How to Clean Out Your Garage (and Organize Everything in It!)
Two professional organizers explain how to streamline this space.
Garages were created for cars, but people park a lot of other stuff in there as well. Garden shovels, sports gear, pet supplies—you name it. "Garages often become a dumping ground for everything people don't know what to do with," says Nicole Anzia of Neatnik. "They want to get stuff out of their house, so they shove it out in the garage."
Before it gets overrun with these things, take the time to pare down and organize your garage so it can be the streamlined space it deserves to be. "Many people do not have good infrastructure in the garage to accommodate their storage needs," says Liz Jenkins, NAPO member and owner of a fresh space. "Without shelving or ways to hang things on the wall, everything piles up on the floor which is not sustainable." The hardest part of cleaning out a cluttered and unorganized garage is often just getting started. That's why we asked Anzia and Jenkins for advice on how to tackle this home to-do, and here's what they had to say.
Get as much off the ground as possible.
Let's face it: Garage clutter can get out of control pretty quickly, which is why Anzia says it's crucial to get as much off the ground as possible. "Even if you have boxes or items that need to be sifted through in a more detailed way, get them onto the shelves first," she says. "Make the space more manageable first and create basic order, then do the deeper organization."
Employ lots of vertical shelves.
Whether with freestanding shelves or wall-mounted ones, a little vertical storage goes a long way in a garage. "Use vertical storage shelves to optimize space," Anzia says. "The more shelves you have, the more surfaces to put things on. I love large and sturdy adjustable shelves, like the Husky Black Heavy Duty 4-Tier Steel Garage Storage Shelving Unit ($199, homedepot.com)."
Create zones and labels.
As soon as you have shelving in place, Jenkins suggests grouping similar items in easy-to-spot areas and labeling them accordingly. "Create clear zones of like items including garden, tools, kids, bikes, sports, camping, auto, projects, and an area for overflow bulk items," she says. "Set up the zones in the garage based on how frequently they are accessed, and labeling them so everyone knows where to find things and where to put them away."
Hang tools and equipment.
A few sturdy hanging hooks go a long way in a garage. "Use hooks to hang things like brooms, rakes, and shovels, as well as bikes, hula hoops, and helmets," she says. And if you're in the market for a more streamlined hanging system, Jenkins says to consider wall tracks instead. "We use the Elfa Utility Track ($84.50, containerstore.com) in almost every garage to hang bikes, yard tools, and more," she says.
Plan for a yearly marathon cleaning session.
Once you've organized your garage, our experts suggest you schedule an annual cleaning session to keep things streamlined and under control. "If you declutter and organize your garage at least once a year, it will never get too overwhelming, or require an entire weekend to clean out," Anzia says. While Jenkins adds: "Even if it doesn't seem like it, it's much easier to organize the whole garage at one time than bit by bit."