Garage full of boxes and clutter

Is Your Garage Pack Rat Central? Toss These 6 Things Now – Article Featuring Abundance Organizing

January 30, 2020

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Is Your Garage Pack Rat Central? Toss These 6 Things Now
By Larissa Runkle | Jan 29, 2020
photo credit JodiJacobson/iStock

Decluttering the garage never seems to be a top priority, until you find yourself regularly doing what we like to call “the garage shuffle.”

The garage shuffle is a crazy dance that involves a lot of creatively acrobatic moves to maneuver around everything blocking your route to the car. And the dance only becomes more complicated the more stuff you have.

As part of our “New Year, Clean House” series, we’re going to help you declutter the garage and keep your shuffling to a minimum. Here are six things you can toss right now.

1. Empty boxes
One of the biggest culprits causing you to do the garage shuffle on the regular? We know you know, but we’ll say it anyway: old cardboard boxes.

“The quickest way to make your garage feel more spacious is to get rid of the trash that’s hiding in the nooks and crannies,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”

And there’s an even better reason to break down and recycle those boxes: “Critters like spiders and roaches love to make homes in those boxes,” Wenzke says.

2. Broken stuff
The garage always seems to be the holding area for things that might be useful someday, and that’s especially true when it comes to broken stuff.

“Separate anything that’s broken, and evaluate whether it’s worth your time, energy, and money to have it fixed,” says Melissa Groff, owner of Namastay Organized. “If not, trash it. If you want to fix it, give yourself a deadline, and remember, every to-do item you give yourself takes time and energy away from something else you could be doing.”

3. Old toys
If your kids are grown, it’s time to toss their old toys—even if you planned on saving them for the grandkids.

“Old plastic toys can become brittle and unsafe,” says Ann Zanon, owner of A2Z Organizing Solutions.

Plus, she adds, “They get so darned dirty! If you have them in the garage, it’s likely they’re hosting insects and rodents, and all their droppings. Do you really want your grandchildren riding around on an old toy with that on it?”

4. Holiday decor
Decorations don’t get better with age—especially if they’ve been living in your garage this whole time.

“Holiday decor piles up year after year,” says Sara Bereika of Abundance Organizing. “We see mass amounts of it in garages, and it rarely all gets used. The fact is that things get smelly, moldy, look worn, and end up going out of style.”

Pass on any decor items still in good shape to a local charity; otherwise, plan on recycling them.

5. Expired chemicals
If you have more household chemicals than a mad scientist, it’s time to sort through them and see what needs to be tossed.

“Evaluate the chemicals in your garage based on their packaging,” says Groff. “Look for an expiration date, and trash them if expired or if the bottle is leaking and doesn’t function.”

Although some things like fertilizer and paint cans can last a long time, you should still plan on periodically checking them and tossing anything you can’t use. Not sure how to safely dispose of your chemical collection? Check Earth911 to find out.

6. Unfinished projects
Ah, the infamous unfinished project. Unless it’s something epic—like a ceiling fresco—you might want to let this one go, too.

“I’ve kept scraps of wood around for months, anticipating a future wood shop project that never comes,” says Colin Haentjens of the Knobs Company. “There are at least three problems with unfinished projects: They’re potentially dangerous, they’re a nuisance to clean around, and materials can lose quality/resale value if not stored properly.”

Ask around to see if your friends need some bobs and bits for their own projects.

“If that doesn’t work, pull off the Band-Aid and recycle or trash them,” Haentjens says. “You’ll enjoy the decluttered space!”

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