On the definitive list of ways to prepare for winter, organizing your garage may not rank highly — but it should. An organized, well-equipped garage makes it easier to keep your home clean, locate holiday decorations easily, and prep for rough weather.

Winter is coming. Are you ready?

Follow these six steps to revamp your garage for the colder months.

1. Declutter

Start by pulling everything out so you can see what you have, says Robyn Reynolds, professional organizer and owner of Organize2Harmonize.  From there, aim to get rid of all the items you no longer need.

“Dispose of old paint, any half-used garden gear, and worn-out kids toys,” says Juli Oliver, professional organizer and founder of OrganizeNY.

Set aside anything you want to keep but don’t need for winter, like surfboards, beach chairs, patio furniture, or pool equipment. Give these items a quick cleaning to remove dust and dirt before you store them out of reach.

2. Determine Your Storage Needs

It’s difficult to develop an effective organization strategy if you don’t know what you’re working with. Before you rush to put things away, take inventory of what you have, says Oliver. First things first, make sure you have space for your car, she says.

Ensure easy access to items you use regularly throughout the winter, says Reynolds. That might include snow blowers, skis, shovels, and rakes, plus usual garage necessities like tool kits and cleaning supplies.

Once you know exactly what you need to store, Oliver says, map out your garage. This will help you figure out the most convenient and functional storage solutions for your space.

3. Prioritize Big Items

Find a home for larger items first — like snow plows, sports equipment, or bikes — and it will be easier to accommodate everything else. Avoid using the floor as storage space, Oliver says. Keeping your belongings off the ground protects everything from moisture, saves space, and helps reduce clutter.

Utilize vertical space by hanging skis or bikes on wall-mounted racks, Reynolds says. Use ceiling space to hang storage racks, Oliver says.

Need another tip? Oliver suggests repurposing a 45-gallon garbage bin to corral tall upright items.

4. Create Smarter Organization Systems

The most efficient, intuitive organization system is storing similar items together. Divide your stuff into categories, like emergency supplies, yard equipment, tools, pet necessities, holiday decorations, and extra pantry food.

If you don’t have cabinets, wire racks, or adjustable shelves, Oliver suggests using peg boards to hang everything from gardening tools to snow brushes. Just be sure to “anchor larger items with special heavy duty hooks and bungee cords,” she adds.

Store anything that’s not hanging inside a plastic bin, so you can easily see what you’re looking for.  Reynolds recommends translucent plastic bins because “they keep items clean and dust free, they keep the bugs out, they’re easily stackable, and they’re easy to store.”

5. Solve Problems With Storage

Pinpoint your biggest household headaches during the winter, then brainstorm ways to eliminate these issues with better organization. Do you hate scouting for supplies in the dark, for example, or walking to the backyard shed every time you need to de-ice the driveway? Designate a place in the garage for specific winter equipment you need on hand, like extra candles or a bucket of sand or salt for icy pavement.

If your issue is that your family’s winter gear always ends up in a wet pile near the door, Oliver recommends carving out space in your garage to store boots and hang bulky outerwear.

“Think of this as a landing spot to dry out anything wet, without bringing the outside in,” she says.

6. Keep Clutter Out

“Often the garage is used as a dumping ground when you need to get things out of your home,” says Reynolds. This winter, instead of letting unused holiday gifts or old sports gear accumulate in the garage, aim to store only what you know you’ll need to use. When spring comes around, you’ll be one step ahead.

Paige Smith