When there’s no room to store something in the house – from leftover paint to old Christmas decorations – it usually ends up in the garage. Pretty soon, the space is so overrun with miscellaneous stuff, there’s no room for your car! If you’re thinking, “yep, it’s true,” it’s time to take back your garage. Here’s how to do it.
1. Take the weather into consideration
Fall and spring are ideal times in most parts of the country to tackle a garage cleanout. “Do it when it’s cool and dry, not when heat an d humidity are high,” says Julie Bestry of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, Tenn. You’ll be able to get more done if you’re not working up a sweat.
2. First do a mini purge
When you look around your garage, you’ll immediately spot things you want to discard, like old firewood or a broken lamp. Take care of these easy tosses in the days or nights leading up to your major purge weekend. Getting obvious, no-brainer trash out of the way beforehand will save you time later.
3. Sort, sort, sort
Set up three different piles along your driveway – keep, donate and toss. “When you evaluate an item, ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I used this? In what circumstances did I use it and are those circumstances likely to happen again?’”
4. Do one square foot at a time
Work methodically around the garage starting at the front, where the garage door goes up. Finish one area before moving on to the next.
5. Create zones
Bestry suggests grouping items you’re keeping into zones, or categories, such as gardening tools, sporting equipment, automotive maintenance, hand tools, seasonal (sleds, beach chairs) and hobby (beer-making supplies, fishing equipment).
6. Figure out the best placement
Put items you use all the time like the recycling bins and bikes near the entrance and less-used items like the ladder towards the back. Also place items that you use together near one another, like the workbench and table saw.
7. Get stackable plastic bins with lids
Rather than use cardboard boxes, which attract insects and rodents, store items in plastic bins with lids. “Use a different color bin for each zone to make it easier to find things,” Bestry says. Also get small resealable plastic bags or ice cube trays for tiny items like nails. Use masking tape and a Sharpie to label everything on at least two sides, not on top.
8. Store boxes on open shelves
That will make seeing and reaching items easy. “Buy shelving made for garages rather than repurpose bedroom shelves, which aren’t made to support hundreds of pounds of weight,” Bestry says. To keep your family and cars safe, bolt shelving to the wall.
9. Take advantage of vertical and ceiling space
To have enough room to park your car, get as much stuff off the floor as you can. Use wall-mounted pegboards, wire grids or heavy-duty hooks for big but lightweight items like brooms, rakes and hand tools. Install overhead racks to store seasonal décor, kiddie pools and other things you don’t use every day.
10. Find better spots for hazardous items
Propane tanks from gas grills should never be kept in a garage, says Bestry, because a spark could ignite the tank and cause a fire. Also move any paint cans from your garage to a cool, dry climate like your basement. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can change the paint’s consistency and become toxic.
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