If you have a garage but can’t get your vehicle in there because the space is overflowing with accumulated junk and clutter, it may be time for a clear-out. Follow these simple steps to turn your garage from a no-go area into a useful extension of your home.
Have a plan. Rather than diving in headfirst and quickly becoming overwhelmed, take time to prioritize and plan first. Look at what is stored in the garage, and make a list of the types of things that are in there. You don’t need to list every item — just group things together, such as sports equipment, gardening tools, etc. If you have an item on your list that doesn’t belong in the garage, identify possible alternative storage areas. Old paperwork, for example, might be damaged by exposure to extremes of temperature. Can anything be moved to a garden shed, attic or basement?
Once you know what you want to keep in the garage, draw up a quick floor plan identifying the best area to keep each group. Plan to keep frequently used groups of items where you will have easy access to them. This makes it more likely that they will be put away in the right place after use.
Clear out the clutter. Avoid attacking the garage on an inclement day. Clear the floor space first, taking everything outside and grouping the things that belong together. This will help you see how much room you need for each. Now is the time to dump anything you’re hanging onto that is broken, and donate to charity things you no longer use. Take boxes that don’t belong in the garage to the place they do belong.
Start with the big stuff. If you want to give the garage shell a spring cleaning before you start bringing your stuff back in, now’s the time. Bring shelving or storage units back in first, and arrange them according to your floor plan. Find a home for large equipment, such as the lawnmower or leaf blower, first. Use wall space to hang smaller tools, such as shovels and hoes, as well as bicycles. Remember to store heavier items lower down, to avoid injuries when retrieving them.
Keep like with like. Now move on to the smaller stuff. Return items to the garage in sorted containers, keeping like with like, or creating “job buckets.” So, for example, you might keep all types of brushes together, or you might keep a bucket where paintbrushes are stored with paint remover, wallpaper scrapers and other decorating items. Marilyn Bohn, a professional organizer and author of Go Organize!, recommends using opaque, heavy-duty plastic containers for the garage, rather than cardboard or lightweight clear plastic ones, because cardboard is easily damaged by moisture and lightweight plastic quickly becomes brittle and breaks when exposed to extremes of temperature.