8 Space-Stealing Items to Purge from Your Garage

Don’t let your garage serve as a catchall for clutter. Achieve a more organized space by donating or disposing of these unneeded items.

A garage is a convenient feature that provides covered parking for your vehicles and bonus storage space outside your home's main living areas. Unfortunately, the garage often serves as a dumping ground for items you don't want to store elsewhere. It's easy to let garage clutter pile up until sports gear, lawn equipment (like this Better Homes & Gardens 1.2 gal Steel Watering Can, $27, Walmart), leftover project materials, and boxes of miscellaneous belongings overwhelm the space.

organized storage garage space
Paul Dyer

If you're ready to reclaim your parking spot, it's time to start a garage cleanup project. This organizing task can seem daunting, especially if you've put it off for a while. However, you can give yourself a headstart by donating or disposing of a few items you no longer need or use. Start by purging these eight garage items, and you'll have a head start to a more organized and functional garage.

sports shelves storage bins
Paul Dyer

1. Old Sports or Fitness Equipment

Sports gear and fitness equipment are the most common culprits of garage clutter, whether from a short-lived health kick or kids' activities. If the only thing they're being used for is collecting dust, it's time to clear out those old bats, balls, bikes, dumbbells, rackets, and other athletic gear. Donate items in good working condition to a local recreation center or charitable organization that accepts sports equipment. For stuff that's too damaged, worn, or outdated to be used, consult your local ordinances to determine the best way to recycle or dispose of each item.

2. Worn-Out Tools

Now is the time to let go of that leaky garden hose (and replace it with a Better Homes & Gardens Green River Water Hose, $40, Walmart), rusted shovel, or broken-down lawnmower. There's no point in hanging on to damaged or worn-out tools you never use, so be honest about what's possible to repair and what needs to go in the junk pile. A good rule of thumb: If you've already replaced the tool with something new, it's time to ditch the old one. For tools that still work, consider donating to a local charity, community garden, or school that can use them. Otherwise, contact your local waste management authority for instructions on recycling or disposing of old tools and equipment.

3. Abandoned Kids' Toys

Whether your kids have grown up or simply lost interest, the toys they've left behind can take up valuable space in your garage. Go through your toy stash, put anything you want to keep in easy-to-access bins (such as this Better Homes & Gardens Fabric Storage Bin, $13, Walmart), and determine what can be given to charitable organizations, resold, or passed on to another family. Unfortunately, toys can be difficult to recycle because they're often made up of many different materials and parts that aren't easily separated. For broken items that can't be of use to another child, look into toy recycling programs, such as this one by Hasbro. If needed, you should contact your local recycling center to see how you can give the materials a second life.

4. Broken Holiday Decorations

The garage is a handy spot to stash holiday decorations that only come out for a few months of the year. Still, there's no need to hang onto broken strands of lights and leaky lawn inflatables that go unused season after season. A donation is typically the best option for getting rid of holiday decorations in good working condition. If the item is no longer functional or fixable, call your local recycling center to check whether it can be recycled before dumping it in the trash.

garage with cleaning supplies on carts
Adam Albright

5. Partially Used Paints and Chemicals

Storing old paint, cleaning products, or pesticides inside your garage doesn't just waste space. It can also pose a fire hazard and a health risk for your family. Any paints or chemicals that have expired or lost their effectiveness should be disposed of immediately. Because these items are typically considered hazardous waste, you can't simply toss them in the trash. Instead, check local ordinances to learn the best way to dispose of old paint or chemicals. You may need to let liquids dry out before throwing them away or taking products to a hazardous waste drop-off site. Be sure to wear gloves (Better Homes & Gardens Gardening Gloves, $13, Walmart) when handling hazardous waste.

6. Unused Furniture

As you upgrade your space with new furniture, the older pieces you no longer have room for might get relegated to the garage. Instead of letting that dresser or chair sit unused, be proactive about donating it or listing it for sale. If the piece is a family heirloom you want to hold on to, consider asking a family member to hold on to it until you can free up more storage space elsewhere.

7. Leftover Building Materials

It's generally good practice to purchase extra project materials to be prepared for mistakes or repairs. But if you're still holding onto leftover supplies years later, consider whether your garage space could be better used for storing something else. For example, find creative ways to repurpose extra plywood, trim, or patio stones with another project. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity are always interested in building material donations if a DIY project isn't your thing.

8. Items Awaiting Donation

The garage is a common depository for items you've purged from elsewhere in the house. If you still have boxes or bags of stuff from your last decluttering session in your garage, it's time to cart them off to the donation center—or call an organization that will pick up donations from your home. You'll free up space and finally check that item off your to-do list.

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