Organize Your Garage: Top Hacks for Keeping It Clean

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It's easy to organize your garage when it's empty!
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Perhaps you’ve read my previous post on things you could toss from your garage (or other favorite personal dumping-ground) NOW. And you’re ready to make the most of your newfound space, so it stays neat for more than two seconds. So it’s time for a post on my favorite hacks to organize your garage.

While these hacks come mainly from my own efforts to keep our garage under control, they can also be used in whatever closet, attic, or crawl-space is your own favorite personal dumping-ground.

So if you’re ready to make the most of your newly-reclaimed space, here are my

Top Three Hacks To Help Organize Your Garage

1. Add (or rearrange) shelves

Our garage came with lots of shelving installed by the previous owners. When we were moving in, all those shelves gave us lots of places to just dump things, from old work papers to unused home brewing equipment and spare wine-bottle corks.

But as I’ve tried to improve our use of those shelves over the years, I’ve realized a few tweaks could make them work better for our family’s needs. For example, the breaks at the middle and end of the wire shelving make it hard to use that space fully. Plus, if the bottom shelf were just ten inches higher, we could store grown-up bikes under it – instead of putting them in front of the shelves, and being tempted to pile up junk under the shelves.

And all the shelves are spaced way too far apart for the stuff we need to store on them.

So I rummaged through the options in our spare-parts corner, and also the selection at our local Habitat ReStore, for some additional shelving and the hardware to install it. No, not all of it matches. But I honestly don’t care if my garage looks like it came out of a magazine, so long as it works for our needs.

So, in the weeks to come I’ll rearrange our wire shelving so

  • it’s high enough to park bikes underneath,
  • there are no more gaps between sections, and
  • there is less vertical space between each shelf.

2. Hang it up

If you have too much miscellaneous stuff whose home is wherever-it-lands-on-the-garage-floor, find it a better home on the walls. Or even the ceiling, if your dumping-room has rafters. Getting stuff up and off the floor is the best way I know to organize your garage when it comes to seasonal and little-used items.

For example,

  • We have lots of tool holders lining the shelf-free walls of our garage.
  • Hooks just outside the door to our kitchen hold the whisk broom and dustpan, at a kid-friendly height.
  • My bag of gardening tools hang on a heavy-duty hook off the wire shelving.
  • Other rarely-used tools, like our hand truck and fertilizer-spreader, hang on high-up utility hooks I installed near the ceiling.
  • Hooks near the door to outside hold our snow-clothes-drying rack, the girls’ snow shovels, and their gardening tools when not in use.

3. Set some boundaries

Finally, if you’re going to take the time to organize your garage in the first place, you’ll probably want it to stay that way. That’s where setting some boundaries comes in handy.

A. Physical boundaries

Some of these boundaries will be physical. Some people hang a tennis ball from the ceiling, so they know when to stop the car when driving it in to park it. In our case, cardboard waiting to be broken down for recycling is now confined to one corner. Bike tools, parts, and supplies are confined to another corner.

The girls also have their own boundaries to manage.

  • They know that their bike helmets live on their handlebars when not in use. And it’s no one’s problem but theirs if they put it down somewhere else and then can’t find it.
  • Likewise, just like with their indoor toys, they know that any toys not put back in their proper places might go “on vacation” (I.e., away for an unspecified amount of time).
  • And any bikes not parked where they belong might get run over by Mama when she backs her car into the garage. (Some parents even use tape, paint, or chalk to outline physical parking places in the garage for things like bikes and strollers.)

B. Mental boundaries

But while physical boundaries are important, mental ones are also critical. No, the world won’t end if kiddos don’t put their toys away where they belong. (Though Mama could break her kneecap, as we’ve learned the hard way.) Or if Mama and Daddy don’t keep their bike gear, grownup tools, and related “garage items” contained.

But once we let, say, the cardboard pile spread beyond its designated area, it’s harder to keep other things in their proper places. The same is true for those heaps of other recycling, boxes of stuff-to-donate, and so on.

So if something has crept beyond its allotted space, you have two choices:

  • You can find a solution to keep it contained in its designated area.
  • Or you can organize your garage all over again. Either sooner, by giving it a larger space, or later – because you’ve let it get out of control again.

What about you? Is there a favorite hack you use to organize your garage, and/or keep it neat? Let us know!

 


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