If there’s one part of a home that needs to be decluttered more than any other it’s the garage. As many as 30 percent of homes in the United States have a garage that is not used for its intended purpose: sheltering a vehicle from rain, snow, dust, birds, tree branches, and other mayhem. Instead many homeowners – likely including you – use that precious storage space to house unwanted junk, like cheap holiday décor and clothes that will never fit again.
It’s time you reclaimed your garage. We’ll look at some genius ways to declutter your home’s most important storage area, what to do with unwanted items, where to organize the tools and other items that belong there, and how you can finally put your car where it belongs.
Step 1: Declutter
There are a few different effective strategies for decluttering your home. Which one you choose will depend on the size and scope of your decluttering needs and your available free time. Many people who need to clean out their garage also struggle to maintain order in other storage areas around their home. Meanwhile, others contain their clutter shame to the garage. Similarly, some people can tolerate a slow, steady decluttering that allows them to build tidy habits as they clean, while others want all the work to be done in a weekend. Regardless of the method you choose, here are some essential tips:
- Define your mission. Especially while decluttering your garage, but truly when you are cleaning up any space, you need to know your end goal.
- Accomplish one task at a time. You will never get anywhere trying to clean and tidy everywhere at once.
- Ask why. Often clutter accumulates for reasons that aren’t obvious. Instead of merely cleaning up, you should try to address underlying issues, like rampant sentimentality or laziness.
Step 2: Eliminate
Once you sifted through your garage and identified items you definitely don’t need, it is imperative that you get rid of that junk immediately – or as close to immediately as possible. For example, you can drive to donation drop-off sites around your town to purge old toys, clothes, books, and furniture the day of your decluttering. For larger items, like appliances and barely working vehicles, you can contact a charity to come pick them up. For example, this organization will retrieve boats in nearly any condition within just a couple weeks of notification.
Items that aren’t in good enough condition to donate should still get gone. You can give items to friends, family, and neighbors, offer them for free on websites like Craigslist and Freecycle Network, and place them in front of your home for passers-by to pick up. Everything else should be recycled or repurposed, so you avoid adding to already over-full landfills with perfectly usable materials.
Step 3: Organize
Any items leftover from your purge should be neatly organized in your garage, so you can ensure enough space for your good vehicle. A good rule of thumb for garage organization is to keep nearly everything off the floor; instead, you should take advantage of your garage’s vertical space. Using shelves, pegboard, overhead cabinets, and ceiling racks, you can create enough storage space for your stuff while giving your car room to pull in and out.
Step 4: Rejoice — and Maintain
There is one last thing you need to do before triumphantly pulling your car into your clean and clear garage: give it a good wash. After spending who-knows-how-long in your driveway or on the curb, your garage has undoubtedly accumulated a good grip of grime, which is dangerous to your car’s integrity. Dirt wears down the paint, which exposes your car’s metal to moisture, which causes rust – and rust is the beginning of the end for vehicles. You should spend a few hours scrubbing every nook and cranny of your beloved car, or else you should take it to a professional for the best wash of its life. Then, finally, you can invite it into the shelter of your garage.
Unless you are diligent about maintaining your garage’s organization system, your garage will slowly but surely return to a messy state – and your car once again will be resigned to the terrible outdoors. You (and everyone else in your household) should be certain that what is in your garage belongs in your garage, so your car(s) will always have a safe place to stay.