Spring is here! Longer days, cozy sunshine, refreshing breezes, and the best of all, there are baby animals everywhere (seriously, it is the most adorable season). Everything seems pretty perfect… except your garage is still cluttered and disorganized. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Our garages become a dumping zone for the things we don’t want in our home. The majority of us have to keep our cars in the driveway because it just won’t fit in the garage anymore. As the junk and things you do not know what to do with pile up and gather dust, cleaning out your garage can seem like an incredibly daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s 5 tips for a more functional, tidier, and clutter-free garage.
Photo: Tristan Schmurr-Flickr
1 Clear the space
Do you know everything that’s in your garage? If not, there are likely things stored deep in your garage that you’re not even aware of. The best way to start the decluttering process is to completely clear everything (we know, but you gotta do it!) out of the space so you can start with a clean slate. Make sure you check the day’s forecast for rain before you start.
- Sweep, vacuum or wash the floors to remove accumulated dirt, dust, bugs, and grime.
- Use a broom to remove any cobwebs and dust from walls.
- Wipe down any shelving or flat surfaces.
- Open all windows and doors to give your garage a good airing out now that there is no more clutter restricting airflow.
2 Organize your items
Once you have removed everything from the garage and cleaned, it is time to start sorting and organizing your items. This will allow you to better assess your contents so you can decide what to keep and what to discard.
- Sort everything into piles – keeping, tossing, selling, recycling, and donating.
- Avoid making a “miscellaneous” pile.
- Group items you are keeping together: tools with tools, sports equipment together, yard equipment with garden tools – you get it.
- Set up a system of organization by preparing and labeling drawers, cabinets, plastic totes, bins, or boxes that are to go back into the garage.
With your keeping pile off to the side, it is time to sort through your tossing, selling, and donating piles. Before you start, make sure you have cardboard boxes, garbage bags, or plastic bins on hand.
- Tossing – These are the damaged, broken, or junk items that cannot be sold or donated. The best way to get rid of your garage clutter depends on what you have and how much. If you are left with a pile of stuff that is too big for the curb, consider renting a pickup truck to take your load to the dump.
- Selling – You rolled up your sleeves and got some serious work done, so why not make some money? Consider hosting a yard sale or posting your items for sale online through Craiglist, Kijiji, or Facebook Marketplace. Do some research online to help you decide how to price your items.
- Donating – Create a list of places to donate your items to. You can start with the Salvation Army, BC SPCA, Value Village, or Habitat for Humanity, to name a few. That way, you will know what items you can and cannot donate.
4 Install storage options
Photo: Rubbermaid Products-Flickr
Upgrade your garage’s functionality and organization by investing in the right storage solutions. To make better use of your space, consider these:
- Garage cabinetry systems – These come in a variety of shapes and sizes including free-standing cabinets, cabinet systems, and wall-mounted cabinets.
- Slatewall – Take advantage of unused wall space and install slatewall panels with easy to move hooks to hang items such as tools, sports equipment, or ladders. You can also attach a variety of accessories for even more storage options such as bins, baskets, and shelves.
- Ceiling Storage – Convert unused space by installing ceiling storage racks, overhead hangers, or strap systems.
- Pegboards – Hang up pegboards to organize hand tools.
- Garage Shelving & Racks – Add heavy-duty storage racks and metal shelving to your garage to keep items off the floor.
Imagine, finally being able to fit your car into your garage! Or parking your car into your garage for the first time… ever!
Photo: Christian Kitchens-Flickr
Besides a clutter-free garage, there are a lot of other advantages to parking your car inside:
- Protection from the outside elements.
- Reduced risk of theft or vandalism.
- Protection against extreme weather & temperatures.
- Increased comfort & convenience.
5 Inventory everything
You may store a lot of different things in your garage: house supplies, sports equipment, tools, gardening equipment and tools, cars supplies, camping gear, and maintenance equipment, to name a few. If you’re like most of us, you often forget where you put your things in the garage, or even what you put in there. The best way to both declutter and organize your garage items (and keep them that way) is to inventory your items. This does take some time to complete, but it is totally worth the effort. A completed inventory will not allow things to go unnoticed and will force you to put things back into the proper places.
- You can make your list in an Excel spreadsheet, write everything down in a notebook, or use an inventory app, such as Sortly (iOS), Nest Egg (iOS), or Encircle (iOS). That way, two years from now when your bicycle has a flat tire and you ask yourself, “Where is the tire pump?” You can be like, “Oh, never mind, it’s in ‘box 3’ on the top rack of the ‘sports equipment shelf.’ Of course.” Because isn’t that the dream?
- Label your boxes or containers on all four sides. Ensure you include a title and small description of the contents on at least 1 side.
- When making your inventory, include the following columns: Item Description, Category, Quantity, and Location of where the item(s) are located in the garage.
Making an inventory will help you stay organized, give you a better understanding of what you own, and will help you make better use of the space. In addition, here are some other benefits to keeping an inventory of your garage items:
- Reduced pain and stress because you are prepared for the unexpected.
- Unexpected or natural disasters like flooding or fire can damage your home and garage. If you need to claim these items, a documented inventory will give you complete recollection to all the items you own.
- If you experience theft, a prepared inventory will make the process of your claim easier. If you track your serial and model numbers in your inventory, you will have a better chance of even having some items recovered.
Cleaning out and organizing your garage doesn’t have to be the overwhelming, impossible task it appears to be at first glance. Now that the beautiful weather is here, it is the perfect time to cross one more thing off your to-do list and give that garage a real spring-clean! In the end, you will find yourself making better use of the space and enjoying a more functional and clutter-free garage for both you and your vehicle.