If you’re guilty of letting your less frequently used space accumulate unwanted items, it’s time to start sorting and purging. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part so keep reading for tips on how to manage a cluttered garage.
If you think cleaning the garage will be a half-day project, think again. This task will likely take much longer, even if you have a lot of help. Set aside a full day at the very least. Ideally, you’ll be able to dedicate an entire weekend (or two) in order to do the job properly. How much stuff you have accumulated and how many hands you have helping out will determine the length of the project.
The more hands the better! Make this a family project by delegating tasks appropriate for different ages. If you have friends who have some free time, ask if they will help out in exchange for a nice meal, a services barter, or a few extra bucks. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to lend a hand, all you need to do is ask.
Get started by going through every single item in the garage. Sometimes this is the easiest to do if everything is removed and put into three different piles: keep, sell/donate, and throw away. In general, anything that hasn’t been used in a couple years should get the boot. Check expiration dates on paint and chemicals. Get rid of anything that is broken beyond repair.
Go through your ‘keep’ pile and determine which items should be stored elsewhere. If you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, paint should go inside so it isn’t ruined. Propane isn’t safe indoors, this includes the garage. Protect yourself by keeping it outside. If you have a refrigerator in your garage, it’s likely consuming a ton of energy. Save some money on utilities by moving it to a storage room or donating it. Keep your garage free of rodents and bugs by storing pet food and paper goods elsewhere, such as a laundry or utility room.
Once you know which items you will reintroduce into your garage, create a plan for where everything will go. Categorize your items based on what they are used for i.e. gardening, sports, seasonal, etc. Measure your garage dimensions and create zones for each category. Plan to keep lesser used items in harder to reach places while the items you use frequently should be easily accessed. Place bulky items in corners so they don’t inhibit parking.
Some sort of shelving or cabinets are essential to staying organized. As a rule, shelves are better if you are looking to stay organized. The doors on cabinets are more likely to allow clutter to accumulate. However, it’s important to have at least one cabinet with a locking mechanism for valuable items and dangerous chemicals. To keep the floor space in your garage clean, avoid setting items directly on the floor and choose cabinets with legs so you can sweep underneath them.
Placing items on shelves isn’t enough. Stock up on organizational containers to keep smaller items, such as hardware or sports balls, in a single location. Not only will this make your items easier to locate, it will free up some space as you’ll be able to store more in a single area.
For gardening tools, home improvement tools, sports equipment, and more, install pegboard with hooks, shelves, and hanging bins. This works well for items that are frequently used. Another option for heavier equipment such as bicycles, consider track based systems. These affix to studs and can bear more weight. Another space that is often overlooked is the ceiling. Keep items such as ladders and snowboards overhead by purchasing hanging shelving.
Once the items you chose to keep are safely stored away in the garage, you must determine which leftover items should be donated/sold or thrown away. As a rule, anything that is broken and valueless ought to go in the trash. If you have items that are in good shape and may be of interest to someone else, include it in a yard sale or list it on Craigslist. If you’d rather not bother with a sale, drop it off at a donation center. See our Donation Resources
If the task of going through your things and organizing your garage was enough, you may not want the hassle of getting rid of the items you don’t plan to keep. Fortunately, there are junk removal services who will do this work for you. All it’ll take is a single phone call, and before you know it, someone will be there to haul your unwanted things away to be recycled, reused, or donated.
If you need help along the way, let us know! Check out our garage organizing before & after photos for some inspiration.
Nicole Ramer ~Professional Organizer & Certified Senior Move Manager®
Owner of Organized Haven