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How to Do a Serious Garage Clean-Out (10 photos)

How to Run Your Garage Purging Session

Clear some space and mark off zones. To keep your job organized, you might want to create as much empty space as possible in the middle of the garage floor. Consider moving the car and other large, bulky items, such as the lawn mower and bicycles, out of the garage. I suggest dividing the garage into six sections: donate, sell, toss, keep, return to someone else, and undecided. You can mark off each section with blue painter’s tape or colored chalk. It is helpful to save room on the floor for a staging area where you can place all items from one category before you make any decisions.

Work on one category at a time. I recommend picking a category, perhaps holiday decor, and then pulling every item from that category out of hiding and placing it in the staging area. Don’t forget about belongings stored in the rafters. Try to make a decision on each item in your category before moving on to the next one. If you really can’t decide, place the item in the “undecided” pile. However, try not to put too much in this pile, because it will only delay the decluttering process.

Expect sorting of family members’ items to go slower. Children who are grown and have permanently moved out of the house often think of their parents’ home as a storage unit. This also can be true for an ex-spouse who has moved out of the family home. You are unlikely to have room to store other people’s belongings in your smaller space. Unfortunately, dealing with other family members can sometimes be emotionally taxing. Because of that, I recommend you tackle these items last. That way, you can plow full steam ahead on culling your own belongings and not let any potentially difficult conversations slow you down.

Keep your goals in mind. If you have trouble making decisions to let go of some items, it can sometimes be helpful to envision your new uncluttered space. To quote Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, only keep items that “spark joy.” If you don’t truly love something or actually need it then, it is time to bid it goodbye.

Below are some common categories you might be tackling, as well as suggestions on what to keep and what to let go.

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