IDEAL Garage Organization
June 5, 2022
Store, clean, and organize … it’s the only way to get your car in the garage!
Maybe you have just moved into your new Ideal Home and have stored all those extra boxes of stuff you don’t know what to do within the garage. Or maybe you have lived in your Ideal Home for years but cannot get your car into the garage because of the clutter. We’ve checked in with This Old House pros to help sort out step-by-step instructions to get rid of the clutter and keep a safe, clean garage.
Clean out your garage
We discovered that only 30 percent of homeowners store their cars in the garage. Why? Because there’s too much stuff. Here are some ideas to help you get rid of anything you do not need:
- Set aside at least a full day, or even a full weekend or two, to get the job done.
- Make decluttering a family project and invite a few friends to pitch in. It will go faster and be a lot more fun!
- Go through absolutely everything, including boxes you didn’t unpack when you moved in.
The first thing to do is to sort all items into three piles: keep, donate or sell, and throw out. Then, lay them on dedicated tarps or mark off areas of your driveway and place items there. Looking at all your sorted items, what do you think should get the boot? Outgrown toys, items are broken beyond repair, expired household chemicals, and anything you have not used in two years or more.
Next, sort the keepers into broad categories like sports equipment, hand tools, office supplies, etc., and place them into well-marked stackable clear-plastic bins. For the time being, put the keepers back in the garage for now.
Lastly, look into donating giveaways and/or scheduling a yard sale as soon as possible to get rid of castoffs. If you’ve got too much trash for your trash hauler to take, use a service such as Bagster.
For more on decluttering, try reading any book by professional organizer Peter Walsh. Walsh is a guru when it comes to keeping or tossing old stuff.
Not for the garage
For safety reasons, DO NOT store these items in your garage:
- Propane: a spark could ignite the fumes
- Paper goods: They are a magnet for roaches and other bugs
- Refrigerator: One huge energy drain in spaces that are not air-conditioned
- Pet food: Possums, raccoons, squirrels, and other animals will sniff it out and get in
Store these items safely
- Most of us store lawnmower gas in the garage, so be prepared for a fire! Get an extinguisher and mount it in an easy-to-access spot. Your extinguisher should be ABC rated, certifying that it’s effective against wood, oil, and electrical fires.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector just in case you forget to open the garage door when you warm up your car!
- Check to make sure your garage door opener has a UL-listed motor and an auto-stop feature.
- Make a floor plan of your garage.
- Place all items that you use together, such as gardening tools and lawn chemicals.
- Put bulky equipment, like lawnmowers, in corners.
- Place frequently used items, like bikes, close to the garage door.
- Stash seasonal or rarely used items in the hardest-to-reach spots.
- Keep things off the garage floor whenever possible. You will free up more room for your car and avoid sloppy, impossible-to-sort-through piles.
Must-have storage products
- Stackable clear-plastic bins with lids
- Clear jars in different sizes
- Lockable cabinet for storing stuff you do not want your kids to get into
- Portable label maker so you do not have to decipher sloppy handwriting
Shelves are less expensive than closed cabinets and are easier to access. Shelves also allow you to you easily scan what you have stored. Cabinets with doors can actually add to your disorganization because you can hide the evidence! If the items you’re storing need to be protected from dust and dirt, use cabinets sparingly.
Vertical organizing systems
Pegboard, track-based systems, panel systems … all have their pros and cons. Depending on what you are trying to store, check out websites for tips.
The garage ceiling is a great spot for hanging long and flat items you do not use every day, such as ladders and seasonal sports gear. Just make sure any shelves you hang from the ceiling do not interfere with garage door operation.
Build a workbench
- A wall-mount fold-down model offers a sturdy surface and neatly tucks out of the way.
- Benches with built-in tool drawers are great but pricey. Try flanking a simple worktable with shelves and add a pegboard above to hold your gear.
- Casters turn any table into a mobile workstation.
- Add a padded stool that fits under the table.
Keep it clean for good: what to do to maintain cleanliness
- Every spring and summer, keep insects at bay with a pesticide that relies on natural ingredients.
- Keep a bag of kitty litter handy for absorbing oil and grease spills.
- Keep a broom and dustpan or a handheld vacuum near your workbench to tidy up after projects.
- Hose down the floor regularly.
- At least once a year, weed through your belongings and sell, donate, or toss what you no longer need.
Keep your Ideal garage in ideal shape. For more information on tip-top organization, storage, and cleaning, check out the This Old House website. These experts always have a wealth of knowledge to share on any household project!