Categories : Consumer Advice


4 Steps: Clean Out Your Garage


In a perfect world, the garage is where a band conceives its first songs, a family remembers how good it feels to come home and a father teaches his son about what’s under the hood. Beneath this gateway to the world, the indoors and outdoors blend harmoniously together on the smooth concrete. The garage even smells useful — a subtle potpourri of sawdust, car wax and crushed leaves.

For most of us, however, the world is not perfect, and the garage acts pretty much like a glorified shed. Knickknacks accumulate without rhyme or reason, forming stacks that tower to the ceiling, rendering the space impossible to fully utilize.

When your possessions are in their proper places, the garage becomes delightfully practical. But therein lies the challenge: It doesn’t get to that point on its own. Over the course of one weekend, clean out your garage following these useful steps. Regardless of what the groundhogs say, it’s not really spring until you do.


Step 1

Empty the garage

As much as you don’t want to, it must be done. Everything, right down to the last tiny Allen wrench, needs to be taken out of your garage. It’s the only way you’ll be able to clean effectively and rediscover all the treasures lost ages ago, including your championship Little League trophy.

Starting with the first item you pull out, sort your belongings and arrange them into designated areas in or around your house: junk in the driveway for later removal, tools inside for safekeeping, goods you’d like to donate in the backyard, etc. As you do so, take mental notes of what is going where and the kinds of hardware you’ll need to purchase in order to save space, stay organized and tidy up.

Step 2

Clean the garage

The garage is usually the only room in the house that is exempt from the occasional deep cleaning. Because of this, a layer of filth coats every flat surface, and as your girlfriend would point out, that’s gross. Once the contents of your garage have been removed, you may even be able to see the grimy outlines where boxes used to lie, similar to police chalk around fallen victims. Go ahead and suck those up with a vacuum cleaner, along with the dust bunnies, cobwebs and insects that have trapped themselves behind your workbench.

Now, it’s on to the floors. Thank goodness the garage doesn’t demand the tender care and thorough polishing that a bowling alley would. All you need to loosen the grunge is a nozzle for your hose that delivers righteous firepower. Crank the spigot to full blast and really let loose, starting at the back and spraying the dirt towards the driveway. You may need to follow up this chore by pushing the remaining water out with a broom, which will also help to speed up the drying process.

If you live in a relatively burglar-free neighborhood, leave the windows and doors open to maximize ventilation as things air out overnight. By morning, your garage should be puddle-free and ready for the next step.


Step 3

Install storage units

Having already extracted and divvied up your possessions, you should now have a good sense of what actually needs to go back in. Use this mental stock to purchase and install appropriately sized storage bins, drawer units, bike racks, hooks, and shelves. These items will restore order to your garage by providing a specific place for each of your belongings. Ideally, only your car and heavy equipment like a lawnmower will occupy the floor space of your garage, allowing you to easily maneuver items in and out when the time comes.


Step 4

Filter everything back in

Consolidate your things so that only what you truly need returns to your garage. “I might, perhaps, eventually want that some day,” stands between you and a few more functional square feet of your home, so be relentless; anything you’re on the fence about should go elsewhere. By now, you’ve already gone through the process of assigning your belongings a spot. See to it that each item gets there but be willing to improvise as you go. Constantly evaluate how often you’ll need each item and relocate it as needed. That way, you don’t have to dig out your toolbox from under an unwieldy box of Christmas decorations.

Stick to the task

Cleaning out the garage is a very therapeutic undertaking. Summon the motivation to stay on schedule and stick with it. Otherwise, you may find yourself with an impromptu Monday morning yard sale. Lay into the project with the music turned up and a rewarding six-pack chilling in the fridge. Before long, your garage won’t be a chaotic jumble of “stuff,” but a room that would make Tim “The Toolman” Taylor proud.

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