How to Better Organize Your Attic

There’s a reason many haunted house movies feature a scene with the hero going into an attic. For most people, the attic is an out-of-the-way place where long-forgotten relics are stored, collecting dust and creating a nightmarish clutter. However, there’s no reason you have to dread your expeditions into the attic as long as you keep on top of it and organize the items you store here. Follow the tips below to make the best use of your attic space.

Recruit an attic cleaning partner. Starting to clean a messy attic is the hardest part, because that initial pile of stuff is just so intimidating. If you’ve got a particularly big job ahead of you, recruit a friend, spouse, or family member to tackle the attic with you. Potential helpers on the fence about assisting you? Offer to be there for any similar organizational projects of theirs if they ask you in the future.

Purge the nonessential items. Many of the items in your attic may have ended up there because you said to yourself, I’m not using this now, but I might want to use it someday. Take another look at these items and figure out how long they’ve been in the attic and if you’ve ever used them in that time. If you haven’t, chances are you can either throw them away or or store them in a storage unit like the one seen here, as long as they’re still in good condition. Start a “throw away” box and a “donate” box so that you don’t get the items confused.

Label your belongings. Have a lot of cardboard boxes or mystery bags in your attic? Figure out what the heck you’re keeping in all of them and then clearly label them with a piece of tape and a Sharpie. This will make it a lot easier when you actually do need to go into the attic to find a specific item.

Organize by category. Divide your attic items into different categories, such as Christmas decorations, out-of-season clothing, and important paperwork. Place all the items that you’re not likely to need as often towards the back of the attic and the ones you need more often towards the front, in an easily accessible place.

Safely store items that could be easily damaged. Ask yourself if there’s anything of importance in the attic that could be damaged by, say, a leak in the roof or an animal that has found its way indoors. Make sure you pack or bundle these items in order to protect them. Cardboard boxes probably aren’t going to cut it, as these can be easily bent, damaged by water, or chewed on by rodents. You might want to put important papers in waterproof folders or a filing cabinet, while you might want to put electronics or old family photos in waterproof plastic bins.

Maximize your space. There’s no reason why everything needs to sit on the floor of your attic—or needs to become part of a precarious tower. If you have so much stuff in your attic that you don’t have a clear path to walk through, invest in some sturdy metal shelves so that you can get some of your belongings off the floor. You can also use hooks to hang items like fire extinguishers and fishing poles. Try putting any clothes in the attic into garment bags and hanging them on hooks or a portable clothing rack.

Make a comprehensive list. It’s easy to forget what you’re keeping in your attic. Out of sight, out of mind, after all. In order to make sure you don’t lose track, make a checklist of all the major items you have in the attic the next time you go up there. You might even want to draw a grid and write down where the attic all your different possessions are located.

Too much stuff? Consider moving it elsewhere. If you’ve already purged the non-essential items from your attic and find that it’s still overflowing with the possessions you just can’t bear to part with, it might be time to find a new space to store some of those items. Consider whether you have any extra garage or basement space where you could put things. If your house has already reached its bursting point, you might even want to consider investing in a commercial storage unit. Storage units can be especially useful for seasonal items that you don’t need now but might want in a few months, like holiday decorations or bulky winter clothing.

Author Bio: Juliana Weiss-Roessler runs Weiss-Roessler Writing with her husband Josh. Learn more at, or follow her on TwitterGoogle+, and Facebook.

Erin Emanuel