Getting organized isn’t just a spring-cleaning activity. In fact, the dead heat of summer is the perfect time to reevaluate the sporting and outdoor gear that’s clogging up your garage.
Forging ahead in our “Decluttering for Dummies” series, we’re bringing you all the best advice from professional organizers around the country.
Whether you’ve got a toolshed filled with old camping stuff, a basketball hoop you haven’t gotten around to selling, or even an impressive set of running shoes, we’re here to help you declutter your collection of outdoor sports and recreation gear.
1. Keep outdoor gear based on goals
“Whether it’s to improve your backswing or to train for a marathon, have these goals top of mind as you begin going through your outdoor and sporting gear,” says organizer Christina Lee, of Graceful Spaces.
If you plan to spend your summer season focused on hiking and camping, you might decide to ditch some of that biking gear from summers past. Similarly, if you’ve given up a sport or outdoor hobby entirely, now’s a great time to clean out that storage space for the stuff you actually plan on using.
2. Consider bulk vs. necessity
This is especially helpful for people with multiple big-ticket items like boats, bikes, skis, fishing poles, etc.
“There are three things to consider when deciding what items to keep and toss,” says organizer Michelle Hansen, of Practical Perfection. “First, determine the item’s condition. Next, think about the last time that it’s been used. Third, consider how much space it’s taking up in your garage.”
Remember that it’s easier to unload gear during the season that it’s used. In other words, now is the perfect time to sell that set of kayaks that has been sitting around unused. Plus, it will also free up your storage for the things you actually plan to use this season.
3. Trash only what really can’t be used
When it comes time to get rid of your unwanted gear, be sure you’re not throwing anything away that can be sold or donated.
“It’s time to trash sports gear when it’s in such bad shape that you or someone else won’t find it useful,” says Hansen. “Some items can be fixed, but some are just beyond repair.”
If you have any old gear that’s in really bad shape, take it to your local recycling center. Otherwise, consider selling items on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You can also post on social media to either sell or donate it to someone who will use it.
Watch: Let It Go: 5 Things to Toss From Your Home Before You Move
4. Use vertical space to store your equipment
Once you’ve finally pared down your collection of outdoor and sports gear to only those things you plan on keeping, it’s time to come up with a method of organization. If you haven’t done so yet, now’s a great time to start considering how to best use your space.
“One of my favorite ways to organize gear is to use the vertical space,” says Hansen. “Installing a ceiling garage rack can free up a ton of storage space around your garage.”
You can also use a wall-mounted broom holder to store things like tennis rackets or lacrosse sticks.
“The best rule of thumb is to find a place for everything and try to keep things off of the ground,” Hansen says.
5. Organize by zones
“Once you’ve categorized your items and have determined what you’re keeping, you can create zones based on how often items are being used and how accessible they need to be,” says Lee.
An example of this, Lee explains, would be a family with weekly baseball practices creating an accessible drop-zone for baseball equipment in the garage. This will be made easier if you first organize your gear according to season, keeping things for other times of the year toward the back (or in vertical spaces) and things you plan on using regularly in more accessible spots.
But zones don’t just apply to sporting goods. This strategy can also be used for kids’ toys, like small bikes.
“We like to create ‘parking lots’ on garage floors using painter’s tape or even paint for bicycles and other rideable toys,” says Lee. “When everything has a home, the whole family is on the same page about where things belong and can help maintain the system.”