Make a plan of attack before you get started. Decide which functions are most important to you. Space for your cars? A workshop? Storage? Figure out how much space you have to work with, keeping in mind that there is more wall space than floor space. And don’t forget about the ceilings! You can easily buy and install hooks to hang things you don’t need frequently, like holiday decorations and camping equipment.
Keep frequently used items accessible and leave extra space for things that might need storage later. Help your things survive longer in storage by keeping them at least 4 inches off the floor and using plastic storage containers and shelving. And if you have trouble visualizing what you want your garage to look like, check out the Sears Garage Virtual Decorator.
Getting as many people as possible to help you organize your garage will make the process a lot faster, not to mention more fun. Have a neighborhood yard sale and volunteer to help clean each other’s garages. You can also enlist a community charity to pickup donations.
If you’re a habitual pack rat, this step might be the hardest for you. Start by removing everything from your garage, except for your storage shelves and large items you know you’ll definitely keep. Then begin the sorting process by separating things into four categories.
* Keep: Hold on to anything that you’ve used within the last month or holds immense sentimental value. But try to remain as detached as possible or you’ll end up dealing with the same clutter you did before.
* Sell: If you have something that’s pretty good quality and you don’t have a need for it anymore, try selling it. You can hold a yard sale or try online options like eBay, craigslist.com or Facebook Marketplace. If you want to sell them online, write down a description and measurements for each item and take a digital photo.
* Donate: Give anything that’s still good quality (but maybe not worth much money) to charity. Not only will it help you de-clutter, it will make you feel great about yourself. Box them up and take them to your nearest donation center (or ask a friend to do it for you).
* Trash: Throw out anything that is impossibly damaged or worn out. Check your town’s Web site to find out what you can put out for weekly collection, and then bag those up for trash day. You can also find out which materials cannot go into regular trash (like paint thinner, ammonia, weed killers, fuels, etc) and how to properly dispose of them.
Odds are, your garage probably hasn’t been this empty since you moved in. Take this opportunity to really give it a great cleaning. Clean up spills, cobwebs, dirt and dust. For oil spills, you can use kitty litter or sand to absorb the spill and sweep it out later. A shop vac can clean just about any surface and keeps excess dust to a minimum. Don’t forget to take the time to replace light bulbs and make sure there’s enough light. If you were able to enlist a few family members, friends or neighbors to help you out, you could have a few people cleaning while the others begin sorting.
As you bring back your remaining things into the garage, make sure you stick to your organization plan. Group similar things together-tools, sports equipment, gardening products, decorations, etc.
Purchasing storage shelves is a great way to store paint cans, mulch, flower pots, spray bottles, buckets, automotive supplies and other boxes and bags. Try to arrange them on the shelves by category, putting similar items together. Buy clear drawers that attach to the shelves or boxes and bins that sit on the shelves so you can store small items together. Make sure all drawers, boxes and bins are clearly labeled.
If you’ve designated a specific area of your garage for a workshop, you might need to shop for additional storage solutions for your tools. Buying a workbench is a good way to get control over your equipment and the many nuts, bolts, and screws that you have accumulated. If you’re shopping for a way to organize the tools, nails, and wrenches you use periodically, buying a rack or portable tool box works really well.
You can cut down the amount of space recycle bins take in your garage by purchasing stackable bins. Buying a hand cart reduces the number of trips to the curb you have to take on trash day. This way, you can just wheel the entire three-piece unit, made up of glass, aluminum and plastic, out of the garage to the street.
By finding a place for everything and develop a system to keep things organized, cleaning out your garage each year becomes a lot easier. And once you’ve gone through the effort it takes to clean and organize your garage, you probably won’t be nearly as tempted to buy things you don’t need.