It’s the one place in our homes that many of us avoid at all costs and only venture into when we are searching for holiday decorations that must have been put away by the king of hide and go seek. It’s too cold in the middle of winter to tackle the space for more than 5 minutes at a time, but now that the sun is out and it’s warmer outside, the chance to gut the space is here. That’s right, we’re talking about your garage! In today’s blog post, we’ll be discussing ways to clear out the clutter and organize in a way that will make your life easier throughout the year.
Plan & Sort
First things first: find the right day. While planning to do all of your cleaning this weekend is great, you definitely want to make sure that you have a solid chunk of time and nice weather to make that plan happen. Once your chosen date comes around, get up bright and early and start with a substantial breakfast - clearing out your garage will take a lot of energy as you’ll be lifting, moving, and possibly even throwing heavy items.
When you’re ready - open up your garage and move any vehicles out of the way. If you have street parking available, now is the perfect time to use it! The more space you can create in your garage and driveway the better. Find a way to mark different areas for the piles you need to create. This can be done with tarps, chalk, or even empty cans or bottles - as long as you can distinguish the different areas from one another. You will want piles to “keep”, “relocate”, “donate”, “sell”, “throw away”, and “recycle”.
Your “keep” pile will be for everything you want to stay in the garage. This should be full of things like holiday decorations, fluids for your vehicles, tools, and seasonal things - such as toboggans, fishing rods, and lawn mowers.
The pile for “relocation” is for all of those items that wound up in the garage that really shouldn’t be in there. Maybe you still have unpacked boxes from when you first moved in years ago full of those glasses you never seemed to be able to find. Now is the time to unpack those boxes of photo albums and put them where they actually belong.
Next is the “sell” pile. This will be all of the things that you don’t want to keep anymore but may hold value. With online selling being so prevalent in our lives now, it is easy to put these items up on Craigslist, Kijiji, and Facebook Marketplace and let them go clutter someone else’s garage.
Things that we don’t have value to us, but may be treasures to someone else can find their place in the “donation pile”. Many things that you no longer need can be appreciated by your local thrift store, who will resell items with proceeds going to a charity or good cause. Items like old clothes and toys, the picture frame that you received as a gift from your great-aunt 10 years ago and haven’t had the heart to remove from your life sooner - despite knowing you’re never going to use it, and other miscellaneous belongings in good condition can be reused by someone else!
Finally, the ‘throw out” and “recycling” pile. The newspapers that have been sitting in a pile in case you needed to wrap up something fragile, all of the broken extension cords, broken furniture that you’ve been promising yourself to fix. It’s time for all of it to go to its rightful home at the recycling depot or local dump.
Clean & Organize
Now that your garage is empty, it’s time to give it a proper cleaning. Make sure you wear gloves and maybe even a dust mask for protection, as you never know if spiders and other critters (or their calling cards!) are hiding in corners or dark spaces. Pull the vacuum out of hiding to clear up any spider webs and dust bunnies around – be sure to get into the corners, among shelves and walls, the inside of the garage door, and even check the ceilings. Once the walls are spider-web free, sweep up all of the dirt and dust from the floor of the garage. This is the perfect time to get a bucket of warm soapy water and sponge to wash down the walls and give the floor a good scrub to get it looking spick and span. If there are any fluids (oil, transmission fluid, fuel, or unknown fluids) on the floor of your garage you should use absorbent materials, like kitty litter or absorbent pads, to soak it up and dispose of at a local drop off location. Then you can continue with mopping!
Your garage should be starting to look brand new again, just like the day you moved in. You may be tempted to unceremoniously dump your “keep” pile back into the garage, as it has been a long day and everything looks so much better than it did when you started, but wait! Take the time to organize that “keep” pile so that you can walk into the garage and, with ease, find what you’re looking for without having to dig through everything you own. Just think what this can do for you next December when trying to find those holiday decorations and lights again!
This is a great opportunity to implement a new storage and organizational system – many people swear by open-shelving units or pegboard systems. Open shelves will keep your storage organized and easy to find, especially when paired with large plastic totes or containers. You can label anything that is already boxed and separate decorations for different holidays into their own containers too. Imagine an organized garage where fishing gear will find its own space, camping gear will be easily accessible, and winter clothes can be pulled out at a moment’s notice! Pegboards can help organize tools and keep smaller sporting equipment – like skates, bats, and rackets – out of the way.
For larger items - like bicycles, canoes, and other sports equipment – you can purchase track panels to attach directly to your garage walls. Track panels allow you to customize your storage solution with a variety of configurations. You can then organize all of these systems based on how often you use something, what season its used in, or any other way that will best fit your personal needs.
Finally, once everything has (and is in) its place, it’s time to close the garage door. Feeling like we’re missing something? That’s because we haven’t cleaned the outside of the door yet! I hope you didn’t put that bucket and sponge anywhere too out of the way. Time to break out the warm water and soap again to clean all of the dirt, salt, and dust off of your garage door. You will want to use a similar method with your garage door as to washing your car, which you can see tips for in our Spring Cleaning for your Vehicle blog. Once everything is done, it’s time to grab a cold beverage and congratulate yourself on finally having a clean garage… until next year at least.