A garage is a building meant to house a family’s motor vehicles. Despite that, only 25% of people can fit their car in their garage. The majority of people use their garage as a convenient storage space for belongings that they can’t fit in their house. Even though the majority of garage owners don’t use it for their cars, many people are embarrassed by the state of their garage. The clutter and mess can lead to stress, anxiety and accident for your little ones. Luckily, cleaning out the garage isn’t as daunting a task as it may seem. Here’s a simple, step by step guide on how to clean out your garage and make the space functional again.
Step One: Remove Everything from the Garage
The first thing you need to do in order to organize your garage effectively is to take everything out of it. Take out every single object that isn’t nailed or bolted down and pile them up in the yard where they’re easily accessible. While you’re pulling everything out anyway, now’s a good time to organize your belongings into separate piles. Things you want to keep, donate, sell, or trash. Try to be as thorough as possible as it will save you time later.
Step Two: Sort Your Belongings
This step should be simple if you’ve been diligent about sorting your things as you removed them from the garage. Now it’s time to be harsh as you sift through your piles. Anything you haven’t used in a year or more you can probably live without. Don’t keep anything you don’t need. The more stuff you get rid of, the less clutter you have to deal with. Remember to sort them into 4 distinct piles: keep, donate, sell, and trash.
In the keep pile you should leave only things that you absolutely need or that have strong sentimental value, like wedding photographs. Donate objects that are still in good condition, but are probably not able to be sold. This mostly applies to old clothes. Next, throw away anything that you don’t want to keep and is not able to be sold or donated.
Step Three: Clean the Garage
Depending on how neglected your garage has been, this could be the longest step. You don’t want to just clean the garage, you want it to be in proper working order as well. Start from the top and work your way down.
Ceiling: Sweep away cobwebs and dust thoroughly before checking all of the light fixtures for wear or faulty wiring and replacing the light bulbs. Don’t forget to dust the light fixtures as well.
Walls: Next, make sure the garage door is working properly and inspect the windows. Make sure they open and close as they should. Then check for cracks and other defects, such as clouded glass. Once you’ve checked everything over, give it a nice cleaning, including the windows. Don’t forget to scrub the walls, but make sure you dry everything thoroughly before moving on.
Floor: Start at the back of the garage and work your way toward the front. Use a broom to sweep out any debris, then bag and clean it up immediately. Once everything has been swept, mop the floor. A regular mop would be efficient for a large space, but using a good old fashioned scrub brush might get the job done better. Once the floor is dry, you might find a few oil spots left over. There are a few ways you can safely remove oil stains: cover it with cat litter to absorb the oil, cover the stain in liquid dish soap to break up the oil and wipe it up, or scrub it away with a wire brush. It’s important to clean up oil spots, not just because they make the floor look bad but because they can cause falls.
Step Four: Update and Repair
Before you can organize and move your belongings back into the garage, take the opportunity to update and repair anything that needs it. Painting the floor, for instance, will make the space feel more put together but it also protects against scratches, wear, and other damage. You could replace any clouded or cracked windows and update your light fixtures.
Step Five: Organize
Now it’s time for the most important part. Once the garage is clean and the piles are sorted, it’s time to move your belongings back into the garage in an organized manner. Start by planning how you’re going to organize all of your belongings. It might be helpful to sketch everything out on a piece of paper as you plan. Since you’re already working on your sketch, now would be a good time to think about storage solutions. Keeping as many things off the floor as possible will give you more room to work with. Get ceiling or wall mounted racks for things like kayaks, canoes, and bicycles. You can easily find hook systems to keep shovels, rakes, and gardening tools off the floor. To keep tool boxes and storage bins neat, either build shelves on the walls or buy some stand alone shelving from your local home improvement store. Objects that you use more frequently should be made more accessible than things you use only once in a while. If you have a lot of tools and tool boxes, consider buying a pegboard. A pegboard will give you plenty of space to hang your tools up where they’re easily visible and accessible and will eliminate the clutter and space of tool boxes.
If you’re using a lot of storage containers to keep things organized, it’s a good idea to sort like objects together and label each container. That way there’s no confusion about what’s in which container and all of your belongings are easily found.
Step Six: Invest in More Storage
If after everything is said and done, you still can’t fit all of your belongings and your car in your garage, you should probably look into different means of storage. You could consider moving some storage bins into an attic or other storage spaces in your house. Another option would be to buy a storage shed. Move as much as you can from the garage into the storage shed to free up as much space as possible. If you need extra storage space for vehicles like ATVs or motorcycles, you can find a storage shed with a garage door opening. You can also install a ramp into the shed to make it easier to bring your vehicles in and out.
Now that your garage is clean, organized, and put together, you can enjoy the space again. If you still don’t feel like using it for your car, that’s fine. With everything organized to perfection, you can turn it into anything you want.