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8 space-stealing items to purge from your garage


A garage is a convenient feature that provides covered parking for your vehicles and additional storage space outside the main living areas of your home. Unfortunately, the garage often serves as a dumping ground for things you don’t want to store elsewhere. It’s easy to let garage clutter pile up until sports equipment, lawn equipment, leftover project materials, and miscellaneous boxes overwhelm the space.

Paul Dyer

If you’re ready to get your parking spot back, it’s time to start a garage cleaning project. This task of organization can seem daunting, especially if you’ve been putting it off for a while. However, you can give yourself a head start by donating or getting rid of a few items you no longer need or use. Start by purging these eight garage items and you’ll have a head start on a more organized and functional garage.

Paul Dyer

1. Old sports or fitness equipment

Sports and fitness equipment are the most common culprits of garage clutter, whether it’s a short-lived health kick or kids’ activities. If the only thing they’re used for is collecting dust, it’s time to clean up those old bats, balls, bikes, dumbbells, rackets, and other sports equipment. Donate items in good working order to a local recreation center or charity that accepts sports equipment. For items too damaged, worn or obsolete to use, consult your local ordinances to determine the best way to recycle or dispose of each item.

2. Worn tools

Now is the time to put down that leaky garden hose, that rusty shovel or that broken lawn mower. There’s no point hanging on to damaged or worn out tools you never use, so be honest about what can be fixed and what should go in the scrap 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 still work, consider donating to a local charity, community garden, or school that can use them. Otherwise, contact your local waste management authority for instructions on recycling or disposal of old tools and equipment.

3. Abandoned children’s toys

Whether your kids have grown up or just lost interest, the toys they left behind can take up valuable space in your garage. Look through your stock of toys and figure out what can be donated to charity, resold, or passed on to another family. Unfortunately, toys can be difficult to recycle because they are often made up of many different materials and parts that are not easily separated. For broken items that may not be useful to another child, check out toy recycling programs, like this one from Hasbro. If necessary, you should 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 place to store holiday decorations that only come out a few months of the year. Still, there’s no need to cling to broken strands of lights and leaky inflatables that go unused season after season. A donation is usually the best option for getting rid of holiday decorations in good working order. If the item is no longer functional or repairable, call your local recycling center to check if it can be recycled before throwing it in the trash.

Adam Albright

5. Partially used paints and chemicals

Storing old paint, cleaning supplies or pesticides inside your garage doesn’t just waste space. It can also pose a fire hazard and a health risk to your family. Any paints or chemicals that have expired or lost their effectiveness should be disposed of immediately. Because these items are generally considered hazardous waste, you can’t just throw them in the trash. Instead, check local ordinances for the best way to dispose of old paint or chemicals. You may need to allow liquids to dry before disposing of them or taking the products to a hazardous waste disposal site.

6. Unused furniture

As you upgrade your space with new furniture, older pieces that you no longer have room for could be relegated to the garage. Instead of leaving that dresser or chair unused, be proactive by donating it or putting it up for sale. If the piece is a family heirloom that you want to keep, consider asking a family member to keep it until you can free up more storage elsewhere.

7. Leftover building materials

It is generally recommended to purchase additional project materials to prepare for errors or repairs. But if you still keep leftover supplies years later, ask yourself if your garage space could be better used to store something else. For example, find creative ways to reuse extra plywood, trim, or patio stones with another project. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity are always interested in building material donations if a DIY project isn’t your thing.

8. Items Awaiting Donation

The garage is a common repository for items you have purged elsewhere in the house. If you still have boxes or bags of stuff from your last decluttering session in your garage, it’s time to take them to the donation center or call an organization that will pick up the donations from your home. You’ll free up some space and finally check that item off your to-do list.