If your garage has become nothing more than a glorified storage closet, it might be time to declutter. Take a few minutes out of your day to get organized.

By Sarah Yang
Updated May 27, 2016
Organized garage
Credit: William Abranowicz
Organized garage
Credit: William Abranowicz

Newspapers, Magazines, and Catalogs

“You’re not going to read these again,” says organizing and storing expert Emma Gordon of Clutter.com. “If they’ve been banished from the house to the garage they need to go.” If you can’t part with all of them, allow yourself to keep a few special editions or issues.

Old Electronics

Chances are you have no use for that old clunky computer, printer, and fax machine from the early ‘90s. “If it’s in the garage, there’s a 90 percent chance that your old CPU is not worth the time it would take you to bring it back up to speed for day-to-day use,” says Gordon. “It’s better to find a recycling program that can take it off your hands.”

Broken or Duplicate Tools

You probably don’t need five hammers, and that broken drill is just collecting dust on a shelf. Take stock of your tool collection and consolidate, so you don’t have an overflowing toolbox (or too many bulky bins filled with tools).

Plastic Planter Trays

“It’s tempting to keep the trays after popping our spring blooms,” says Gordon. “Unless you’re a regular gardener, there’s no reason to keep these trays after transplanting. Clear them out so you don’t have to deal with spiders or other garage critters that will make a home in them.”

Old Paint Cans

Remnants of DIY Projects

While you’re clearing cans from old home improvement projects, toss out old materials from DIY projects. “Almost every garage in America has a flimsy aluminum paint tray coated in house paint, with a matching roller in a crumpled grocery bag,” Gordon says. “As homeowners, we like to think we’re going to get more than one use out of our paint brushes, trays, and other DIY tools, but it’s more likely we’ll forget and buy these items again anyway. The only reason to save otherwise disposable DIY tools would be if you have a project in mind that you plan to tackle soon.”

Broken Sports Equipment

“Toss out balls if they don’t hold air any more,” says Gordon. Same goes for broken tennis rackets, skis, helmets, and more. If one of your kids no longer plays a sport, donate the used gear to a thrift store that accepts sports equipment.

Cast-off Shoes and Clothes

“I promise you won’t miss the clothes and shoes you’re storing in the garage,” says Gordon. “These are the items that you don’t even have in your weekly outfit rotation, and if they haven’t been kept in an airtight container, they will require a lot of laundering to nix the garage fumes and dust.” Here’s what to do with your old clothes, in one easy chart.

VCR, VHS Tapes, Tape Player, and Cassette Tapes

Sadly, your beloved tape collection is now obsolete. “Remember the static or flipping over to the ‘B-side’? Compared to streaming services, these outdated forms of entertainment require a lot of fussing,” says Gordon. “Make a quick list of the albums and movies you consider staples for your household, and plan to purchase in digital format.”

Unused Décor

Bring that old chair you’ve been meaning to reupholster for years, or those old and outdated holiday decorations to the thrift store or a donation center. If you can’t imagine placing them back inside your house any time soon, you should say goodbye to those pieces.