As the weather warms up and sunlight spills into your home, the need for spring cleaning is in the air. Do toys and junk come tumbling out when you open your garage door? Make a real impact this season by cleaning and organizing your garage, turning it back into a storehouse for your vehicle. The steps below will help you and your family turn your garage into a dynamic organized space for your car and tools, and maybe even some storage for last season’s apparel.
To declutter your garage, first you must separate items most important to you and your family from those that are no longer needed. For example, in your clothes closet, if you haven’t worn or used something in the last three years, get rid of it. In the garage, for every single item you keep, discard one item. Donate useful items that are still in working condition to charity for a tax write-off, or have a garage sale to get rid of things you and your family no longer use.
Once you have your two piles–one of things you want to keep and a pile of stuff you can get rid of–your garage should already start to look and feel bigger and more organized.
For the items that you keep, organize them into clear plastic bins and label them accordingly. Lots of people use their garage as a storage facility for their home, with cardboard boxes filled with forgotten things all strewn about. To truly declutter, get rid of the cardboard and purchase more than enough clear plastic bins (you can always return them later). You might even opt for the ones with color-coded lids so you can organize your items easier.
Zone, Organize, Store
After you’ve decided what goes to charity and what stays at home, it’s time to store the your items in the best way so that when you open your garage door, you can easily drive one or even two vehicles inside and still have dedicated storage for all of your stuff. Those clear and stackable containers will go a long way to organizing your garage so that everything
has it’s place.
For this step, you’ll want to utilize or purchase some wire shelving units. Found at any Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond, these wire shelving units are adjustable and stackable, and can come with or without casters. The shelving units with casters add the benefit of mobility, so you can move them anywhere. Regardless of which ones you get, buy more than enough and return what you don’t use, or find different shelving units that work with your particular garage space. Be sure to measure appropriately.
As you organize items in your clear containers, use a dry-erase marker to label the containers so you can change the label easily as the contents change. As the containers fill up, zone–or group–the containers together with other like items. For example, group sporting goods and camping gear together, have another zone for important home documents, and another section for seasonal items like pool and gardening supplies. Assign each group a designated zone on your shelving units and place the containers in their proper zone.
A step up in garage organization, utilizing cabinetry enables you to get organized in a much more subtle way. Where the wire shelving accomplishes organization in such a way that you can see contents with a single glance, cabinetry is more “out of sight, out of mind” in that all of your items are stored behind closed cabinet doors.
What’s great about this is that cabinets are available in just about any shape, size and style imaginable, so that you can get the best out of your garage space. Whether mounted on the wall or resting on the floor of the garage, you can choose to install the cabinets yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you. Pay attention to height and expandability, and make sure the items you have to store will fit within the depth of the cabinets. You can always remove or adjust the shelves inside the cabinets to accommodate taller items.
The downside of this route is the expense and the amount of proper planning involved. Since these cabinets include doors, you’ll want to make sure you measure properly so that your garage can still accommodate your vehicle, and the cabinets can still be utilized without damaging your car.
Keep It Up
Make sure you and your family don’t backslide into old habits again by making sure everyone puts things away in their proper place after using them. Another way to keep your garage organized is to make it an annual or semi-annual event. Coincide the organization with seasonal changes so that at least once a year, the garage is given an organization once-over. Put it on your calendar alongside spring cleaning or oil changes so you’re sure to keep your garage clean and organized.
When you designate a time to work on organizing your garage, you’re more likely to successfully complete the project. Weekends during the spring or summer are best because you have to sort through a lot of items that are only sheltered by the garage. It’s easier to pull these items out onto the driveway to sort through them, decide what to keep, and choose a layout for your cabinetry or wire shelving in a clean and nearly empty garage.
Get your family involved too. A project of this size needs more than just your hands on deck. Unless you live alone, you’re probably not the only person who has added to the clutter in the garage over the years. Many hands make light work, so get help with sorting through the items and installing cabinets so you don’t have to do it yourself. When everyone is involved in the work of organizing your garage, everyone will feel responsible in keeping it organized and clean, so the next time you have to do this, it won’t take nearly as long to get through it.