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Start the summer with a clutter-free garage or storage

A woman in her garage reads the label on a tube of caulk

Clean out your garage or storage closet and dispose of hazardous waste safely

The weather is brighter and warmer, and you’re ready to use your summer gear for outdoor activities. But when you get to your garage or storage closet, you realize that finding those items isn’t that simple… 

Does this sound familiar? It does to us! That’s why we have compiled a step-by-step guide on how to clean out your storage and dispose of unused or unwanted items safely. 

Step 1: Take everything out 

To start cleaning, you need to see what you have. Pull everything out to start an inventory. This will help you see what you are working with. 

Step 2: Start sorting 

Sort your items into piles— keep, donate, sell, and get rid of. Keep only the items that you use frequently and are in good working condition.  

For the donate pile, be sure to check out donation centers in your area to see if they will accept the items you want to give away. You can also post to your local Buy Nothing group or Nextdoor to offer items to your neighbors for contactless porch pick up. 

And in the “get rid of” pile, you will most likely have several unused or half-used items that should be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site. Here a few of the common items to take to a hazardous waste facility: 

  • All-purpose cleaners 
  • Antifreeze 
  • Car batteries 
  • Fertilizer 
  • Fuel Filters 
  • Oil Filters 
  • Oil-based paint (check out PaintCare to learn about disposing of latex and water-based paint) 
  • Motor oil 
  • Paint stripper and thinners 
  • Pesticides 
  • Propane and butane tanks 
  • Weed killer 

You can view more products accepted at a hazardous waste collection site in our product list

Step 3: Clean the garage or storage area 

When choosing cleaning materials for your home and garage, choose safer, environmentally-friendly products. Be sure to read the labels and choose the least hazardous product available. If you do use harsher cleaning products, follow the directions on the label to keep you and your loved ones protected. 

To start cleaning your storage area or garage, wear garden gloves or thick rubber gloves. Vacuum up spider webs and dust bunnies from the walls and floor. Clean any stains with a mixture of liquid dish soap and warm water. And if you have surface mold that is less than three feet wide, scrub using soap and water, rinse or wipe clean, and let dry. If the surface mold is more than three feet wide, call a professional to clean it. Along with gloves and goggles, wear a mask (N-95 recommended) when cleaning up mold. 

Step 4: Put “keep” items back 

Now that you have a clean storage area, take this opportunity to keep clutter from building back up. Suggestions for organizing include: 

  • Using shelving units to store frequently used items 
  • Using cabinets to store less used items 
  • Hanging small tools like hammers on a pegboard  
  • Hanging larger yard tools on wall hooks 

Congrats! You now have a clean, hazardous-free garage or storage area to enjoy this summer, and hopefully for the rest of the year.  

Check out our disposal page to learn more about hazardous waste collection sites in King County and tips on transporting hazardous waste. There is no fee for using the collections sites or the traveling Wastemobile. 

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