If you’re like most Americans, you have a 2- or 3-car garage so full of stuff that you can’t fit your cars inside. Take advantage of milder Phoenix temperatures to get the clutter in your garage under control with these nine tips.
Set aside the weekend. You probably haven’t seriously tackled your garage since you moved into your home, so banish any notion that you can have it shipshape in a few hours. This is definitely a weekend project. Start by gathering trash bags for garbage and boxes for items you intend to donate or sell.
Empty the garage. Take everything out right down to the last screwdriver. As you do, sort items into four groups: keep, sell, donate, and garbage. You can put garbage directly into the trash bags, of course, and the items for sale or donation into the boxes. Set the items you want to keep aside for now. Hint: Be brutal as you de-clutter, and get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last 12 months.
Clean the space. With all the junk crammed floor to ceiling, it’s probably safe to say you never actually cleaned your garage. Use a power blower or broom to get rid of the dust and dirt. Then, hose it out. Allow the garage to air dry before you start moving things back in.
Organize your stuff. Before you decide on a storage system, take stock of what you actually need to put back in your garage. Group all similar items together and place similar groups, such as gardening tools and lawn chemicals, next to one another. Ideally, only bulky items, like lawnmowers, and items you use regularly, like bicycles and cars should be considered for floor space.
Measure floor space. Once you’ve batched your belongings and determined what items should get floor space, measure your garage and record its dimensions. Note the size and location of windows, doors, switches, and receptacles, as well as how much space your car and other items on the floor will take up.
Decide on a system. You have several options when it comes to storage: pegboards for light objects like tools, shelves lined with labeled totes, cabinets that can be locked, and cabinet systems that cover entire walls, to name a few. If pure organization is your goal, avoid cabinets so you can’t shove clutter out of sight. Also, to keep things clean, consider options that allow you to sweep under them, such as shelves.
Hang stuff overhead: One great option for storage is to hang the stuff you don’t use every day, such as ladders and seasonal items, overhead. Make sure that any shelves you hang from the ceiling don’t interfere with the garage door’s operation and that there’s enough clearance for your car or truck.
Think safety. Now is the time to mount a U.L.-listed fire extinguisher in your garage where you can easily get to it in an emergency. You might also want to consider installing a carbon monoxide detector. If you have children, lock all chemicals in a sturdy cabinet.
Maintain. For day-to-day cleaning, keep a broom and dustpan or a handheld vacuum in an easy-to-access spot. You might also want to have a bag of kitty litter on hand for absorbing oil and grease spills. Now that you’re organized, move items from the floor and hose out the garage more regularly. Then, at least once a year, sort through your belongings and donate, sell, or toss what you no longer need.
Whether you’re starting to organize for your next move or simply want to see the floor of your garage again, we’re here to help you with any questions you might have to make your new start that much easier.