I need help cleaning out my basement. Any tips on how to get started and motivated? My roommate seems to store everything down there and when I go to remove something he insists that he needs it. I am tired of the junk and unused things. I want to make the basement into a family room.
Amy from Evansdale, IA
I know if I were trying to clean out my basement, I would feel overwhelmed. I believe the Flylady method (just Google it) is the best for shaping up one's home in general. It is a zone cleaning type of system, and if you stick to the program, it really works! And it is totally free and fun! Your basement can be the "extra room" (program terminology), your procrastination assignment, etc. You'll see what I mean if you go to their site. Best of luck!
My simple advice to you is to form 7 piles:
There is one rule of whether or not to keep something: Have you used it in the past year?
If not, then you probably won't use it again. If you haven't used it in 2 years, then you "really" need to think about getting rid of it!
OR to make it easier only 4 piles:
Start by the door and first work your way around the outside of the room sorting stuff into piles. Don't stop sorting to take something to another area of the home, just throw it in the "goes elsewhere" pile and continue on.
Build shelves and buy bins to stack your stuff in. If your roommate insists on keeping stuff, then have him/her buy himself 4 or 5 large plastic tote-bins with lids that stack, and stack them with their stuff in them against the wall and hang a large blue or green (or whatever color that matches your wall color) sheet against the wall in front of the plastic bins and shelves. You can hang the sheet on a shower curtain rod or even use a shower curtain if it's long enough. A "spring rod" is another choice. These are sold in the curtain and blind area of most stores. Use screw in hooks in the ceiling and string or yarn to lower the rod to the correct length. This "curtain" will camouflage most of your ugly stuff.
Just pick one wall to stack shelves behind the curtains. You'll need sturdy shelves, not the kind you hang from the wall, but the kind that stack from the ground, up. Made of real wood, not fiberboard. You can buy these fairly cheep at IKEA. (Look in the "clearance" area in the back first, for scratched and dinged shelves for much less!) Attach the shelves to the walls with wire and screws so they won't tip over! Most of these things I've listed can be purchased at a liquidation store. As for the plastic bins with lids, I looked everywhere several years ago and the least expensive (even on sale at other stores) were at Walmart. You'll need the kind that have snaps that hold the lids on, or they won't seal correctly. Stick a Ziploc bag with a piece of cotton or a folded paper towel in it with several drops of either Tea-Tree oil or Eucalyptus oil on it into the bin. This will keep your things fresh and help prevent mold and will keep the moths and bugs away. Label each bin and box!
I used square plastic "dishwashing" bins and plastic "shoe" boxes with lids from the dollar store and lined them up on shelves with labels to sort and organize my craft and sewing stuff. No worries! Once you get started sorting, you'll not want to stop and will find so many things you forgot about it will be a sort of "treasure hunt"! Have fun and play some good "house cleaning music"!
* One more thing: When we moved, my mom talked us into getting rid of a lot of stuff, many things I wish I still had. Save all tools and if you're not sure about something, then put it in the "maybe" bin. You can always find a home for it later.
For those who are trying to organize their homes:
Read this book: "The New Messies Manual: The Procrastinator's Guide to Good Housekeeping" It has saved and changed my life! I just can't say enough about it! What a great help in organizing your rooms and home! The book is funny and life changing. It not only gives you great techniques for organizing and cleaning, and things like, where do I begin when cleaning a room? I used to wonder "It's so messy, where do I even start!?" Simple hints like getting rid of your wire hangers and buying all plastic, color coding your kids towels and dishes (to keep track of who left their towel on the floor and older kids can wash their own snack and breakfast dishes). Organize your chores into daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores and keep them listed in a recipe card box. I read this book way back in the early 80s, but it's still helping me to today! Have your roommate read it!
You can read the book by Sandra Feldon called "The new Messies Manual" for great tips in getting organized in your housekeeping.
Such great advice already!
I just wanted to suggest something a bit radical. If the majority of the stuff in your basement belongs to your roommate and not you, then propose that your roommate rent some storage space. It's a real wake-up call when you start thinking about whether your stuff is worth paying to store every month.
We are currently contemplating down-sizing within the next 6 months and moving about 7 hours away. We currently own a home and are probably going to rent an apartment for awhile. Once you start thinking how much it will cost to move or store an item, your perspective on whether to keep something really changes.
Good luck. Oh yes, one other suggestion is to check out the professional organizing sites for tips.
There are tons, but here are some tips from NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers). http://www.napo.net/public/tips.html
Tina in Oshawa, Ontario (10/11/2007)
I came across a great book this year that changed my life by helping me declutter. It's called "It's Here Somewhere". I promise that after you read this book you will be motivated. It teaches you to ask yourself these questions about every item in your home: Do you want it? Like it? Need it? Use it? Have room for it? If you answer no to any of these questions get rid of it. You will be glad you did when your basement becomes the room you always dreamed about. (10/19/2007)
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