All The Steps You Need To Make Garage Organization Easy

All The Steps You Need To Make Garage Organization Easy

Bob loves to talk about how much he loves his well-organized garage and how much he does in it. Listeners usually envision a big, airy garage with a fancy shelf system, bright lighting, and a speckled epoxy-painted floor. But Bob’s garage is a 1-car garage with a 100-watt bulb and an old cement floor. What makes Bob love his never-going-to-be-a-magazine-cover garage so much?

While it would be nice to have Jay Leno’s garage, you can have a garage that works well for you without moving to a different home or spending much money. An organizing truism states that 95% of organizing is decluttering. This is true in homes and it’s true in garages.

Jay Leno leaning against a car in his garage

Define the Space

Every organizing job starts with defining the space. What do you want your garage to do for you? Park cars in the garage? Store toys and equipment there? Provide a workbench? Contain camping equipment? Store lawn products and equipment? Hold kitchen overflow of water bottles, paper towels, etc.? Once you’ve decided what the purpose of your garage is, that will drive every other decision. For example, if you have a two-car garage with two cars and a lot of toys, tools, and equipment, consider devoting one bay for the car and the other for the rest since it isn’t all going to fit.

Collection of stuff from the garage placed in a box on the lawn


Garages are a lot like kitchens–once you start decluttering, it’s surprising how much is there. The best thing to do is to pull everything out of the garage (pick a good weather day—not too hot, cold, or wet). As you pull things out, decide whether to keep or discard them. Place the things you’re keeping in separate piles of similar items. These piles might include sports equipment, bikes and riding toys, lawn products, tools, kitchen overflow, etc.

Decluttering Tips

Discard things you haven’t used in a long time. Inside the home, I suggest discarding items that haven’t been used in 1-2 years. In a garage, that time frame is usually 2-4 years.

Discard products that are expired, dried up, or in unusable condition. Be mindful of proper disposal of hazardous materials.

Combine products and items when you can.

The best way to manage stuff is to have less stuff. Going forward, consider not buying every tool or piece of equipment you want if you can share them with a neighbor or rent them.

If you’re storing a lot of cardboard boxes in your garage, consider how many you actually use and eliminate the excess.

Once the garage is empty, it’s time to “clean” it. Sweep the walls, shelving, and floor free of cobwebs and debris. But don’t go crazy–it’s a garage, after all.

Establish Zones

Now that everything is removed, look at the piles you’ve created. You purged as you brought things out of the garage. Now, purge again. Do you have more than you need as you look at all the toys and sports equipment? Do you have room for all the lawn products in the pile? Do the math—you don’t want to keep more than you have room for AND can reasonably retrieve.

3 jugs of motor oil

Decide where your zones will be. Now that the garage is empty, you can put things anywhere that makes sense to you—they don’t necessarily have to go back where they came from. Place items you need frequently as close as possible to the place you’ll be taking them from. For instance, if you store paper towel overflow in the garage and have a door from the house into the garage, place the paper towels near that door.

Zone Tips

Use painter’s tape to mark off spots on the garage floor to park bikes and the kids’ riding toys.

Think vertically as well as horizontally. You can hang things on walls such as tools with handles, bikes, and shelves to hold things.

Plastic utility shelves from a place like Home Depot are usually the cheapest and best shelving option. Use metal shelving if you’re putting many heavy things on the shelves.

plastic utility shelf
work table

If you’re lucky enough to have a work bench for hardware and tools, that’s great. If not, a heavy table works well too.

Like Bob, your garage doesn’t have to be big or beautiful. By clearing out the things you’re not using so you can see and reach the things you are using and putting them in more efficient places, you’ll have a garage that you can truly appreciate.

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