The garage is, without question, one of the beasts of home organization. Along with attics and basements, they tend to fill up with things you think are useful but that you either never use or can’t find when you do happen to need them. Cleaning out a full garage is a big job. Enlist some help and follow these tips to get the job done.
Take Everything Out
Don’t try to do this job piecemeal. If it’s been years since your car fit in the garage, then the space need an overhaul, not a touch-up.
Things that don’t have to stay, have to go. Chances are, if you haven’t used it in the last couple of years, it definitely doesn’t have to stay. Divide what you’ll keep, donate, sell, and toss (and remember to divide the “toss” pile into what can be recycled and what really needs to go to the dump).
The stuff that’s going, whether to a thrift store, recycling center, or landfill, needs to go as soon as possible. Schedule the yard sale for the next week, and if you’re trying to sell online, limit your postings to a week as well. If there aren’t any bites, the item needs to go.
Also remove: paint, propane and other flammables, paper products, canned and other nonperishable foods (they will perish in the more extreme temperature changes that happen in a garage, and can also attract pests and other foraging animals), and the refrigerator or freezer (these drain far more energy in a garage without A/C).
Choose an Organization System
Consider purchasing a shelving system that fits the space. You can also streamline by storing things in same-size, stackable bins. Add shelving or drawer and counter space, depending on your needs.
Organize by item type and frequency of use. Put most-used items in easy-to-reach places near the garage door. This includes items like bicycles. Bulkier items should be where you won’t worry about the car hitting them. Things with similar uses should be stored near each other.
Chemicals and other dangerous items should be kept locked and/or high and out of reach, especially if there are children in your home. Large, flat items like sleds or surfboards for seasonal use can even hang from the ceiling—away from the garage door tracks, and high enough to give clearance for the top of your car.
Make Everything Visible
It’s the hallmark of good organization: you can easily see and find what you need when you need it. Glass containers and clear plastic bins make it that much easier. Add labels to drawers, bins, and other containers to save even more hunting time. Use open shelves and wall hooks that have the added benefit of keeping the floor clear and easy to clean.
Keep it That Way
Revisit each year to get rid of any extra clutter that’s built up, including things that have outgrown their usefulness or aren’t worth the space their taking up. Regular maintenance will save you from having to start all over again.