Sadly, depending on the age of your home and/or where you live, you’ve likely had to contend with a musty basement once or twice.
Moisture can get in, seals can fail, the temperature can fluctuate, and it can get awfully hard to safely keep anything in there. If you’ve been battling moisture and mildew in your basement and need to figure out how to better organize anything already down there, here’s a few tips we’ve found to keep everything a little cleaner:
Leave space for air to move: Moisture and humidity collect most often in areas where items are tightly packed together and the air can’t move between them to dry it out. Wherever possible, leave space between items on shelves to help the air flow through and prevent moisture from accumulating. In cases where space is at a premium, you may need to provide shelves with open decking and backs such as wire shelving to help improve air flow.
Moisture removers everywhere: It’s no exaggeration when we suggest using as many moisture removers as you can throughout the basement to help capture moisture in the air and prevent it from building up and damaging your stuff. There’s plenty of DIY recipes to make them yourself using household items (such as cat litter, activated charcoal, and silica gel), or they’re easily purchased at supermarkets and hardware stores. You’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes.
Use the right materials for storage: As you probably already learned the hard way, a lot of materials can’t withstand the conditions of a basement as easily as some others. “Softer” materials such as cardboard and wood aren’t good choices for long-term basement use due to their ability to absorb a ton of moisture very quickly. Stick with more corrosion-resistant options like chrome shelves, epoxy coated shelving, and plastic bins to keep the dampness at bay (and try to remember to keep a lid on everything).
Keep it airtight: If your basement is home for a lot of your seasonal clothes when you don’t need a coat, vacuum sealing may be the way to go. By reducing the amount of air in a container you can more easily prevent the buildup of mildew, and vacuum packing at home might be the ideal solution for long-term storage of clothes you don’t wear that often or anything with sentimental value such as a wedding dress.
Remember to keep an eye out: Finally, no matter how many precautions you take, you’re going to have to keep checking on everything you store down there. Don’t leave anything unattended or sitting still for very long, and for particularly sensitive items (electronics, old fabrics) bring them upstairs into the sun to let them dry out and warm up a little.
A lot of people look at ‘epoxy shelving’ and assume that it’s the kind of heavy-duty stuff you only see in factories or restaurants.
While you’re not wrong for thinking that, the truth is that there’s actually a lot of ways you can use it around the house for safe storage of items that can resist even the crummiest conditions.
The resilient epoxy coating allows it to withstand cold and moisture while working to inhibit rust and germs, making them a durable and safe option for storage of things you don’t want bothered by bacteria or temperature changes.
Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s four ways to use them around the house:
Food storage: Rust-proof epoxy shelving is a common sight in a lot of restaurants, stores, and the like for its ability to safely store food under a lot of conditions. The benefits here are two-fold: the epoxy coating helps reduce the spread of germs and helps to prevent the shelf itself from rusting, which could begin to spread to canned goods and anything else stored on the shelf. If you have big pantries that need extra storage space, or if you have space in the garage you keep extra food or beverages, epoxy shelves could be the perfect solution. (Especially if you pair them with canned food organizers for additional storage.)
Basement & garage shelving: In a similar vein, epoxy shelving can also stand up to tough conditions you might encounter in basements or unheated garages. This can come in especially handy for basements that counter a lot of moisture or humidity, as the epoxy coating makes it especially resilient to rust and corrosion, as well as garages that need to store a lot of chemicals and/or more bulky car parts that need somewhere safe to go when not in use.
Houseplants: These days, everyone has a potted plant or two that they want to keep alive. Epoxy shelves are a good call for house plants of any kind for a number of reasons. The open wire design helps light and air flow through, and the epoxy coating will help stop the shelves from rusting in case you get a little overeager with the watering. (Not that you’ve done that...right?)
Safe kitchen storage: The resilient design of epoxy shelving allows for a perfect place to keep things in the kitchen like cooking utensils, pots and pans, or even dishes while they’re drying or not in use. If you have bulkier kitchen goods that need a new home, epoxy shelves can help keep them safer than they would be hanging on the walls or buried in a cabinet somewhere.
No matter what your preferred diet or favorite food, everyone has some canned food around the house. Vegetables, fruits, maybe some SPAM if that’s what you’re into—whatever you have, it can pile up after a while.
Unless it’s totally expired, though, you don’t have to throw it away! Canned goods aren’t nearly as hard to organize as you might expect, and with a little patience and imagination you can get those beans and mushrooms under control.
Make sure you can see what you have
One of the fastest ways to lose track of everything you have is by not knowing what it is. If you’re the sort to store canned goods in a drawer, a quick and easy way to prevent that is to label the top of everything with a magic marker! Tag everything with a quick “olives”, “peas”, etc on the top lid of each can so you can see what it is right from the get go.
From a cabinet to a closet
Canned goods can contribute to a lot of overall kitchen cabinet clutter, and it can get hard to figure out just how and where to organize everything. A good solution we’ve found, depending on the size of the cabinet, is to treat it more like a closet—set up some closet storage bins, closet shelves, or even standalone wire shelves to help give everything its own space. Think back to the last time you reorganized your shoes and jackets, and you’ll be on the right track!
No space—no worries!
Of course, not all of us have the luxury of a pantry big enough to keep a bunch of shelves in, so alternative solutions are needed. The more industrious among you may be able to repurpose shoeboxes or even magazine racks to keep cans organized, and you can always use over the door storage on the back of your cabinet doors (or even a door near the kitchen) to keep extras.
Look on the walls
Of course, if you don’t have any cabinet space left—or maybe if you don’t have any cabinets—you could always turn to the walls! Build or buy some new wall shelves to provide extra space for canned goods that won’t make a bigger mess out of your cabinets or countertops. This is an especially good way to keep the things you cook with more often closer at hand than the other ingredients which might just get in the way.
Get it outside of the kitchen
Finally, if worse comes to worse, just try to find somewhere else to keep them. The point of canned goods is to prolong their lifespan and help them stay fresh and edible for longer than other types of food, so a little stint in the basement or a climate-controlled garage won’t be the worst thing for them. Just...remember to eat them before their expiration date, alright?
Do you have other tips for managing a canned food avalanche in your kitchen? Leave a comment below!
Ah, college. A time of self-discovery, personal growth, and hopefully some learning along the way.
Before all that, though, there’s always one big hurdle to cross—moving into your dorm!
Dorm life can be a ton of fun, but it’s got a lot in common with moving into your first new apartment, or moving at all, which means it can be a huge pain. The stress of making sure you have everything is compacted by the fact that dorms don’t typically offer a lot of space.
But all is not lost! When your move-in day approaches, there’s a few things you can do to try and make it as stress-free as possible for everyone. Here’s a few tips we’ve pulled together to help try and smooth out some of the...less appealing parts of moving into your dorm:
Make sure you have everything by day 1
The last-minute scramble for school supplies doesn’t stop at college. In fact, it probably involves more stuff than ever because now you need to furnish your part of the dorm! Make sure to factor in enough time to buy both the regular round of school supplies (backpacks, pencils, probably a new tablet or two, etc) and the sort of creature comforts you’re going to need while you’re there like hampers, pillows, closet storage bins, and so on. You’re probably going to have a pretty long list, especially if you’re starting your freshman year, but going in with your list checked off will save a lot of time in the long run.
Get ready to move in a hurry
A lot of colleges will have set time limits on when you can move your things in, so whatever it is you’re bringing, try to make sure it can be set up quickly. Try to avoid taking a lot of bulky furniture, instead looking for things like office chairs and desks that can be assembled when you get there and moved into the dorm itself more easily. Keep all your clothes, supplies, and furniture neatly compacted and ready to move in a hurry—you don’t want to get shut out of your dorm with two bags left in the car!
Don’t be afraid to move stuff around
A lot of students think that the furniture that’s already in your dorm has to stay there, but in most cases it’s actually easier (and better in the long run) to move it around. Talk to your roommates to see what works best with what everyone brought with them, and feel free to relocate until everyone can stay organized. You need to make room for that fridge stand somehow, right?
Look up and down for organization
Due to the limited space of a dorm, you might have to think outside the box a little bit to make everything fit. Get some standing wire shelving for the walls without shelves (or hang wall shelves if your school allows it), store things under the bed or under the dresser as needed, and don’t be afraid to get a little more creative than you might have at home.
Don’t be afraid to send stuff back home
A big mistake a lot of people make when packing for their dorm is to overestimate how much they’ll need for their first few months there. Focus on seasonally-appropriate clothing and don’t get too bogged down on packing winter clothes just yet to save room. Bigger amenities like your video game collection and your favorite bike might be better off in your parents’ garage for the time being, as they’re going to be too much of a pain to store in such a limited space. It might be a little heartbreaking at first, but you’ll notice how much space you saved yourself and you’ll be glad you did it.
Moving can be a roller coaster of emotions, can’t it?
There’s the ecstasy of finally finding the house of your dreams (and being able to buy it, which is a process all on its own), there’s the agony of finding a buyer for your current place, and then there’s the sudden headache as you slowly realize exactly how much stuff you have to pack up.
Whether you’re moving across the country or simply down the street, whether you’re buying your first home or simply trading apartments, the idea of packing up for a move can bring about a lot of anxiety. We’d like to help take some of that anxiety out of an already-stressful situation by helping you with one of the biggest steps in the moving process: decluttering!
Figuring out what not to take with you when you move can save you a lot of time and headache from the get-go, and provides a perfect opportunity for you to do some much-needed decluttering like everyone should sometimes. Here’s a few of our favorite tips for decluttering before a big move, and what they can do to help your home get where it’s going:
Start as soon as you can
It might be a bit late if you’re reading this, but a good rule of thumb for decluttering before you move is to start as early as possible. Got the new place picked out? Start decluttering. Already boxing up the old place? Start decluttering. Just recently decide to commit to a move? Start decluttering. The more heads-up you have for this project, the easier the whole thing will be.
Decide on what you need to get rid of before the move
Obviously this will vary wildly depending on what exactly you’re sorting through to move, but making a preliminary list of things you know you should or can get rid of is going to go a long way. Focus on things like broken items, old furniture or fixtures that might be too bulky to take with you, or the old “rule of 12”—if you haven’t used something in 12 months, you probably don’t need it. Get an idea in your head (or make a list, whatever helps you the most) of what you plan on parting with and work from there.
Figure out where it could go in your new home
If there’s something you’re on the fence about (or even for things you intend on keeping), a good question to ask yourself is where you plan on keeping it when you move. Do you have enough wall shelves to hang onto all those knick knacks and souvenirs when you move, or will they need to be rehomed? Do you have basement shelves for whatever you have in your basement now? If something is going to require too much work to implement into your new space, it might not be worth taking along with you.
Go room by room
When it comes time to actually start decluttering, make sure to take your time and move through each room as needed. Start with whatever room will have the most stuff you have to move - the majority of the time this is the kitchen or the living room, maybe the basement—and make your way through the house, being sure to declutter as needed as you pack up everything else.
Figure out where it’s all going
Okay, so you’ve finally gotten your head in the game and you’re getting big piles of stuff together to get rid of. Now you just need to figure out where it’s going. Don’t be too precious about it, as this can lead to you putting it right back where it was, and nobody needs that. See if any of your friends would like to take any old furniture or unwanted clothes off your hands, and get ready to give the rest to charity. Try to avoid the trap of saving something to sell unless it’s a guaranteed mover, and prepare yourself to get pretty friendly with the employees of your local Salvation Army over the next few days.