Not only is the garage generally filled with cars, oil spots and an assortment of chemical stuff, it also has a reputation as the black hole of the home, the place where you put things and then never see them again. With Spring here, you’ll probably find yourself digging around in your storage shed or garage as you hunt for lawn tools and beach umbrellas, so why not make things tidier while you’re at it? We have a plan to accomplish that.
Before you get started, take a moment to envision the way you want your garage to look when you are done. How do you want to use your garage? Do you need to make room for your cars, carve out space for a workshop or create a smartly organized storage space for seasonal gear? Keeping your goals in mind will help you stay focused.
Creative Kitchen & Bath can help you with all of your organizing needs from closets to pantries and garages. We have storage systems for all your needs.
ORGANIZING YOUR GARAGE
If you are ready to transform your garage from dumping ground to a useful, well-organized space, this plan is for you. It breaks down a monster of a task into manageable steps, so you can stop fearing your garage and finally start using it again.
Make a plan of attack:
Depending on the state of your garage, you may need to clear a weekend to kick off this task. Get help if you can- and keep an eye on the weather. You need to be able to drag stuff out of the garage so you will have more space to go through it. The first two days include the hardest work; the rest of the week is about putting things back together and creating storage that functions well. Read over the whole plan before beginning and make adjustments as needed.
Also, before you get started, take a moment to envision the way you want your garage to look when you are done. Keeping your goals in mind will help you stay focused during the week’s tasks.
Make a storage plan:
Standing in your garage with a clipboard, draw a rough floor plan of the space. Mark where each category of stuff will go. As you complete the rest of this week’s tasks, fill in details about where you are storing what. And be sure to keep this plan — it will come in handy when you’re ready to pull out the holiday decorations!
Day 1: Purge
Set up several areas: hazardous waste, garbage, recycling, donate, sell and keep. Rent a Dumpster if you need it, but keep in mind that you should be able to recycle, donate or sell most of what you no longer want or need. Once you have your zones in place, begin pulling things out of your garage and sorting them. (Don’t try to sort stuff in your garage — you won’t be able to really clean or organize your garage if you try to sort it in place.)
What to keep:
• Important memorabilia
• Things you have used within the past 12 months
• Things you have a definite plan to use in the near future
• Spare materials for your home, such as paint and tile
Get rid of everything else. Thinking you might someday want to use something is not a good reason to keep it. Each item you keep that you do not use, love or truly need is taking up precious space in your home and in your life, space that could be used for something more worthwhile.
Day 2: Clean and inspect
While a little dirt is to be expected in a garage, keeping up a basic level of tidiness can help deter critters who may think of taking up residence in your boxes of stuff. Today is the day for a clean sweep.
• Remove everything from the garage, if you haven’t already.
• Inspect the garage for signs of rodents, pests and water damage. If you find signs, make a plan to treat as needed.
• Sprinkle powdered detergent liberally on cement floor oil stains and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and warm water. Rinse and let dry.
• Thoroughly sweep the floors.
Decluttering tasks: While your floors dry, visit your piles of stuff left from yesterday.
• Never store anything in cardboard boxes – rats and other rodents can easily chew their way in and use any soft material they find inside to make a nest. Always use plastic bins.
Day 3: Get everything off the floor
Storing stuff on the floor of the garage invites mildew and water damage, and makes it easier to let things get messy again. If you do not already have a storage system in place, now is the time to get one.
• Use vertical space. Consider adding tall shelving units and a ceiling-mounted platform.
• Use the walls. Don’t let a wall go to waste! If you have two walls filled with shelving, fill the other one with wall-mounted storage. It can be as fancy as a custom storage system or as simple as a pegboard and a row of wall hooks. Bikes, tools, shovels, rakes and sports gear can all be hung on the wall, avoiding the dreaded floor pileup.
A ceiling-mounted system makes excellent use of space. Stack plastic bins (just be sure you label them and face the labels out) on top, and hang bikes and other gear from hooks underneath.
Store the least frequently used stuff in the highest spots.
• Top-level storage: Childhood memorabilia and old documents that must be stored long-term
• Medium height: Holiday decorations and seasonal gear
• Lowest: Gardening supplies, home improvement tools and sports equipment
Day 4: Finish the job.
• Take your hazardous waste to the proper disposal or recycling facility. You may be surprised at what can be recycled — even old clothing and textiles, coat hangers, running shoes and broken appliances, to name a few.
• Donate your items: Shelters and nonprofits in your area may be looking for specific types of donations, so it’s nice to check into those first if you can. Many organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters will pick up your items at the door.
• Plan a yard sale if you have things left you want to sell.
Day 5 and beyond: Keep up the good work!
Stop thinking of your garage as a dumping ground for things you don’t know what to do with, and start thinking of it as the useful, accessible storage area that it is.