Wookieehut DIY presents:
Cleaning the Garage
at 12 Grimwald Place
Rosie, Dancing Queen, PandaCat, Diana

Spring has sprung! The days are getting longer and warmer. The pile of creeping crud that has overflowed from the house and that you have been trying to ignore all winter can no longer be dismissed. Lo and behold, a lovely Saturday dawns — not too warm, but at last not too cold either. It is a perfect day to clean out the house!

This is kind of what Sirius Black was thinking when he finally managed to make his way back to his ancestral home. Abandoned for many years since he was incarcerated at Azkaban prison, it'd grown filthy and cluttered. The Black family house elf, Kreacher, was a horder and managed to fill the house with junk. And Kreacher was no good at taking orders or cleaning, either.

For this daunting task, Sirius asked Dumbledore for some reliable, trustable house elves, and the wise wizard sent Dobby and Winky, the only paid house elves at Hogwart's (or anywhere, for that matter). Dobby formerly worked for the Malfoys before Harry Potter managed to free him from perpetual enslavement. Winky had formerly worked for the Crouch family, before she was released by Barty Crouch, Sr. for failing to keep his son under control; her "freedom" made the poor house elf miserable, and she took to drinking butter beer and letting herself go.

Of course, one could not give a house elf clothing, for it meant he or she was released from bondage. When he dismissed her, Crouch made sure Winky had nice clothing, but in her sorrow she let it get dirty and disheveled. In contrast, Dobby collected clothing with impunity so that he looked like an odd rag doll, albeit a very clean and tidily kept one. Kreacher still belonged to Sirius, who couldn't afford to have the house elf roaming free and tattling about his master's whereabouts, so Kreacher remained mostly naked.

Kreacher, like most house elves, was devoted to his family. He'd been with the Blacks for centuries, and in his great age had become insane ... so the challenge of cleaning Kreacher's accumulated mess was a big challenge indeed for Sirius. So he decided to start with the shed, and move to the house after — after all, one could not clean out the insides if there was no place to put anything!

It was a daunting task — unless you plan it out. Here are some tips on how Sirius whittled this job down to manageable size.

  1. The garage (or shed) tends to accumulate stuff no longer wanted in the house. Move the vehicle out of the way; whether broomstick, enchanted motorbike or car or Knightbus, park it on the driveway or in the street so you have plenty of room to work.

  2. Don't do this task alone. Recruit assistants, just as Sirius recruited house elves ... especially if they have contributed to the mess. They can even be bribed. Just know their price [wink wink].

  3. Be sure you have plenty of large, heavy-gauge plastic garbage bags and boxes to put items in. It's best to make sure that the bags are not see-through ... that way, once the item goes it, it's invisible, and you won't have to look longingly at the dollhouse and change your mind about whether it's REALLY unwanted or not.

  4. Designate three areas into which you will sort:
    • Keep — this one should be the smallest pile when you're finished;
    • Donate — this is for items that are in good condition, that you no longer need or want, but someone else could find useful;
    • and Toss — this should be the largest pile by the time you're done — unless you have a LOT of things in the Donate pile.

    Sirius assigned each house elf a pile to be in charge of: Winky was "keep," Dobby was "donate" (because he kept asking if HE could salvage Sirius's unwantables), and Kreacher got "toss," maybe because that's what Sirius would have liked to do that to him!

  5. Be RUTHLESS! Don't succumb to sentiment and decide to keep something just because you think you might want it again. Keep a close eye on your assistants, too. They might try to sneak some items back into the house. Especially the evil, senile, insane ones!

  6. Once you've sorted, move everything to one side of the garage and sweep the floor clean. Winter winds will have blown a lot of dirt into the garage, road salt has melted off the car sitting in the garage, and things often fall out of or leak out of garbage bags (NASTY!) If there have been leaks, they need to be cleaned up or they will attract vermin. A bucket of warm water, your choice of cleaning solution, and a scrub brush work well. Open the garage door to allow more air circulation so the floor will dry faster.

    The house elves will complain about this, but don't give up — they like to complain, anyway!

  7. Put seasonal items such as sleds and Christmas tree stands in attic or rafter storage if available to free up garage space. Hang items such as bicycles and lawn chairs on appropriate hooks on the walls or hung from the rafters to free up floor space.

  8. Don't forget to schedule short breaks to get a drink and a snack to keep energy levels up for more cleaning and sorting. Do NOT let your house elves start another project elsewhere — it's simply an excuse to not help you finish the clean-up.

  9. Keep tools and other items used for particular tasks like gardening together next to the wall or on shelves if available. Be tidy about it — even if this pile of tools might end up all ajumble later, it's good to at least start the tools in their proper places. Then you can see what needs to be replaced or repaired, too.

  10. Once one side of the garage is swept and scrubbed, move everything to the opposite side and repeat.

  11. Continue to sort items into the Keep, Donate, and Toss piles. Put the Toss pile into heavy-duty garbage bags and get rid of them as soon as possible. (Note: Don't forget to put the trash out on Trash Day or you'll have to live with piles of garbage bags for another week, or more!).

    Put items to be donated in boxes and secure bags, and contact the charity of your choice to arrange for pick-up. Or have a garage sale. Or let the acquisitive house elf have it, but do NOT let your crazy old house elf collect stuff to put somewhere else in the house!

    Put items you wish to keep away inside the house in their proper and permanent place. If there is no proper or permanent place, re-consider if you actually want to keep it at all.

  12. Consider putting up shelving to keep non-perishable bulk items like paper towels, trash bags, food storage bags, and household cleaning supplies organized for easy access and inventory.

  13. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, and inspect Kreacher's room to make sure all that stuff didn't just end up back inside the house!

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