Organize and Reclaim Your Garage Using These Tips

Jon Fesmire |

The American garage was once where we kept our cars. It was that simple. Over the decades it’s become a repository of things we don’t want to deal with, a home storage locker where we shove things and forget about them.

In the worst cases, the garage can become the junkyard of your home.

We’re generalizing, but too often this is true.

There are a lot of problems with using a garage this way. First, while most are big enough for one or two cars and can therefore fit a lot of stuff, they’re not as sealed against the elements as the rest of the house. That’s all right for your car and certain other items, but other things you may put out there in boxes, like books, paperwork, clothes, and so on can become damaged due to temperature and humidity changes.

Paperwork and clothing can get moldy, electronic parts can warp, and meanwhile, you’re holding onto all of it.

Let’s discuss organizing your garage and the best use for the room.

Decluttering

Decluttering a garage is a lot like decluttering a storage unit, a topic we recently covered. We encourage you to read that article, but let’s go over the basics here.

This step is about getting rid of things you don’t need. Go through your garage, one section at a time, and sort through the items. Decide what to keep and what to get rid of. This can be stressful.

We’ve covered some excellent decluttering methods. If something is in great shape and you think it will be easy to sell, put it up on OfferUp, eBay, or Craigslist. Donate items in gently used condition to charity, like thrift stores, recycle what you can, and throw out the rest. Don’t let this stuff linger at your home for long, or it will just keep taking up space and contributing to clutter.

Put the Rest Away

You’ll now have things you want to keep. Put things susceptible to weather-related damage in appropriate parts of your home, including closets. You can put some, like off-season clothes or sports equipment, or things you need sometimes but not all the time, in a climate-controlled self storage unit. Storage facilities keep the temperature in these units between 50 and 80 degrees, and the humidity between 30% and 50%, ideal conditions for most of your stuff.

Clean the Garage

With all the stuff taken care of, it’s time to clean the garage as you would any other room. Sweep the floor, dust, and clean stains and old spills. Open the garage door wide if the weather is pleasant to get a breeze going through.

What to Keep in Your Garage

Things that do well in a garage include your tool kit, yard tools, your vacuum cleaner, your lawn mower, sealed paint buckets, lawn furniture, and automotive items. Oh yes, it’s a great place to park your car, too.

Using Vertical Space

Rather than setting all this stuff on the floor along the walls, add some shelving. That will provide a lot of vertical space for your tools and so on. Peg boards can also work well. They’re excellent for hanging yard tools like awls and shovels.

Reclaimed Space

Congratulations! With this all done, you’ll have reclaimed a lot of space and can now park your car in your garage. It’s nice, getting out of your vehicle in the garage, especially on a snowy, rainy, or especially hot day. You’ll have less distance to carry groceries and whatever else you bring home, too. Sweep and dust every week or two to keep the room nice.

Another Note on Self Storage

If you’re reluctant to rent a self storage unit for extra stuff, think of it this way. Not only will a climate-controlled unit keep your stuff in great shape, self storage rents for less per square foot than residential space. If you rent, or even if you’re paying a mortgage, you’re probably paying more per month for that garage than you would be for a storage unit.

You can find a storage facility near you that meets your needs by searching our listings.