1. Expired chemicals
Most of us have a shelf full of household chemicals that contain things like cleaning chemicals, pesticides, motor oil, fertilizer, and antifreeze, to name a few, many of which we’ve only used once or twice. It’s a good habit to get through all of these chemicals on a yearly basis and get rid of the expired ones to clear up space.
Most of these chemicals have a pretty long shelf life of a few years, even after being opened. Still, if you have that bottle of fertilizer that’s over 5 years old and you haven’t used it for years, consider getting rid of it.
2. Paint cans
If you’re storing cans of paint in the garage, you can safely get rid of them, as chances are they’re no longer good to use anyway. This is because fluctuations in temperatures make paint harden and separate. Only paint stored at room-temperature retains its proper consistency, and very few garages are climate controlled.
Keep in mind, however, that throwing away paint is dangerous for the environment, illegal in some places, and can lead to drinking water pollution, so make sure to recycle cans of paint or let them dry out completely under the sun before throwing them in the trash. To learn about other items that shouldn’t be disposed of by tossing them into the trash, read our previous article titled Dumping These Things in the Trash Can Be Hazardous and Illegal.
3. Broken holiday decorations
Holiday decorations are so much fun, so we’d never say that you should get rid of all of them. Still, there’s always that odd bunch of decorations that don’t get used or don’t even work, but we’re reluctant to throw them away. Truth be told, you are unlikely to use them ever again, especially if you already have replacements, so save yourself the stress of that extra clutter and just throw them away.
4. Books, CDs, and DVDs
There’s a reason why people move things to the garage. In most cases, it’s a subtle hint that you won’t ever use that item again. If you’ve already banished a bunch of books, CDs, vinyl records, and cassette tapes into the garage, you likely don’t care about them anymore. Still, it’s understandable that simply throwing them away would be a heartache, so we say find them a new home instead by either donating them or organizing a garage sale.
5. Old rags
When you’re working on a craft project or repairing something in the garage, make the habit of always throwing away the rag you used to clean up any spills. At least try to get rid of the old rags occasionally, as these are often the source of bad smells in the garage. Moreover, an old rag you used to stain wood or repair the car may be highly flammable and is a real fire hazard.
“If rags or cloths wet with these finishes are mishandled, the spontaneous heating can accelerate and might lead to ignition and fire,” Bob Benedetti, Principal Flammable Liquids Engineer at the National Fire Protection Association, told Consumer Reports. Therefore, it’s important to dispose of cleaning rags regularly and never leave them in the garage. It’s best to let the rag dry out in the sun before putting it into the trashcan to prevent any accidents. Don’t worry - sun exposure won’t cause a fire.
6. Donation boxes
Throwing away clothes that no longer fit you in terms of style or size but are still in good condition is a waste of perfectly good clothes, so it’s always a good idea to donate them. The same goes for interior decorations you no longer like, old suitcases you don’t use anymore, and kitchen appliances you’ve already upgraded. Still, many people end up stockpiling these items, hoping that they will take them to the donation center one day.
Be honest with yourself. If you won’t be able to donate these things in the next month or two, they will surely end up staying forever, contributing to all that clutter. If dropping off the donation simply doesn’t fit in your busy schedule, bring yourself to put these items in the trash. After all, in another year, you’ll likely have another donation box ready.
7. Broken gardening supplies and tools
Go through the gardening supplies and tools one by one and examine if they have any dents or rust. If they do, throw those away, as most likely, working with these tools will no longer be convenient or effective. In fact, a tool that doesn’t work as it should is potentially dangerous and could be the cause of an accident. If you’d like to whittle down your collection of tools even further, look for duplicates and give the tools you have too many of to neighbors, family, and friends.
8. Unfinished crafts
Crafts are a great way to occupy your mind when the weather is terrible and there’s a pandemic ravaging the country. Still, not all projects are meant to be finished, and that’s fine, but that’s no reason to start collecting all the unfinished projects in the garage.
Once again, assess how likely you are to get back to the project and remember why you’ve abandoned it, to begin with. In many cases, starting fresh is much easier and rewarding emotionally than going back to the old unfinished work and reliving the shame that you feel for abandoning it.
9. Outdated Electronics
Okay, so you’ve already gotten rid of all the cassette tapes in the garage, but why is there still an old stereo sitting on the top shelf? We get it, electronics are often a serious investment and a prized possession, so getting rid of them may seem like a bad idea. However, old TVs, record players, and stereo systems do take up a lot of space in the garage, so finding them a new home or recycling them is often the superior decision.
10. Empty cardboard boxes
Sure, empty cardboard boxes are useful for storage, but why do you even need more storage containers if your initial goal was to declutter the garage? There's also the fact that cardboard boxes, though light, do take up a lot of space. In addition to that, cardboard boxes are really easy to get by these days - just wait for a week or so for a few more online orders or packages from friends and family to come in, and you'll have a fresh batch of "potential storage". Truly, there's no reason for you to keep these around in the garage unless you're planning to move soon...
11. Sporting goods and toys you’ll never use
A rusty bike, several bent golf clubs, a whole box of broken toys - all these things are common "findings" in a garage. But why? It's pretty clear that some of these things serve as memorabilia. And while it's okay to keep a few smaller things for the sake of memory, having a whole box or more of stuff lingering in the garage seems kind of excessive, especially if you're already struggling with storage space. It's a much better idea to donate these items to those who will need and use them, or just throw them away if they're in a state of disrepair.
12. Old furniture
If a piece of furniture has been staying in the garage for a few years now, it's pretty safe to conclude that you don't really need it. We say try to sell or donate it while it hasn't started decaying as a result of pest infestations, high humidity, and temperature fluctuations. After all, vintage furniture is having a real comeback these days, so chances are you could get a good deal.
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