The purpose of a garage is to park your vehicle and store some lawn equipment. However, a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers concluded that half of the homeowners in the study claim the garage as the most unorganized area of a home. Over half of Americans can’t even park their vehicles in their garage. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to declutter your garage; this spring-cleaning guide will give you ways for organizing your garage and optimizing the space.
Start with a Plan
The first step when organizing any space is to start with a plan. The purpose of the plan, in this case, is to declutter the garage and make it available for its intended purpose. Depending on the number of items in your garage that will be tossed you may consider renting a junk removal truck or container. You also need to have get a storage unit for things that you plan on keeping and items you will donate or sell. Part of your plan is to create an organizational system for the items you plan on keeping. In the same way that you create a spring-cleaning checklist, you should have a checklist for organizing your garage.
The next thing you will need to do is break your plan down into phases and schedule time to complete each phase. Decluttering and organizing your garage shouldn’t take you more than a weekend to complete. Don’t stress yourself out if it does take you longer than a weekend. The important thing is to pace yourself. Ask friends and family members to help you and assign specific tasks for them to do.
This will be the most time-consuming phase of organizing your garage. During the decluttering phase, you need to go through everything in the garage, placing items in its appropriate containers. If you don’t have access to storage containers, you can always separate your items on the sidewalk, lawn or walkway away from the garage door.
If you have items that you haven’t used in a while put that in one pile, bicycles, lawn equipment, and tools should go into another pile and then miscellaneous items such as holiday decorations, in another pile. Now that you have separate piles it will be easier to categorize based on keep, donate, toss or sell.
Rules to live by
When you are decluttering any space, you need to be able to let go of items. Have you seen the garages where things are piled from top to bottom and you must walk through the garage sideways? There is no way everything in the garage is being used. It’s human nature to use the garage to just randomly store things. The bottom line is if it hasn’t been used in at least a year- get rid of it. It’s obvious that you aren’t even thinking about it.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t save your kids’ first pair of roller skates or trophies from school, however, that’s what the cabinets or bins should be used for. Your goal is to park your vehicle inside your garage.
Prep Garage for Cleaning
Once you have completely emptied out the garage, open windows and doors to air out the space. You don’t need to air the garage out for long, just enough time to get some fresh air flowing throughout the garage.
After airing out the garage, begin wiping surfaces and sweeping out any type of dust or dirt. If you have a shop vac or can borrow one, it’s the perfect tool for getting the job done efficiently. After you sweep, you will need to spray down the garage and clean the floors, walls, windows, and doors. You can use a gentle cleanser to help remove some of the dirt and grime in the garage.
The shop vac can be used to suction the water to facilitate the drying of the surfaces in your garage. If you can’t access a shop vac, use a garage squeegee and extra rags to soak up the water. Once you are done, allow your garage to air out for an hour or two, while you put together your organization system. If you can, it is a good idea to invest in garage storage systems, cabinetry, and specialty storage racks. Use storage racks for your lawn equipment and bicycles, cabinets can be used for storing tools, decorations, and miscellaneous items.
Setup Your Organizational System
By now, you should have cleaned categorized and tossed out items in your garage. Now you need to set up your organizational system. If you have cabinets and bins, find a way to label them to help with future storage of items. Begin with putting away items that you will be hanging, then placing your other items in the cabinets. If you use the garage to store excess paper products and coolers, try fitting these items in the cabinets, if there is no room use the tops of the cabinets.
Maintain Your System
The reason why the garage becomes so cluttered and disorganized is that we fail to maintain the process of tidying up and organizing throughout the year. However, if you kept up with returning items to their designated places and spending some time every couple of weeks to reevaluate the items in the garage, the annual scrub down would be less excruciating. Include the garage with regular household chores. Here are some additional tips for keeping up with organizing your garage:
- Create specific areas to group and categorize items and keep together
- Using storage system for decorations and other items that aren’t frequently accessed
- If the items are too heavy to hang or store in cabinets, use back corners to store these items.
- Spray the garage at least every couple of months to keep out the bugs and insects
- Continue to keep the floor space empty
- When cleaning the garage make sure to sweep and give it a quick hose down every couple of months to remove dirt and debris.
Organizing your garage may seem daunting before you start, however with these tips the process should be smooth and painless. Don’t burn yourself out and remember that the outcome will be well worth the hard work. Now you can rest assured that your vehicle will be in a more secure area, away from bad weather, bird droppings vandalism and theft.