Chances are, your garage is not one of the most organized parts of your house.
A survey by The Lehigh Group shows that only 27 percent of Americans reported feeling confident that their garages were “very organized.” And given the amount of potentially dangerous equipment stored there, garages aren’t just eyesores — they can pose “a potential safety threat,” said Stephanie Leichtweis, vice president of sales and marketing for The Lehigh Group.
So, now that spring is upon us, it’s time to tackle the garage. We asked some experts how to do it in the least painful way possible.
1. Survey Your Space.
It’s not a fun task, but schedule a time on the weekend to go through the stuff in your garage. “Bring your boxes or totes into the house one at a time and go through them when you have time,” professional organizer Bonnie Joy Dewkett said.
2. Sort and Discard.
Make piles for keeping, donating and pitching.
“That wheelbarrow with the busted wheel in your garage just sitting there collecting dust? Time to pitch it,” said Mike Scodowski, vice president of sales at Shelving.com. “Sort through everything and find out what can go.”
Organizers are fond of the “six-month rule” when it comes to keeping or tossing.
“If you haven’t looked for it, used it or needed it within six months, throw it out,” said Nancy Freedman, owner of The Task Mistress, a personal assistant service.
Is your garage a fire hazard? Find out here: blog.sparefoot.com/7155-garage-fires-and-clutter.
3. Redesign Your Space.
Now that you have a handle on what really belongs in your space, start working on your “dream garage.”
How often do you use your bikes? Are you a gardener? A woodworker or a mechanic? Do you restore furniture in your spare time? Think about how your garage can better accommodate your lifestyle.
A great way to achieve a basically organized garage is by installing cabinets, said John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, which makes an app for organizing household records. Bodrozic recommends at minimum installing base cabinets with drawers, a countertop, a pegboard above the base cabinets and upper cabinets on top.
Put things that you use most in lower, easily accessible cabinets. Things that you use less often can be stored higher. Use countertops as your workspace and pegboards for organizing small tools.
4. Invest in Storage Solutions.
A common organizational adage is “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Group items together by use and find appropriate storage for them.
Use garden racks (like these from The Container Store) to put away long-handled garden tools like shovels and rakes and use a sports rack to store equipment like balls, rackets, helmets and golf clubs, Bodrozic said.
Use waterproof storage bins for toys, camping supplies and holiday decorations.
5. Create a Seasonal Plan.
Design your storage space with seasons in mind, and think about where you’ll store heavy or bulky things in the off-season, such as sleds and snow blowers.
For example, use tools especially designed for bike storage, and overhead racks for bins holding off-season items from Monkey Bar Storage.
“When storing holiday decorations, label the boxes with not only what’s in them, but with what you need for next year, so as things come into the stores or go on sale, you can easily replace things,” said professional organizer Barbara Reich, author of “Secrets of an Organized Mom.”
6. Securely Store Hazardous Items.
Come up with a storage plan for items that could be dangerous if they got into the wrong hands.
“Place toxic materials such as paint, paint thinner, weed and bug killers, fertilizer and gasoline in high cabinets or lockable tool chests out of children’s reach,” Leichtweis said. “Use well-supported shelves to store cleaning solutions and vehicle fluids. Be sure to secure tools and wrap up extension cords via tool hangers.”
7. Mark Your Calendar.
To keep on top of your garage organization and make sure it doesn’t succumb to clutter, set aside time to regularly sort through your items and pitch what you don’t need.
“Treat your garage like any other space in your home,” Reich said. “It should not be a dumping ground for anything.”