One of the spaces most often neglected in a decluttering project is the basement. Use these tips to help you maximize the storage space in your basement.
1. Clear the clutter before you organize. Sort your basement’s contents into three piles: throw away, donate and sell.
2. Clean appliances, like refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, and make sure they're dry. Leave washer and dryer doors slightly ajar to allow air circulation and prevent mildew. If you have children, remove all appliance handles to make sure they can’t shut themselves inside accidentally.
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3. Air items in your basement every few months to avoid any musty smell. Use a dehumidifier whenever possible to help control odors and prevent moisture from damaging your valuables.
4. Install shelving units that are either plastic or wire with rubber bottoms. Avoid wood shelving -- moisture in the floor will wick upward, potentially damaging your shelving and its contents.
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5. Use clear plastic totes to store items so that you can easily identify the contents. Group like items (holiday storage, toys, sports equipment) and label the outside of each tote. To avoid injury, place the heaviest items on the bottom.
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6. Protect any furniture you decide to store in the basement. Drape unbleached drop cloths or blankets over the pieces and keep them at least three inches from the wall to prevent moisture damage. To prevent floor dampness from ruining your furniture, store on a platform using aluminum pallets, elevated bricks or blocks.
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7. Stow tools and other iron or steel items in the basement only if a light coat of machine oil protects them. Hang them from hooks or place on shelves to prevent rusting.
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8. Use a label maker to mark shutoff valves, as well as the switches on your fuse or breaker box. Hang a flashlight next to your fuse or breaker box so that you're not searching in the dark for the correct switch.
9. Utilize space that's often forgotten. Add plastic totes underneath the basement stairs. And also think about the ceiling. If you have enough space, use overhead racks to get bulky items like artificial Christmas trees or bikes out of the way. Depending on the unit, they can accommodate up to 250 pounds.
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Don’t set anything that could be harmed by water on the floor. Avoid putting books, magazines, photographs, clothing, rugs, draperies or plush toys in the basement. If you do, make sure that they're in plastic totes placed on shelving.