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How To Declutter a Basement - By Airing Your Laundry Outside and Using the 5 Second Rule

By Edited Sep 1, 2015 3 3

Picture this. You have just moved into your dream home. You worked hard at selling your other house, and the moving van is here now, and all the boxes are coming in. You were pretty smart at the other end and labeled each box as to which room they should go in. But as the day wears on, you realize the rooms are getting full and the moving truck is still full!

So, now you don't know what to do, so you send the rest of the stuff down to the basement and the garage. Pay the movers, and now you look around. You unpack upstairs, things look good, then you head for the basement, and it is full. So, just how to declutter a basement?

Whether it was because of a move, or things just started piling up in the basement you want to get it organized, and want to know how to do this and where to even start right? Maybe you want to finish the space down there, or maybe you are just sick of looking at it every time you head to the basement for the laundry, or maybe the dust bunnies are taking over, and you thought you saw little critters, whatever the reason, here is a simple way to get started.

Hire a Student. But just where do you start? How to clear out a basement, when it is full, can be a daunting task. But if taken in baby steps it can be done, but you will need to get help. It may be better to hire the strong kid down the street who will not have any attachment to this stuff. By hiring a strong student, who is in need of some hard cash, you can put your own energies into sorting out the stuff rather than hurting your back dragging it out. This will be well worth the days pay you will give a student.

You can take a look at each box he brings up, and send him back down for another one. You will be amazed just how much clutter you have been hiding in your basement, even under the stairs counts!

Hire Help to Move it Outside. But what you will need is a nice day, some storage bins, cardboard boxes and garbage bags, and a place to sort in the yard. The reason I suggest hiring someone to help, is because from personal experience, the family will start opening boxes without even moving them out of the basement and then whine and next thing you know, it is still in the basement , to "sort out later" and this becomes a really slow process. They can still be involved once the stuff is in the yard, but this is the best way to get the basement organized, is to get everything outside if you can. The student doesn't have to touch any of your stuff, just move it outside.


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With the hired help at hand, get them bringing up all boxes and junk to the outside. You can be setting up an area for donations, garbage and garage sales, (only if you are likely to have a garage sale, otherwise donations). You can do this in your backyard, if you don't want the neighbors seeing your business, but this is how to declutter a basement.

Use the 5 Second Rule. Go through the boxes, and using the 5 second rule, you can decide what goes and what stays. If you have not used it since you moved, or forgot you even had it, then donate it. Unless it is something you have been searching high and low for since you have been there, chances are someone else could use it.

Now that the stuff is out in the yard, the family can help make some decisions. If they are not sure, ask them if they feel like carrying it back into the house, and organize clutter. Chances are they will say no. Plus if they realize it is not going in the garbage but being donated, then it makes some decisions easier.

If your plan is to finish the basement, then this should be some inspiration to get rid of some stuff. No point in dragging it all back downstairs. That is what makes this exercise work well. By hiring a strong student or kid down the street to carry it all outside, now the decisions have to be made, or else you are going to be carrying it back inside. This forces the issue, and now you know just how to clear out a basement. Drag it all outside first.

Separate. Now that you have separated it into different piles, you can use your plastic storage tubs you purchased and now package up anything you want to keep and need to store, such as seasonal things and Christmas decorations for example. Now get your hired help to take these things back in the basement, after you have swept it out first.

Now this is all you will have in your basement. The rest of the stuff outside in your yard has to be dealt with, so with some cardboard boxes or garbage bags, you can now package it all up, and then take it to the dump or the reuse center for donations. If you are planning a garage sale, then tag everything now, and place it in the garage. But remember, what doesn't sell in the garage sale, should NEVER go back in the house or garage to be "dealt with some other day", because it won't happen.

By airing your dirty laundry - Out in the yard, is the best way to organize clutter from the basement. You will now have to deal with, it, you don't want it back inside, and unless you want your neighbors to see all your things then you will quickly deal with it. Now pat yourself on the back, order a pizza or have a treat, you deserve it. You will feel liberated once it is done. So, watch the weather forecast, mark it on the calendar, and find your help. Get it on paper and now you have to do it. Also see How to Declutter your home in 30 minutes and How to Declutter in 10 Minutes with this First Easy Step and Organizing Clutter at the Door and Organizing Clutter for Moving Day and Organizing closets - survive the avalanche for more tips and ideas.



Dec 26, 2010 2:35pm
Great tips. My clutter is in the attic. Can work the same way. Ty.^^
Dec 27, 2010 9:49pm
Fantastic tips on clearing the clutter out of a basement. Like Lynsuz, my clutter is located in different areas, but these ideas would work brilliantly to bring order to any part of the home.

I especially agree/like the idea of hiring someone to help. Someone who is not attached to items sentimentally have much less trouble calling the toss or keep!

Jan 7, 2011 10:24pm
Shudder...my shed is my clutter area! I wish I could hire help! Maybe one day this spring!
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