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9 Things in Your Garage You Should Toss

Updated: Jan. 12, 2024

Tossing things in your garage when you no longer need them is fairly easy—but what happens when your garage is now a cluttered mess? That's when it's time to start tossing things out instead.

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Cluttered American Garage Full of Things in Denver Colorado
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Messy garage

If your garage is acting more like a graveyard for items you don’t want to throw out but don’t know what to do with, then this is your official PSA to toss it. We promise you don’t need eight bundles of possibly 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.
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Paint cans

Even if they’re unopened or within their expiration date, toss them—they really shouldn’t be stored in the garage to begin with. Exposure to cold and heat causes paint to harden and separate. Unless paint cans have been stored in a room-temperature environment (maybe the utility closet down the hall, or shelf in the laundry room), they’re practically useless. Here are 30 other things you need to throw out asap.

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Dirty rags
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Old rags

The thing about rags is there is always another raggedy t-shirt ready to replace them—so don’t worry about tossing them, especially if they’ve already gotten pretty soaked during 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, Principal Flammable Liquids Engineer 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 the rags out on the pavement for a day or two (don’t worry, sunlight has nothing to do with the spontaneous combustion), then toss them in the trash once they’re totally dry. See what a professional organizer would throw out in your house.

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Close-Up Of Dirty Oil Container
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Expired chemicals

Pesticides, antifreeze, motor oil, fertilizer, and cleaning chemicals generally have a pretty decent shelf life—but how old is your shelf, exactly? If all went well, you bought that gallon of insecticide back in 2005 and never needed it again. Most of those chemicals have a shelf life of at least a few years, even if they’ve been opened, but they’re worth checking every spring-cleaning season. Plus, heat, cold, moisture, and light exposure can all tamper with even the most properly sealed and stored chemicals. Even if that quart of motor oil is still good, maybe it served its purpose once and would be better used in the hands of your favorite gearhead. Either way, chemicals are definitely some of those things you should never just haphazardly throw away in the garbage, so make sure you dispose of it properly.

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Christmas decorations.
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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. Here are 90 things you should never throw out, and how to reuse them.

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A collection of screwdrivers hanging from a pegboard
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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 you raised the kids in into a smaller bungalow where you just want to relax—you don’t need four rakes anymore, just one good one will do! On the flip side, here are 9 things professional organizers would never throw out.

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Full Frame Shot Of Baseballs
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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. PickupPlease.org takes just about any sporting good, 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 Box
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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 own childhood, we implore you to take one last trip down memory lane with them and then let them go. All memories live on the Cloud now anyway! Find out some things to toss out on Old Stuff Day.

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Old Drawers
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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 fun, summer patio furniture you can fit in there during the offseason instead. Next, head downstairs: here are 25 things in your basement a professional organizer would throw out.