A 5-Step Plan to Reclaim Your Garage
The garage is one of the most neglected spaces in our homes. Over time, it often becomes the family dumping ground from everything to broken furniture and outgrown toys to sports equipment and holiday decorations. Couple our tendency to stockpile items in the garage with our aversion to cleaning the garage, and you have a recipe for chaos as our growing pile of stuff gets out of control.
Garage clutter isn’t just an aesthetic problem or even a mere inconvenience that forces us to spend time searching for misplaced objects—like a garden trowel or someone’s lucky baseball. It also poses a health hazard. Improperly store baseball bats, hockey sticks and garden implements pose a serious tripping hazard. Clothing and newspapers stored openly in the garage attract mice and other vermin by providing nesting material. Chemicals stored in the garage pose a poisoning hazard to animals and small children. Improperly stored flammable liquids pose a fire hazard.
As garage clutter grows, it becomes harder for the garage to fulfill its intended use—a safe haven for your vehicles from the harsh summer sun, frigid winter temperatures and all of the precipitation that falls in between. If you’re like many families, perhaps you’ve surrendered to garage clutter, opting to park your vehicles outside. If so, don’t despair. Instead, get ready to take back your garage in five simple steps on Clean Out Your Garage Day—the Saturday following Labour Day.
Step One: Start with a Plan
No one wants to spend the entire day knee deep in clutter, so we put off cleaning the garage. However, when we approach the task with a plan, the job becomes easier and we can tackle it efficiently.
Take time to assess your priorities. What is most important to you when it comes to your garage? Reclaiming parking space for your vehicles? Creating a workshop for a hobby or small business? Securing storage space for sports equipment? Or perhaps you require all three. Start by mapping out the space to determine what you can fit inside the garage and where everything should go.
Step Two: Zone Out
As you lay out your plan for the garage, group like items to create task-specific zones in your garage. For instance, group yard tools together in a gardening and lawn care zone. Group motor fluids and other car care accessories in an automotive care zone. Store sports equipment together in a sporting goods zone. Establishing zones is the first step to creating order in your garage.
Grouping like items together makes locating items quicker and simpler—saving you valuable time on each project. However, without an orderly way to store those items, the space will quickly descend into chaos again, making it difficult to find space to park your vehicles. Instead of using valuable floor space, store items vertically and overhead whenever possible.
A garage wall organization system like Slatwall provides vertical storage for a wide variety of items through the use of integrated baskets, hooks and shelves. You can purchase and install a vertical wall organization system or enlist a professional garage renovation expert to install the system for you.
Step Three: Enlist Family or Friends
Reduce the amount of individual time and effort required to get the job done by making the cleaning of your garage a fun, family project. By involving every member of the family in the project, each person becomes more invested in keeping the garage clean.
Another option? Invite a few friends over, fire up the grill and transform the task of cleaning out your garage into a fun and productive day with friends.
Step Four: Empty the Garage
When your garage is overflowing with clutter, the best way to approach the situation is to start with a clean slate. That means emptying the garage of all its content. While this might seem tedious, it’s the best way to take inventory of what is stored in your garage. Knowing exactly what you have in your garage is critical to the next step in the process.
If you haven’t already installed your vertical wall storage system, now is the time to do so. Once your Slatwall, baskets, hook and shelves (or alternate vertical wall storage system) is in place, you are ready to proceed to the next step.
Step Five: Discard, Donate and Designate
This compound step is the most important task in the process. While it may seem daunting, it can more easily be described with one word: PURGE. By emptying your garage in the previous step, you can now see exactly what you’re working with. Group like items together to easily identify duplicates of tools and sports equipment.
Discard broken toys and furniture. Properly dispose of old household chemicals. Donate gently-used items your family no longer needs like old toys and shoes. Gift a friend or neighbor your duplicate yard tools or sports equipment. Once you’re pared the contents of your garage down to the items you plan to keep, designate a storage space for each remaining item.
Return each item to the appropriate task-related garage zone, as identified in step two. Using the complementary hooks, baskets, shelves of the wall organization system and professionally-installed overhead storage, place each item in a designated spot. Voilà! You now have an organized garage. To maintain your newly organized space, simply return each item to its designated spot.
Still on the fence about whether it’s worth it to spend a weekend cleaning out the garage? Consider this: a disorganized garage detracts from the aesthetics of your home and creates unsafe conditions for your family. It can also cost you time and money. Searching through garage clutter to find items steals valuable time. When garage clutter forces you to park outside, the harsh elements can damage the body of your vehicle and its internal systems, costing you money. Cleaning the garage might seem like an overwhelming task, but it is one that will pay off handsomely.
To streamline the process, tackle the early stages of cleaning your garage prior to the cleanout date. Plan the layout of your garage, incorporating task-related zones. Purchase and install a scalable wall organization system that includes complementary storage accessories like baskets, shelves and hooks or hire a professional garage renovation expert to install it for you. Enlist family or friends to help on the big clean out day. Completely empty your garage. Discard broken or outdated items. Donate gently-used items you no longer need. Designate a permanent storage space for each item within the appropriate zone and return items to their space.
If the project still feels too daunting, consult with a professional garage renovation expert for help transforming your garage into an organized, multi-use storage space.