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9 Garage Items That Aren’t Worth Keeping

If your garage is so full you can't park your bike inside, let alone your car, it's time to clear out the clutter and make some space.

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Organizing A Garage Don Mason/Getty Images

Declutter Your Garage

The primary job of a garage is, of course, to keep cars out of the elements. But it also provides space for lots of other items and activities. Storage for tools, seasonal décor and extra household supplies probably come to mind first. Depending on the size and layout, however, some garages also contain a workshop, workout studio or home office.

Unfortunately, garages are also prone to clutter. According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing, 43.7 percent of respondents consider their garage the most disorganized storage area in their home. Not only that, in another survey, 25 percent of homeowners reported their garage is so overstuffed with, well, stuff that it couldn’t accommodate a single car.

Is this inevitable? Not at all! The key is to change your mindset about the garage. If you think of it as a clutter catch-all, it’s bound to become a mess, if it isn’t already.

Instead, try the following:

  • Commit to storing only things that belong in the garage in the garage. Think of it like this: You wouldn’t store books in the refrigerator, so why keep a heap of old magazines in the garage?
  • Designate a corner or specific bin as an “exit zone.” If you need to get rid of something but can’t do it at that moment, put it in the exit zone. Plan to remove everything from the exit zone at least once a month.
  • Keep things neat and tidy by grouping like items together. Sports equipment here, tools over there, and the remnants of your 2020 toilet paper hoard on an easily accessible shelf.
  • Finally, spend a day (or a whole weekend, if needed) tossing those random items you don’t need that are taking up valuable space.

Not sure what you should eliminate? There are a few sources of clutter common to many garages. Here are some of the items to get out of your garage, ASAP!

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TrashNattapong Wongloungud / EyeEm/Getty Images

Garbage

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Hoarders, you know what happens when garbage piles up in and around your home. Not only does garbage stink, it attracts mice, rats, insects and other pests. That’s a bona fide health hazard to you and your family.

If you have trash of any kind in your garage, bring it to the curb on your next garbage day. Or if the load is too large, take a trip to the dump or another legal disposal site.

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baby cribDmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock

Outdated Baby and Toddler Gear

Your kids have after-school jobs and are thinking about college, yet you’re still hanging on to that old pack-n-play crib, stroller and high chair.

As hard as it is to let go of the past, these items have no place in your garage. Donate them to an organization that provides baby and toddler supplies to families in need. Or give them to someone you know with little ones in the mix.

Car seats, especially, need to be dealt with. Once they pass their expiration date, they’re no longer safe for babies to ride in. However, you usually can’t donate them. Typically, they should be thrown in the trash or recycled; be sure to cut the straps first so they can’t be used by anyone else.

If the car seat hasn’t expired and hasn’t been in an accident, you can pass it on to a friend. Retailers such as Target and Walmart will take used car seats on trade-in as well.

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Broken Hammer Judy Radovsky / EyeEm/Getty Images

Broken Tools and Equipment

Your pressure washer died last summer, your shop vacuum has seen better days and your ladder is missing three rungs. Do yourself a favor and get them out of your garage. If you haven’t fixed them yet, you probably never will.

While donating broken items to charitable organizations might be possible — some may repair them, best to check first — oftentimes people want them for parts or to repurpose them. Where to find these folks? Your local Buy Nothing group is a great start. Or, if your local jurisdiction and/or homeowners association allows it, put things on the curb or in the alley with a FREE sign.

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White paintSally Anscombe/Getty Images

Old Paint

Having an extra can of paint around for touch-ups isn’t a bad idea. But if you are still hanging on to paint the previous homeowners left behind — especially paint that no longer matches any color in your home — it’s OK to let it go. If the paint can is unopened, it’s probably still usable; unopened paint can last 10 to 15 years. So you can sell it, give it away or even just paint something.

Leftover opened paint is a different story, however. Like many chemicals, paint isn’t something that can just be tossed in the garbage. You’ll probably need to take it to a hazardous waste collection event. Check with your city or county to find out about the events near you.

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shutterstock_400679098 clothes donations closet spacewavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Items You Decluttered From Other Areas of the House

Marie Kondo convinced you to get everything that doesn’t spark joy out of your bedroom, kitchen, home office and closet. But instead of making a Goodwill run, you dragged boxes and bags of ill-fitting clothes, mismatched dishes and unwanted craft supplies to the garage. Now those items are cluttering up the garage.

The time to remove them is now. Take them to a nearby donation collection site yourself, or contact an organization such as the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Pick Up Please that will haul it all away for you.

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Sports gearAndrey_Popov/shutterstock

Long-Forgotten Sporting Goods

You haven’t touched your golf clubs in years. The tennis racquet you planned to get restrung years ago is still collecting dust. And your old inline skates fell and bonked you on the head the last time you rummaged around for lightbulbs.

Let’s face it, you probably aren’t ever going to use that old equipment. Make space for something you will use by giving it to a friend, using an app like OfferUp or taking it to a resale store like Play it Again Sports.

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Bottles And Cans spxChrome/Getty Images

Plastic/Glass Bottles and Aluminum Cans

If you live in a state that collects a deposit when you purchase beverages in plastic, glass or aluminum cans and bottles, you may have a sizable collection somewhere in your garage, because straight-up recycling them is like throwing away money.

Don’t let them languish. Figure out how long it takes you to accumulate a predetermined number of cans and/or bottles — two grocery bags full, for example — and turn them when you reach that point.

As for the eight full bags you have now? Plan to turn them in for cash at your closest bottle drop. Or donate them to a youth sports team, school band or club. These groups often collect cans and bottles to raise money for the students’ extracurricular expenses.

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hardwood scrapsFamily Handyman

Old Fixtures and Construction Debris

There’s a reason why you remodeled your kitchen, replaced all your flooring or ripped out that old bathroom vanity. So why are all the bits and pieces still sitting around in your garage? Moving them out will enable you to enjoy your freshly-updated space that much more.

Items that are damaged beyond repair or hazardous (filthy carpet comes to mind) should go in a construction debris bin; see your local waste management company for info on how to rent one. Sinks, doors, light fixtures or anything else in good working order usually can be donated to organizations that specialize in reselling used building materials, such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.

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Disassembled Christmas treeIvan Melnikov/Getty Images

Unwanted Holiday Décor

Your multi-colored lights no longer fit your Yuletide motif, you replaced your faux Christmas tree with a live one, and your once-beloved giant inflatable Grinch hasn’t seen the light of day in years. So why are these items still front-and-center on your main garage shelf?

Make space for updated décor by passing the old stuff along to a new home. While it makes sense to donate (or, sadly, throw away) some unwanted/unneeded garage items, holiday décor is actually the perfect sort of thing to sell, either by hosting a garage sale or posting it on a buy-and-sell app. After all, as The Grinch says, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri.”

Dawn Weinberger
Dawn Weinberger is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon who has contributed to numerous publications and websites over the past 20 years, including RD.com, Glamour, Women's Health, Entrepreneur, and many others. Dawn has a BA in journalism from Western Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She writes about everything from health and medicine to fashion, shopping, and business.

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