It’s spring cleaning season once again, but this year, rather than stick to safe, predictable tasks like cleaning your upholstery, you’ve decided to tackle something bigger—something outside of your comfort zone. That’s right…you’re finally going to organize the garage. Truly, you are a brave soul. However, courage alone isn’t enough to subdue an out-of-control garage—you also need a strategy. To help you, we’ve boiled down the process to five simple steps.
Step 1: Sack it (as in “get rid of it”)
Like most Americans, you may have an excess of “stuff,” much of which has likely made its way to your garage. If this is the case, before you begin organizing, you should first go through and purge unnecessary clutter. Here are a few examples of things that should be on your “sack it” list:
- Unfinished projects you haven’t touched in more than a year (crafts, repairs, etc.)
- Items that are broken, obsolete or both (an old printer, for example)
- Children’s toys and equipment (such as car seats) your kids have outgrown
- Anything you haven’t used in two or more years
There are plenty of ways to get rid of your superfluous belongings: have a garage sale, open an eBay account, or donate them to a local thrift store or charity. To dispose of broken or undesirable items, plan a trip to the dump or call a hauling service to handle it for you.
Step 2: Pack it (get it out of the way)
After you’ve gone through the stuff in your garage and (hopefully) discarded a good chunk of it, separate the remaining items into like groups. In addition, separate frequently used items (tools and sports equipment) from seldom-used ones (photo albums and family heirlooms). Pack the latter into storage containers and store them in an area where they won’t be in the way.
Step 3: Shack it (store it outside)
Even after purging your garage, you may find that you still don’t have as much room as you’d like. In this case, consider purchasing an outside storage shed to stow gardening tools, sports equipment, pool gear and other exterior-use items. Likewise, it’s not safe to keep hazardous materials or combustible items like propane in the garage, so consider relocating these to an exterior container. Moving things outside will free up more space for those that need to be in the garage.
Step 4: Rack it (don’t stack it)
Rule number one of garage organization: get as much as you can off the floor. This doesn’t mean piling boxes high (which is both inconvenient and dangerous); rather, it means going vertical with shelving, wall racks, pegboards, ceiling racks and other storage fixtures. Vertical storage not only makes things easier to store and access, it also clears the floor and makes your garage look less cluttered.
It’s best to be strategic in utilizing your vertical space. For example, gardening tools store well on the wall, whereas items like bicycles and ladders can be conveniently (and safely) stowed on ceiling racks. If you have children, vertical storage also enables you to keep potentially dangerous items where little hands can’t reach them.
If you don’t feel comfortable installing wall racks or shelves yourself, call a garage organization specialist. Additionally, if you want a streamlined, uniform aesthetic, look into a whole-garage storage system.
Step 5: Hack it (DIY to the max)
Can’t afford to install a fancy garage organization system? Good news: There are plenty of simple, creative and affordable ways to maximize your garage storage space. Just go online and search for “organize my garage” or any similar query, and you’ll find an endless stream of DIY garage organization hacks, from repurposing used peanut butter jars for hardware storage to building an overhead storage system out of PVC piping. By picking and choosing your favorite ideas, you can custom-organize your garage and give it some personality in the process.