The basement of a house serves many purposes. It’s a great, out of the way place to keep all of your home’s major mechanical devices like your furnace and water heater. Many homeowners keep their washer and dryer in the basement, as it’s a perfect spot to do of your laundry without taking up valuable above-grade space. Basements are also an ideal room to store extra household items, and if yours is finished, it’s a cool rec room during the heat of summer.
The problem is that too many homeowners treat their basements as a storage unit — one that they don’t ever empty out. It becomes a black hole of unused possessions, things that are either broken or worn out or simply unusable; a purgatory for possessions that we can’t bear to part with but really have no functional value anywhere else in the home. Most basements are cluttered, they’re dusty, they’re musty, and honestly, they really need to be cleaned out.
The process of decluttering a basement isn’t always fun while it’s happening, but when you’re all done, and you get to look around at the vast open space beneath your main living area, it’s a great feeling. If you’re wondering where to even start, we can help.
Here are ten items that you can remove from your basement right now.
1. Broken appliances.
That broken coffee pot that you feel badly throwing in the trash, the food processor with a faulty base, the old washing machine that was long ago replaced by a newer, more efficient model — they’re all taking up space, and they can all be removed. For electronic components, check with your local recycling center about electronics recycling options, while plastics can usually get mixed in with household recycling. Any large metal parts can often be sold for scrap, and you can often find people who will haul away your metal appliances for free or a nominal charge.
2. Empty boxes.
Everything we buy these days comes in a box, and it somehow feels wrong to get rid of those boxes. Many of us also have a tendency to hold on to large cardboard boxes long after we’ve moved to a new residence — you never know when you’ll need them! But honestly, boxes are easy to get if you want them, and you don’t need to take up space in your basement hoarding them. Break them down and put them out with your recycling, or take them to your local recycling center. If the day comes when you need more, hit up your nearby grocery store at night when shelves are being stocked, or buy them for about a dollar apiece at any large hardware store.
3. Old paint cans.
Painting is an easy DIY project, and a fresh coat of paint can breathe some new life into any room. However, very few of us actually use an entire can of paint for any project; there’s always some left over, and most of us just hammer the lid back on the can and stash it in the basement for some future need that, let’s be honest, will probably never arise. Rather than hanging on to half a dozen half empty paint cans, give them to someone who will use them (furniture restorers, art students, and fellow DIYers may all be interested) or look into options for proper disposal, which will vary depending on what type of paint you have.
4. Old books.
That Chemistry 101 book cost you $90, and it hurts to just get rid of it. It’s probably in a box with a bunch of other college textbooks, novels you never got around to reading, and other bound volumes. Not only are they taking up space in your basement, but they’re gathering a musty smell and probably mildewing a little. Take some time to go through the books in your basement, sell the ones that have any value (like that Chem 101 book, if it’s not an old edition), and either donate the rest to your local library’s book sale, give them away, or recycle them.
5. Your collection of old, worn out shoes.
What do you do with shoes when they’re technically still wearable but so worn down that you wouldn’t wear them out? Stick them in the basement for whenever you need to wear them. It sounds like a good idea, but that day never comes. After a while, you can amass quite a collection of old shoes down there. Stop holding onto shoes you won’t wear again — throw them out.
6. Your old couch that no one ever sits on.
Many of us stick our old furniture down in the basement, either to store it or with the idea that maybe we’ll hang out down there when it’s hot outside. (Basements are notoriously and refreshingly cool during the summer months.) However, a basement is no place for long term furniture storage, and you never really end up hanging out down there like you thought you might. Eventually, the old couch that you carried downstairs collects dust and becomes a home for bugs. Instead of having it take up all that space, get it out of there, then sell it, give it away, or trash it.
7. Your box of electrical cables and random chargers.
It seems like everyone is in possession of a box of extension cords, chargers to long obsolete devices, and all sorts of adapters. This box usually lives in the basement, and while it’s reassuring to know that you’re prepared for any sort of tech charging emergency, most of those cables never see the light of day. Take some time to sort through what you have. Keep one or two that you think you might actually use, and then take the rest to your closest household or electronics recycling center. Additionally, store the cables that you end up keeping on a hook or a pegboard so they’re in plain sight and not tucked away in a box.
8. Bins of baby clothes.
We should preface this one by saying if you are expecting a baby in the next year or two, or if a close family member is expecting a baby, then you can maybe hang onto your old baby clothes. However, if your baby is now five, and you’re not planning on having another one any time soon, then you can free up some space by getting rid of your baby clothes. Give them to a friend, bring them to a consignment shop, or donate them — it’s up to you, but whatever you do, get them out of your basement.
9. The treadmill you never use.
This really goes for any exercise equipment: a stationary bike, a weight set, whatever. You probably bought it with good intentions and maybe even used it for a few months, but now it’s in the basement in need of a good tune up. Give it to a fitness enthusiast, sell it if it’s in good shape, or (best of all) bring it up from the basement and actually use it!
10. Anything you haven’t used in a year.
We know that the basement is used for seasonal storage. You may have your Christmas decorations in a bin down there for 11 months of the year, as well as your Halloween stuff, but you use them in the span of 12 months. If you’ve got stuff down there that you haven’t used at all in the last four seasons, though, you probably don’t need it. Get rid of it — at this point, it’s nothing but clutter.