Out of sight and out of mind for years, decades even, the basement hides books, clothes, toys, hobby supplies and sporting equipment. Of course, the physical benefits of freeing up all that space are obvious, but the emotional benefits can pay dividends, too, maybe even in ways you never considered. It can look daunting, but cleaning it all up, and cleaning it out, can feel less so by taking just a few simple steps. Now is the perfect time to clean, organize and get ready for a fresh, new year. Here are some personal tips, lessons learned from recent experience, for how to make the task more manageable.
5 Tips for Easier Basement Clean Up
Tip #1. Start small.
Unless your basement is very small, we found tackling a small section of the basement, rather than the whole basement, made everything easier. This, which we learned almost by accident, was an important lesson. Starting small made time and space management in the basement itself easier. Plus, loading up and delivering donations and filling up the garbage and recycling cans afterward were much more manageable, too. It gave us a feeling of accomplishment and completion, however small, and we felt energized, rather than defeated.
Important Takeaway: Don't underestimate the emotional benefit of having the “refuse” and “things to be donated” removed from the property at the end of the day, as opposed to sitting in a pile waiting to be dealt with for days or weeks.
Tip #2. Keep 4 bins nearby
We used four bins strategically placed just outside the entrance of our target area. The first bin accepted straight trash; the second, recycling; the third, things to be donated; and the fourth, items for transport to other parts of the house. We also kept on hand a couple of large trash bags for things too awful to leave hanging around in the open trash bin.
The four bins are self-explanatory, but I just wanted to mention the particular importance of the fourth bin. Use it, along with the other bins, to keep focused on your target area. You'll want to avoid finding yourself leaving the job to wander through the house delivering things only to be sidetracked by the snack pantry, a telenovela, or an impromptu straightening of the kids' bedroom. This is serious, heed my warning! You want to toss things into the correct bins and be done, so you can get back to the task at hand. There will be plenty of time afterward to distribute the contents of bin four.
Important Takeaway: Don't be distracted, stay in your target area as much as possible.
3. Know ahead of time what your donation centers accept.
There are two important parts of this task, removal and disposal, that may not get the consideration they need ahead of time. Beforehand, our focus was on re-imagining uses for the space and on organizing it. But when we got down to it, there was more that needed to go than we had anticipated.
So it's good to know ahead of time where you plan to take your donations, and make sure they will accept them when you get there. Some charity organizations may not accept toys, for instance, because they don't have the necessary resources to check on product recalls before selling them in their thrift shops.
Much of that “valuable stuff” you've been storing really isn't after all, so you'll want to be getting rid of it. Check ahead of time, you don't want to load it all up in your car, only to bring it all back home again.
4. If you haven't been using it, you probably won't
I suspect, for many of us, the main justification for keeping all that stuff in the basement is a false belief that it will be useful again one day. It almost certainly won't be. Electronics, sporting equipment, clothes, furniture, even hobby materials, go out of style and become outdated more quickly than we might think. If we're holding on to things for emotional reasons, it may be time to let go.
Important Takeaway: When you own too much stuff, stuff owns you.
Next: Painting, but we'll save that for another day.
So there you have it, four ideas to get you started on your end of the year clean-up project. It feels good to start the new year fresh, clean, and organized. Clearing out clutter, freeing up space, rediscovering what matters, and purging and donating old junk, all have physical and emotional benefits with lasting effect. So get in there, toss it and be done.
Oh, and one more thing, speaking of toss it and be done: With all that cleaning and organizing, you're going to get very dirty, your clothes, too. That means it's the perfect time for powerful, stress free, ARM & HAMMER™ Plus OxiClean™ Power PAKS. There's no need to measure them, just toss one in the washer and be done, ready for what's next!
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