Published April 13, 2011
Hacking through a winter’s worth of clutter is one of spring cleaning’s more aggravating tasks. Tackling overgrown mounds of winter coats or heaps of dusty old magazines can be tough enough, but if your storage space is severely limited, finding a place to put it all can be nearly impossible.
By following a few tips and tricks, however, you can reclaim some space from those overflowing closets and crawl spaces, allowing you to get your clutter under control in no time.
That useless juicer you bought four years ago during a healthy eating kick? The stack of Sports Illustrated magazines dating back to 1993? Much of the stuff you own, you can probably live without, so triage is the first step of any deep clean. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to throw out, make a list and note down the last time you used each item. If you haven’t used something in more than two years, there’s a good chance you never will. Toss it, donate it to charity or put it in deep storage.
Do you really need all those DVDs and CDs cluttering your shelves? Digitize your media to free up precious shelf space. External hard drives cost next to nothing these days, and devices from Apple and Google make it a breeze to stream media from your computer to your TV or stereo. With iTunes or Windows Media Player, you can rip your CDs to your hard drive, and with an application like Handbrake, you can do the same with your DVDs. If this seems too complicated for you, ask your kids. After all, you raised them. They owe you. Once you’ve rid yourself of physical media, you can bring all those old discs to the pawn shop or used music store and trade them in for cash.
You’ve probably seen the ads for the vacuum seal storage bags on TV. Stuff in a bunch of pillows and blankets, seal it up and then suck out the air with your vacuum cleaner. For plush items like blankets, pillows and winter clothes, you can reduce your storage needs by 75 percent. In addition to saving space, the bags have hygienic benefits, too, protecting your stuff from dampness and dust mites.
Most people make poor use of out-of-the way floor space. The areas under beds, couches or small crawl spaces either go unused or become a jumble of hastily stashed belongings. Instead, try storing items in large plastic containers, which are stackable and slide out easily. Label containers for quick access and reserve easy-to-reach spaces for frequently used items.
If the top shelf of your closet has become a disorganized dumping ground for all manner of junk, you’re not making good use of your vertical space, either. By adding a few extra storage units to your shelf, you can not only get your mess under control, but add extra feet of storage space to your closet. And by buying easily stackable, modular units, you can expand your storage as your space needs grow.
And you can apply this same principle to your garage. Simply invest in a few heavy-duty hooks that you can sink into your garage’s rafters to get bikes and other large items out of the way.