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Cluttered Garage and Attic? Use this Checklist

It is Week 6 of the Declutter Challenge! We have made it to the end of our physical decluttering and to celebrate, we are tackling our Cluttered Garage and Attic! But make sure you pay as much attention to next week’s Mental Decluttering post.

This week’s Garage and Attic Decluttering Checklist has us focused on tackling the areas that legitimately house lots of items, but are also oftentimes dumping grounds for the stuff we don’t know what to do with. So print off your Decluttering Checklist for the Garage and Attic and let’s get to it…I mean, the sooner we start the sooner we finish! AMIRIGHT?

If you are new to this Declutter Challenge and you want to start at the very beginning, pop over to week one, where we dive into our bedrooms and bathrooms. If you haven’t joined the Declutter Challenge yet, you can do that here. 

Once you join, you will receive:

  • weekly emails with a declutter-your-home checklist for specific areas of the home. With these checklists, I feel that I am on a Decluttering Scavenger Hunt, which makes the whole process a wee bit more enjoyable!
  • additional tips, suggestions, and resources for your successful decluttering.

Are you ready to Declutter Your Garage?

Holy Cow…this is an area that we have just recently (almost) fully conquered! As you know, we purchased my parents’ home from them in June when they moved to a Retirement Community and we saw the opportunity to downsize.

So, when we moved in we had all of the ‘garage stuff’ that a family of 4 typically owns. But, since my parents moved to an apartment, they left behind all of their ‘garage stuff’ accumulated over 60 years of marriage PLUS all of my grandfather’s ‘garage stuff’ that he left to my dad when he passed. So, for those of you mathematically inclined, all of a sudden we had GARAGE STUFF TIMES 3, which made for a VERY CLUTTERED GARAGE!!!

Yeah, that’s ALOT of Garage Stuff. And, to make matters complicated, my grandfather was in the tool and die business and so had really nice ‘garage stuff’.


The first and easiest place to start is to look around for obvious trash and get that out of your cluttered garage.

discard all duplicate tools or damaged tools.

So, what we did over the span of a couple of weeks was to lay out EVERYTHING in like groups and kept the stuff that was in the best condition.

A bunch of tools grouped by type.

After finding out what my brother, son, and daughter wanted, what we didn’t keep we donated to our local Habitat ReStore, and man, did they clean up!

Bring your trash can into the garage, along with a box for your donations for this process.

broken tools and garden tools

We all have them, the tools we can ‘fix’…but 2 years later they are still sitting there waiting to be fixed! Yup, time to make the hard call.


Recycle those plastic pots that your plants typically come in and trash the broken, cracked, or chipped terra cotta or clay pots. We have an Ability Garden through our Extension Service Arboretum and they gladly welcome those plastic pots.

Paint cans and spilled paint.

paint and paintbrushes

So, I found this out the hard way, but paint does go bad. And when it does…it really lets you know… in a foul and stinky way. If the temperature in your garage falls below 50°F or rises above 72°F, your previously opened cans will likely not last for more than 2 years.

If you have perfectly good cans of paint, but they just aren’t your color anymore, check your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they will accept it.

If you need to dispose of paint, I have found the easiest way is to grab the cheapest bag of kitty litter that you can and dump some in the wet paint. The litter will absorb the paint and turn it basically into concrete. Then you are safe to toss it in your trashcan. (I know that we are, but I would check your local waste and recycling rules.) Our city Hazardous Waste and Recycling Services will also accept cans of paint to safely dispose of, but we need to take it to a special location…can’t just throw it in our trash.

I love to paint, not so fond of cleaning paintbrushes. As such, my paint shelf is typically littered with paintbrushes that are…well, not as effective as they were when the bristles weren’t stuck together. Those need to go in the trash and if you are like me, you will take (another) oath to do a better job cleaning paintbrushes!

fertilizers and chemicals

Check your local, county, or city Hazardous Waste and Recycling Services to see if you can recycle fertilizers or chemicals. If not, check with your local waste management or trash service.

Failing both of those, double or triple wrap your chemicals in plastic bags, tape them up, and put them in the trash. Don’t dump them down your sinks or sewers.

unused/damaged holiday decorations

That string of Christmas lights that just need a couple of lights replaced…for the past 5 years. Or that light-up pumpkin that was fun when you had kids, but not so much anymore. Recycle, donate or trash as appropriate, but they definitely help add clutter to your garage.

unused sports equipment

You know you have them…those weights you knew you were going to use to get all buff or those roller blades purchased with the best of intentions. I know from experience that ReStore or Goodwill will gladly accept them! Depending on what you have, consider selling them on Facebook Marketplace.

discards from your previous declutters that made it to the garage, but no further 🙄

While we still have a wee bit more organizing to do to get the garage to function at its best, our decluttering accomplishment prompted my husband to actually post on his Facebook account the fact that we were able to get both cars in the garage!

It may not be quite as organized as we want, but at least our Cluttered Garage has been tamed!

Cars in a garage.

clearing the clutter in the attic

boxes and bubble wrap!

I have a box problem. I have acknowledged it and am working on it…but nevertheless, it is a real challenge for me. I mean, when Amazon sends me a perfectly good box, I have a very hard time just recycling it!

That being said, I am limiting myself to one box of each size…which just cut my box stash by 90%!


extra and damaged suitcases

If you do have suitcases or other travel bags to donate, check in with your local Social Services to see if they can be used by children in the Foster Care system.

holiday decorations that you aren’t going to use anymore

This may be something you accomplish as each holiday rolls around, but if you have holiday decorations that never make it out of the box, it is probably time to donate them to Goodwill.

stuff in the attic that is there because you just don’t know what else to do with it

Ugh! If your attic is anything like mine, it can be a black hole for those items that you have a hard time parting with, but don’t know what to do with.

I have a large box of old (like 60+ years old) slides that my parents inherited when my grandfather passed. My parents left those slides in the attic when they moved because they didn’t really want them, so now it is my turn to figure out what to do with them. I need to make some hard decisions.

But in all honesty, they are probably ruined after sitting in an attic with our heat and humidity. This is another reason to avoid putting those sentimental items up there! The heat and humidity will damage paper, fabric. leather, photos, etc…

It is items like these that are hard for many of us. I encourage you to pop over to this post on 10 questions to ask yourself when decluttering to see if answering them will help you decide what to do with some of these sentimental items.


So, when you cleaned your office you put the extra printer in the attic because it still works but you don’t need two in your office. Once again, the attic is the worst place to store electronic equipment because of the extreme temperature changes from hot to cold.

If you don’t need it in your office, you surely don’t need it in your attic. Donate it somewhere that it could be used.


Once again, the heat and humidity are not doing any favors to your clothing. And, if items have been up there for two years, you aren’t wearing them and they need to go somewhere so that someone who really wants them can wear them.

What have I overlooked? What needs to be added to the Cluttered Garage and Attic Checklist?

I’d love your input. I plan to add to the lists to make them even more comprehensive and greatly appreciate your suggestions.

So, armed with this motivation, grab your Garage and Attic Declutter Checklist and let the Decluttering Scavenger hunt begin! Pop back in with your successes or challenges! How many items were you able to check off of your list?

Garage and Attic Declutter Checklist.
  • What is missing from these declutter checklists? I want to continue to add to these lists so I would love your input.
  • What is your biggest decluttering or organizing challenge? I want to tackle some of the challenges our readers have!

The 2024 Decluttering Challenge

Want to refer back to this information on Decluttering an Attic and Cluttered Garage in the future? Bookmark this page or pin the following image.

Blurred image of stacked items in a garage with text overlay.
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  1. Oh, this one is a touchy subject, haha. I live with someone who doesn’t like to throw anything out. I will fix it someday and then we can use it or someone will be able to use that or well, why can’t we just keep it and have a yard sale in the spring, summer, fall, next year….. you get the picture. I have a friend who knows a guy who will haul off anything so I am going to get his number and when I get all the unwanted chaos together, I will give him a call. I can’t wait! Thank you for the lists!

    1. Hi Sheila,

      Oh, I am married to one of those guys too. EVERY.SINGLE.SCRAP.OF.WOOD needs to be saved! ARGH! It helped when we moved and he would have to either haul it to the new home himself or pay someone to move it!

      And ‘that guy’ you know will be invaluable! You are going to be doing the Snoopy dance when you see that guy’s tail lights pulling out of your driveway! You go girl!

      Hugs, LYnn

  2. I will admit right now that I had to recruit help for the garage. I got my husband involved and he is working diligently and I’m hoping the list has helped.
    I find I have a lot of collections. From spices to pencils and pens. Each of the collections have benefited from this de clutter. I gathered all pens and tried them on paper. It helped immensely. Most of the collections are a jumble but like the junk drawer I have been inspired to tackle them as I reach each room. Some have had to wait because they are such time consumers. I will have to sort my jewelry box, yarns and sports equipment later as the jobs are too big. I am currently working on a major overhaul of my spice drawer.

    This declutter project has really inspired me to tackle these bigger projects. My garage is looking better and I did organize the attic a bit but as it isn’t heated and I live in MN, it will have to wait for spring, but I have my lists handy!

    I think your lists are very inclusive and I really found them helpful and keeping me on track. It is the places that need a finer sorting, like the jewelry box and the like that bogged me down. Because there were columns to check, I can see that I have a few places I need to revisit. I didn’t want to fall too far behind so moved on hoping to revisit the empty boxes. It’s all working for me. Thank you.

    1. Oh, Stacia…
      (What a beautiful name!)

      You just made my day! When I find something, like these checklists, that work for me I love to share them in the hopes that they also help others. But…you just never know! Just hearing from you that they did, in fact, keep you on track is all I needed to hear today!

      And that attic surely isn’t going anywhere, right? Wait for a raining spring day and get up there!

      I agree that it’s those collections of little things that can really bog you down! At the end of the day, it is a process that will probably never be fully finished so you can just keep chipping away at it!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know how the process is going for you! Keep at it, my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

  3. I love the lists. Our motto recently is “will our kids want this stuff?” And 9 times out of 10 we decide they will not. So we go to Goodwill often.
    Thank you for the suggestions!

    1. That’s a fantastic motto! It’s in asking and answering those questions that we are able to really drill down to what is important, what stays and what goes. Well done you!!!

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