15 Brilliant Ways to Declutter Your Basement Right Now

Keep busy during quarantine with these expert-backed basement organization tips.

circle

There's never been a better time to declutter your basement than during quarantine—after all, you're inside most of the day and those piles of laundry seem unlikely to fold themselves. That said, tackling the cleaning and organizing of a whole floor of your home isn't exactly a small undertaking, and leaving the job unfinished may leave your space more cluttered than when you started. If you want to get your basement in perfect order—and keep it that way going forward, here's what organizing professionals want you to know before you get started.

1
Work 15 minutes at a time.

woman checking her watch on her wrist
iStock

Organizing your entire basement can be overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once. Instead, "break up the task into 15 minutes at a time," suggests Sean Parry, cleaning expert with home cleaning company Neat Services. "Small steps make the process go more smoothly, and seem much less intimidating." And for more genius ways to get your space spotless, try these 33 Crazy Cleaning Tips That Actually Work.

2
Choose a starting point and have a plan.

young black woman packing up boxes inside home
iStock/kate_sept2004

Like trying to tackle the project all at once, not having a plan in place before you start can add unnecessary stress to the decluttering process.

"Systematically deal with the clutter as you find it—working through the basement from your starting point, and going from left to right," advises Parry.

3
Use a staging area for sorting.

box of clothing for donation
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

If you're having trouble figuring out how to organize things while standing in their midst, create a separate area in your home to do the actual sorting.

"Pick up a box or bag, take it to the staging area, and deal with it completely before you go to the next one," Parry says. "Once you do have a staging area for your clutter, it becomes much easier to deal with everything."

4
Designate zones for each season.

coats on a rack
Shutterstock/omiksovsky

The easiest way to keep your basement organized for the long haul? Divide your storage space into seasons. "Having zones will keep the clutter and chaos under control and make it easier to find stored things when you need them," says Parry.

5
Use airtight containers.

clothing in plastic storage bins
Shutterstock/Olga Pink

If you want to keep the items you're storing in good condition, make sure you have airtight containers on hand to put everything in. Doing so will "keep out silverfish, crickets and other critters," says Parry, who also recommends desiccant packets into each container to limit moisture.

6
Label everything.

woman labeling plastic storage bin
Shutterstock/SeventyFour

Just because you've organized all your items into containers doesn't mean you're done with your basement makeover.

"People often forget what they have in their basements because they don't go down there very often," says Amy Bloomer, founder and owner of Let Your Space Bloom. "Be sure to add large, clearly marked labels to all items to ensure you know what you've stashed in storage." And if you want to get the rest of your home in order, check out these 33 Expert-Backed Decluttering Tips to Keep You Organized for Life.

7
Think vertically.

room full of tall shelving units
Shutterstock/corgarashu

Keep your stored items easily accessible without cluttering the room by maximizing your vertical storage space.

"Don't be afraid to use the most of your height," says certified professional organizer Kirsten Fisher, founder of Imagine Home Organization. Fisher recommends using vertical shelving units and wall and ceiling hooks to get items out from underfoot. And if you want to whip the rest of your home into shape, it's time to find new homes for these 33 Items You're Storing All Wrong.

8
Put the items you use the least in the back.

close up of male hand packing cardboard box, concept moving house. House moving concept. Happy young couple moving into new apartment with packaging boxes
iStock

If you have to search the whole basement to find something, you're not making the most of your space.

"If you need something and it's hiding somewhere behind Halloween, Christmas, and Fourth of July decorations, chances are you'll forget about it and probably buy another," says Diane Eisenstein, founder of The Tidy Abode. Instead, she recommends putting away items you rarely use toward the back of your basement and out of the way.

9
And use the front for items you use the most.

white woman taking box off shelf
Shutterstock/VH-studio

However, if you're using your basement to store goods you use regularly, like paper towels or pantry snacks, set them up toward the front of the room and display them in a way that makes it easy to grab and go, says certified professional organizer Amy Trager. "Create a 'store' to shop for whatever supplies you need and position [it] conveniently to stairs and lighting," she says.

10
Set aside space for holiday items.

clear box of Christmas decorations
Shutterstock/Sarycheva Olesia

If you want to keep your basement clutter-free, designate a specific area for storing holiday goods—and if you have the space, you can even add in a wrapping area to limit clutter elsewhere in the house, too.

"Keeping holidays separate from whatever else is down there will help you make better sense of whatever is left over," says Trager, who also suggests that you do something to "distinguish holidays from each other."

11
Designate an area for doing laundry.

pile of folded laundry
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

If you do your laundry in your basement, make sure you've condensed all of the necessary accessories to that one specific area.

"Store your detergents and products on easy-to-reach shelves or in baskets, keep a spot for a drying rack, and make room for sorting and folding," suggests Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of The Cleaning Authority.

12
Consider multipurpose storage furniture.

soccer ball bean bag next to cube organizer
Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

Using your basement for more than just storage? Then invest in a few storage pieces that do double duty. "Using a stuffed bean bag or ottomans to store blankets will provide a storage solution that doubles as a place to sit," says Stapf.

13
Get rid of any "just in case" items.

man putting clothing in cardboard box
Shutterstock/Makistock

You may banish items to the basement so you don't have to think about them, but if you want to keep that space organized for good, it's important to ditch what you don't need.

"The secret to decluttering a basement lies in deliberately triple-checking whether you want each and every item you store in it before you even put it in the basement," says certified professional organizer Lauren Williams, founder of Casual Uncluttering. Williams says if it's something you're hanging onto just in case or with the intention of fixing it later, it's time to let it go.

14
Use a dehumidifier.

dehumidifer in front of window
Shutterstock/Mariia Boiko

Your basement may be a damper environment than you realize and that moisture can cause mold and mildew damage in no time. So, if you want to keep clutter at bay and keep those precious items usable going forward, "dehumidifiers help keep items in damp basements safe," says Libby Kinkead, co-owner of organization and move management company Potomac Concierge.

15
Reassess your storage choices periodically.

young black woman moving cardboard box upstairs
Shutterstock/LightField Studios

A few weeks after you finish decluttering, it's time to reassess how helpful that decision has been, says professional organizer and decluttering expert June Saruwatari, author of Behind the Clutter: Truth. Love. Meaning. Purpose. And if you've found it's inconvenient to have to go downstairs every time you need a particular item, "you can find a home for your stuff based on where you're going to use those items or where it's easily accessible."

Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE