These are the toys you just can’t part with, but you KNOW your kid has not played with in months. Put it in a storage tote and keep a rotation of toys going. We have three spots in the house where toys belong, so sometimes it’s just a matter of moving a toy around to re-gauge interest. In a year or two, if they haven’t played with it and don’t show interest, it’s likely time to get rid of it.

Be proactive

We have many Des Moines Mom posts about turning a birthday party into a fundraiser instead of getting toys. And here is a list of 40 non-toy gift ideas for the holidays. I beg family members not to get the kids too many toys and instead maybe put money into their savings. But, I also understand it’s a joy for them to see our kids open the presents and play with them. I’ve come to terms with this and instead found ways to organize through our storage toy rotation system.

What have I missed? What are your personal toy purging tips?


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