If you’re like most people, then chances are your garage has become a space for clutter to accumulate, despite your best intentions. It’s simply too easy to toss extra appliances, costco sized packages of paper towel and soft drinks, or old sports equipment willy nilly into the “extra” space. But, if you want to actually use your garage, a little bit of organization is probably necessary. If nothing else, you’ll be able to reach the lawnmower without having to claw your way through piles of junk!
Step 1: Sort and throw away
Unless cleaning out the garage is a yearly habit, chances are there are quite a few things lurking in the corners that you don’t need anymore. Broken appliances, nearly-empty bottles of windshield wiper fluid, and the half-finished model airplane from Christmas 6 years ago, for example. You may be surprised by how much space is freed up by simply getting rid of the things that are obviously junk. Some items may be a little harder to decide on, so as a rule of thumb, you should ask yourself a few questions.
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
- When was the last time I used it?
If it’s been over 5 years since you used something, it’s probably a safe bet that you can get rid of it without missing it much. Items that are still in good working order can be donated so that someone else can find a use for them.
Step 2: Group like items
Even after the tossing frenzy of the previous step, you’re likely to have some odds and ends sitting around. Bottles of cleaner for the upholstery of your car, bits of 2 by 4 for your current project, half full cans of paint for the bathroom or living room. For these items, it’s best to group similar things together, so that you will have an easier time finding them. For example, cleaning supplies can have a dedicated corner. Shelving to store all those extra bottles, industrial paper towels, and so on can go a long way towards saving space and reducing clutter. Similarly, nails, screws, tools, scraps of wood, and the like should also be grouped together. At this stage, you should invest in some closed shelving or a storage cabinet, hooks and other storage solutions from the hardware store, and anything that will help free up space once you start to store all your similar items. A single cabinet compared to multiple tired boxes will go a long way towards freeing up floor space, and will improve the look of your garage as well. Try to grab holders and hooks that will allow you to take advantage of vertical space and store things like shovels, rakes, and brooms along the walls of your garage.
Step 3: Label and Store
Once you have sorted through all the items that will be staying in your garage, grouped them with similar items, and purchased hooks and cabinets, it’s time to put your garage back together. One good idea is to designate particular areas for larger machinery like snow blowers, lawn mowers, and so on. (For example, line them up along one side of the garage, and then hang items like shovels, rakes, and hedge trimmers from the wall above them). Other areas can be designated as parking space, storage for sports equipment, and cleaning supplies. Once you know where you want everything to go, you may want to label things to help stay organized. Putting labels under hooks, for example, will help you stay consistent so that you always know where to find particular equipment. Plus, this will encourage others to keep to your system, instead of tossing items back in your newly cleaned garage at random! After that, it’s just a matter of filling up cabinet drawers, storage racks, and previously un-used walls with all of your things.
Now you can sit back and admire your handiwork! A properly organized garage can go a long way towards making your life easier.