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Spring Cleaning Your Garage
Whether you approach spring cleaning with dread or a sense of positivity is entirely up to you, but either way, it has to get done. With a bit of preparation, the right tools, a good attitude and some information, you can zip through your cleaning quickly and feel great about it afterward.
Prepping for spring cleaning
Materials to have on hand: Clothing to cover skin, gloves, bucket of soapy water, trash bags, recycling bin, pencil and paper for notes
When undertaking a dirty and demanding chore like cleaning the understory of your home, have what you need before you start. There’s nothing worse than getting covered in dust only to realize that you forgot something at the store.
Set aside a long-sleeved shirt and pants that will cover your skin and that you don’t mind getting dirty. Sometimes there can be toxic stuff in a basement or garage (there’s some in mine left by previous owners), and it’s easier to clean clothes than one’s skin of paint, glue or random unidentifiable dripping materials circa 1997. I always put my hair back and cover it too, as my basement is very dusty and sometimes hair can get caught when moving things around awkward spaces.
Make sure you have a set of good thick gloves (plastic kitchen gloves or something nonpermeable is best) to deal with materials that may irritate skin. Keep a bucket of warm soapy water and plenty of rags on hand. Be sure to have trash bags (especially if you expect a lot of trash) and a couple boxes for recyclables of various kinds. Lastly, keep a paper and pencil handy to make a list of items you might need to refresh, repair or otherwise remind yourself to deal with later.
Rule: If you pick it up, you have to find a place for it.
It can be daunting when you first walk down the stairs and see the mess and jumble of useful stuff and what you know is garbage. The best way to begin is to pick the furthest corner from the door and work in a grid or quadrangle, if your basement is relatively square.
Try to avoid walking from one area to another picking up random stuff. Make it a rule that when you pick something up, you don’t put it down until it’s in an appropriate pile, put away where it belongs or in the trash/recycling.
Sorting and tossing
Create categories: garbage, recycling, keep, sell/give away
As you pick up each item in the grid or quadrangle you are working in, ask yourself if you can put it in one of four categories: garbage, recycling, keep, sell/give away. Force yourself into choosing one of the four categories for each item.
For items you are keeping, try to group items that are used together in one area of the basement. For example, pots, cloth gloves, rakes and seeds should all be together in a gardening section. Paint brushes, caulk, paint, trim and your toolbox can all go together as they are most often used for minor home improvement projects.
Use available wall space to hang things so they are within reach, and any unused bookshelves or tables can be repurposed to display categories of things so you don’t have to dig through boxes; camping equipment or winter sports gear is easier to get to if you can see just what you need.
Dispose of items that are broken and can’t be fixed, or are too old to be of use to anyone. Donate items that are usable, and be sure they are relatively free of dust and dirt (basements can be musty) before doing so.