Garages are for cars.
And, well, camping equipment. Halloween costumes. Holiday yard decorations. Snow shovels or surfboards, depending on your location. Unpacked boxes from two moves ago.
It’s easy to just keep piling nonessentials in your garage — everyone knows at least one family who uses their garage solely for storage, never for parking. And, hey, if you’ve got the room, why not?
Because, for one thing, if you keep thinking of the garage as a bottomless storage pit, you won’t have room for long. And because decluttering your life is a good idea. Also, maybe you’d like to park in the garage again?
Sure, some things can likely be given away or moved to another room. But here’s a look at several items that really deserve to be taken out of your garage and disposed of, whether that means a landfill or recycling center.
Parts for cars you no longer have
My husband’s convertible was stolen last fall. We still mourn that cute little car, but of course we had to replace it.
What we haven’t yet done is dispose of all the parts that we had sitting around for it — its original stereo, a rack that held the removable convertible top, a plastic bag with the owner’s manual inside. We’ve said farewell to the car, and now we just need to admit that its parts aren’t doing anything but taking up space.
Maybe your car wasn’t stolen, but still, anything relating to a vehicle you no longer have is useless.
Unrealistic craft projects
Not everyone is Martha Stewart. If you’re saving some broken china in hopes that you’ll make the pieces into a lovely mosaic pathway, or keeping a half-knitted baby blanket for a “baby” who’s now applying to Harvard (or State U), here’s the hard truth. You’re never going to finish that project.
Ditch the stuff now, and next time, just donate to the baby’s college fund.
I loved my backyard lounge chair, but once the string holding the seat in place frayed and snapped, it was a goner. Sure, I bought some bungee cord and thought I’d be inspired enough to repair it myself, but as with the half-finished baby blanket mentioned above, I need to be realistic. Goodwill doesn’t want my broken chair, either — time to say goodbye. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
There’s one garage-filling item you simply cannot keep and reuse, and that’s expired chemicals. Pesticide, oil, antifreeze, weed-killers … if you haven’t needed them in the time period it took for them to expire, you’re not going to need them, period.
But you can’t just dump these items down the drain or in the garbage. The EPA advises that you check with your local waste authority, or with the handy online database Earth911.com, to find out where you can dispose of these items safely.
Old car seats, cribs and strollers
New parents are often thrilled when family members pass on baby hand-me-downs. But a few important items should never be shared — car seats, strollers and cribs.
Car seats have expiration dates (usually, six to 10 years after they’re made) and could have been damaged or recalled in the time since you last used them. And older cribs and strollers might no longer fit current safety standards.
But go ahead and pass on those adorable toddler outfits.
Half-empty cans of paint
Maybe you didn’t use up all that beautiful Neptune Blue paint that you so carefully selected for the living room. You can’t return the opened can, and maybe you’ll need it for touch-ups, so you keep the leftover.
Now, though, it’s dried up and ancient and maybe that room isn’t even that color any more. According to Lowe’s, latex or water-based paint has a shelf life of 10 years, and solvent or oil-based paint can last for 15 years.
If it’s latex paint, you can combine it with cat litter and then put it out with your trash, Lowe’s says, but if it’s oil paint, you’re going to need to find your local disposal or drop-off center.
Thanks to Amazon and other online vendors, many of us find ourselves with more cardboard boxes than we can ever reuse. Storing them in the garage seemed like a good idea back when that new set of sheets arrived, but if the box is now wet and warped, just recycle it. Another one will surely show up soon enough.
Broken-off pieces of plastic that surely could be glued back on to a necessary item. Cords or chargers that will plug in or charge something, if only that “something” was ever found. Warranties for appliances of some sort, baptism photos of unknown babies … if you pick up something while decluttering the garage, and have no clue what it is, it’s time to discard or recycle it. Mystery solved!