Whether you're getting ready to sell your house or you've reached the point where there's no longer any room to park the car, it is well worth investing time to conquer garage clutter and keep your garage organized and user-friendly. For busy families, the garage often becomes home to everything no longer wanted or needed inside the house. But like multiplying rabbits, garage clutter can quickly evolve into a tangled mess, leaving little or no room for the garage's intended purpose: a safe place to park your car. The key to garage sanity is radical organization and cleaning at least once a year.
To get started, move everything out of the garage and create groups of items in separate piles. Car products, gardening tools, sports equipment and holiday decorations should each be grouped separately.
Next, get rid of all the junk. Put old toys and clothing that are in good condition in boxes to donate to schools and charities, then make a pile for the dump. Just like the rule for unworn clothing, anything you haven't used in the garage in the last year should probably be recycled.
While the garage is empty, take the time to clean the floors. Clean cement floors when the temperature is between 50 and 75 degrees, avoiding direct sun. For oil stains, apply a laundry pre-spotter to the stain and leave on for five to ten minutes. Sprinkle with laundry detergent and scrub with a stiff broom or brush. Wipe up residue with paper towels. Another neat trick is to make a paste of hot water and automatic dishwashing detergent. Scrub it into the spot and leave overnight. The next day, rinse and let it dry.
Use hooks and racks on the garage walls to free up space. Holiday lawn ornaments, garden tools and sports equipment can be up and out of the way with just a few simple hooks. Consider installing shelving for often-used items. Cabinets are good for storing items that need to be kept clean, or for keeping poisonous items like weed killer out of reach. Egg cartons are great for storing golf balls. The short-sided boxes used by nurseries are wonderful for keeping groupings of like-items separate on a shelf. Investing in storage bins, cabinets and shelving can provide impressive additional space.
To protect car doors, consider nailing carpet samples to the garage wall so if the car door is opened too far it won't get dinged. Another trick is to hang a golf ball or fishing bobber strategically placed as a marker of how far to pull in so the car doesn't hit stored items or the garage wall. Most of us have arguably more possessions than we need. And while we likely have much more than our grandmothers and grandfathers did, we have much less time to deal with it all. In the last several years, professional organizing companies have sprung up to help busy two-career families clear clutter, create additional storage and organize day-to-day life. Once you are organized, however, ongoing maintenance is key to continued orderliness.
- Keep products in their proper sections of the garage. Ten extra seconds to cart the motor oil over to the car section can save ten minutes trying to fi nd it buried in the gardening area.
- Devote 10 minutes a week or an hour a month for garage maintenance. Sweep the floor, check for items that can be discarded and put back items that may have been left out of cabinets or off shelves.
- Check to make sure tools, toys and utensils have been properly put away and not left overlooked and rusting in the backyard.
Your garage will look much bigger to a potential buyer, create a positive feeling about how the house has been maintained and allow you quick and easy access to stored items. After all, for many of us, the first thing we see when we arrive home is our garage. Driving into an organized space creates a sense of wellbeing at the end of a long, hard day at work. By maximizing wall space and keeping often-used items handy, organized garage storage areas make grabbing the right tool or sports equipment a breeze, saving time, energy and sometimes your sanity.