7 Steps to Declutter and (Finally) Get a Clean Basement

A dirty, disorganized basement can be a scary space! Here’s how to get a clean basement that’s organized with the least amount of time and effort.


When was the last time you cleaned your basement? Is it pretty scary down there at this point? Are you using it as a catchall for everything that doesn’t have a home? Once an area gets past a certain point of cluttered messiness, it can feel like there’s no turning back.


The good news is that isn’t true! While your basement may seem daunting, if you just take it one step at a time, you can have an organized and clean basement faster than you may think. Trust me! I’ve been there… more than once! It’s going to take some hard work but I know you can do it and I know you will love the results! Here’s how to get it done.


how to clean and organize a basement step by step

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7 Steps to a Clean Basement


Whatever your reason for tackling your dirty basement problem, the process for getting it up to snuff is a straightforward one.


Basically, it’s a matter of getting anything you don’t want to keep (whether it’s trash, a donation, or something to keep in its proper place) out of the house and cleaning and organizing everything that’s left. 


1. Decide What You Want to Keep


This is going to be the hardest—but most impactful—step. Go through the items. It’s up to you if you feel like you need to take a deep dive and look at every item individually (which is more time-consuming) or if you just know there are certain items you want to keep and find those.


This step is essential to the process and not one that you want to rush through. However, you specifically decide to approach this part, mark or set aside everything you want to keep.


I prefer to grab bags (or boxes) and mark them as:


  • Keep
  • Sell
  • Giveaway/Donate
  • Trash


There will likely be times when you come across an item and have a hard time deciding what you want to do with it, especially if it is a sentimental item. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help make the decision easier.


  • When was the last time I used this?
  • Why do I still have this?
  • Do I really need this?
  • Would someone else benefit from this more than I need it?


If you’re feeling overwhelmed at just the thought of this, take a breath. Decluttering is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it needs to drag on and on. If you want to know how to declutter FAST, grab my ebook! It’s filled with helpful tips and tricks that will have clutter-free in no time.


And, if you need a little more hand-holding (I understand!), book a virtual decluttering session with me. We can tackle this together!


Dump the Trash


Now comes the most freeing part of this plan: the purge. And you’ve already started this step by deciding the items you want to throw away. If you’re on the fence about any items because you think you might get to it one day (think: repairing that broken chair…sound familiar?), toss it.


Now the big part of this step is simply moving those items you are throwing away out of the basement. If you have a lot of things to get rid of, consider renting a dumpster for your driveway. It’ll make the job easier and isn’t very expensive if you only keep it as long as you need it.


As you begin cleaning things out and reducing how many items are sitting in your basement, you may discover other items you haven’t sorted yet. Don’t put it off; go ahead and sort them. If any of them belong in the dumpster, now’s the time to add them.


Go Through and Sort The Remaining Items


Hint: you’re already part of the way through this step because you have already sorted your remaining belongings into “donate”, “sell”, and “keep”.


And here’s another piece of good news: now that you’ve gotten rid of the trash, you have more space to spread out and work in!


Sorting your items is necessary for a clean basement. However, this could potentially be a huge job. If that’s the case, use these tips for keeping it manageable.


Don’t Do Too Much at a Time


Divide the area into areas and take it one little bit at a time. You can measure out sections that are a certain size or you can take a certain number of boxes to go through at a time. But dividing a big job up into small chunks makes it much less overwhelming.


Don’t Try to Get it All Done in One Day


If your basement is merely cluttered and just needs straightening out, this process won’t take long at all – maybe just an hour or two. If, however, it’s been years since you sorted through your basement, ending the day with a clean basement might not be realistic.


This job doesn’t need to be completed in just one day – “powering through” isn’t going to work in your favor with this task. It may take time, and that’s ok. Major decluttering can be exhausting, so don’t forget to take breaks once in a while. Believe it or not, that will help you work longer.


Turn on Some Music


If you’re going to be working for a while on this project, turn on some of your favorite music to help make it more fun. Music has a way of keeping you in the moment which can help alleviate any feelings of overwhelm.


Enlist Help


Ask the family or a friend to come lend a hand. Not only can other people help you make decisions about items you’re waffling on, but more hands will help make the progress happen faster. And doing this with someone else can also make it more fun!


Donate or Sell Items


Selling items takes time, so I personally prefer to donate or give items to friends as much as possible to get rid of them faster.


I will sometimes sell bigger dollar items that are worth the time and hassle, but I don’t usually dedicate the time to sell small, inexpensive items. If you decide to sell items, just know that it might extend your timeline until the project is complete.


Another way to sell items more quickly is to hold a garage sale. This can be a great way to make some money on your smaller items without a large time commitment. Plan to donate anything that no one buys.


For the items you want to donate, plan a day to take them and drop them off at your local donation location. Or better yet, let them come to you by scheduling a pickup with the Salvation Army or another charity that will come pick up your donation items.


Clean From Top to Bottom


minimalist, clean basement with washer and dryer


Now that your basement is truly emptied out, it’s time to apply a little elbow grease. Use a broom, vacuum, duster, mop, or any other cleaning supplies that are appropriate for your basement to get it sparkling.


Your basement may have accumulated dust and cobwebs. Start from the top of the room and work your way down to:


  • Remove cobwebs from the corners
  • Clean light fixtures
  • Dust
  • Clean (mop or vacuum) the floor


Organize Your Space


Great job! At this point, the hard part is done. Now the fun begins.


Now that your basement is cleaned up, it’s time to organize it so that it stays that way. Utilize some home organizing products if you need to. But the overall goal is that once all the work is done, there will be a home for everything and everything will be in its home.


Finding yourself wavering on whether you should dedicate the time to doing this step? Just think of how great it will feel when you know exactly where that favorite family game is when you want it!


Personalize the Space


You can now make your basement your own personalized space! Feel free to redesign the space so that it fits your needs and add touches of personality, color, and other pieces of decor to make the basement fit with the rest of your home.


You can also eliminate this step altogether, depending on how you plan to use your basement.


How to Clean Your Basement: Final Thoughts


Cleaning your basement might take some time and effort, depending on the state it’s currently in. However, the return on your time is 100% worth it. Follow this plan, and you’ll have a clean basement faster than you may think!


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