An unfinished basement can become a magnet for unnecessary items – bags of clothing that might fit again "someday," broken doo-dads that you may want to fix "someday," or outgrown toys that you mean to donate "someday." While these items may fall into the out of sight, out of mind category, they can also pose a hazard. A messy basement can hide an insect or rodent infestation, or a basement flood may turn organized chaos into a sopping wet mess of mold and mildew. The following tips can help you clean out and organize the basement.
Tip #1: Set up stations
How you do this depends on the type of items you will be purging. If your basement has already suffered from water or pest damage, a roll-off dumpster headed straight to the landfill may be the best option. If you have a lot of clothing or linens to get rid of, check with a local textile recycler to see if they will let you borrow a container to fill. For a general mix-mash of items, use large boxes to create keep-donate-trash piles. Make sure you know who you are going to donate to, as well. Having everything set up before you start helps prevent the task from becoming overwhelming.
Tip #2: Create a plan of attack
You likely won't be able to empty the basement in a single session. Instead, divide the work into manageable chunks. If your basement is semi-finished and divided into rooms, you may want to schedule one room per day. If you have an open floor plan of general clutter or stacked boxes, it may be better to set aside a certain amount of hours of work per day. What ever your plan, stick to it.
Tip #3: Move quickly
The trick to purging successfully is to go with your first instinct. As you uncover each item, decide if you love it or need it (or will definitely need it in the foreseeable future). If not, donate or trash it. Keep in mind, this does not mean that you wished you loved it or that you may someday need it. Chances are, unless an item is one of a kind you can replace it if you need it again someday. Plus, it wouldn't have ended up in the basement if you were going to love it someday. Remember, most of this stuff has been packed away in the basement for months, if not years, and you haven't ever missed it.
Tip #4: Clear out daily
Once your work session for the day is done, get things out of the house completely. Trash it items need to go right to the garbage or dumpster. Donations should at the very least be loaded into the car so you can drop them off the next time you are running errands. "Keep" items should be moved to their new home. Items that still require storage, such as holiday decorations, can be set aside until the basement is organized.
Tip #5: Install a system
You will need an organization system for the remaining items once the basement is cleared out. Shelves are a good option because they organize and lift items above the ground in case of flooding. Label boxes clearly before placing them on the shelves. Schedule time annually to sort through the boxes and get rid of items that are no longer needed, like outgrown baby toys. If you don't feel like doing all of this work on your own, contact a business such as Joey's Junk.