10 steps to a clean, well organized garage

Six months to one year in advance:

1. Budget and start saving. Organizing your garage properly (and any other long-term storage space for that matter) requires investment in solutions that will help you to optimize the space. Think: hooks, racks, shelves, peg boards, tool benches, sturdy containers and bins, cabinets, and so forth. Don’t purchase anything yet, but research your storage options, costs and set a budget and/or savings goal.

Two to three months in advance:

2. Plan for removal. Before you start ripping your garage apart, put a plan and budget into place for removing the things you no longer want. Consider hiring a dumpster, scheduling charity pickups, or planning a garage sale to recoup part of the cost. Arrange to borrow or rent a pickup truck or van and research the places that might accept your junk; find out what hours they operate, what they charge, and who can take hazardous items such old paints, solvents, pesticides, batteries, etc. Find out also if you have opportunities to convert junk to cash, salvaging scrap metals such as copper, aluminum and steel or selling off any surplus building or home improvement materials you may have on hand. Note that some towns and cities will allow you to schedule and pay low rates for extra-large trash pickups, so it’s worth checking in with your local DPW as well.
3. Select and reserve a whole nice-weather weekend (plus a backup weekend in case of rain). If extra work will be needed (such as painting the garage’s floor or interior walls), consider adding a third day to your plan. Recruit all able family members to help. If you have teens, consider offering to pay one or two (but not too many) of their friends to join your work crew.

One week in advance:

4. Check the long-term weather forecast. You need two unequivocally sunny days; warm but not stiflingly hot or humid. Adjust your plan as needed.

A few days in advance

5. Purchase plenty of healthy ready-to-eat foods, snacks, drinks and water. Ice down drinks in a cooler and make a great music playlist. Also, gather supplies you might need – hoses, sponges, buckets, cleaners, rags, etc. – that you can use to clean items before returning them to your garage; a clipboard, pencil and paper for taking notes; and any tools you may need to install new storage solutions.

Day 1

6. Get an early start. Take everything out of the garage. As you go along, sort into large designated areas such as: keep ‘as is’, clean, fix, donate, sell, and junk. Be ruthless in deciding what you will keep and make detailed notes about how frequently you expect to use each saved item, how easily accessible it needs to be and what type of storage solution would work best.
7. Divide up your work team into crews with designated tasks such as sorting, loading, hauling, cleaning things you intend to keep, sweeping, hosing down, painting and otherwise cleaning the interior of the garage.
8. Take your frequency/accessibility notes and make a storage and organization plan. Head out to purchase the hooks, racks, shelves, installation hardware and any other storage solutions needed to execute your plan.

Day 2

9. Install and place storage solutions according to your plan.
10. Move cleaned, sorted items into their new designated storage spaces. And remember to reward your crew and celebrate your own hard work and ‘new’ spiffy garage.

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