How to Organize Your Garage

Three Parts:Getting StartedGetting the Right Storage GearGetting Organized

For many people, the garage is more than just a place for parking a car. If you're in the habit of using your garage for tool store, a safe space for snow skis, or as an over-flow attic, things can get out of control quickly. Fortunately, you can learn to address the mess, get the proper organization tools for the job, and choose a method of organization that works best for the stuff you've got.

Part 1
Getting Started

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    Commit to a bigger mess. Cleaning out and organizing a garage can be a messy process in itself, requiring you to nearly empty out the space and evaluate what you've got to work with. Depending on the clutter and the junk pile up, it can be a quick afternoon of tidying or a long weekend project requiring a couple trips to the hardware store. Clean out the drawers, the shelves, and the storage units and start over.
    • Don't try to a half-job by moving some stuff around and calling it "reorganized," even if your garage is relatively uncluttered. It's still a good idea to re-evaluate the storage space you do have to use it to its maximum potential.
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    Start making piles. When you're getting started, pair like items with like items. How you choose categories will depend on the stuff you've got in your garage, but you might pair automotive tools with automotive tools, yard tools with yard tools, and sporting goods with other sporting goods for an easy start. You can get more specific as you start organizing.
    • Set up a few tarps on the driveway or in the yard if you've got a real mess on your hands. This can help to keep the mess contained if you've got especially greasy or oily tools.
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    Distinguish between usable and unusable items. If you've got a cluttered garage, it's important to get rid of anything that's broken, useless, or unnecessary. Doing so should reduce your amount of clutter significantly and make it easier to organize what you really do need more effectively. Here are some questions to help you figure out whether or not a particular item is essential to your garage:
    • Have you used the item in the last year?
    • Does the item work properly? If not, are you likely to fix it in the next year?
    • Is the item valuable, or does it have sentimental value?
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    Get rid of the useless stuff. Whatever you end up putting in the "unusable" pile, get rid of it as soon as possible. Don't take it to the dump "next time you get around to it," do it right now. Clearing out the clutter is the only way to commit to a more organized and efficient work space in your garage. If you don't need it, don't keep it around to take up premium space.
    • Throw away broken or damaged items that are beyond repair and give away duplicate items or outdated items that you've replaced with newer models. You might consider giving away an old busted socket set if you've got a newer set yourself. Recycle scrap metal and other valuable stuff you might find lying around the garage.
    • Consider a garage sale. If your garage is packed to the gills with old Halloween decorations, stacks of Rolling Stone from the mid-80s, and trash-bags full of kids clothes, it's probably time to throw some price stickers on the junk and have a yard sale.
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    Clean up all the usable items. After evaluating all the usable items, clean them up as well as possible. Don't put away dirty tools, muddy soccer cleats, and otherwise compromised gear into new, neatly organized places. Spend time committing to clean.
    • If it's been a couple years since you've cleaned up around the space, reorganization is a good opportunity to do just that. Clean the floors with disinfectant and address the dust that's built up over the years.
    • Using a bit of acetone is a great way of quickly cleaning up old stainless steel tools that have been laying around collecting grease. Use an old rag and a small amount of acetone in a well-ventilated area.

Part 2
Getting the Right Storage Gear

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    Choose visible storage for frequently-used items. One of the easiest ways to maximize the space in your garage is to get items like storage hooks and wire baskets, which can be mounted onto the walls wherever it's convenient for your access. You will also need some brackets to secure these storage items into place. The best part is that they can easily be customized to fit the specific layout of your garage, they won't collect dust and they can be moved if necessary. These types of storage hangers are great for common-use items, as well as bulky or unusual items like:
    • Snow skis
    • Bicycles
    • Tennis rackets
    • Leaf blowers
    • Rakes
    • Hoses
    • Rope
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    Buy some plastic storage tubs. For sporting goods, seasonal decorations, and other loose stuff that needs to be grouped together, buying some plastic tubs can be a great way of organizing. Go with clear plastic to make sure you can see everything that's inside without having to dig around.
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    Hang some new shelving units. If space is at a premium, consider installing some shelves, or buying some pre-fab shelving units so you can increase the storage space in your garage.
    • It's also common to hang peg board for quick and easy storage purposes. Rather than drilling stuff directly into the wall, you can hang hooks or other storage brackets off some pieces of particle board to keep the walls clean.
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    Consider some standing tool chests. If you're a big tool collector, consider investing in a tool chest, or some more substantial tool boxes to help keep your collection organized and arranged properly. Rolling tool chests are excellent ways to keep your automotive, yard, and home repair tools clean and available when you need them.

Part 3
Getting Organized

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    Separate all the items according to their purpose. Categorize your items in terms of use and separate them appropriately. For instance, you could place recreational gear like skateboards, roller blades and golf clubs in one area. You could then put your tools, power saws and blades in another. Once you have everything sorted out, you can decide the best way to arrange them for easy access.
    • How you choose to organize will depend on what you have, but it's common to separate the tools and the sporting goods or other storage stuff. Some people's garages are sacred car spaces, while for others it's more of an attic run-off zone. Keep organized according to what you have.
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    Consider storing items according to the most frequently used. Put the stuff you don't use often toward the back, or the more difficult to reach spaces of the garage. If you hardly ever go golfing, you would want to place your clubs behind other things that you use more often, like the lawn mower or your socket wrenches.
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    Consider organizing items seasonally. You may also want to make seasonal adjustments in your garage, so you can rotate summer and winter items accordingly. You probably won't need your snow blower during the heat of summer, so you can schedule yearly reorganizations to keep your space in the most optimum arrangement for the season. It doesn't need to take more than a few minutes.
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    Label everything clearly. Finally, you can prevent a lot of frustration by properly labeling storage bins or anything that you have to open to access items. If you have small items like different sized screws and nails, you should put these into small containers and mark them accordingly. It may be a little more tedious at first, but should make your life easier later on.

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Categories: Sheds and Garages