Five steps for a clean and organized garage

Did you know that there’s a day dedicated solely to cleaning your garage? National Clean Your Garage Day takes place on the first Saturday after Labor Day every year, but it’s not too soon to get a jump on the mess. If there’s no room to park your car in the garage, it might be time for a good old fashioned throw and stow.

1. Declutter

Cleaning your garage takes a whole lot of elbow grease and some serious determination. Set aside at a full day, or even a weekend to get the job done. Get friends and family to pitch in to make the job both quick and entertaining.

Go through absolutely everything – boxes, bags and storage tubs – all of it! Sort items into three categories: keep, donate and toss. Sort the keepers into broad categories to be stored later. Anything you wish to donate should be taken where it needs to go as soon as possible. Don’t let it sit around and clutter things up!

garage12. Contain

Once you have your belongings sorted, you’ll need to contain them. Stackable clear-plastic bins with lids are your best option for larger items. Clear jars, painted soup cans or even kitchen food canisters are all handy for sorting hardware and small items.

Keep your kids’ toys contained in a safe corner of the garage away from any potential dangers (sharp tools, flammable liquids, chemicals, etc.) Make sure they are easily accessible and labeled with large print and graphics so little ones know what items belong to them.

3. Store

The best thing you can do to keep your garage clean is to store items off the floor whenever possible. You’ll free up room for your car and avoid large areas of clutter.

The garage ceiling is the perfect spot for hanging long, flat items you don’t use every day, such as ladders, lumber, skis and snowboards. Be sure to check clearance when hanging shelves from the ceiling so as not to interfere with your garage door’s operation or scrape the roof of your car.garage2

Pegboards are a great way to keep things off the floor. They are easy to install, can be cut to size, and painted to match your garage decor. They also keep things visible; you can draw the outline of the tools on the pegboard to easily tell at a glance if one is missing.

Use tool racks to keep garden tools, brooms and mops out from underfoot.

4. Secure

Chemicals are a common household danger for children and pets. Keep pesticides, paints, antifreeze, and other chemical substances in their original containers and in a locked cabinet. Teach kids what is and is not safe to touch and consider getting a sheet of Mr. Yuk stickers to warn children of poisons.


5. Maintain

Rain, leaves, bugs and dirt will find their way inside your garage if the doors aren’t sealed well.

John Morris of Gold Label Door explains, “Weather seals keep the weather out. This keeps the garage clean and dry.”

If the bottom of your garage door doesn’t sit flush with the floor, create a snug fit by attaching a rubberized threshold seal where the door lands to save some cleanup time.garage5

To keep seasonal insects at bay, use a pesticide perimeter treatment to stop them before they get it.

As for general maintenance:

  • Keep a bag of kitty litter for absorbing oil and grease spills.
  • Sweep and hose down the floor regularly.
  • Go through your belongings and donate or toss what you don’t need at least once a year.
  • Cleaning out your garage may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of help and a touch of organization, you’ll find yourself parking your car where it belongs before you know it.

Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

Easy Decor Upgrade: Area Rugs

Key West Bamboo Area RugFor an instant upgrade to your home decor in just about any room, an area rug is hard to beat. Whether you already have carpet, tile or hardwood, the right area rug is simply the icing on the cake.

What to Know About Area Rugs:
-Affordable: You don’t have to spend a fortune on a traditional oriental rug to get the benefits of this floor covering. There are many rugs to be found in the under $200 range that will fit your decor style.
-Define a Space: If you have a larger room or an open floor plan, an area rug can “tie together” a seating area. Place a sofa and two chairs (or other seating) in a U-shape around a floor rug to formally designate that space as a conversation area. Read more

Holiday Entertaining with No Rules

rustic table-scapeI see a lot of cool things happening in party planning right now. The trend in fall party decorating seems to be rustic, cozy and casual with some antique influences and best of all – no rules! You no longer need to go with the traditional “pumpkins and leaves” theme when accessorizing your home for a holiday party.

And you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Go to the thrift store to mix and match antique dinnerware and glassware pieces. The in-cohesive look is in style and so charming. An old beat up dinner table suddenly has chic appeal, so forget the tablecloth and dress it up with a lace runner or simple linen placemats. Read more

De-Stressing Holiday Travel

fall road tripFor many people, the decision to hit the open road for a long road trip during the fall season can be a double-edged sword. As I mentioned before in my last post, there is typically less construction during the fall and the weather tends to be more bearable (as in the weather is not too hot – I’ll get into the reverse of this later on). On the other hand, there are quite a few drawbacks to traveling during the fall and winter months. Some of these include the likelihood of inclemently-cold weather and devastatingly brutal pre-holiday traffic in October and November – not to mention the typical issues you deal with on a road trip during any time of the year. For me, the best way to stay cool, calm and collected during a long road trip in the autumn season is to prepare ahead of time. I ensure all of the organizers and travel comfort items I need are packed away, a key to successful travel. Read more

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Clutter: Part Five

Laney Watson 4th grade Kid's artThis week we’re finishing up our series by Rita Emmett; 50 Ways to Leave Your Clutter. Here are Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four in case you missed them.

~~ That Could Be Art, Bart ~~
41. Make keepsake albums for kids with a 3-ring binder. Include pictures, certificates, cards or letters, and add your own comments. Children can keep this in their rooms and will come to treasure the memories you are providing. Read more

Trash Bags: They’re Not Just For Garbage…

colored trash bagsPlease join me in welcoming our newest “Freak” – Stacey Murray!

My organizing supply tote is filled with bags of all shapes and sizes. But, when I go to a client’s home, I make sure my tote bag is filled with one specific type of bag: trash bags. Trash bags are the workhorse of a Professional Organizer’s supply stash. Read more

Experience Your Dream Drawer!

Drawer Organizer - Dream DrawerI don’t know about you, but I like searching through my dresser for matching socks about as much as I like going to the dentist!  In this increasingly busy world, every minute counts, especially in the morning when I am shuffling kids, hairdryers and my own work clothes.  Have you ever dreamed of opening up your drawers and immediately seeing exactly what you need, right where you need it?  Sounds crazy, right?

Read more

Tackling Photo Clutter

photo casesAre you saving photos of people you don’t know so you can pass them on to your kids…who also don’t know them?Are you keeping photos of places or events you have no clue about, so you can pass them on to family or friends…who also don’t have a clue?

Important Thought #1: OK, let’s start here. You are telling yourself that these old photos of people you don’t know are very important.
No, they are not. They are people you don’t know. NOBODY values those photos. Do you know why?


A Legacy of “Stuff” (Part 1)

sadEmails arrive so often describing how — in addition to all the heart-rending emotions of a death — there is the overwhelmed experience of not knowing what to do about all the “stuff” of a beloved person who has passed away.

One woman wrote that her usually uncluttered home is filled with all the items she cleared out from her mother’s house after her mom died. She said she often bursts into tears seeing paths through this new clutter in her house yet she doesn’t know what to do with any of it. She was clear that she did not want or need the stuff but she knew these were things her mother loved Read more

Get Organized for Tax Season in 5 Easy Steps

tax filingIn the words of Dave Barry, “It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”

Filing taxes = huge pain. We all know it. We all go through it once a year. And while there’s no way around tax season, there is a way to make the process less stressful.

P.R.E.P.A.R.A.T.I.O.N. Read more

Living with Purpose

examineWe all know what our kitchen, bedroom and bathroom are for, right?

Of course we do!

But how many of us really consider purpose on a daily basis when we are deciding what we bring into those rooms? It’s so easy to get caught up in the every-day of life and not even consider this concept.

How many times have you put something in your bedroom simply because you don’t have another place for it? Then you end up putting time and effort into working your way around the item just to take care of the tasks and purposes intended for that room.

This is the very thing that creates clutter in our homes and in our lives! Read more

Couponing for Real People

coupon-organizerI know of a few “extreme couponers” who can buy $100 worth of groceries for $15. It’s fantastic! But the work they put into it seems like a full time job! Do you love the idea of couponing, but not the effort?

I came across a very helpful post over at on couponing for people who hate couponing. Here’s a sampling:

WARNING: If you know what a Catalina deal is and/or have actually employed one, this may not be the post for you. If you occasionally slice your pinky open while using adult scissors, this is definitely the post for you. Read more

Home Organizing on a Budget: Easier Than You Think

shoebox-organizingWhy is it that when someone thinks about organizing their home they think that they have to stick a lot of money into it in order to do it the right way?

When it comes to storage, there isn’t any right or wrong way of doing things or choosing the things you want to use. Sometimes a cardboard box works better than a plastic storage container, especially if the amount that is stored in that box changes frequently.

Here’s an idea of what I mean: Read more

Travel Organization: Airport Advice

Travel-organizationAs much as you might be looking forward to your next trip, there is always some stress involved planning. Airports don’t make things any easier, with rules and regulations that can make getting through security seem as time consuming as the trip itself. From that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you must have forgotten something to worrying about missing your flight, there’s a lot to keep track of.

The easiest way to keep stress at bay is by planning ahead. With some organization, the right tools and a little forethought, getting in and out of any airport is easy. Read more

Tips for Organizing Cosmetics and Toiletries

cosmeticsMost of us use cosmetics or toiletries of one kind or another, but far fewer of us put a lot of thought into organizing them. Keeping these items organized can shave minutes off of your morning routine.
The first step in organizing your cosmetics and toiletries is to go through and get rid of anything that’s past its prime. Below are some helpful guidelines for weeding out the old stuff.

Cosmetic shelf-life guidelines:

Unopened, sealed products usually have a shelf life of 3-5 years or more. As long as they stay sealed, they will last for years. The shelf life countdown begins when you open it. Read more

Is Your Life Unbalanced?

balancedOften times, we tend to think of clutter as “stuff” in our space: piles of paper on the desk, clusters of toys on the rug, mounds of mail on the kitchen counter, stacks of magazines on the sofa, and heaps of laundry on the bed. And while this is true, there are other types of clutter that can creep into your life.

For example:

**Do you over-commit to people, organizations, or causes? Then you have something that clutters your schedule.

**Do you have someone in your life that bleeds your energy and patience, so much so that the very mention of their name causes you great stress? Then you have something that clutters your spirit. Read more

Lesson Learned From a Broken Washer

washboardMy washing machine broke. The spinney part barely moves and the effort makes it sound like a barking seal. We have to use the laundry facility in our park until we can get a new one.

I needed a couple things cleaned yesterday and didn’t feel like walking in the rain to do it, so I hand washed them in the bathtub. Turns out that’s no small thing! It was only ten items, but the effort left me a little breathless and sore-armed from wringing.

That got me thinking about this age of convenience we live in, and the resulting clutter it brings to our lives. Read more

5 Ways to Slim-Line Your Wardrobe

organizedHere’s a guest post from my friend, Sheila Chandra, from ‘across the pond’ – enjoy!

Most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time… That sounds like a bit of a waste doesn’t it? And the reason they tend to do that, is because many people’s closets are over-stuffed and in chaos. How would it feel to open the doors on a well organised wardrobe every morning? Would it save you 5 minutes every day? Read more

5 Steps to Shoe Storage Success

vintage-shoesAre your shoes taking over your room? Do you have trouble finding the ones you’re looking for when you’re in a rush to leave the house? Do you have duplicates that you seldom wear taking up valuable real estate in your closet? By following a few simple steps, you can get your shoes organized and learn to keep them that way. It’s just one more step toward a stress-free morning routine – and who couldn’t use that? Read more

5 Things That Should Not Be in Your Closet

“totally rad” 80's costumeYou didn’t know it when you woke up this morning, but today is your day of reckoning. Yep, that’s right! It’s time to open up your closet doors and face your wardrobe head-on.

There are many considerations when it comes to editing your clothing and accessories, and here are the top 5 “wardrobe violations” that should not be in your closet — EVER.

(1) Stains
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many sweat stains and ketchup stains I run across in my line of work. Staining is a constant threat to any article of clothing! And it can happen anywhere, so clothes should be checked all over. The biggest problem spots tend to be the edges of long-sleeve shirts or jackets, around the inside of collars, and underarm areas.

(2) Outdated Style
What happened in the 80s, fashion-wise, should stay there and not your closet. (Unless it’s for a “totally rad” costume, of course!) Read more

15 New Uses for Newspaper

newspaperNewspaper is cheap and abundant and, as it turns out, quite absorbent of both moisture and odors.

Here is a list of some of my favorite uses for your old newspaper:

1. Packing for Storage or a Move– Wrap dishes and delicate knick-knacks with several pieces of newspaper. Wad up some extra pieces to fill and pad any extra space in the box. For extra strength, wet the newspaper before wrapping and let dry thoroughly before packing to create a protective cast! Read more

How I Reduced My Closet 50%

closetI am a master at impulse shopping for clothes, and then wearing something only once before it sits in my closet for years. Parting with clothes has never been one of my strengths. I know it’s illogical to own something for that long without utilizing it, but I always stump myself with the question, “But… what if someday I do want to wear this?” Come on, I know I’m not the only one who does that!

I just moved into a darling new downtown apartment, with lots of old fashion charm, and very old-fashion closets. Small closets, that is. My previous 6-foot long closet was packed wall to wall, so I had to do some painful – but necessary – purging in order to fit into the new one. Read more

Ten Tips for Packing Light

travel lightWith most of the airlines charging baggage fees now, it’s getting more and more expensive to travel. I’ll be flying in a few months and wanted some tips on traveling with only one carry-on suitcase. I found an article by Diana Pemberton Sikes She has some GREAT tips for packing light! Here’s an excerpt from the article:

At the height of my clothing consumption days in my late teens, we were invited to the wedding of a family friend in Austin, Texas. It was a two day drive from our home in Colorado Springs, and my mother, in the interest of managing her limited trunk space, gave me an ultimatum: I could only take as many clothes as I needed for the trip. No more. Read more

Seasonal Closet Switch

leavesThe cold months are upon us! From coast to coast, even in sunny California, it’s time to make the seasonal closet switch!

Since we are switching from warm weather to cool weather, that means it’s really time to get organized. Why? Because, quite simply, summer clothes are smaller than winter clothes.

Here are some tips on getting through the transition smoothly: Read more

Space Treat: The Power of the Purge!

paper-clutterThis is one of the things I just love about organizing with my clients… so, last week a client and I are elbow deep in her papers, sifting through and making sense of them when she exclaims… “It feels so good to get rid of this stuff and make some new space! I haven’t used this stuff in 10 years and I’ve been carting it around during 2 moves! It’s just amazing how you hold onto stuff that you never end up using or even needing.” Read more

Charity Profile: Books for Soldiers

If you love to read, I bet you’ve got a pretty nice stockpile of books. I’ll go even further and say that I bet you only read 2-5 of those books on a regular basis, and the rest are just “dust collectors.”

Am I right or am I right?

I just came across a wonderful charity that can help you downsize your library, opening up a little more space for something else! It’s called Books for Soldiers. Read more