Spring is here! With the dark, cold days of winter behind us, and the promise of fresh air and summer fun around the corner, many homeowners find that spring is the perfect time to refresh their homes through spring cleaning. Typical annual cleaning tasks include decluttering closets and scrubbing often-neglected areas like baseboards and doorknobs.
One chore that’s commonly overlooked is garage spring cleaning. It’s easy to turn this area of the home into a repository for items we don’t quite know what to do with, and since we’re often only passing through the garage, we’re not confronted with the problem every day as we are with a messy pantry, for example. Garage clutter is so overwhelming that in a 2015 survey, 23% of Americans reported that their garage was too disorganized to fit even one car inside.
What can we do about our messy garages? Check out our list of garage spring cleaning tips and start thinking about how you can clean and organize your garage to make it work best for you.
1. Create a goal and plan accordingly.
Other than the obvious car storage, what do you want to use the garage for? Often it can be the right space to work on car repairs, woodworking projects and other hobbies. Maybe storage is a priority and you could free up limited indoor closet space by optimizing the garage in new ways. Think about what makes sense for your needs.
Plan your process based on what makes sense for your schedule. Maybe you want to take everything out of the garage during a nice weekend and sort it on the driveway. If that’s overwhelming, maybe you can work in sections instead and complete a bit each day. Just choose a method on which you’ll actually follow through.
When going through all the “stuff” in the garage, be honest about whether you use each item and truly need it. If so, keep it. If not, donate anything that’s in good condition so someone else can get some use out of it. You might be surprised by items that are accepted at donation centers such as Habitat for Humanity ReStores – not only do they accept tools, but their donation list includes bricks and pavers, doors and windows, lumber, paint, light fixtures and building materials.
For anything that can’t be donated, recycle if it’s an option, or otherwise throw it away safely. Many paint stores offer paint can recycling, and municipalities often hold a hazardous household waste disposal day for items such as oils, batteries and pesticides.
3. Clean and spruce up.
While we focus on cleanliness in the home areas we consider indoors, garages are often overlooked. Take this garage spring cleaning opportunity to start fresh. Vacuum or sweep, dust, clear out cobwebs and scrub and disinfect surfaces. If you’re clearing everything out at once, touch up or add a new coat of paint to enhance the clean look.
4. Think about day-to-day life.
Consider these questions as you make changes to your garage layout:
What is best placed close to the door leading to the house? (Example: Garbage and recycling bins should be a short toss away.)
What do you need frequently? (Example: Bikes, lawn care and sports equipment should be easily accessible.)
What don’t you need to access as often? (Example: Seasonal decorations and winter/summer clothes can be stored out of the way, sealed in bins with lids to avoid musty smells and critters.)
5. Implement an organization system.
You may decide it makes sense to divide areas of the garage into zones for different uses such as lawn care, sports, house projects and more. It could even help to designate these zones by color – for example, if all holiday decorations are stored in green bins and clothes in blue bins, it will contribute to the sense that everything has its own place. If every item has a “home,” keeping the garage organized will feel natural and less like a chore.
6. Add storage accessories.
Adding garage storage accessories helps you to use every available surface. Overhead storage racks are sturdy, strong and great for storing large bins and heavy tires. Wall shelves are more accessible and therefore helpful for storing paint cans, cleaners and other household items. Hooks can be attached directly to the wall or underneath shelves for bikes and garden tools.
7. Make a plan to maintain.
Set a plan to keep your organization systems going to save future time and hassle. Sweep regularly so the garage feels pristine, and don’t revert to putting items on the ground – find a proper storage spot that makes sense. Ensure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste; keep a clean garage for the rest of the year and beyond!