How To Start Organizing Your Garage

Garages wear many hats, acting as storage containers, workshops, and vehicle protection (or maybe even that garage bar you dream about). If you’re like most people, you barely have room in your garage for your car since you end up storing everything else in the space. But between the holiday decorations, dusty hand-me-down furniture, and power tools, it can feel hard to breathe.

You’re not alone if you want to start organizing your garage, but where to begin?

10 Tips To Get Started On Garage Organization

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If you’d love more space in your garage, whether to park your car or use it as a dedicated hobby shop, the first step is to make room. However, when you face piles of clutter, most likely collecting dust, it’s easier to shut the door and put things off until tomorrow.

What you need is a game plan to start organizing your garage. A solid plan makes the task much more manageable. Use these tips as a checklist to stay on track and focused on the project.

1. Start Your Garage Organization Project With An End Goal

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Organizing a garage is a big job, and it takes time. It also requires a plan. Don’t start pulling things out, rearranging items, and buying storage solutions until you know how you want your garage to look and function. If your only goal is to make your garage look like some post on Pinterest or Instagram, it’s destined to fail.

Sure, it may look fantastic for a while, but eventually, it will fall apart because it doesn’t work for your lifestyle. Therefore, think about how you want to use your garage in terms of its primary and secondary functions.

For example, if you plan to park your car in your garage, this becomes your garage’s main function because your car takes up a lot of room. Secondary functions might be storage for holiday décor, a small work table along the back wall, or a place to keep gardening supplies. However, if car parking isn’t a priority, and you want your garage to be a dedicated carpentry shop, your plan will look different. These decisions and desires will guide how you approach your garage organization project.

2. Assemble An Organizing Toolkit

It’s easier to stay focused on a project when you have everything you need at your fingertips. Gather everything you need, so you won’t lose momentum because you’re tracking down a pair of scissors or a pencil.

Your organizing toolkit should have paper and pencil (or some way to take notes), a camera (or your phone), a tape measure, scissors, tape, permanent marker, and large trash bags. It’s also a good idea to start gathering boxes before you begin your project so you have somewhere to put items you plan to donate or sell. You can also use these boxes for your sorting.

You also need safety gear for garage organizing. Garages have tools, paint, chemicals, and dusty items, all posing potential hazards. Therefore, add safety masks, goggles, and work gloves to your organizing toolkit.

You don’t need to keep these things in anything fancy; a simple caddy or even a large box will do in a pinch. Add a few snacks and bottles of water so you stay hydrated and healthy throughout the process.

3. Do A Quick Declutter

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Cut through some clutter quickly with an initial mini-purge session. It bears mentioning here that one of the best ways to organize a space is to empty it first. You get a clear picture of the room and a blank slate to work with, and you also get a better idea of what’s in there.

But garages tend to be full of odds and ends and a mishmash of various categories of clutter. You might have so much stuff crammed into your garage that it’s challenging to maneuver in the space.

Therefore, before you drag everything out, do a quick pass-through for any things you know can go immediately. Doing this gives you more wiggle room and gets you fired up about what many consider a daunting task.

For items you plan to sell, mark them clearly and place them in a designated area other than the garage. Do the same for pieces you plan to donate. Bonus points if you drop off donations immediately or ask a friend to do it.

4. Sort Things By Category

After your initial pass, it’s time to sort what’s left and clear everything out of your garage. Create a staging area somewhere close to your garage but not in it. A good spot is the driveway. Pop up some tents to provide shade or shelter from unexpected rain.

For now, you are only sorting by category, not by which items you want to keep or toss. This step is critical so you get a clear picture of what you have and how many items you have. You’ll be astounded at how many duplicates you find and how many things you uncover that you don’t even remember owning.

As you sort items, you’ll naturally develop categories that make sense. But if you need some assistance in this area, see the section below listing common categories for the stuff in your garage.

5. Assess Your Items And Reduce Your Inventory

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This step is likely the most time-consuming because it involves making the most decisions. If you’re the type that likes to hold onto things, you may want to enlist the help of someone you trust to be an unbiased voice of reason.

Go through all your piles, category by category, and reduce what you plan to keep. It needs to go if it’s broken, overly worn or damaged, a duplicate, or you haven’t used it in a long time. If it’s in good condition, put it in a donate or sell pile; otherwise, it goes into the trash.

It helps to move this step along if you do a quick assessment of each pile, getting rid of the easy things. Then, go back through and repeat the process with the items that take a bit more thought. Don’t keep anything unless you love it and use it. Otherwise, it’s not worth taking up space in your garage or your life.

6. Clean The Empty Spaces

At this point, your garage should be empty. It’s the perfect time to clean and eradicate accumulated dust and debris.

Scrub away grease stains, wipe down surfaces, and blow out leaves and anything else collected in corners and crevices. Your garage isn’t often empty, so take advantage of this time to give it a refresh.

7. Make A Plan For Your New Garage Space

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Now that you have a nice blank canvas, a clear vision for the garage, and what needs to stay, it’s time to define your plan. Decide how to store various items and what storage solutions make the most sense. Consider available space, functionality, and clearances, and take careful measurements so you purchase the proper containers.

For example, if you plan to park your car in the garage, allow enough room around the vehicle to enter and exit easily. Likewise, measure carefully when deciding the location of future cabinets and other items so you can open doors easily when your car is parked.

It’s also important to remember vertical space. Vertical space multiplies the amount of storage you get out of your garage. But if you drive a tall van, truck, or SUV, ensure your ceiling storage doesn’t hang too low.

8. Gather Necessary Storage Solutions For Your Garage

After planning your garage space and noting measurements, start shopping and sourcing your storage containers and accessories. There are many to choose from, including wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, and freestanding pieces. We have a whole article devoted to garage storage solutions, so check it out before you start your project.

You can find plenty of storage options at places like The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or The Container Store. Many of these stores make it easy to shop online, and Amazon is another popular place to find many items in one place.

9. Put Items In Their New Homes

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After settling on your desired organizing solutions, it’s time to put everything together and watch your dream become a reality. Install wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted solutions according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re not handy, enlist help so things don’t fall on you once you start putting items on shelves.

11. Label Everything

Use labels for anything you can’t see (opaque bins, closed cabinets, etc.). Labels make it much more efficient to find what you’re looking for and to put things away in the right place. Labels also help others find items that may not be as familiar with your garage. Sticking a Polaroid photo of the contents is also a handy way to label the container.

Common Categories For The Stuff In Your Garage

What you store in your garage depends on your lifestyle, but this list gives ideas for some of the most common categories.

  • Gardening Supplies
  • Tools
  • Paints
  • Lawn Equipment
  • Sporting and Fitness Equipment
  • Camping Gear
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Automotive
  • Backstock Supplies
  • Laundry (if your laundry area is in your garage)
  • Pet Supplies
  • Outside Toys
  • Seasonal Items or Decorations
  • Recycling
  • Beach Equipment
  • Winter Gear

It’s Time To Enjoy Your Organized Garage

After organizing your garage, it’s time to enjoy it. You’ll likely tweak a few things over the first few weeks, and that’s okay. It’s all about making the space as efficient as possible for your lifestyle.

Remember, the goal is to make it a space you love and works well for you, not to mimic an interior design magazine. If it works for you, it’s more likely to stay organized, which is a big win for you and your home.