Kyle Stoner
Kyle Stoner
Close up of garage and front porch
Kyle Stoner
Kyle Stoner

    Garage Tricks: Getting Organized

    The garage is an excellent place to store your car, but it can also serve as a dumping ground for everything from outgrown toys and expired household chemicals to boxes you never unpacked when you moved in. In this DIY guide, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to rid your clutter and keep a safe, clean garage. Set aside at least a full day or even a full weekend or two to get the job done. It's essential to go through everything, including boxes you didn't unpack when you moved in—you never know where that family heirloom might be lurking.

    Getting Started

    Creating a Plan

    To get started, sort all items into three piles: keep, donate or sell, and toss. Lay them on dedicated tarps or mark off areas of your driveway with chalk and place them there. What should get the boot: outgrown toys, items that are broken beyond repair, expired household chemicals (which may need special disposal), and anything you haven't used in two years or more. If you have a hard time letting go of things that have sentimental value, snap pictures as keepsakes.

    Categorizing and Sorting Items

    Organizing your garage can be overwhelming—especially when you don’t know where to start. It’s a good idea to categorize items and sort them into different types. For instance, you can have a tool section, a seasonal decorations section, a sports equipment section, and a household supplies section. It’s also important to group items that you use together. For instance, you can store all of your gardening supplies in one area, your power tools in another, and your holiday decorations in yet another. 

    Maximizing Space

    There are a variety of storage solutions available for the garage that will help free up floor space. Large items such as bikes and sports equipment can be hung on the wall. For items you use more frequently, install shelves or cabinets and place them there. Store bulky items or things that you don't use very often, such as camping gear or holiday decorations, in large plastic bins. Use hooks or pegboards to store smaller items that would otherwise get lost on shelves.  For our DIY lovers, a workbench might be a good investment to keep all your power tools and hardware in one space. Essentially, you want everything to have a designated spot so they don't get in the way.

    Close-up of a mechanic cleaning wrench with a cloth in auto repair shop

    Cleaning and Preparing the Garage

    Dispose of Unwanted Items

    Once everything is organized and sorted, it’s time to get rid of the unwanted items. If you’re feeling generous, donate unwanted items to a local charity. If you need to finance any investments you've made in the garage (like the cabinetry or shelving units we mentioned earlier), then you can try selling those pieces on websites like Craigslist, Ebay, or Facebook Marketplace. Some things may just be unusable for anyone and need to be tossed, so look into your local trash service for any disposing regulations or to see if your city offers a bulk pickup service. Lastly, it’s important to remember that your garage should be a safe space for you and your family. Make sure to dispose of any hazardous materials properly and to keep flammable materials in a safe place. Regularly checking the area for potential safety hazards and having a well ventilated garage are essential to create a secure environment.

    Clean and Repair Tools and Equipment

    Once your garage is organized and free of any unwanted items, it’s time to clean and repair any tools and equipment. Start by giving the entire area a thorough cleaning. Sweep up any dirt or debris, mop the floor, and wipe down surfaces. Be sure to also clean and organize any tools, equipment, and furniture. Use a soft cloth or brush to remove any dirt or grime, and clean any metal surfaces with oil. A wire brush or steel wool will remove rust. Cleaning regularly will help keep your garage in tip-top shape.

    While you're cleaning, open a window and let in some fresh air. Keep an eye out for surfaces that could use protective coating (to prevent rusting) or loose parts that need to be tightened. After you've finished cleaning, you can begin to repair damaged items yourself or take them to a repair shop. 

    man carrying a box in a garage

    Organizing the Garage

    Create Zones

    The first step to organizing your garage is to group similar items in a logical manner. Start by dividing your garage into a few main areas – such as a work area, storage area, and a parking area. You can use tape, paint, or even a chalk line to separate the different areas if it helps.

    Once you have separated the main areas, you can further divide them into more specific zones – such as a tool zone, an automotive zone, a sports equipment zone, and more. Then, start organizing your items by category – such as tools, sports equipment, automotive supplies, and more. You can also organize them by type, such as power tools, hand tools, and auto parts. 

    Hang Items

    Now it's time to hang everything in the cabinets, shelves, hooks, racks, or pegboards you may have installed earlier. Just make sure to use heavy-duty hooks that are rated for the weight of the items you are hanging. Keep heavier items closer to the floor and lighter items closer to the ceiling. You can also use wall anchors and studs to help support heavier items. 

    Label Everything

    Labeling everything is one of the most important steps in organizing your garage, and it's easiest to do as you go through the process. Label the the zones, shelves, and storage containers, either for their intended use or after the items inside. Use a durable label that won’t fade or wear off over time. You can use permanent markers, stickers, or even chalkboard labels to label items.

    Interior of an empty modern garage in a house

    Maintenance Tips

    • Keep everything in its place. After labeling and organizing, there’s no reason to not return the objects in your garage to their home. The great thing about this is that after one time of doing this work, it makes keeping the garage spotless so much easier. 

    • Regularly inspect tools and equipment. Check for any signs of wear and tear, and make sure to clean and lubricate your tools. Test batteries and replace frayed or damaged cords. Not only does this extend the life of your tools, but it prevents fire hazards.

    • Use containers for small parts. Especially at a work bench, screws and nuts can get easily misplaced. Clear plastic containers or zip-locs are an easy way to keep them secure while being able to find them easily.

    Keep These Items for Safety

    • A lockable box to keep chemicals or dangerous items out of reach for children and pets.

    • Overhead lighting to make the garage safer to navigate.

    • A first-aid kit that is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

    • A fire extinguisher and a fire blanket.

    • Carbon monoxide detectors


    Organizing and cleaning your garage can be a daunting task, but it is worth it in the end. With a few simple tips and some elbow grease, you can create a safe and clutter-free garage that you can be proud of.

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