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9 Things in Your Garage You Should Toss

What happens when your garage is a cluttered mess? Then it’s time to start tossing things out. Use this guide to help.

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Cluttered American Garage Full of Things in Denver ColoradoBoogich/Getty Images

Messy Garage

If your garage is more like a graveyard for items you don’t want to throw out but don’t know what to do with, consider this your official PSA to toss them. We promise you don’t need eight bundles of non-functioning white Christmas lights, but you do need more useable space.

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Assorted cans of paint, spray paint and wood stain.CatLane/Getty Images

Paint Cans

Even if they’re unopened or within their expiration date, toss them. They shouldn’t be stored in the garage to begin with. Exposure to cold and heat causes paint to harden and separate. Here are a few other things you should not store in your garage.

Unless paint cans are stored in a room-temperature environment — maybe the utility closet down the hall, or shelf in the laundry room — they’re practically useless.

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Dirty ragsEasyBuy4u/Getty Images

Old Rags

The thing about rags is there is always another raggedy T-shirt ready to replace them. So don’t hesitate tossing them, especially if they’ve already soaked from a staining or motor project.

“Some oil-based wood finishes (stains, polishes, varnishes) have a tendency to spontaneously heat as they dry and cure,” Bob Benedetti, a flammable liquids specialist at the National Fire Protection Association, told Consumer Reports. “If rags or cloths wet with these finishes are mishandled, the spontaneous heating can accelerate and might lead to ignition and fire.” You don’t need a potentially faulty hand grenade hanging around your garage.

Lay out the rags on the pavement for a day or two (don’t worry, sunlight can’t cause spontaneous combustion), then toss them in the trash once they’re totally dry.

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Close-Up Of Dirty Oil ContainerWachararwish Uengsuwaanpanich/EyeEm/Getty Images

Expired Chemicals

Pesticides, antifreeze, motor oil, fertilizer and cleaning chemicals generally have a pretty decent shelf life. But how old is it, exactly? If all went well, you bought that gallon of insecticide in 2005 and never needed it again.

Most of those chemicals are good for at least a few years even if they’ve been opened, but it’s worth checking every spring-cleaning season. Plus, heat, cold, moisture and light exposure can tamper with even the most properly sealed and stored chemicals.

Even if that quart of motor oil is still good, maybe it’s better in the hands of your favorite gearhead.

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Christmas decorations.A&J Fotos/Getty Images

Holiday Decorations

Look, we’re not saying go full Grinch-mode, but the number of holiday decorations you need, indoor or out, can always, always be pared down. If it’s not fully functional, it’s out. If it hasn’t made it to the display for the third year in a row, it’s out.

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A collection of screwdrivers hanging from a pegboardMelinda Podor/Getty Images


Unless you’re Bob the Builder himself, you really only need a basic set of tools, and only one of everything at that. Upcycle those 11 Phillips head screwdrivers you have that are all the same size. Don’t stock up on too many hammers.

Maybe you’ve recently moved from the house where you raised the kids to a smaller bungalow where you just want to relax. You don’t need four rakes anymore, just one good one will do!

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Full Frame Shot Of BaseballsJeannie Franciscy/EyeEm/Getty Images

Sporting Goods

Have the kids gone from leaving it all on the field to leaving it all in your garage? Then it’s time to leave it all on the curb. Keep the sporting goods that still get regular use and toss or donate the rest. takes just about any sporting item, and you don’t even have to go anywhere. Just schedule a pickup time and date on their website, leave the items boxed up outside, and a volunteer will come to scoop them up.

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High Angle View Of Toys In BoxFitria Ramli/EyeEm/Getty Images


If you’ve stored a box of toys in the garage and the kids haven’t said anything in months, they probably won’t be missed. Or, if they’re a box of toys from your childhood, we implore you to take one last trip down memory lane and then let them go. All memories live on the Cloud now anyway.

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Old DrawersMassimo Ravera/Getty Images


Cleaning out your garage is not easy, but not impossible! Again, if it’s lasted in your garage for any significant amount of time, it probably won’t be missed. Post it on Facebook Marketplace or offer your best truck-owning friend lunch to bring it to the dump for you. Get that busted sectional out of there — think of all the summer patio furniture you can fit in there during the offseason instead.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest