How To Declutter Your Basement

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Today's mission (and actually your mission for several days since for many people this is such a big task) is to declutter your basement.


Basement Organization Challenge
We're working on this Declutter 365 mission as part of the Basement Organization Challenge here on the site, which is one of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges.

As always, the first step in any organization project is to declutter, so if you want to get your basement organized first you've got to remove all the clutter from it.

Make It Seem Less Overwhelming By Working 15 Minutes At A Time

Removing all the clutter from your basement can seem like an overwhelming task if you've got a lot of stuff in there, and make you feel like it's not worth doing. So whenever that feeling happens, to try to get past it, I suggest that you break up the task into 15 minutes at a time.

How to declutter your basement with step by step instructions to make it less overwhelming, and also so you don't make a huger mess in the process {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Small steps make the process go more smoothly, and seem much less intimidating. That's why 15 minutes is your decluttering weapon.

That being said though, there is a certain order in which you should tackle your basement clutter during those 15 minute sessions to make the process as easy as possible, take the least amount of total time, and so you don't make an even huger mess during the process (to the extent possible).

Decide Your Basement Priorities

As discussed in more detail in the basement organization challenge, your basement can have several different areas and functions, the most common ones being a utility area, storage area, and/or living area.

Before you begin you should assess how you want your basement to function for you, once it is decluttered, plus, what parts of the basement are the most cluttered and in need of help.

This article focuses mainly on how to declutter a basement that is used as a storage area. However, if you need to declutter a basement that is used as a utility area or laundry room, check out the article about how to declutter your laundry room here, since it will give you good guidance.

Similarly, if your basement is finished, and you use it as a living area, such as a playroom or rec room, or something similar, check out the article on how to declutter your living room for more ideas.

If you decide your priority is to declutter the storage areas in your basement, then read on below to find out how to take on this task without making a bigger mess during the process.

Top photo courtesy of Ian Lamont

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How To Clear The Storage Clutter Without Making A Bigger Mess

How to declutter your basement without making a bigger mess in the process {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Choose A Starting Point And Work Systematically, One Box At A Time

6 choices for each object when decluttering
The key to not making a mess while decluttering is not to start moving all around the room, but instead to systematically deal with the clutter as you find it.

For storage areas this often means one box at a time, or one shelf, or one drawer, or one pile on the floor, whatever. Deal with everything as it comes, instead of saying to yourself, "ummm, I don't know what to do with that, so I'll come back to it."

As you deal with each object systematically make your choice of what to do with the item, working through the basement from your starting point, and going from left to right. Check out the how to declutter article for full details of the process, including a discussion of the 6 choices you have for each item as you encounter it, which is shown to the left.

The reason this is important, and helps you not make a mess, is that you don't leave decisions unmade when you're systematic. Instead, you have to make a decision before you can move on to the next thing, so then you can put things in the right place in your staging area (which is what we're discussing below).

Create A Staging Area For Sorting Clutter

Especially when dealing with cluttered storage areas, such as the basement, often there isn't a lot of clear space to deal with clutter. And during the process of decluttering you do need a bit of space to spread out since you're sorting items.

Therefore, to the extent necessary, work first in your systematic way to clear out a staging area for yourself, if you don't have one, so you can pick up a box or bag or whatever, take it to the staging area, and deal with it completely before you go to the next one.

Once you do have a staging area for your clutter, it becomes much easier to deal with everything. Plus the staging area is what keeps you from making a bigger mess, since you're going to be constantly cleaning it up during the whole process.

This staging area can have larger piles of trash, donation bags, items for sale in a garage sale, or items to put in another area of the house, for example. I suggest keeping the items you've decided aren't clutter, but are going to continue to store, in the place they were in before in the basement, and then we'll deal with them in a later step.)

Once this staging area itself begins to feel cramped and cluttered, before you continue your systematic approach in the space you're decluttering, go ahead and deal with each of your piles within the staging area, clearing it back out. Physically drop things off at the donation center, throw the trash into a dumpster, put the items away throughout the house that you decided should go elsewhere, etc.

Until you actually deal with these sorted piles within the staging area you will feel like you're just moving your clutter around from place to place in your basement, and you will be. It is the process of dealing with the piles in the staging center that actually gets the clutter out of your home!

Deal With Large Items, Removing Any That Are Clutter

In basements, especially, there are often lots of little things in boxes and bags and piles, and that is what you'll deal with in your staging area. But there will also be some large items, like old appliances, furniture, or whatever else, that is large. It will most likely take extra effort and thought to figure out how to move these items, if you choose not to keep them, out of your house and properly dispose of them, or donate them.

The sooner you can get rid of these larger items the more free space it will clear up in your basement. Often times though these things are buried behind and under other stuff, or it is too difficult with other clutter in the way to get these things out, which is why I left it later in the process, but make sure you do, at some point, deal with these large items.

Once you do you'll really see immediate progress, which is itself motivating to continue.

Repeat The Process

Finally, once you've gone through your entire basement systematically, and repeatedly cleared out your staging area of clutter as you dealt with each pile or box, you'll be left with all of the items in your basement that in your initial sort you decided to keep.

Now that you see what is left I always suggest another quick decluttering run through, because you often find more you'd really like to get rid of on the second pass.

However, once you've done that second (and it will be much quicker) decluttering pass, you are now ready to begin sorting and organizing the items you've got left in your basement to properly store them. For ideas on that process check out the Basement Organization Challenge article I mentioned above.

However, to get you inspired first to get your decluttering done, make sure to look below to see photos from readers who've already done this mission, showing their results. They did it, and now you can too!

Top photo courtesy of Rex Roof

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Before & After Of Basement Decluttering Session

Before and after photos from Monica, who took the declutter basement #Declutter365 challenge {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Here are before and after photos from a reader, Monica, who worked really hard on her basement. Wow, look at the difference! She did a great job, didn't she?

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Are You Ready To Get Rid Of The Clutter In Your Basement?

Before and after when declutter basement desk area {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}


Here are a couple more photos from readers who've already done this mission to hopefully get you motivated to tackle your own basement.

The photo above is another collage from Monica, who said, "Today's task was basement desk area." She did a great job, didn't she?

In addition, here's another set of photos, from a reader, Nina, who showed the before and after area of her desk area in her basement. As you can see from the photo Nina's basement, at least this section of it, is finished and used for living space, instead of just storage. She said of the before picture, "Desk area in basement that I never used." Then, of the after photo she said, "Desk is gone, file cabinet is moved upstairs where I will actually use it. One box of important tax files going to attic, and two bags of garbage out the door!"

Before and after when decluttered basement desk area {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}


Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

declutter 365
I hope seeing these pictures, plus my instructions, have inspired you to start decluttering your basement.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Garage & Storage Area Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From How To Declutter Basement To Home Page

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