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Clear the Clutter Challenge #5: The Garage and Yard

In the final stage of our Clear the Clutter Challenge, we’re heading outside to declutter and organize the garage and yard.

A garage can get so full of clutter that a car can’t even park inside. We will go through the best solutions for organizing your garage, so you can safely fit your vehicles and have easy access to your maintenance and yard care supplies.

The Garage

The goal for the garage is to have somewhere you can keep your car safe, have space for storing outdoor tools and other things you may not want inside your home, and have room to walk around and get into your vehicle comfortably. Follow these tips for inspiration on how to organize quickly and efficiently!

Before We Start

Like every other room we’ve covered, the first step of cleaning out the garage is to clear it out and take inventory. A few key tips to consider before you begin:

Pick a Nice Day

You will probably be spending a lot of time with your garage door open and out on your driveway, so make sure you do this when it isn’t raining and it’s not too cold.

Make Space

Have a place to park your car that is away from where you’ll be organizing. If you have a lot of stuff you need to clear out and organize, make sure there is room either in your house or on your driveway to place everything.

Getting Started

Once you have your day picked, time set aside, and all the initial set up prepared, it’s time to dig in. Follow these simple steps to get everything decluttered and ready to organize.

Make Organized Piles

Categorize everything in your garage by what it is used for. Some categories to consider include:

  • Yard work equipment
  • Maintenance tools and materials
  • Car maintenance supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Unused furniture
  • Boxes for storage
  • Sports equipment

Keep a Discard Pile

A large part of the declutter process is completely getting rid of things you don’t need or use. Make a pile for all the things you come across that you don’t need anymore, such as old dirty rags, broken tools, or boxes of unused paperwork and trinkets.

Keep this pile away from the others, that way it doesn’t get mixed in with things that you actually use and want to keep.

Clean As You Go

Things in the garage can get dirty, whether it’s a lawnmower, a bucket with sponges for washing your car, or a dusty foldable table you only use on the holidays. Whatever is in your garage, clean it as you go along.

Doing this will make putting everything back in its new proper place that much easier. And it will make it easier to keep everything clean and organized once you’re done.

Make Your Ideal Garage

This part of the declutter process is where you’ll spend the most time. It is broken down into three stages, and will see you through getting everything back into its new and proper place in your garage.

Clean

At this point, you’ve already cleaned a lot of the individual items in your garage. So, now that everything is in organized piles (preferably outside of your garage), it is time to deep clean your garage space.

  • Use a duster to clean the garage walls and get rid of dust and dirt.
  • Wipe down any cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner and rag.
  • Sweep all the dust, dirt, and other things like old dry leaves out of your garage.
  • Use dish soap, hot water, and a bristled brush to clean any old grease and oil stains.
  • Mop the floors with bleach water and let sit for several hours to dry (use a fan to speed up the drying process).

Deep cleaning your garage is an important part of the process. If the garage space isn’t clean, organization will only do so much. Deep cleaning makes it so that you don’t have to clean little things as often, and it gives you a great starting point for moving all of your stuff back in.

Cleaning tip: When you clean oil and grease stains off the garage floor, pour soap over the stain and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes before scrubbing it with hot water and a brush. Repeat this process until the stain is gone, waiting 10 to 20 minutes every time you put soap down to let it set in.

Take Inventory

You have already organized all of your things into piles, but now is the time to really see what you have accumulated. Go through each of your piles one more time and reconsider if you really need each item. It’s not too late to add things to the donate and discard pile.

And while you’re going through everything one more time, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your lawnmower staying in the garage or is it going in a storage shed?
  • How many cars do you need to park inside your garage?
  • How often do you use your garage to store other things not related to your car and outdoor care? Will your garage collect more stuff quickly? Does there need to be extra room for more things?

Depending on your answers to these questions, you will have varying amounts of space to work with. Now it’s time to decide how you are going to store all of your things.

Add Storage

There are many ways to add non-permanent storage to your garage that will make everything easily accessible and secure. Here, we will go over some of the best garage storage solutions for the most common garage items.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you buy any storage equipment:

  • Measure how much space is available for any given storage unit.
  • Consider how much room your vehicle will take up and how much you need to walk around.
  • Make a budget and stick with it – there are plenty of inexpensive storage solutions.
  • Be efficient and get things that can be easily assembled, and also consider getting things that can stack, for convenience and adaptability.
  • Keep things around the edge of the garage, that way there is always room for your vehicles.

Tools and Cleaning Equipment

Because tools come in so many shapes and sizes, it’s important to have somewhere you can organize and easily access all of it. For the most effective storage, get shallow shelving that is easy to assemble and has a lot of different shelving layers. The more shelving space you have, the more tools you can place.

Or if you want something that is more closed off and you have space for something with doors, consider a free standing cabinet. A cabinet makes it more difficult to knock things over, and it also sometimes looks cleaner. This is a great option for anyone with younger children.

For storing smaller things like nails, screws, and other tool bits, consider organizers like this. It keeps everything organized and secure.

Buckets and bins work best for cleaning equipment. An all-purpose bucket makes for an easy container, but it can also be used for holding water or for toting around as a carrier if need be.

Lawnmower and Other Large Outdoor Equipment

If you have an outdoor storage shed, that is generally the best place to keep lawn equipment. Lawnmowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, and other similar equipment requires gas and oil, which can leak and spill, causing damage to the garage floor. And the equipment tends to get dirty, which may result in other things around your garage getting dirty. Keep the equipment and the oil and gas out in a storage shed, if possible.

Safety tip: Before storing chemicals or equipment in your garage or shed, check the label for storage guidelines. Be mindful of items that may cause a fire hazard or items that cannot handle extreme weather conditions.

If you do not have storage shed, make a corner for everything near the entrance to your garage. Keep it all as close to the walls as possible, and allow adequate space for these larger items. Don’t crowd that area with other things, that way nothing gets knocked over while you are moving the equipment in and out of the garage.

Sporting Equipment

Footballs, tennis rackets, and other sporting equipment often end up in the garage. To keep it all organized, consider using large bins or storage racks to keep everything together. Something like a large bin or tote is a great, cheaper way to keep balls, bats, and rackets from falling everywhere.

Or, if you want a little more organizational control, get a storage rack. These racks give space for extra things like water bottles and hats, and they also come with more compartments for more precise organizational categories.

Odds-and-Ends

Depending on what type of things you are storing, whether it be holiday decorations, old papers, trinkets, memorabilia, trophies, etc., you will want to have either clear containers or solid containers. Clear containers are great for keeping things locked away that you want to quickly find. Being able to see through the container will make this easy.

Or, if you want something put away and prefer to have things look uniform, store in solid bins and add labels. Either way, get stackable bins that have safe and secure locks on top. You want to be able to get to your stuff easily while also keeping it safe. Be sure to account for extreme weather conditions when storing items in the garage. For example, it’s best not to store candles in the garage because they may melt in extreme heat.

Put It All Together

Now that you have all your storage equipment in place, it’s time to put all of your stuff back into your garage. Everything should find a proper place where it will continue to stay long after this declutter job. Here are a final few things to keep in mind as you’re placing everything into its proper place:

  • It is still not too late to get rid of unnecessary things.
  • Donate as much as you can. Something you might not use could benefit someone else.
  • Leave space for new things and don’t pack things so tight that it’s difficult to access them.
  • Think about how often you use certain things. If you use some tools more than others, put them in the front of the cabinet.
  • Enjoy your organized garage!

We hope these tips help you declutter your garage for the Invitation Homes Clear the Clutter Challenge. Don’t forget to share pictures of your organized garage with us here for a chance to win the Grand Prize.

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