8 Things in Your Garage You Should Throw Out Today

The garage. For some, it's a pristine white-walled home for a four-wheeled pride and joy. For others (and let's face it, that's most of us), it's a place to keep the car, the lawn mower, the old fridge, paint cans, empty boxes, and everything else that we either forgot to put in the basement, or never even realized we owned. There are many items that should be in your garage right now, and others that should be removed. (See also: 12 Things You'll Never Use Again and Should Throw Out Today)

Here are the eight things you should throw out right after you've finished this article.

1. Old Paint

Unless you're very lucky, you will never buy exactly the right amount of paint you need for a project. There's always some left over, whether it's a quarter of the can, or a full can that's unreturnable. Either way, you'll most likely let this old paint sit on a shelf for a few years, knowing it will be there to touch up the wall. Of course, a few years pass by, and you repaint the wall. If you have these orphan cans of paint in your garage, they can be a fire hazard; they also go off quicker in garages than inside the home. It's time to dispose of them safely. You cannot just dump them, as these paints contain hazardous chemicals. Instead, visit your local hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. They will be happy to recycle that paint for you.

2. Files and Paperwork

You may not have much use for them, but an identity thief can have a field day with documentation. If you have decided to keep boxes of bills, personal letters, government notices, and other items in your garage, you are keeping it in the most unsafe room in your house. Garages are very easy to break into, and you do not want to risk anyone accessing this stuff. It's better to scan it and shred it, or if it's really no use, just go straight to shredding.

Most copy and office supply stores will be happy to take your old papers for shredding, for a fee.

3. Armchairs and Cushions

You bought a new sofa, so you decided to keep the old one in the garage. Hey, you never know, it may come in handy for that man cave one day. This is not a good idea. That armchair or sofa is a veritable nirvana for mice and rats. They can build nests inside there and hunker down for the winter. They'll happily munch on the foam padding, and have baby mice and rats in the hundreds. This is not something you want to deal with. Do yourself a favor and dump or sell the old seating now, before another family sets up home inside it.

4. Old Motor Oil and Oily Rags

If you change your own oil, you probably have a large container of old oil just waiting to be filled. This is a disaster just waiting to happen. Motor oil is combustible, and as it is no longer needed, it's a waste of space as well. There are various places to recycle this, including many auto parts stores and auto mechanics. Get into the habit of taking the old oil there after every oil change. Yes, it may be easier to let a large container fill up with old oil, but it's not safe. The same applies to oily rags, too. One hint of a flame or spark and they're going up in smoke. Get rid of them, safely.

5. Expired Food

This seems like a no brainer, but it's amazing how many people have a stockpile of old food in his or her garage. It was, of course, intended to be a second pantry. But that shelf is now a mixture of good and not-so-good food items. You need to take the time to go through that food (including the food in the garage fridge) every week and dump the food that is well past its use-by-date. Now, if you're not sure (some foods are good several months after the date printed on the can or bag) do a little googling first. But if in doubt, throw it out.

6. Broken… Well, Anything

OK, if you're genuinely intending to fix that broken thing soon, then you get a pass. But if it has been gathering dust for 12 months because "when I get the time, I'll fix it," you need to throw it out. If it was important to you, you'd have fixed it already. If you are just waiting for the right time, you'll never find it.

Old junk, broken gadgets, smashed toys, they're all just taking up valuable real estate in your garage. If they're worth something (broken video game consoles can fetch money for parts), sell them on eBay or Craigslist. But really, most broken stuff is just on death row in your garage. Declare the appeals process over.

7. Books and Magazines

It's a safe bet 90% of the books and magazines you have read will never be read again. You are most likely hanging onto them because you don't like getting rid of something you paid money for, or you intend to read them again… one of these days. Go through those boxes of books and mags now and be ruthless. Then make four piles. Keep, sell, donate, and trash. Some doctors will thank you for magazines that can help the waiting room feel less like a waiting room. Some of those books will fetch a good price online. And if the cover is falling off and the pages are warped from a water spill, dump it.

8. The Shoe Graveyard

Don't deny it; you have one in your garage. These are the shoes that once took pride of place in the shoe rack inside, but over the years they got messy, tattered, or went out of style. Now you keep them in one of those shoe holders on the back of the door, or in an old cupboard next to the bag of damp cement. Put them out of their misery. Throw them into a bag for charity if they still have some years left in them, otherwise dump them today. You won't wear them again, even if you have fond memories of them.

What are you keeping in your garage that you know you should throw out? What's missing from this list? And what would you never throw away, no matter how often your significant other tells you to? Let us know.

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Guest's picture

Motor oil is not "highly flammable", it's combustible. I can't believe this false information is published. It would make more sense to list gasoline, not oil.

Paul Michael's picture

Kaleb, I apologize. I used flammable instead of combustible. This error will be corrected. However, I would like to point out that I spoke to several mechanics and they all said that it was a bad idea to store used motor oil in your garage.