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Basements, am I right?

Unless you’ve got a finished basement that you use for entertaining company (or if one of your kids lives down there—and trust me, kids love basements), the odds are pretty good that your basement has become a haven for everything that doesn’t quite have a home somewhere else.

Tools, knicknacks, holiday decorations, coats you wear once a year…starting to sound familiar? It’s a common story, told by basements the world over, but it isn’t as immense and unfixable as you might believe. 

Given enough patience and time, any basement can be whipped back into shape if you take the right steps and understand exactly why (and when) you should be doing it. Take a look at our checklist and see if it applies to your current basement predicament:

 

  • Figure out what projects to prioritize: The basement can be messy, but it might not be worth stressing over if you have other, bigger jobs to be worrying about. Particularly in situations where your basement may be holding onto the detritus of other cleaning projects, make sure your basement reorganization won’t get in the way of anything else you’re trying to get done around the house.
  • Assess the current mess: One of the most important steps of cleaning a basement is understanding what’s being kept down there and what you need to do about it. Is most of the clutter things that really can’t go anywhere else, like holiday decorations? Are things like unused furniture, clothes nobody has worn in years, and dusty VHS tapes the culprit of the clutter? This is going to affect how you handle the rest of the cleaning project going forward.
  • Judgment day: Now comes either the hardest part or the easiest part, depending on your attitude toward decluttering. Take everything down there and sort it into “keep” or “discard” piles. The discard pile should be everything you’re okay with donating or throwing out—unless it’s something with actual value, try to avoid selling anything as this can cause your decluttering to slow down significantly and you may not wind up getting rid of anything. As for the keep pile, this should be anything you plan on using in the near future or anything you can’t get rid of just yet. Try to stick with whatever you decide for either item to keep the project flowing.
  • Sort everything you keep: From there, you’ll want to break down the “keep” pile even further to help with the organizing. Divide everything up by whatever system works best for you (types of item, frequency of usage, size, etc) and decide on the way that works best for you to keep it all organized.
  • Assess your storage options: A lot of basement clutter, no matter what you’re keeping down there, can stem from not really having a home for everything. Take a look to see where everything in your “keep” pile is going to go, and add more storage options as needed—wall hooks, wire shelving, wall shelving, and so on.
  • Don’t store anything in a dangerous area: Finally, once you’ve decided where everything is going to go, make sure it’s avoiding the typical ‘basement problems’. Pick areas that aren’t prone to leakage, flooding, or drafts to keep your stuff safe and usable for the next time you venture down into the basement to find something.

 

Hopefully these tips should keep your basement cleaner, safer, and easier to get around through the rest of the year.

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