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Archive for Monday, February 28, 2011

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Fix-It Chick: Organize your basement

February 28, 2011

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Start your spring cleaning early by cleaning and organizing your basement.

Step 1: Identify and categorize different sections of your basement. Storage areas should be loosely themed — holiday decor, outdoor equipment, paint supplies, etc. Keeping like items in one area makes things easier to find and increases the likelihood they will be returned to the right spot later.

Step 2: Think about how often items will be accessed when choosing where to put them. Old files and keepsakes can be stored higher and behind more frequently accessed items. Seasonal items should be relatively accessible, and items that are used often should be at the top of the pile, so to speak.

Step 3: Decide where the bulk of the items will be stored and then clear that area out completely.

Step 4: Dust, sweep and vacuum the empty storage area. Use warm water mixed with TSP to thoroughly clean the walls and floor. Use caulk, hydraulic cement or spray foam insulation to fill any cracks or crevices along the wall, window frames and floors.

Step 5: Once the area is clean, dry and accessible, install shelving to hold the items. Use old pallets to keep everything off the floor. Maximize space by installing hooks to hang things from the ceiling. Do not hang things from plumbing pipes or near electrical wires.

Step 6: Sort and eliminate as much of the basement fodder as possible. If it hasn’t been used in the past three years, get rid of it. Chances are good no one will ever notice it is gone. Donate items. Use classified advertising to sell or give away larger things. Recycle as much as possible. Take old paint and chemicals to the hazardous waste facility.

Step 7: Control damage from moisture and infestations by replacing cardboard boxes with plastic storage containers. Label containers clearly, listing their contents before storing them away. Place plastic beneath anything left on the floor to protect it from seepage. Leave space between your items and the wall to allow for proper air circulation and to limit the dark, damp hiding spots basements are notorious for.

Step 8: Once you have one corner of the basement cleaned and organized, move onto another section. Clear it, clean it and then arrange and stack everything into place. Keep working in small sections throughout the basement until every inch is clean, dry and organized.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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