Garage Organizing Tips

How to Organize a Garage

Most people like the idea of parking their car inside a garage: it protects the car from the elements and allows passengers to enter/exit without concern for the weather. However, many garages today are filled with sporting gear, yard care supplies, tools, and a plethora of other โ€œstuff.โ€ Spring is a great time to clean out the garage and start over. Here are a few suggestions for reclaiming your space.

PLAN BEFORE YOU BEGIN

  • Determine your budget in advance. There are options for every price point (from wall-mounted systems to rolling racks to plastic shelving to pegboard)
  • Research options so you know what your approach will be before you start pulling items out.
  • Take measurements so you know how much space you actually have.
  • Hire help if you need it (professional organizer, installer, “muscles” to move items, etc…)
  • Think creatively. Maybe you can buy or build extra storage along the back of the house/garage?
  • Plan how you will dispose of unwanted items. (When is the next hazardous waste dispoal day near you? Who collects old sports gear?)

SET ASIDE SUFFICIENT TIME

  • It’s going to take at least a weekend, perhaps more. Unless you have covered space outside, wait for nice weather.
  • Remember to give yourself time to empty, clean, sort, install solutions, and reload.

EMPTY THE WHOLE SPACE

  • Yep, everything. It is important to see and evaluate every item from the space so you can decide what to keep.
  • Sweep the space and clean it as much as possible. 
  • If you like, touch up the paint while the space is empty.

AGGRESSIVELY PURGE

  • Don’t keep items that you “might” need someday. Think of your garage as real estate: every item has a square footage storage cost.
  • Rule of thumb: if you haven’t used an item in 3 years, get rid of it (unless you are saving it for a CERTAIN future need.)

AVOID COMMON MISTAKES

  • No cardboard – it absorbs moisture and disintegrates. Use clear plastic containers whenever possible.
  • No plastic bags… Move supplies to more structured containers.
  • No propane tanks – they need to be outside
  • Get stuff up off the floor as much as possible… Garage floors are dirty.
  • Keep chemicals in a safe place.
  • Move paperwork inside.
  • Quickly dispose of unwanted items. Don’t leave them in a corner for “later”…

A FEW TRICKS….

  • Plastic painter’s buckets are perfect for bulk supplies (dog food, salt, fertilizer…)
  • Add kitty litter to old latex paint cans to harden the paint for disposal.
  • Consider solutions designed especially for garage items, such as racks for sports sticks and Ball Claws for balls.
  • Use the walls along the sides to hang items, since most garages are longer than they are wide.
  • If you have exposed studs, install brackets or bungee cords to use the space between for storage.
  • Install some kind of shelving, whether wall-mounted or that which sits on the floor.
  • Establish zones for different types of supplies (sporting goods, seasonal, garden, etc.)
  • Always look up. Garage are often tall and large objects can be suspended from the ceiling.
  • If you have large but narrow items, pull the shelving out from the wall about 6 inches to slide them in.
  • Stage the area near the door to the house to make a mini mudroom.
  • Hang a tennis ball from a string to remind you where to stop when pulling your car in until you are used to the new layout.
  • Label every bin so family members can keep with the system.
  • Use a wall-mounted empty gutter for holding long, narrow objects (e.g. pipes, scrap molding).

A FEW PHOTOS FOR INSPIRATION

Pegboard for storage
Pegboard over a utility area
Garage Organization
Open shelving
Space between the studs
Space between the studs, by yourhandsblogspot.com
Mini mudroom
Mini mudroom by houzz.com
Garage ceiling storage
Storage between the ceiling joists by familyhandyman.com

If you are lucky enough to have a garage, and if you need to get organized, this is the perfect space to begin. Once you get your garage organized, you not only have a tidy space, but you have an enclosed space you can use as a staging area when working in other rooms in the house.

What tricks have worked well in your garage?

23 thoughts on “Garage Organizing Tips”

  1. Love how you used all your optimal space here and seriously need to remember this now as we begin to look for a house in the not so far off future. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh… house hunting! A fun – and at the same time exasperating – endeavor. Good luck! An attached garage is a wonderful indulgence, and when you move is the perfect time to make the most of it:)

  2. I wish our garage looked neat like the ones you pictured, but my husband does actually have an organizing system in place…it’s just not pretty. All the bikes are on a rack; and tools have their place. He parks outside in the summer, although I still get my bay!

    1. Parking outside in the summer can actually work well, especially if kids are in and out using roll away toys or sports fear that needs space. I’m gonna cheer your husband for having a system.. organized doesn’t mean pretty, it just means everything has a home and is kept there.

    1. Yes, spring is the perfect time for garage work. Few things are as rewarding as pulling into a clean and organized space. Good luck:)

  3. That’s actually our project this weekend, and it won’t be pretty. I think you’d be horrified if you saw the “before” photo so maybe I’ll just show you the “after.” If we didn’t have kids, we’d have a clean garage. I swear!

    1. I know I don’t have to tell YOU to take before & after photos:)… seeing what you’ve accomplished is very rewarding. And yes, “kid” stuff tends to be inversely related to their size. But its a season of life, like everything else… and shedding even a few things and giving the garage a good sweep is still worth the effort. I’ll be thinking of you this weekend – hoping for good weather!!

  4. we rent and the garage is so old…I’m surprised it’s still standing. Hubby has clamied it as his man space…but it’s so horrible in there. I need to print this out, but afraid he’ll just lose it in the mess< LOL

  5. We did our garage last year, it definitely took us a whole 3 days and long days. My husband was reluctant at 1st,he couldn’t see my vision, but when it came together he was impressed. I love the idea of adding kitty litter to old paint cans. Great list.

    1. Thanks Jill. I helped someone in our family last year, who also thought he wasn’t into it. But once we got started, he was the most enthusiastic at all, and I’m happy to say that the results have held!!

  6. One day, my garage will look like yours…. one day.

    We’re somewhere in between messy garage and an episode of hoarders… yikes, definitely using some of your tips!

    JD

    1. Well, just remember that having a messy garage is not a character flaw… just a situation that can be fixed when you have time:)

  7. Having pegboard and shelves has really helped with our garage organization! I can’t imagine not parking my car in it at this point, I’d have to scrap my windows when it snows if I did lol

    1. I know, Savanna. Once you get used to having your car inside, it is hard to go back to facing the elements!!! One of my clients moved to a retirement facility and gets to park inside for the first time in his life. He is so excited:)

  8. I’ve been planning to rent a roll-off dumpster because I’d start decluttering my garage area soon. I’m glad you shared this by the way; I agree with you that it will be best to build extra storages. I’d also keep in mind to evaluate every item first, so I’ll know what to dispose of.

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