How to Organize My Garage | Tips & Tricks
Does your garage look like moving day – every day of the year? Junk piled high, with everything from couches to random pieces of clothing and sporting goods all making an appearance? Before you even get to the important stuff – like power tools, yard tools, and car accessories? Then you need to start thinking about getting organized – and putting some real thought into the process.
That might sound daunting, but not to worry; with a little planning, a free Saturday, and a little bit of creativity, you can get that garage looking quite neat and organized.
Here are some steps and tips to get you on the right track.
First – Plan. Thoroughly and Effectively.
Before you start digging through that garage and dumping everything onto the driveway – before putting it all back in – put aside some time to plan for this potentially massive project. Take a walk around the garage and take note of everything you have in there – from the lawnmower to that old soccer net the kids never use anymore. See what items you need most – and what you can get rid of, if possible.
Next, try to set aside an entire day to actually clean and organize the garage. It’ll be a lot easier all in one go; you don’t want to run out of time only to realize you still have half the stuff sitting in the driveway…and end up just dumping it back on the garage floor anyway.
Get Some Trash Bags and Bins
Before you start digging through everything and start moving it around, make sure you have some heavy-duty trash bags ready to go. Maybe you’ll even have old trash bins lying around you can toss junk into; there’s going to be a lot of stuff being tossed out, and putting it directly into trash bags or bins as you go is way easier than after you’ve piled it high.
Get Started: Tossing All That Old Junk
As you start digging through all your junk, start splitting into appropriate piles. You can throw stuff you’re keeping into a single, neat pile in the driveway, and then start tossing all the junk you’re ready to get rid of directly into the trash. Getting it all out there into the driveway will help you better assess how much you have and how much you want to keep. If you have an excess of junk, it’s time to go out and grab a Bagster from your local Home Depot, or hire a speciality service to go through your place and haul away anything you can’t live without.
Don’t worry if you can’t decide on lots of stuff; if you’re unsure, you can just toss it into a third pile and come back for it later. The trick is to get rid of much stuff the first go around, and then start refining on the second round.
If you’re still having trouble deciding on the second time through your junk piles, here’s a general rule of thumb: if you’re not sure if you want to keep it, you probably don’t need it.
If there’s anything you want to get rid of that is still in pretty good shape, you should consider donating it to a drive or charity. Make another pile for this one and come back to it at the end of the day.
Give It A Cleaning
Once you’ve got everything out of the garage – and either in the trash or wherever it belongs – it’s time to give the garage a cleaning. First, sweep it out thoroughly using a broom. Give it some elbow grease and get all the dirt and dust out. If any old current shelving or cabinets need a cleaning, wipe them down with some cleaning fluid, some paper towels or rags.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of everything in the garage, what you’re keeping and what you’re not, it’s time to start organizing. This means using racks and shelves, whenever possible. You can also use hooks on the wall to hang many items, such as rakes and other yard tools. Pegboards make great options for customizable storage, as well; you can see everything as it is displayed on the wall and you can even draw outlines for each item, so you know exactly where each item belongs.
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Storing rakes and other yard tools vertically on the wall is ideal, as it gets them out of the way and frees up more storage space, but also because it puts any sharp edges or tools somewhere they can’t hurt you.
How you organize the items on these shelves or cabinets, however, is up to you. You may want to put the most used and important items on the middle and bottom shelves, with lesser used items stuck on higher shelves, where they are out of reach. You can also use buckets or bins on shelves and in cabinets to make storing items a lot easier and neater; dividers can even be put into those bins when storing lots of small items.
Got bikes? Store those vertically with wall hooks, too. Or, you can get really fancy and store them on the ceiling – with ceiling hooks. Those are expensive and more difficult to put in but can really help make the most of your garage storage space.
Want to make some of your own shelves…instead of buying them? It’s not hard at all. Just grab a bunch of shelf brackets and some d 8-foot-long 1×12 boards. With a bit of elbow grease and a few minutes of drilling, you can have a perfectly-customized array of shelving for exactly the stuff you need it for.
Storing Paint and Chemicals
Preferably, you don’t have anything toxic in your garage, but sometimes there is just no way around it; you have cans of paint or some harsh cleaning chemicals, as well as jugs of gas and oil, that need to be stored safely. This is where strong, locking cabinets come in; store your jugs of hazardous (or just messy) substances in there, and be sure to put a hefty lock on them to keep any curious kids out. Shove any automotive substances like wiper fluid or anti-freeze in there as well.
Keep large bags of topsoil and fertilizer around? Toss them into plastic or metal garbage bins; if the bag rips, you won’t have a huge mess. You can even drill some holes in the bins to allow the moisture in the soil to escape, if needed.