For most of us, our garage is our entry to our home. We pull in and out at least twice per day, yet we give little thought to how it looks or how it’s organized. After a summer of tripping over bicycles and letting gardening supplies accumulate, it’s time to clear out the debris. And while you may have a hodge-podge of things in the garage, organizing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just follow these five steps, and you’ll enjoy a clutter-free space to park your car all winter long.
Do your homework
The first step in organizing the garage: envision the perfect result, the optimal way to use the space. Then make a list of what you need to achieve it. Take the dimensions of the garage, noting the location of windows, doors, switches and receptacles, as well as how much room you need for your cars. Consider how you use the space (is it strictly a storage space, or do you have a workbench there?), the type of gear you have, and how you might make better use any vertical space.
Get down and dirty
Set aside a whole day for the process. Begin by taking everything out of the garage. Sweep out the dust, debris and cobwebs, then hose down the walls and floors. While the garage dries out, weed through the gear and make three piles – keep, donate, and discard. Keep only the things you’ve used in the last two years; donate items in good condition that you don’t use anymore; and discard anything that’s broken or beyond repair.
Establish a place for everything
Sort the items you’re keeping into categories – sports and recreational equipment, camping gear, automotive, seasonal decor, lawn and garden tools, power tools, and trash/recycling bins. As you put things back in the garage, you’ll want to create zones for similar items. Based on your prep work, install any new fixtures – cabinets, shelving, wall-mounted pegboards, bike racks – that will hold everything from sports equipment to garden tools. Make sure to purchase high-quality garage shelving as it has to withstand fluctuations in temperature and humidity, as well as bear a lot of weight. Also, be sure the shelves are raised on legs or casters so that you can easily clean the floor under them. Keep items off the floor whenever possible. Use storage containers with lids to keep the items free of dust, and clearly label the containers to easily identify the contents. Stash seasonal and rarely used items in the hardest-to-reach spots, and keep a step ladder nearby to reach them when needed.
Keep everything in its place
After going through all this work, you’ll want to keep the area clean and tidy. When you use any tools or equipment, put them back in their designated areas. Install a threshold seal to keep leaves and rodents at bay. Car mats and doormats will keep debris from following you into the house – we love a boot tray for this very reason. And when debris happens, a wall-mounted wet/dry vac tackles clean-up jobs with ease.
Always think safety first
The combination of vehicles, mowers and chemicals for the lawn can be a toxic combination. Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand, and use a carbon monoxide detector. You may also consider installing a motion-activated light that turns on and off automatically so you can always see where you’re going.
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