Is your garage so full to capacity that you’ve lost track of what’s in it and where to find anything?
If that’s the case, you wouldn’t be the only one, as 36% of Americans say their garage is so cluttered they can no longer park vehicles inside.
For that reason, learning how to properly organize and clean up your garage is something you’ll thank yourself for down the line.
The question is, where do you start?
Garages offer a host of benefits. They give you extra storage space, a great place to work on DIY projects, and additional peace of mind for your car.
Still, many of us are guilty of throwing things in the garage and forgetting about them. And before you know it, your garage no longer looks like a garage but a mix between a hardware store and an antiques shop – with double the clutter.
So here’s the ultimate guide to help you out. From how to start to all the best tips and tricks, find out everything you need to know about garage organization, storage, and cleaning below.
How To Start Organizing Your Garage
Sure, it might be tempting to heave your garage door open and start throwing everything on the driveway, but it’s much better to go in with a game plan. This is important if you have valuable items in your garage. It’s even more important for general health and safety – something worth remembering.
Having a game plan also will speed up the process as you organize. After all, how can you organize your garage if you haven’t yet decided where things should go?
So, before anything, the first and best step is to plan and prepare.
Plan And Prepare
Don’t underestimate it – you may need to set aside a full day or even a weekend to clear out and organize your garage. For that reason, it’s worth thinking about getting help if possible, especially if your garage has a lot of clutter or heavy items that need lifting.
So, first step: make a list or inventory of what’s in your garage. This will help you plan ahead when it comes to decluttering and organizing things later on.
While you’re at it, think about whether you want to implement a new garage floor plan or layout. This can include arranging different areas for gardening tools, car supplies, electricals, and less important items.
It’s also a good time to consider whether you want to set aside space in your garage for a workbench or home gym!
Another thing worth considering is upgrading your storage options. List what types of storage you already have and consider adding:
- Plastic bins
- Clear jars (for small items like screws, nuts, and bolts)
Lastly, assess your garage for any repairs or improvements that should be done once everything’s been removed. This can include repainting the walls or sealing gaps and cracks.
After planning and preparation, it’s time to declutter and remove all necessary items from your garage. But before you do this, take a moment to think about where you’re going to place your items. You can use your driveway or yard but make sure it’s not going to rain later in the day!
While decluttering, be careful of any forgotten valuable items hidden in boxes or packaging. These can include mirrors, photo frames, glassware, plates, and antiques.
Another good tip here is to label as you go along. If you have many sealed boxes and containers, it can be especially easy to forget what’s in them – even after looking inside them and removing them from your garage. As a result, you can make the job much easier later on by labelling these items so you don’t have to repeat the process.
Most importantly, make sure to separate anything that needs to be thrown away. After all, the last thing you want is to accidentally toss out something important.
Once you’ve decluttered, there’s no better time to give your garage a thorough clean. This can include wiping all surfaces, including the walls and ceiling, and sweeping or washing down the floor.
And if it’s been a while since your last clean, consider wearing a dust mask to protect yourself from breathing in lots of dust or other particles that might cause respiratory problems.
Don’t forget that cleanliness needs to be maintained – even in the garage. So a good idea here is to come up with a maintenance schedule for garage cleaning. Depending on how often you use it, this can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
Even better is to make sure you simply clean up after yourself each time you use your garage. This will ensure it’s always kept clean while reducing the need to carry out extensive, thorough cleaning sessions in future!
Categorize And Group Items
When decluttering and organizing your garage, categorizing and grouping your items is key to knowing what’s important and what isn’t. It’s also more efficient and can cut down the time it takes to clean and organize your garage.
There are four categories worth considering for grouping and organizing your items:
- Items to keep: Items that are useful and/or valuable
- Items to sell: Useful or valuable items that have some worth but you no longer need or want
- Items to donate: Items that are useful or valuable but are no longer needed and not worth selling
- Items to toss away: Items that are broken, damaged, or not useful or valuable
Needless to say, you don’t want to get these mixed up. So when grouping these items together, make sure to remember which is which and to keep them separate from each other.
Yep, safety is important, even when organizing and cleaning your garage! This is especially true considering your garage might contain hazardous materials, paints, sharp tools, electrical items, and heavy objects.
As mentioned earlier, consider wearing a dust mask when cleaning out your garage. Be aware of what’s in boxes and containers before moving them, and don’t forget to use proper lifting technique when lifting heavy items.
The good thing about organizing your garage is that you can also take steps to make it safer in future – not just for you, but for other family members. This includes storing sharp and dangerous tools out of reach of children, placing fragile objects out of the way, and installing good lighting to improve general visibility.
Remember: good organization isn’t just to make your garage functional, but safer.
What Should Not Be Stored In A Garage?
What’s just as important as organizing your garage efficiently is knowing the things you should never store in the garage. This includes items that can attract pests, perish or decay, or be a potential health and safety hazard.
If you have any of the following items in your garage, it’s best to remove and store them in safer, more suitable places.
Let’s be honest, you probably have leftover paint – it’s just one of those things that you can expect to find in any garage.
But the fact is, leftover, opened paint can dry up and get ruined by extreme hot or cold temperatures. So to avoid this, it’s best to store it elsewhere, or at least move it around depending on the season to keep the paint at a temperate temperature.
While you’re at it, make sure all leftover paint that you have is well-sealed and, if necessary, appropriately labelled.
The garage might seem like the best place to store gasoline, pesticides, and other chemicals, but these flammable items are best stored as far away from your house as realistically possible.
These items can also leak in some cases, which can be both a safety hazard and a difficult task to clean up.
Ideally, flammable items like propane tanks should not be kept in your garage, but outdoors or in well-ventilated areas with no risk of falling or rolling. The same applies to pesticides and other flammable chemicals, which should be stored away in a well-ventilated space that’s not close to any heat sources.
As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Old books, family photo albums, and documents – all of these might be tempting to keep in your garage. But something you might not realize is that paper goods can be a magnet for cockroaches and other bugs for eating and laying eggs.
Needless to say, you definitely don’t want to open up a box of paper goods down the line only to find an insect infestation.
The same applies to bedding and other fabrics and materials. These are best stored inside your house to prevent the possibility of bugs and insects moving into your garage without you realizing it.
Similar to paper goods, pet food is another item to avoid storing in your garage to reduce the risk of attracting unwanted visitors. In this case, pet food can attract insects as well as animals, such as rats, mice, and possums, even if the food is sealed away.
As a good rule of thumb, any food that’s not kept in a refrigerator should not be stored in your garage. So remove these if you have them and make a rule to prevent pet food from being stored in the garage in future.
What Can You Store In The Garage?
There are definitely a few specific items that should be kept in your garage – not just for necessity and convenience, but because these items are also best kept out of reach, especially if you have children or pets.
So when cleaning and decluttering your garage, put the following items to one side and group them together. Some of these items are also important, so you’ll want to make sure they’re kept organized in your garage for easy access.
It should go without saying that all your tools should be kept in your garage. It might be tempting to keep a hammer or screwdriver in the house for convenience, but it’s far safer to keep these in the garage. Keeping all your tools in one place will also make it easy to locate something you need at a moment’s notice.
For storing your tools, a toolbox is a good choice, especially one that can be locked. A pegboard is also a great way to store your tools, which will display them for easy access while keeping them out of reach from children.
Another thing to consider is separating your electrical tools from non-electrical ones. A good way to do this is to store your power tools on wall hooks or a pegboard, with all non-electrical tools, such as hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers, in a toolbox or tray storage unit.
Car necessities and supplies are another group of essential items that you can and should keep in your garage – especially if your garage is also where you park your car. These can include:
- Car jack
- Car compressor
- Car care products
- Car accessories and spare parts
- Pressure washers
Like your general tools, car supplies should be given a dedicated storage space in your garage for good organization and convenience.
As for car care products, such as shampoos, wax, and liquid sprays—plus engine oil and grease—it’s worth keeping these out of reach or out of sight to avoid them getting into the wrong hands.
Yard And Gardening Tools
If you don’t own a shed, the garage is the next best place to keep your yard and gardening tools. And if you have to keep them in your garage, it’s best to organize them and store them in an accessible location—ideally near your garage door—so that they’re ready to use at any given time.
Yard and gardening tools that you can store in your garage include:
- Lawnmower and string trimmer
- Shovels, forks, spades, trowels, loppers, and rakes
- Gardening hose
- Leaf blower
- Watering cans
- Spare flowerpots
- Compost (store in a plastic bin with a lid)
It’s worth mentioning that loppers and shears are best stored out of reach if you have children. If that’s the case, store them in a toolbox, cabinet, or up on a pegboard with other general tools.
The garage is also a great place to store outdoor gear, such as camping gear, workwear, and safety gear.
This applies no matter whether you tend to use these items often or not. Camping gear, for example, can be stored at the back of your garage if you don’t use it often while safety gear can be placed in a more accessible location for quick and easy access.
Specific examples of outdoor gear that you can store in your garage include:
- Flashlights and lanterns
- Camping chairs
- Outdoor furniture
- Hi-vis safety vests and hard hats
- Work gloves and work boots
- Helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads
- Exercise equipment and workout accessories
What’s useful about keeping these items in your garage is that it also makes them accessible for packing into your car. These items are used outdoors, after all, so it’s a good idea to keep them near your car for added convenience when you need to load them into your trunk.
Alongside basements and attics, garages are a good place to store seasonal decorations. You don’t need these all throughout the year, so finding a space for them in your garage is a great way to keep them out of sight and safely stored to prevent unnecessary damage.
Worth mentioning here is that you still want to be able to easily access your seasonal decorations even though you don’t need to get them out often.
In general, everything in your garage should be accessible and locatable no matter how important or not it is, which is another reason why good garage organization and maintenance is important.
Top Tips And Tricks For Organizing Your Garage
Now that you know how to start organizing your garage as well as what you should and shouldn’t keep in your garage, it’s time to run over some top tips and tricks, plus a few must-know garage organization ideas.
The following tips and tricks for organizing your garage will help you maximize storage space, increase the accessibility of your tools and equipment, and improve the general convenience and functionality of your garage.
Invest In Durable, Stackable Storage Containers
No matter how big or small your garage is, you can always take advantage of vertical space to maximize storage. And one way you can do this is by investing in stackable storage containers.
Stackable storage containers or stackable storage boxes are ideal for storing a wide range of items safely and conveniently, with options that include normal storage containers that are designed to stack on top of each other and drawer units that the containers can slide into.
As a result, it’s worth thinking about what you might store in these containers and whether or not you need easy access to them. For example, just some of the many loose items you can store in stackable storage containers include:
- Spare power cords and adapters
- Gardening supplies
- Car accessories
- Sports equipment and accessories
- Children’s toys
Just make sure that the stackable containers are durable. And if you’re going to stack them on top of one another, make sure to place the most important items at the top for easier access.
Make The Most Of Vertical Space With Wall Shelves
In addition to stackable storage containers, another way you can maximize the vertical space in your garage is by installing wall shelves. And if you have decluttered and emptied out your garage, there’s no better time to map out the space and install a few shelves in high places.
What’s great about shelves is that they’re easy enough to install and always prove useful for providing additional storage – so the more shelves you can put up without making your garage appear too cluttered, the better.
You can also improve organization and further maximize storage space by using the shelves to hold containers, boxes, and trays, which can easily be slid onto the shelves and brought down when needed.
Like stackable storage containers, just make sure that the shelves are properly installed and made of a durable material. After all, the last thing you want is for a shelf to collapse under the weight of several heavy, valuable items.
Get Bulky Items Off The Floor With Hooks
Hooks are a great way to get bulky items off the floor and out of the way by hanging them on the walls of your garage instead. These bulky items can include:
- Lawnmowers and string trimmers
- Leaf blowers
- Shovels, spades, forks, and other large gardening tools
- Pressure washers
- Car jacks
- Bicycles and scooters
Hanging these items on the wall with securely installed hooks will also prevent the items from falling over and possibly getting damaged.
It’s also far more convenient than leaning bulky or large items against the wall or stacking them in the corner of your garage, as wall hooks will allow you to access all the above and more with ease.
As a result, wall hooks can be just as great as shelves for maximizing storage space, functionality, and convenience in your garage. So it’s definitely worth weighing up what items you want to store and whether wall hooks, shelves, or a combination of both will be the best choice for your garage.
Incorporate A Workstation To Use For Projects
Decluttering your garage also presents a good opportunity to incorporate a workstation to use for projects. A workstation or workbench can be ideal for repairing and fixing items, drilling, gluing, painting, varnishing, sawing, and more – essentially any kind of DIY project that requires tools and a flat countertop.
If you’re someone who often likes to get hands-on with DIY, a garage workstation is worth considering.
But on top of that, what’s also beneficial about having a workstation in your garage is that it can also increase your storage space. Workstations can be bought or designed with built-in drawers, cupboards, and shelves, providing you with both a place to work and store tools, supplies, accessories, manuals, and more.
In addition, you can easily install a pegboard above your garage workstation to complete the look and place all your tools within arm’s reach.
Give Family Members Lockers
It might not seem like a common thing to see in most garages, but installing lockers in your garage can be a great way for every member of the family to store their personal items safely and conveniently. This can include:
- Sports equipment and outdoor gear
- Tools, supplies, and crafts
- Gadgets and electricals
- Valuable items and antiques
- Unwanted items for selling
Unlike shelves or cabinets, lockers offer a more personal way for each family member to store items, with the option to lock the locker doors for safekeeping. In this way, lockers can also prevent the possibility of valuables or important items getting lost.
Used lockers can be bought both online and at flea markets, which can also help cut costs over purchasing new storage cabinets or drawer units.
Install Overhead Storage Racks
Installing overhead storage racks is one of the best things you can do for your garage, offering a simple but effective means of storing:
- Plastic bins
- Unused animal cages
- Unused luggage suitcases
- Water coolers
And more – all kept off the ground to help you maximize the space underneath.
As a bonus, overhead storage racks don’t have to just be installed on one side of your garage. Overhead storage racks can be installed in the middle of your ceiling, allowing you to increase storage without sacrificing shelf space. In this case, storage containers and other items can be slid onto the rack from multiple sides.
Another bonus is that overhead storage racks give you the option to hang items underneath the rack, such as sports equipment (golf clubs, tennis racquets, helmets, and so on), foldable chairs, bicycles, scooters, toolkits, gardening tools, and more.
Overall, overhead storage racks are similar to wall shelves, but with extra storage space, better durability, and greater functionality. But since ceiling racks are positioned high up, it’s worth noting that these are best used for storing items that you don’t need to quickly and easily access on a regular basis.
Which box did we put the Christmas decorations in again?
If you’ve asked this question in the past, there’s a good chance you’re not labelling your storage items efficiently. So another must-know tip for organizing your garage is labelling everything clearly and, if necessary, with color-coded labels.
This is an especially good idea if your garage has a lot of containers, boxes, drawers, trays, cupboards, and plastic bins. These should all be labelled to visibly read what’s inside of them, which also means that you should take the time to organize any related items together.
As examples, you can organize containers, boxes, and drawers by using them to group-store items such as:
- Seasonal decorations
- Out of season clothes
- Sports equipment and workout gear
- Camping equipment
- DIY supplies and accessories
- Car necessities
And lots more. By organizing where and how you store these items and giving them all clear labels, you’ll thank yourself later on for how quick and easy it is to locate and access different items in your garage.
Organize Items By Category
Just as important as labelling the different storage spaces in your garage is organizing all your items by category. By taking the time to do this, you can allocate different zones or areas around your garage, helping you to know exactly where your items are for convenience and ease of access.
Several categories for organizing the items in your garage can include:
- Gardening supplies
- Car essentials
- Electricals and power tools
- Sports equipment, exercise accessories, and outdoor gear
- Unimportant items – such as toys, crafts, and seasonal decorations
By grouping these items into categories and organizing them into appropriate storage options, you can start arranging your garage so that the most important and regularly used items are easily accessible.
For example, you can choose to organize all your tools and car supplies around a garage workbench, or place all your gardening equipment and essentials near the garage door for fast and convenient access.
If you park your car in your garage, you can also opt to store sports gear, camping equipment, and unwanted items at the back of your garage for easy loading into your trunk.
As for valuable or less important items that you don’t tend to use often, these can be stored out of the way using overhead ceiling racks or stackable storage containers.
Place Pegboards To Hang Lightweight Objects
This has been mentioned a few times now, but installing a pegboard to hang tools and other supplies really is one of the best ways to increase accessibility, convenience, and storage space in your garage.
And let’s be honest: a well-equipped pegboard, especially one installed above a workstation, is the quickest way to make your garage look properly organized and more aesthetically attractive.
The best thing about pegboards is that they are easy to install. You can opt for a wooden pegboard or steel pegboard, and these can also be custom-built to fit any space or dimensional requirement.
Once installed, pegboards can hold hooks, pegs, brackets, and even shelves to store a range of lightweight objects and items. This can include toolsets (screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, pliers, and so on), tape rolls, glue, dustpan and brush, power tools, small gardening tools, and lots, lots more.
And there you have it: all the information you need to know for cleaning and organizing your garage efficiently, complete with all the top tips and tricks worth taking into account both before and during the process.
Just don’t forget that a clean and well-organized garage needs maintenance. So, above all, make sure to keep a consistent maintenance schedule to ensure that your newly cleaned and organized garage stays that way!