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January 09, 2013

4 Weeks to an Organized Home: Week 1 – The Garage

Posted in: How I de-cluttered

week-1.jpgI know you were hoping that I would pick anything but the garage as the first place to start on our organizing journey together, but unfortunately, as the kids say, the first is the worst in this case. The reason for this is that in the weeks to come, you will likely be bringing more stuff into the garage for storage.

So first, a thorough cleanout is in order.

1. Create a (temporary) dumping zone – It can be anywhere in the garage, the middle or by the garage door is ideal. It will be used solely over the month for items that you will be getting rid of. You will need five stations (cardboard boxes are fine):

  • Garbage – anything that can go in your trash can
  • Recycling – paper, plastic bottles, cans, cardboard
  • Donating – old clothes, toys, electronics
  • E-Waste – broken electronics (anything with a circuit board)
  • Hazardous Waste – old paint, solvents, cleaners
  • 2. Remove everything from the shelves that line the garage walls. Sort through boxes and decide whether it goes to the dumping zone or if it is a keeper. Label each box with gigantic letters using a permanent marker. Pay special attention to your storage containers – anything fabric should be in plastic with a tight fitting lid.
    3. Before you load up those shelves again, now is a great time to add additional shelving if there are gaps along your walls. I use inexpensive freestanding wooden shelves to hold everything from tools to kids bicycle accessories, cleaners and more. For a more permanent solution, build wooden shelves with 2 x 4s and plywood all the way to the ceiling, making sure to mount along studs for safety.
    4. Go through any other boxes that were not originally on the shelves, sorting to keep or to dump.
    5. Now it’s time to put boxes and tools back on the shelves – the least used items, such as Christmas decorations, should go near the ceiling where you don’t need regular access. Try to leave an entire bottom of mid-shelf open for future e-waste, donations and hazardous waste items that you will undoubtedly collect over the next year – use a clearly marked box for each.

      Additional Garage Storage Tips:

    • Use accordion style coat hooks on any unused wall space to hold bike helmets, accessories, and cleaning tools with loops tied around the handles. Industrial strength hooks can securely hold gardening tools.
    • Mount pegboards or slatwall over work benches and tables to keep tools in order. For all of those pesky loose nuts and screws, a plastic drawer system for hardware can easily be mounted to the wall as well.
    • Overhead, you have almost a whole additional garage of storage possibilities. Ceiling storage racks are readily available, some that even come with hoists for easier access – this is a great place to keep out of season sporting goods and camping gear.
    • Wall mounted bike racks are a great way to maintain your bike’s condition, keep it within easy reach for usage and reduce garage floor clutter.
    • Don’t forget to keep a recycle bin and garbage bin in the garage at all times – you probably won’t have to dump it weekly but when it fills up march it straight out to your regular outgoing trash bins.


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