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Is your garage a cluttered, chaotic mess? While this room is commonly used to securely park cars, it also holds sporting goods, tools, lawn care tools, and other miscellaneous items. It is also a place where things tend to gather in piles. After all, when you do not know where to put something, the garage is always a convenient option.
Unfortunately, this means that the garage becomes increasingly disorganized and filthy. Cleaning and organizing it can seem like a major chore, but you can make fast progress when you walk through these easy steps.
1. Remove Everything from the Garage
The most efficient way to clean and organize a garage is to start with a blank canvas. Pull everything out of the garage so that you have a completely empty room. If the weather is nice and you are planning to do the work in one day, you can simply move your belongings onto the driveway. Otherwise, you must make room inside your home.
2. Create Piles
The next step is to organize all of the items that were in the garage into four distinct piles. These piles are for items that you intend to sell, to toss in the trash, to keep and to donate. You can place items in these piles while you are completing the first step. Otherwise, you must go back through the items to decide how to handle each one. Keep in mind that some items may not actually belong in the garage, so you may need to relocate them to the right room or closet inside the home.
3. Clean the Garage
Once everything has been removed from the garage, you will be left with a filthy room. Using a broom or a vacuum, pull down all of the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have accumulated on the walls and ceiling. Sweep all of the dirt out of the garage. Put the garage door down so that you can fully clean the ceiling and door.
If you notice signs of mold, use a bleach and water mixture to disinfect the areas. The mold should remain saturated with the bleach for approximately 30 minutes. Then, scrub and rinse the area.
If your garage floor is stained with motor oil or other elements, now is the time to remove the stains. Pour dry laundry detergent on the stains. Scrub the detergent into the stain. Apply water, and continue scrubbing. Once the filth is removed, rinse the garage floor. An alternative is to soak up motor oil with cat litter, cornmeal, or sawdust.
You can also address small cracks in the concrete floor at this time. The easiest way to fill in these cracks is with a special epoxy that is designed for use on concrete. This product is available at your local home improvement store.
To protect the floor from additional damage, apply a concrete sealant. You will need to wait until the sealant is completely dry before moving your belongings back into the garage.
If needed, apply a lubricant to the garage door’s tracks to keep it well-maintained.
4. Create an Organizational System
Once your garage is clean and all surfaces are dry, you are ready to build an organizational system. Your organizational system will be tailored to meet your unique needs. To take stock of the items that you are working with, toss out the entire trash pile. Drop off the charitable items at a collection location. List the items that you intend to sell, and separate these from your keeper pile.
Now that you have a single pile of keeper items remaining, you can group “like” items together. For example, put all of the holiday décor in a small pile. Lawn care items, sporting goods and hand tools all will have their own piles as well.
Depending on the items in your various piles, you can use storage pins, coffee cans, tubs, shelves and pegboards in your custom organizational system. The items that you tend to use most frequently should be easily accessible. Holiday décor and other items that you rarely use can be stored in higher locations or in areas that are out of the way. A pegboard with an outline for each tool will help you to keep these items in the right place going forward. Remember to label everything so that you can easily find it when you need it. Hazardous items should be stored out of the reach of children.
After spending so much time and energy organizing your garage, you understandably want to keep your space clean and organized going forward. A smart idea is to get in the habit of tidying up the garage in the same way that you would clean your bedroom or living room.
Finally, plan ahead for your future organizational and storage needs. Most people accumulate more things as time goes on. Leave some space on shelves or in bins for these new items. Another idea to support continued organization is to create a dedicated storage space for each member of your family to store their items.