The basement is often one of the most neglected rooms in the house, but it is also an important one. Most basements contain the homes central operating systems: furnace, fuse box, water heater, and sump pump, along with the washer and dryer. These important systems need to be free of dust, clutter, and cobwebs to operate efficiently. An untidy basement attracts mold, mildew, and rust along with rodents, cockroaches, and other pests. And boxes of unused stuff can become a liability during emergencies, especially when pipes break or sewers back up. While it may not be your idea of fun to organize the basement, putting aside a day or two to do so will pay off in the long run.
- An Annual Affair: It’s best to tackle basement clutter on an annual basis. That way you won’t be overwhelmed with a massive chore when you want to remodel or sell the house.
- Paper and Plastic: It’s best to go through the clutter in an organized fashion and separate items into three piles. Put the “keepers” in plastic storage bins where they’ll stay dry. Be sure to label these bins so you’ll know what’s inside. Use cardboard boxes for donations or garage sale items. Junk that’s going into the trash can go straight into heavy duty garbage bags.
- Memory Lane: Organizing a basement can be like taking a trip into the past filled with ancient photos, old toys, yellowed books, outdated electronics, and used clothing (yes, you really did wear those). The best way to handle items with sentimental value is to put them aside until the basement is finished. The family can sift through these items at night and decide what to keep and what to toss.
- The One Year Rule: Most stuff is in the basement for a reason—it’s never used. Those books you read in high school are never going to be anything more than cockroach food. If you have items you have not used in the past year, it’s probably time to donate or discard them.
- Maximize Your Space: If you don’t have them already, think about installing shelves, pegboards, and hanging hooks. These days there are so many styles of storage containers and shelving that there are ways to save stuff that you probably never even considered. For a few hundred bucks you can install a shelving system and permanently solve your basement clutter problems.