How to Organize Your Garage for Spring

As springtime approaches, people’s thoughts naturally turn to cleaning, and getting homes in shape for the warmer weather. During the warmer months, families tend to entertain more, opening their homes up to friends, family and neighbors to enjoy. It can be fun and exciting to feel the renewing experience of shaking winter from our bones and getting our homes clean and organized to enjoy the warmth, sights and smells of spring and summer.

Despite these positive and enthusiastic feelings, there are some challenges in spring cleaning which can create a sense of dread. For many homeowners, this sense of dread is connected with their garage, and the horrors that lurk within. Cleaning the garage, getting it organized, and maintaining that organization, is perhaps one of the most difficult (and most avoided) home organization jobs.

The garage is often dirty, crowded, and maybe even damp, making it a somewhat unpleasant place to be at the tail-end of winter. In many cases, garage organization is put off until “next month,” but that can really mean the job is put off altogether, until you start thinking about spring cleaning the following year.

Garage organization is often avoided not simply because it is an unpleasant task but because the garage is cold and damp during the late winter months. Also, the garage might be difficult to maneuver in if you are storing summer furniture such as deck chairs. A garage can accumulate a large number of random items, especially if you’ve been living in your home for a few years. Many of us simply deal with the mess and clutter in the garage by piling more things in the space, hoping we will be able to remember where everything is! As you accumulate more items in your garage the process of cleaning and organizing starts to feel extremely intimidating, simply because there is so much to be done.

So how do you avoid wasting time and energy hunting down items stored in your garage? How do you organize your garage properly, and keep it that way?

Getting your Garage into Shape

The first step in getting your garage organized is to simply bite the bullet and start, instead of continually putting it off. Set aside several days you know you have free (they don’t have to be consecutive) and plan to make a start on the garage on those days. Make sure you know you can give the project your undivided attention for the days you schedule for garage cleaning.

For your first garage organization session, take stock of everything in the space and decide what you want to keep. Make an inventory of all items in the garage, and at the same time, decide what you want to keep, throw away, donate, or sell. Keep in mind that your garage has limited space, and that the accumulation of unnecessary items might very well be what got your garage into this mess in the first place!

Your next garage session will be all about cleaning up the space. Give the walls and floors a thorough scrub, and if necessary, clean up items stored in the garage as well. Dust off items and, if the garage is known to get damp in winter, use an anti-mold treatment on walls and floors.

Once you’ve taken inventory, de-cluttered the garage, and cleaned up the space, the next step is putting it all back again. However, this time, the idea is to store your items in an organized fashion.

At this stage in the process, it is time to start thinking about storage solutions for your garage. Shelving, boxes, racks, caddies, tool storage, cabinets and drawers, can all make garage storage a breeze, and ensure that your garage stays organized in the long term. With good garage storage, you can eliminate the stress and wasted time that goes along with having to hunt down items that have become lost.

When considering storage options, a good idea is to think “up.” Take advantage of the vertical space in your garage, and choose wall storage options such as shelving, wall racks, tall drawer cabinets, and wall-mounted tool storage. With a high-ceilinged garage you may even be able to take advantage of ceiling storage by having certain items hung from above.

Good Organization is all about Maintenance

Of course, it’s not enough to organize your garage and then forget about it. Keeping the garage organized and clean is an ongoing process. However, keeping the garage organized is fairly easy. Just follow these three simple rules to keep the items in your garage neat and organized:

* When you buy items that will be stored in the garage, find a storage spot for each item as soon as you bring it home.
When you use an item from the garage, return it to its storage spot as soon as you’re done with it.
Clean up spills ASAP when they occur.

Josh Webber is a freelance writer who writes about DIY topics, often discussing specific products such as garage organizers.

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