Attic cleaning and organizing is a huge housecleaning chore. In some households it’s only performed every few years. One thorough organization of your attic should streamline storage, as well as make everything you need to access on a regular basis a breeze. It’s a job that not many people like, but everyone has to do it at one time or another.

Attic Purging

How-to-Organize-Your-AtticSupplies Needed:

  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves
  • 3 Large Bins/Boxes
  • White Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle
  • Water
  • Sharpie or Labels
  • Dryer Sheets

Before you can effectively organize your attic, you must purge and clean it. Depending upon the state of it, this might be a good time to utilize a dust mask and gloves. Some attics are homes to critters like mice or bats. It’s unhealthy to breathe the dust from animal waste or to come into direct contact with it using your bare hands.

If your attic is like most, nothing is marked. Boxes overrun the expanse with no notation whatsoever as to what’s inside. That means before things can be purged and the area can be cleaned, each and every one of these boxes, bins, and bags (yes, some people stash things in their attics in bags—both paper and plastic!) must be removed.

Have three large bins or boxes on hand. One bin will house those items you plan to keep. One will house those designated as donations. The third is for trash. As you go through each box or bag, each item inside must go into its newly designated box.


Next up—cleaning. Start with a broom and work from the ceiling down. Sweep away dust and cobwebs. Don’t forget the walls and any pieces of furniture that have taken up residence there as well.

Once the entire mess is swept away, it’s time to wash any windows. White vinegar and newspapers are perfect for this housecleaning task. Spray a mixture of half vinegar and half water onto the windows and wipe them clean with crumpled up newspapers.

How-to-Organize-Your-Attic-1Take Out the Trash

Begin this step by carrying away the bin designated for donation. That way the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind,” will apply. You won’t be tempted to rethink your decision to give something away once you can no longer see it.

Keep the trash bin in the attic with you until the end of the job. You may find additional things to get rid of, and it helps with cleaning up your clean-up tools like the soiled newspapers after washing the windows.


Organizing the attic is really a no-brainer. Whether you access the space via a staircase, ladder, or pull-down version of either, you’ll want to store your most accessed items nearest that opening. This way when you need that set of luggage, you won’t have to make your way to the back of your nicely cleaned and organized space. You can simply access the area and reach for what you need.

Organize areas for different things you will access throughout the year. For example, holiday decorations should all be in one area in clearly marked boxes or bins that point out which holiday they represent.

Out of season or outgrown clothing you may be saving for another child should have designated spaces, too. Clearly marking every box or bin that will be housed in the attic is imperative.

Treasures—i.e. your great-grandmother’s steamer trunk or your great-grandfather’s collection of war memorabilia—need a permanent home in the attic. Your high school yearbooks and prom dress can live nearby. You won’t access these items frequently, so they can be stored far away from the entrance.

Furniture that might be passed on to another generation or that might find its way back to your living room should be gathered together in one area. This way you won’t have to step over boxes or bins to get to that special piece.

A Caution—or Two

Depending on whether or not your attic is well ventilated, you must be careful about how much you store. Cardboard boxes become brittle with time and can become a fire hazard. If your space isn’t well ventilated, consider using plastic storage bins only. Never, ever store flammable materials in your attic. This is simply asking for a disaster to strike.

Once you’ve found spaces for your frequently accessed items and packed away those you don’t access often at all, you can make your way to your staircase or ladder and haul away the trash. Consider leaving a few dryer sheets on some of the bins as you leave. Next time you enter your beautifully organized attic, you’ll be greeted by a pleasant aroma rather than a dusty, musty smell.