Cull the keys

They may be in your junk drawer, desk, dresser, or even on your overloaded key ring. They are mystery keys.

Keys to a former home. An office you don’t work at any more. The car you sold. Old padlocks.


If you know what the keys are for, and you still use them, you are well-organized in the key department. Congrats!

We’re talking about these keys:

  • You know what they’re for, but no longer have a use for them.   Your previous house, car, or office; a remnant of your past life. Give them to the current owner, or toss them out.
  • You don’t know what they’re for (a very common problem.) Collect all these orphan keys and set aside half an hour to figure them out. Try matching them with your other keys to see if they are duplicates (then label those duplicates and find them a home.) Ask your family members if they recognize them. Walk around the house and try them in different locks. Check your luggage, garage, and padlock departments. If you still can’t figure it out, think about tossing them.  If you are really concerned that their use will appear, find an envelope or small bag, put them in it, and label it with the date. This time next year, if you still haven’t found a use for them, out they go.

Prevent this problem in the future: buy some key tags and label every key you do recognize. And designate one spot in a drawer or cupboard where extra keys belong.  Your pockets or purse will be lighter!

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