Aussies love their sheds. Whether it’s a man cave, a home workshop or just a storage space, sheds can quickly become cluttered, messy and even dangerous. Too much clutter in the shed can create trip risks or increase the chance of something falling from above.
Even the most loved shed can benefit from a good clean out now and then. But emptying out and decluttering the shed can feel like an insurmountable task. But it doesn’t have to be. We have a few tips to make the job easier.
1. Empty out the shed
The first step is to clear everything out of the shed. Trying to clean up and decide what to keep and what to throw away while everything is still in the shed is never going to work. Clearing everything out of the shed will give you space to work safely and to clean and organise much more easily. Before you start unloading the shed, make sure you have ample space in your yard to arrange the contents while you’re pulling everything out.
2. Organise your shed contents
While you’re pulling out the contents of your shed, start to organise it so it’s easy to sort through and to put back later. Rather than just piling all the contents together on the lawn, you can create areas for power tools, gardening materials, car parts, sports equipment and so on.
Create separate piles for stuff to throw away and stuff you want to sell, donate or recycle, as well as an “unsure” pile. When unpacking the shed and organising the contents it can be easy to get bogged down trying to decide if an item should be thrown away or kept. For the sake of efficiency, creating an “unsure” pile will help you get the initial work done, saving those difficult decisions for later.
3. Decide what to keep
Deciding what to keep can be tough. Too many people have a hoarder’s mindset that says that something that hasn’t been used in five years is worth keeping “just in case.” But it’s worth thinking seriously about what’s useful and what isn’t. Consider whether you’ve used the item in the past year and if you can realistically see yourself using it in the next six months. If the answer is no, it may be worth getting rid of.
For anything that’s broken, have a serious think about whether you will actually ever get around to repairing it or if it’s even worth the effort or money to repair.
Chances are there will be several items that you struggle to justify keeping but also can’t bear to part with. One good option is to collect all these items and place them in a storage container or a specific area of the shed and let them sit for six months. Anything that you use during that six-month period can be kept. At the end of the period, you should have a better idea of how useful the remainder of the items actually are.
What you decide to keep should also be driven by how much space you actually have to work with. If your shed is overflowing with junk, then you may need to be much tougher when it comes to deciding what to keep. Conversely, if you have plenty of space to play with then you can afford to be a bit more liberal.
4. Dispose of materials responsibly
Once you know what you want to get rid of, you should look into how to dispose of these items responsibly. There are a range of materials that shouldn’t be thrown into skips or curbside rubbish bins. These include paints, solvents, chemicals, batteries, asbestos and building materials, tyres and more. Contact your local council to find out how to properly dispose of these items. Alternatively, you can contact your local skip bin hire company to find out if they provide disposal services for these types of materials.
5. Clean and repair the shed
While the shed is empty you should take the opportunity to thoroughly clean it out. Sweep and dust the floors and shelves. Clean out any storage containers or lockers. Get into corners and up to the roof and rafters to remove any dust, cobwebs, nests or anything else. Now’s the time to take care of any pest infestations as well. While you have the shed empty, it’s a good idea to deal with any minor repairs like patching holes in walls or the roof, fixing shelves, plugging leaks or repairing floors.
Now is also a good time to assess your storage options. If you want to create extra space, you may want to add some new shelves, buy some new storage cupboards or bins or mount some extra hooks or racks to the walls or roof.
6. Put everything back in its designated place
Once the empty shed is clean and any minor repairs are dealt with, it’s time to start returning everything to its designated place. When deciding on where everything should go, it’s important to consider safety and convenience. Make sure that anything that’s hanging up or stored above head height is at no risk of falling. Any potentially dangerous items, like blades, power tools or chemicals, should be stored out of reach of children.
It’s also worth considering convenience when organising the shed. Make sure any children’s stuff, like bikes or sports equipment, are easily accessible for the kids. Group together materials by their use (such as gardening equipment, power tools, car parts and so on) so that everything is easy to find and access. Make sure that big and bulky items, like lawnmowers, can be easily moved in and out of the shed without having to move around other items.
7. Stay organised
As Thom Yorke once sang after cleaning out his shed: “Everything in its right place.” Once everything has been organised and put in its right place, make an effort to keep it that way. Return items to their allocated space after each use and create new designated places for anything new that gets added to the shed. It’s easier to keep things neat and tidy as you go, than periodically having to do a complete clean out and reorganise.
It can be all too easy to let your shed get out of hand, turning it into a dumping ground for household junk. But taking the time once a year to give your shed a thorough cleanout and tidy up will create extra space and a safe and clean work space.