Garage Full of Junk? Here’s What to Throw Away NOW!

Garage Full of Junk? Here’s What to Throw Away NOW!

Are you tired of tripping over boxes, old clothes, and broken tools every time you enter your garage? If you’ve got a garage full of junk, it’s time to take back control. 

Most garages have things that should definitely be thrown out or donated. 

In this article, we will discuss twenty items probably taking up valuable space in your garage and how to properly dispose of them. 

#1. Empty Boxes & Packaging Materials

Empty boxes, styrofoam packing peanuts, and bubble wrap take up a lot of space in a garage. It’s tempting to hang on to these items “just in case” you need to ship something, but it can create a big mess. 

While boxes can be flattened and recycled, packing peanuts and bubble wrap can be more difficult to dispose of. Stored incorrectly, styrofoam packing peanuts can get everywhere. 

Plus, cardboard boxes and packing materials are the perfect nesting area for mice in your garage

Consider looking for local recycling programs or drop-off locations that accept packing peanuts and bubble wrap. Some shipping stores may also take them for reuse or recycling.3

Messy garage

#2. Broken Tools

Broken tools or equipment are common items that can take up valuable space in your garage. Not only does it make it difficult to find what you need, but it can also pose a safety hazard if someone attempts to use them. 

In most cases, you shouldn’t throw these items away in regular garbage. Instead, take them to a local recycling center or scrap yard to be recycled. 

Some cities also have special hazardous waste disposal days where you can drop off items like broken tools or equipment you can’t dispose of normally. 

Before disposing of broken tools or equipment, remove any batteries or fluids to prevent leaks and dispose of them properly (see #18).

#3. Old or Broken Furniture

Still hanging on to Grandma’s old floral sofa? 

Old, outdated, or broken furniture can take up a lot of space in your garage, making it difficult to walk around. It can also pose a safety hazard if the furniture is unstable or has sharp nails poking out beneath the fabric. 

Many municipalities have a “large item” trash day when you can dump your old furniture on the curb for removal. 

Alternatively, some places require you to contact your local waste management facility to properly dispose of old furniture or schedule a bulky item pickup. Occasionally, you may have to schedule an appointment or pay a fee for this service. 

If you have access to a truck, you can donate usable furniture to local charities, thrift stores, or online marketplaces. Make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any furniture that you plan to donate before doing so. 

If the furniture is completely broken or unusable, consider recycling it if possible. Check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept furniture and how to properly prepare and transport it for recycling. 

#4. Broken or Outdated Electronics

Broken or outdated electronics such as old TVs, computers, and printers can quickly pile up in your garage and take up valuable space. 

Electronics contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals that can leach into the soil and water if they end up in a landfill, so it’s essential to dispose of these items properly. 

Check with your local waste management facility to see if they have an e-waste recycling program. Many cities and counties offer e-waste recycling events or drop-off locations. You can also try contacting your electronics manufacturer to see if they offer a recycling program.

Remember to wipe any personal information from your electronic devices before disposal. This includes clearing your browsing history and deleting any personal files. You can also physically destroy the hard drive or professionally wipe it to ensure your personal information is not compromised.

#5. Unused Sports Equipment

Old sports equipment and gear can take up a lot of space in your garage. If you’re not using them, it may be time to let them go. 

When deciding what sports equipment to throw out, think about how often you use it and how often you’ll use it in the future. If you haven’t used something for several months or years, it’s safe to assume you no longer need it. 

If the equipment is worn out, broken, or missing parts, it’d time to throw it out. That said, consider if it’s got some sentimental value, such as being a gift from a loved one or used in a memorable game or competition. 

If so, take it out of your garage and turn it into a trophy or conversation piece in your office or den. 

Ultimately, the goal is to free up space in your garage while efficiently storing the sports equipment you need and enjoy.

To properly dispose of sporting equipment, consider donating it to a local charity, school, or sports program. 

Many organizations accept used sporting equipment and gear to help those in need. You could also sell it online, at a garage sale, or at a secondhand sports equipment store.

#6. Unused or Broken toys

Getting rid of your child’s (formerly) favorite toy is tough. I get it. 

But if they’ve outgrown or broken it, you should donate it or throw it out. 

Old toys take up valuable space but can also become a safety hazard. Broken toys may have sharp edges that can cause injuries, while unused toys accumulate dust and allergens. Neither is something you want in your garage. 

To dispose of toys, consider donating them to a local charity or thrift store if they are still in good condition. If broken or damaged beyond repair, throw them away in the trash or recycle them if possible. 

Be sure to remove any batteries or electronics from the toys before disposing them.

#7. Half-Finished Projects

Half-finished projects are one of the most common types of clutter found in garages. These are typically items that you started working on but never got around to finishing, such as a woodworking project, a painting, or a DIY home improvement project. 

If you’re tired of seeing (and stressing) about this visual reminder of an unfinished task, throw it out and take back your space. 

Consider donating half-finished projects to a local charity or giving them away to friends or family who may be interested in finishing them. 

If the project is too far gone or no longer of use, dispose of it in a landfill or incinerator. 

By letting go of unfinished projects, you can help reduce clutter in your garage. Who knows, you may even inspire someone else to complete them.

#8. Worn Out Shoes

This one hits close to home. I used to walk past five pairs of beat-up gardening shoes every time I walked to my car. 

Worn-out shoes are a tripping hazard that takes up valuable space, making navigating your garage difficult. 

When disposing of worn-out shoes, consider donating them if they’re still in good condition or recycling them if possible. Many shoe brands have recycling programs that accept used shoes to be turned into new products. By properly disposing of worn-out shoes, you can free up space in your garage and reduce environmental waste.

Old shoes in garage

#9. Broken or Unused Holiday Decorations

It’s common for many garages to have broken or unused holiday decorations. Even if you have a great holiday decoration storage system, broken ornaments and damaged bulbs still happen often. 

When that happens, it’s essential to dispose of them properly and quickly. Chances are you won’t remember the broken ornament you put back in storage when you go to unpack it next year. That can lead to accidents or injuries if not disposed of properly. 

On the flip side, if you haven’t used a holiday decoration in several years, you probably won’t use it in the future. Removing broken or unused decorations can free up space in your garage and reduce clutter.

Depending on where you live, glass decorations may need to be placed in a separate container for safety or environmental reasons. 

When sorting through your holiday decorations, be sure to also check for any lights or electrical decorations that aren’t working. These items can be recycled at some electronics stores or waste management facilities.

Sometimes, you can donate gently used decorations to local charities or organizations. Keep in mind that many organizations only accept donations during specific times of the year, so it’s best to plan ahead.

#10. Books, Magazines, Newspapers, or Instruction Manuals

If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of old books, magazines, newspapers, or instruction manuals taking up space in your garage. 

Paper products make a perfect nest for rodents and insects, which, in turn, can damage other items in your garage. Plus, keeping old magazines and newspapers can create a fire hazard.

If they’re still in good condition, you can donate many of these items to local libraries or schools or recycle them if possible. You can also consider selling them online or at a yard sale if they are in good condition. 

Go through the pile of instruction manuals, keep the ones for products you still own, and dispose of the rest. Also, check to see if you can download a digital version of the manual so you don’t have to keep them at all. 

#11. Old Tires

Old tires can take up a lot of space in your garage and may become a hazard if not disposed of properly. 

The rubber in tires degrades over time, but that depends on several factors, such as temperature, humidity, and exposure to sunlight. Generally, tires can last for up to six years if stored properly in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight causes them to degrade in as little as a few months. 

Disposing of old tires in an environmentally friendly way is crucial to avoid these problems. 

You can take them to a tire recycling center, where they can be turned into other things like environmentally friendly furniture or playground flooring. Many tire retailers and auto shops also offer tire disposal services for a fee. 

Never burn tires, as this can release harmful chemicals into the air, causing respiratory problems and other health issues. 

Cluttered garage

#12. Old Paint

Most of us store old paint in our garages. However, even if we store it properly, that paint won’t last forever. 

Paint fumes release harmful chemicals into the air, especially if improperly stored or disposed of. Always dispose of old paint cans safely and responsibly. 

Be sure to check your local regulations before disposing of old paint. 

Rules and regulations for paint disposal may vary depending on where you live. Many municipalities offer hazardous waste collection programs or recycling centers that accept your old paint cans. 

#13. Old Strollers, Car Seats, & Baby Accessories

If your kids have outgrown them, old strollers, toddler car seats, and baby accessories can waste a lot of space in your garage. In many cases, these items can easily be donated or disposed of to help free up space. 

Most car seats and baby items have expiration dates, so using them beyond this date can be dangerous for your child. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine if the item has an expiration date or recommended lifespan. 

Strollers and car seats aren’t typically available for curbside pickup. However, look for programs that can recycle them, such as local recycling centers or donation centers that can give them to needy families. 

Properly disposing of old strollers, toddler car seats, and baby accessories can free up space in your garage and ensure they don’t end up in a landfill, harming the environment or other families.

#14. Expired Cleaning Supplies & Chemicals

One of the biggest safety risks in most garages is expired cleaning supplies and chemicals. As these products age, they can lose effectiveness and can be incredibly dangerous if not disposed of properly. 

Most cleaning products contain chemicals that can be dangerous if they are ingested or come into contact with the skin or eyes. Additionally, some chemicals can be flammable or react with other substances, creating a dangerous situation. 

Always check with your local government or waste management before disposing of expired cleaning supplies and chemicals. Many areas have specific guidelines for safely disposing of household chemicals. 

Never pour chemicals down the drain. This can contaminate water sources and harm the environment.

#15. Automotive Fluids

It’s common to find automotive fluids such as oil, transmission, and brake fluid in most garages. Chances are, however, you’ve got old fluids sitting on a shelf that are past their prime. 

Never dump these fluids in the trash or pour them down the drain.

Even in small amounts, these fluids can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. Oil and gasoline leaks or spills can seep into the soil and water supply, potentially harming wildlife and humans. 

Most auto parts stores and service centers offer free oil and fluid recycling programs. Some local governments also provide hazardous waste disposal services for their residents. 

#16. Old Car Parts

Recently, I found a spare part in my garage for a car I’d sold five years ago. 

That’s more common than you think. 

While it may be tempting to hold onto these parts “just in case,” they can take up valuable space that you could be used for other things. 

Depending on the part, these must be disposed of properly, especially if they contain hazardous materials like oil or gasoline. 

Selling these parts on eBay is a popular option, but you could also donate them to a local auto repair shop or mechanic who can use them. 

#17. Unneeded or Duplicate Garden Tools

When we first bought our house, I went through a phase where I was passionate about having the perfect lawn. Over time, gardening became a chore, so now I pay one of the local kids to cut my grass. 

As a result, I have a lot of unused garden tools in my garage taking up valuable space. Not only do I have to walk past them daily, but they make it difficult to find the tools I need. 

You can donate gently used gardening tools to a local community garden or non-profit organization that accepts donations. 

Another option is to recycle metal gardening tools at a local scrap metal recycling center. Some garden centers may also offer tool recycling programs or accept used tools for donation.

Either way, avoid simply throwing them away in the trash. This contributes to unnecessary landfill waste. 

Messy outdoor garage

#18. Old Batteries

Batteries are a common household item that can quickly pile up in the garage. These may contain harmful chemicals that can harm the environment if improperly disposed of. 

Never throw batteries in the trash or regular recycling bin. 

Instead, take them to a designated battery recycling location. Some retail stores like Target or Best Buy have battery recycling bins at the front of their stores. You can also find them at many hardware stores or recycling centers. 

Different types of batteries require different disposal methods, so check with the specific recycling center or store for instructions. 

#19. Firewood

Firewood can be stored in a garage, but it’s not recommended because it makes a perfect home for insects. Keeping it in an enclosed space like a garage can cause these insects to spread throughout the garage and potentially into your home. 

Also, firewood typically traps moisture, leading to mold growth and other moisture-related issues. 

It’s best to store firewood outdoors, in a covered area away from your home. This allows for proper ventilation, preventing potential damage to the garage or house.

If your firewood is still in good condition, donate it to someone in need or give it away on community platforms such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. 

However, if the firewood is unusable, it should be disposed of properly. Burning large amounts of wood in a fire pit or fireplace can release harmful chemicals into the air. Instead, you can contact your local waste management company to see if they offer wood waste disposal services. 

#20. Excess Building Materials

I have a garage shelf full of spare bathroom and kitchen tiles. 

If you have excess or unused building materials taking up space in your garage, it may be time to get rid of them. 

Keeping these materials around can make getting to other items in your garage difficult. Plus, if left unused for too long, they may become outdated or useless for your current projects.

When disposing of building materials, consider their impact on the environment. We’ve already discussed how some materials, such as paint or insulation, may contain hazardous chemicals, requiring special disposal methods. 

Try to repurpose or donate building materials. Habitat for Humanity ReStore and other similar organizations may be willing to accept your excess materials, which can benefit others in your community.

If you can’t donate your excess building materials, check with your local government or waste management company to see if they offer a recycling or disposal program for building materials. 

Wrapping It Up

Getting rid of items that are no longer needed or used can free up valuable space and make your garage look better and be a more enjoyable place to work. 

Many of the items in your garage can be donated or recycled, so dispose of them responsibly. 

For more guidance on how to declutter your garage, check out our article on “How to Declutter Your Garage Like a Pro” for more tips and tricks. 

Good luck on your decluttering journey!

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