Don’t let your garage serve as a catchall for clutter. Achieve a more organized space by donating or disposing of these unneeded items.
A garage is a convenient feature that can provide covered parking for your vehicles and bonus storage space outside of your home’s main living areas. Unfortunately, that means the garage often serves as a dumping ground for items you don’t want to store elsewhere. It’s all too easy to let garage clutter pile up until sports gear, lawn equipment, leftover project materials, and boxes of miscellaneous belongings completely engulf the space.
If you’re ready to reclaim your parking spot, it’s time to embark on a garage cleanup project. This organizing task can seem daunting, especially if you’ve put it off for a while, but you can give yourself a headstart by simply donating or disposing of a few items you no longer need or use. Start by purging these eight garage items and you’ll be well on your way to a more organized and functional garage.
1. Old Sports or Fitness Equipment
Sports gear and fitness equipment, whether from a short-lived health kick or kids’ hobbies, are the most common culprits of garage clutter. If the only activity they’re currently being used for is collecting dust, it’s time to clear out those old bats, balls, bikes, dumbbells, rackets, and other athletic gear. Donate items in good working condition to a local recreation center or charitable organization that accepts sports equipment. For stuff that’s too damaged, worn, or outdated to be of use, consult your local ordinances to determine the best way to recycle or dispose of each item.
2. Worn-Out Tools
This is your sign to let go of that leaky garden hose, rusted shovel, or broken-down lawnmower. There’s no point in hanging onto damaged or worn-out tools you never use, so get realistic about what’s possible to repair and what needs to go in the junk pile. A good rule of thumb: If you’ve already replaced the tool with something new, it’s time to ditch the old one. For tools that are still functional, consider donating to a local charity, community garden, or school that can use them. Otherwise, contact your local waste management authority for instructions on how to recycle or dispose of old tools and equipment.
3. Abandoned Kids’ Toys
Whether your kids have grown up or simply lost interest, the toys they’ve left behind can take up valuable space in your garage. Go through your toy stash and determine what can be donated, resold, or passed on to another family. Unfortunately, toys can be difficult to recycle because they’re often made up of many different materials and parts that aren’t easily separated. For broken items that can’t be of use to another child, look into toy recycling programs, such as the one by Hasbro, or contact your local recycling center to see how you can give the materials a second life.
4. Broken Holiday Decorations
The garage is a handy spot to stash holiday decorations that only come out for a few months of the year, but there’s no need to hang onto broken strands of lights and leaky lawn inflatables that go unused season after season. Donation is typically the best option for getting rid of holiday decorations in good working condition. If the item is no longer functional and can’t be safely repaired, call your local recycling center to check whether it can be recycled before dumping it in the trash.
5. Partially Used Paints and Chemicals
Storing old paint, cleaning products, or pesticides inside your garage doesn’t just waste space. It can also pose a fire hazard and a health risk for your family. Any paints or chemicals that have expired or lost their effectiveness should be disposed of immediately. Because these items are typically considered hazardous waste, however, you can’t simply toss them in the trash. Check local ordinances to learn the best way to dispose of old paint or chemicals, which might include letting the liquid dry out before throwing it away or taking the product to a hazardous waste drop-off site.
6. Unused Furniture
As you upgrade your space with new furniture, the older pieces you no longer have room for might get relegated to the garage. Instead of letting that dresser or chair sit unused, be proactive about donating it or listing it for sale. If the piece is a family heirloom you truly can’t bear to part with, consider passing it along to another family member for safekeeping until you can free up more storage space elsewhere.
7. Leftover Building Materials
It’s generally good practice to purchase extra project materials to allow for mistakes or repairs later on. But if you’re still holding onto leftover supplies years later, consider whether your garage space could be better used for storing something else. Find creative ways to repurpose extra plywood, trim, or patio stones through another project, or look into organizations that accept building material donations such as Habitat for Humanity.
8. Items Awaiting Donation
The garage is a common depository for all sorts of items, including those you’ve purged from elsewhere in the house. If you still have boxes or bags of stuff from your last decluttering session sitting in your garage, now is the time to cart them off to the donation center. You’ll free up space and finally check that item off your to-do list.