Cleaning Out the Attic
Attics come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually all have one thing in common – they are filled with junk! Attics are often the most difficult area of the house to access and are usually only visited a few times a year – say to swap out the winter wardrobe for the summer or to get down holiday decorations. So it makes sense that the organization of your attic is not on the top of your mind. But continuing with our January series on making home organization New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them, we are outlining a full attic clean up plan for you. Just follow these steps and you’ll have a clutter-free, organized attic that maybe you won’t dread going into quite as much!
1. Set aside a bit longer for the attic clean out than you did for the closet or garage clean outs. Attics tend to be messier as most people employ the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to filling up the attic. Also, attics are smaller, more confined spaces, so it’s harder to commit to being holed up in the attic for an entire weekend.
2. The first step for an attic is not to remove everything like in other organization projects, but to set up different zones to group like items – for instance holiday decorations, paperwork, books, photographs, clothing, etc. As you are moving your items into these zones, you’ll notice that you have more trash in the attic than you may have imagined. Just grouping items together and combining boxes, bags, and eliminating packing material will save you a ton of space right off the bat. This is also the stage where you might encounter some potential hazards like mold and animal nests – if you do, deal with it right away.
3. Over the next few weeks, set aside a few hours a week to go through your zones and further organize, sorting everything in each zone into piles to keep, donate/sell, and trash. Also figure out where each of these groups of items should be housed within the attic. Keep items that are used more frequently closer to the entryway and items that are used once a year or family keep sakes that will not need to be taken down often further away.
4. If you have the space, purchase some metal shelving units. Attics can reach temperatures of up to 40°F higher than the rest of the house in the summer and metal shelving withstands humidity much better than wood shelving that could warp in the heat.
5. Store your items in sturdy plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes, which will also succumb overtime to the extreme temperature fluctuations in the attic. Label everything so you know exactly what is in each container at a glance. Keep in mind that is it not necessary to fill every container – having some extra space leaves room for future growth.
6. As a rule, store items along the eaves of the attic, leaving a pathway down the middle of the attic. This is not only safer, but more practical as well. Also be sure not to stack items near air vents or anywhere that will disturb insulation.
7. When storing clothes, use vacuum bags to save space. These bags also keep the clothes smelling fresh as the day you washed them!
8. Once you’ve finished organizing the attic, set a calendar reminder to revisit and re-access the attic one year from today.