How to Organize Your Garage

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garage wall (Photo: @little_j24 via Twenty20)
Your garage usually serves as the place where you store more than your car, tools, or lawn equipment. Many families also use their garage as a place to store a variety of other items, including holiday decorations, out-of-season clothing, emergency kits, and various objects and knick-knacks collected over the years. Here’s what to do when you decide it’s time to organize your garage.

Remove the clutter from your garage

When organizing your garage, start by removing the clutter and dividing everything up into specific groups labeled “trash,” “keep,” “donate,” and “sell.” You should also clean as you sort so that when you put it back in, you have a nice tidy space. The following section goes into the de-cluttering process in more detail.
Step 1: Clean. Start by cleaning the floors and visible walls to remove dirt, debris, and cobwebs.
While cleaning, look for any stains and spills from chemicals or oil for later cleanup.
In addition, keep an eye out for infestation by vermin. If you see any signs, you need to deal with the problem yourself or call an exterminator.
Step 2: Take everything out. Next, empty the entire contents of the garage and place it on the driveway, if possible.
Due to space limitations, you might need to focus on one area at a time, pulling out the contents of one section or along one wall to sort it out.
Step 3: Sort the contents. Once you have everything out that you want to sort, you need to place it into specific piles.
Each of the piles should have a specific designation as to what you want to do with the items in it, including:
  • Trash: Anything you want to throw away should go into the trash pile. Separate out items like paint that need to be disposed of in a special way. When sorting your items, keep in mind whether or not you expect to use that item in the future. If not, consider throwing that item away. Note: If the item is in good shape, consider donating it (see “donate” below).
  • Keep: The keep pile contains items you plan on keeping in your garage. You will sort the items in this pile in the next section below.
  • Donate: Items in the donate pile are items you plan on giving away, either to family and friends or a charitable organization.
  • Sell: You might also decide to have a garage sale in conjunction with cleaning out your clutter. Place any items that you have an interest in selling into the “sell” pile.

Organize your garage

After you have removed everything and sorted it, it is time to place everything you want to keep back into your garage. A useful way to organize the contents of your garage is by establishing zones. This allows you to organize items by type, as detailed below.
  • Car supplies: This zone contains anything that you would use for your car, including cleaning products, items for working on the engine, and any fluids for the various systems on your car.
  • Sports equipment: This zone contains sports items, such as baseball gloves, bats, and balls. In addition, you would also keep storage devices, including golf bags and other items, in this area as well.
You might even sort the items by sport, such as placing all football-related gear in one area, baseball-related gear in another, and soccer-related gear in yet another section of the zone.
  • Tools: Tools stored in this zone range from tools for working on your home to tools useful when working in the yard and garden. Most of the time, you can get a pegboard for the wall in your garage that allows you to store various tools in an out-of-the-way area while taking up little-to-no floor space.
  • Household: Household items include Christmas or other holiday decorations, extra items such as tablecloths and towels, or items of furniture that you are currently not using.
  • Out-of-season clothing: Another big storage item is off-season clothing. During the winter months, you have little use for swimwear and shorts. When not needed, you can place these seasonal clothing items in airtight storage containers, and then pull them back out once the weather changes and you can use them again.

Maintain your garage

Once you have your garage organized, you need to revisit it every so often to make sure that everything remains clean and organized. You can also revisit items you have in storage to see if you want to continue to store them, give them away, sell them, or throw them out.
The best times to maintain your garage is in between seasons, as detailed below.
  • Spring/summer: As the temperature starts to rise, you need to pull out your summer clothing and store your items of winter wear. This is also a good time to clean up and pull out any items you no longer want to keep in storage.
  • Fall/winter: Just like with the coming of summer, when the weather turns cold is another good opportunity to revisit the organization of your garage. You can also use this opportunity, just like in the spring/summer, to clean your garage and get rid of any items you no longer need or want.
Keeping your garage properly organized allows you to take advantage extra space. Just remember to get rid of any items you do not absolutely need, and devise a system that allows you to easily find the items you do decide to keep.