Many of us tend to collect things without realizing it.
When people move to a new dwelling, there is invariably a point where they look at the number of boxes they have packed and ask, “How did we get so much stuff?”
You don’t have to be a hoarder to suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself with more stuff in storage than you know what to do with. Pretty much anyone with a basement goes through this at some point. It is very easy to put things aside “just in case” you will ever need them, and then promptly forget about them.
It might be furniture that is no longer being used, old lamps, or toys from children that have grown up and perhaps even moved out. Books, and old clothes often find their way into the basement, and once they do, well, as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind.”
Many people like to have clean, open spaces, free of clutter, and yet, they are not parting with their unwanted items, so in an effort to keep the living areas of their home free of clutter, they are packing more and more into their basement or garage, so when the time comes to finally clean that space, it can be challenging.
Make a Plan of Attack
Like any other project in your home, cleaning out your basement takes some consideration and planning. Most people wouldn’t re-organize a room without considering where all the furniture should go. They likely wouldn’t paint or buy new curtains or carpets without considering the colours and how everything would look when put together.
In the same way, you shouldn’t try to tackle your basement cleanout – which could become a rather significant job, without taking the time to plan and prepare.
Consider your Options for Disposal
For many, de-cluttering is usually synonymous with throwing things away. While this is certainly not your only option, chances are that a number of items will be disposed of, especially if they have been in storage for a very long time. You will probably need to do more than simply drag everything down to the curb to await garbage pick-up. If your basement is large enough and full enough, you may even need to consider renting a dumpster.
Here are some guidelines that might make this task more manageable for you.
Break It Up into Sections
Depending on the size of your basement, it may be split into distinct areas, and while it is probably tempting to tackle the entire thing in one shot, that can quickly become overwhelming. If your basement consists of a laundry room, a furnace room, and a crawlspace, pick one to begin with, complete it, then move on to the next.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Don’t underestimate the length of time it will take to complete this. Most of the time, clutter is built up over the course of months and years, so cleaning it out will not always be quick and easy. In fact, it usually isn’t. Give yourself the necessary time to go through things carefully.
Use the Two-Year Rule
Be honest with yourself about what you need to keep. Some things have sentimental value and you may want to keep those. That’s fair enough. But if you are holding onto things on the off chance that one day, somewhere down the road, you might possibly use them, then there is a good chance that you actually won’t. A good rule of thumb to use is the two-year rule: if you haven’t found a use for something in over two years, you probably never will.
The 4-Box Method
This is a simple method to help you determine where everything will go. Keep four large boxes and label them Trash, Keep, Give Away and Relocate. As you work your way through your clutter, assign every item to one of these boxes. Don’t skip over anything.
Organize Your Space
Once you successfully sort everything and know what you need and want to keep, you can begin to organize properly. De-cluttering involves more than simply removing items; for whatever remains, strive to have “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
There are a number of ways to organize your storage and make better use of it. Start by having proper storage areas. You can do this by creating smaller compartments within a larger space. If you have a shelf unit for example, you can use dividers to organize the items that you will place on it. Baskets are also popular choices for smaller items. You may even choose to use different coloured baskets to easily identify contents by type, such as old toys, books, clothing, or other items.
It is also wise to ensure that everything is easily accessible. Baskets can be removed from shelves to allow you to pull out a few things at a time, and wheeled carts can be useful for larger items.
If space is at a premium, get creative with your storage. You may be able to relocate things under beds or dressers or install hanging shelves from the ceiling.
Disposal of Unwanted Goods
As mentioned above, disposing of unwanted items often means sending it off with your garbage, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Garage sales are popular for a reason. What you consider junk might hold some value for someone else. If you can get rid of items that you don’t need while making someone else happy (and earning a bit of cash, to boot) then that is a better idea than contributing to a landfill.
With a little creativity, you may also find that some of your old possessions can be saved and re-purposed into something else. Again, this is preferable to simply disposing of it.
Cleaning out your basement can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t done it some time, but it also allows you the opportunity to free up storage space, remove potential fire-hazards, and simplify your life. And if you do it properly, while integrating better storage methods, you may find that you only have to do a big cleanout this one time.
For all those items you can’t sell, repurpose, or reuse, contact 604-TRASH-IT today!