7-Day Plan How to Get a Spotless, Beautifully Organised Garage
Stop fearing that dirty dumping ground and start using it as the streamlined garage you’ve been wanting
If you are ready to transform your garage from dumping ground to a useful, well-organised space, this plan is for you. It breaks down a monster of a task into manageable steps, so you can stop fearing your garage and finally start using it again. Not only are garages generally filled with cars, oil spots and an assortment of stinky chemicals, they also have a reputation as the black hole of the home, the place where you put things then never see them again. Here’s how to change that.
Make a plan of attack
Depending on the state of your garage, you may need to clear a weekend to kick off this task. Get help if you can – and keep an eye on the weather. You need to be able to drag stuff out of the garage so you will have more space to go through it. The first two days include the hardest work; the rest of the week is about putting things back together and creating storage that functions well. Read over the whole plan before beginning and make adjustments as needed.
Also, before you get started, take a moment to envision the way you want your garage to look when you are done. How do you want to use your garage? Do you need to make room for your cars, carve out space for a workshop or create a smartly organised storage space for seasonal gear? Keeping your goals in mind will help you stay focused during the week’s tasks.
Day 1: Purge
Before diving in today, it will help if you take a moment to set up several areas for hazardous waste, garbage, recycling, and things to donate, sell and keep. Rent a skip bin if you need it, but keep in mind that you may be able to recycle, donate or sell most of what you no longer want or need. Once you have your zones in place, begin pulling things out of your garage and sorting them. (Don’t try to sort things in your garage – you won’t be able to really clean or organise it if you try to sort everything in place.)
What to keep
- Important memorabilia.
- Things you have used within the past 12 months.
- Things you have a definite plan to use in the near future (such as workout gear you forgot you owned).
- Spare materials for your home, such as paint and tiles.
Categorise your keepers
- Holiday decorations.
- Gardening supplies.
- Home improvement tools.
- Paint and home repair items.
- Car care and washing equipment.
- Cherished memorabilia.
- Seasonal gear.
- Large sports equipment.
- Miscellaneous items.
Get rid of everything else
Thinking you might someday want to use something is not a good reason to keep it. Each item you keep that you do not use, love or truly need is taking up precious space in your home and in your life, space that could be used for something more worthwhile. Give it away, sell it, pass it on, let it go.
Day 2: Clean and inspect
Because they can house everything from cars to paint cans, garages can get dirty. Sometimes really dirty. And while a little dirt is to be expected in a garage, keeping up a basic level of tidiness can help deter critters that may think of taking up residence in your boxes of belongings. Today is the day for a clean sweep.
- Remove everything from the garage, if you haven’t already.
- Inspect the garage for signs of rodents, pests and water damage. If you find signs, make a plan to treat as needed.
- Vacuum or sweep up dust; wear a dust mask if you are sensitive to dust.
- Sprinkle powdered detergent liberally on cement-floor oil stains and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and warm water. Rinse and let dry.
- If you want to get the floors extra clean, spray them with a hose if practical, scrub with an old mop, rinse and sweep out excess water. Let them dry completely before bringing back any of your belongings.
- While your floors dry, visit your piles of stuff left from yesterday.
- Transfer things from oddly shaped containers or falling-apart cardboard boxes into sturdy stackable plastic bins. (Another strike for cardboard: rodents can easily chew their way in and use any soft material they find inside to make a nest.)
- Use smaller open-top bins to organise frequently used supplies like gardening gear and tools.
- Use colour-coded labels to identify the contents of each plastic tub.
- Don’t mix contents. If you start with a box of childhood memorabilia, don’t toss in swimming suits at the end and make it impossible to find things later.
Day 3: Make a storage plan
Standing in your decluttered garage with a clipboard, draw a rough floor plan of the space. Mark where each category of possessions will go. As you complete the rest of this week’s tasks, fill in details about where you are storing what. And be sure to keep this plan – it will come in handy when you’re ready to pull out the holiday decorations.
Day 4: Get everything off the floor
Storing stuff on the floor of the garage invites mildew and water damage, and makes it easier to let things get messy again. If you do not already have a storage system in place, now is the time to get one.
- Use vertical space: consider adding tall shelving units and a ceiling-mounted platform.
- Use the walls: if you have two walls filled with shelving, fill the other one with wall-mounted storage. It can be as fancy as a custom storage system or as simple as a pegboard and a row of wall hooks. Bikes, tools, shovels, rakes and sports gear can all be hung on the wall, avoiding the dreaded floor pile-up.
A ceiling-mounted system like this one makes excellent use of space. Stack plastic tubs (just be sure you label them and face the labels out) on top, and hang bikes and other gear from hooks underneath.
Store the least frequently used items in the highest spots
- Top-level storage: Childhood memorabilia and old documents that must be stored long-term.
- Medium height: Holiday decorations and seasonal gear.
- Lowest: Gardening supplies, home improvement tools and sports equipment.
Day 5: Finish the job
If you still have a pile that looks something like this, don’t freak out. Now is the time to finish the job so you can move on to more important things – like rewarding yourself with an ice-cold drink.
- Take your hazardous waste to the proper disposal or recycling facility or book in a waste collection. You may be surprised at what can be recycled – even old clothing and textiles, coat hangers, running shoes and broken appliances, to name a few.
- Donate items if you can: see if any shelters, charities or non-profit organisations in your area are accepting donations right now.
- Sell or give away other items: if you have things left over, you may be able to use a digital marketplace to list items for sale or to give away. Or see if anyone you know is in need of your old belongings.
Day 6: Make an entrance
If your garage connects to your home, you probably use it as an entrance – which means you could benefit from a mini-mudroom in the area near the door. Put down a doormat to trap oil and dirt before people set foot in your house; provide a boot tray or shelving for shoes, and a few hooks or a tall cupboard for coats.
Day 7 and beyond: Keep up the good work!
To maintain your well-organised garage, commit to regularly doing the following:
- Stop thinking of your garage as a dumping ground for things you don’t know what to do with, and start thinking of it as the useful, accessible storage area it is.
- When you put something new into storage, be sure it is in a secure, labelled container, and mark it down on your storage plan.
- Wipe up oil spots as soon as you notice them and sprinkle kitty litter on the stain to soak up as much as possible before it sets.
- Keep a box in the garage to collect items that need to go to a special recycling or waste centre (such as paint) and make a trip there whenever the box is full.
- Set a date for at least once or twice a year to give your garage a thorough clean.
Source: Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor, Houzz