Have you ever opened your garage door only to be greeted by a messy labyrinth of stuff? Boxes stacked to the ceiling, tools and sporting goods strewn about, layers of dust coating everything? If this description sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Cluttered and disorganized garages are a common problem for many homeowners. But with some determination, time and these professional tips, you can transform that packed garage into a clean and organized oasis.
Stop Procrastinating and Develop a Battle Plan
The first step is to commit to finally tackling the job of cleaning and organizing your garage. This likely won’t be a small, quick project, so set aside ample time over the course of a few weekends to do it right. Here are some initial steps to take:
- Define your goals.What exactly do you want to accomplish? Some examples may be:
- Create more parking space
- Free up room for storage
- Establish an organized tool zone
- Throw away trash and unneeded items
- Set up shelving for supplies
- Gather supplies.Arm yourself with all the tools you’ll need for cleaning and organizing:
- Strong garbage bags for trash
- Storage containers, baskets and bins
- Labels and permanent markers
- Sturdy shelving units
- Utility hooks and storage racks
- Broom, mop and cleaning solutions
- Safety gear – gloves, mask, goggles
- Schedule garage assault time. Block off chunks of time over multiple days or weekends when you can work on your garage uninterrupted. This will allow you to maintain focus and momentum.
With your battle plan established, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive in.
Relentlessly Sort and Purge the Contents
Cleaning and organizing any space starts with one critical first step – going through everything and deciding what stays and what gets tossed. This purging process is the foundation for creating order from chaos.
- Touch everything. Go through every single item in the garage. Take everything out of boxes and off shelves. This forces you to make decisions.
- Be merciless. Get rid of anything you don’t need or want. Toss garbage, donate good-condition items, sell valuables.
- Categories. Create “keep” and “toss” piles as you sort. Further divide keep items into categories like tools, sporting goods, gardening supplies.
- Go through again. Once the initial sort is done, go through the keep piles again with a critical eye to purge more.
- Don’t second-guess. Avoid analysis paralysis over items you’re unsure about. If you don’t need it, toss it.
- Schedule pickups. Call to schedule large junk pickups. Drop off donations. Hold a garage sale.
This process is draining but power through it. The hours spent purging pays huge dividends in cleanliness and organization.
Scrub Every Square Inch
The not so fun part…give your newly emptied garage a deep and thorough cleaning from floor to ceiling. This cleaning step removes allergens, dust, cobwebs and grime so surfaces are pristine for reorganizing.
- Sweep first. Sweep the floor thoroughly to remove all loose dirt and debris. Move any remaining items aside.
- Clean floor. Use a stiff push broom and all-purpose cleaner to scrub the floor. Rinse with hose or mop. Let dry completely.
- Degrease. Use a strong degreaser like Simple Green to clean any oil stains or residue left from car leaks.
- Power wash. For a grimy garage, hire a company to pressure wash the floor and walls.
- Vacuum. Use vacuum hose attachments to thoroughly vacuum corners, rafters, ledges and cobwebs.
- Wipe down. Wipe down shelves, cabinets, tools, windows, doors, garage door opener and walls to remove dust and grime.
The goal is to get the garage down to the bare surface so it’s truly clean before putting anything back.
Install Storage Systems and Establish Zones
Now the fun part begins – turning that clean blank slate into an efficient, organized space. Think about how you want to use the garage and create designated zones. Here are some ideas:
- Parking zone. Keep this area completely clear for parking vehicles. Paint the lines if needed.
- Tool zone. Install slatwall panels or pegboards to neatly store tools. Outline with paint for visually defined areas.
- Workspace. Have a bench for working plus a utility cart to transport tools from storage.
- Sports zone. Use labeled bins to store sports balls, gear, equipment. Mount hooks for bikes or hang hoops high.
- Shelving units. Set up shelving to hold garage supplies, automotive products, gardening chemicals and more. Keep items together and label bins.
- Seasonal storage. Place off-season items like holiday decorations high up on shelves or toward the back. Label the bins.
- Wall storage. Take advantage of vertical space by installing utility hooks, catch-alls bins, wall-mounted cabinets.
Think about where you use certain items most and place them accordingly. Frequently used tools and supplies should be most accessible.
Maintain Garage Zen
The work doesn’t end after organizing your garage. You need to adopt habits to maintain the newfound order and organization.
- Put items back. Make a rule that everything must be returned to its assigned storage zone after use.
- Weekly tidy. Do a 10 minute tidy each week to prevent mess from accumulating.
- New storage. Purchase additional storage units or shelving as needed for new items. Don’t allow clutter buildup.
- Check floors. Sweep often and clean up oil drips to avoid stains.
- Regular purges. Hold yourself accountable by doing occasional purges of items no longer used.
Know When to Call for Back-Up: Junk Removal Companies
Cleaning out and organizing a garage full of years of accumulated clutter is a huge job. When the amount of junk to be hauled away is overwhelming, call in the professionals. Junk removal companies can haul them away in a few hours, which would take you many trips.
- Save your back. Junk pros have the trucks and personnel to remove heavy objects easily.
- Haul away large amounts. No need to make multiple trips to the dump. They take it all in one swoop.
- Speed up the purge. You can focus on sorting while they load up and haul away the discard piles.
- Extra services. Some companies will also help sort and organize as part of the service.
- Beat the clock. If you have a deadline to clear out the garage, a company can swoop in and remove it all in a day.
Look for insured and licensed companies. Get estimates from a few, and clarify exactly what is included so there are no surprise add-on fees.
Maximize Vertical Space with Wall Racks
One key to garage organization is taking advantage of vertical wall space to get things up and out of the way. Wall racks are great for this purpose.
- Ladder hooks. Hooks are specifically made to securely hold ladders horizontally along the wall.
- Bike hooks. Great for getting bikes up and out of the way. Some hooks hold multiple bikes.
- Sports racks. Racks are designed for holding hockey sticks, baseball bats, tennis rackets and other sporting goods.
- Tool wall. Use a slat wall system or pegboard to organize tools on the wall.outline
- Shelving. Install wall-mounted shelving high up to store rarely used items.
- Cabinets. Wall cabinets provide concealed storage for small items.
Set Aside a Workspace Zone
Having an organized workspace zone in your garage provides a designated spot to work on projects or do repairs.
- Workbench. A sturdy workbench or table gives you ample workspace and storage below.
- Utility cart. A rolling cart allows you to easily move tools and supplies around the garage.
- Stool. Have a seat for comfortable seating while working at a bench.
- Cabinets. Base cabinets or a tool chest provide enclosed storage for tools, supplies and small parts.
- Vise. Secure a vise to the workbench to hold items stable while working on them.
- Pegboard. A section of pegboard mounted above the workbench lets you organize the tools you use most.
Paint the floor a contrasting color in the workspace zone to define the area visually.
Final Purge Before the Big Organize
Before putting everything back into your clean garage, do one final purge and sort. Get rid of any last items you uncovered that are broken or unnecessary. Sort keep items into categories to make organizing easier.
- Trash it. If it’s broken or unusable, throw it away.
- Donate. If still usable, donate to help others.
- Sell. Tools, equipment and valuables can be sold online or at a yard sale.
- Categorize. Group like items together – tools, sports equipment, kitchen items, etc.
This final pass clears out anything leftover you don’t need to make room for the items you use most.
Garage Organization FAQs
Cleaning and organizing a garage often leads to questions. Here are answers to some frequent queries:
What are the essential supplies I’ll need?
Having the right gear makes garage cleaning and organizing much easier. Recommended supplies include a shop vacuum, sturdy shelving, storage containers and bins, garbage bags, closet organizer systems, utility hooks, and portable work benches or tables.
Where should I store hazardous chemicals or combustibles?
Designate a locked metal cabinet strictly for hazardous items like gasoline, oils, cleaners, batteries and pesticides. This keeps them secure and separate from other items. Place in cool area away from appliances.
How do I keep dust and pests out of my organized garage?
Regular cleaning removes dust, but also seals any cracks or openings pests could enter through. Install weatherstripping along the garage door to seal gaps. Traps or scheduled pest control services keep bugs and rodents away.
What’s the best place to store infrequently used seasonal items?
Items like holiday decorations, sports equipment and summer tools can be kept on the back walls or up high on shelves. This uses prime real estate for your most used items but keeps seasonal goods accessible.
What should I do with items too nice to toss but that we no longer need?
Check if friends or family members want unused items in good condition. Also donate to charities and thrift stores, or sell usable goods in online exchanges and garage sales.
Cleaning Out Your Garage – Enjoy a Clutter-Free Sanctuary
With a detailed plan of attack, purging and sorting mentality, some sweat equity and these cleaning and organizing tips, you can thoroughly clean out and organize your messy, cluttered garage once and for all. Just take it one step at a time. Once you have an organized garage that makes finding things easy, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to tackle the job.