How to Organize Your Garage in Three Easy Steps

Aug 17, 2016 / Alyssa Duranty

In the midst of what may be a clutter emergency, figuring out how to organize your garage may seem impossible.

Paige Killian, mom, professional organizer, best-selling author, and owner of Everything With Style, recommends using a 3 E’s Checklist that will “stop the overwhelm and get you closer to checking off all the things on your list.”;

Getting organized can be as easy as 1-2-3 if you follow the proven steps of our organizing experts. With a little patience and their suggestions, you too can have your garage in order in no time.

Empty Your Garage to Start Reorganizing

Step one of a garage reorganization should to remove everything and start with a blank canvas, says blogger Rachel Beach.

When she moved into her fixer-upper home, Beach made sure to organize the garage so she and her husband could easily find everything they would need for upcoming home-improvement projects. She started her blog, Craving Some Creativity, to chronicle their successes.

“The first thing we did was to pull everything out to see what we had,”; she said. “If you pull everything out, you have to deal with it somehow. It makes you face reality and say ‘Do I really want to put all of this back?'”;

Beach was able to reorganize in a weekend.

Killian refers to this step as the purge.

“It’s time to get the stuff that you are not using, that’s not serving you, out of the space,”; she said.

Blogger Cristina Garay spent three months decluttering her garage after she realized that it was chock-full of stuff she didn’t need.

For her large project, she said it worked best to sort her stuff as she pulled everything off the shelves. You can see the before-and-after photos on her blog Remodelando la Casa.

“Remove everything and sort it into three piles: things that need to be in the garage, things that you want to keep but should go to other places in the house, and a pile for things you want to donate,”; she said.

Donate as Much as Possible When You’re Organizing Your Garage

This donation purge should be your second step. Garage sales are an easy way to get rid of items and make some quick cash. You could also go digital and use sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. Services like Poshmark, ThredUp, and DePop are also useful.

You can also check out local churches or community services, as well as national charity outposts.

For some, this step may also be the most painful, warns Beach. She remembers finding a random box of wires she hadn’t used in years during the process. Her husband didn’t want to get rid of it: “You never know when you need one!”;

“Getting my husband to look through things specifically, rather than just letting them live in boxes, was the biggest challenge,”; she said.

Beach and Garay recommend keeping only what you’ve used recently or will use sometime soon.

By reorganizing and culling, they found room to store all of their necessities, with room to spare for more tools and DIY project space.

“If you haven’t used an item in one or two years, you’re not going to use it. So you should donate it,”; said Garay. “It’s wasting space.”;

You also should think about addressing your “to donate”; piles early and often.

“A lot of people will make a donate pile, and they’ll put it back in the garage, but then it will just sit there for years,”; Beach said. “Give yourself a timeline to get those actions done. I recommend a week.”;

Garay makes sure her clutter doesn’t build back up in her garage by taking items – like old toys – to a local swap meet, where she likes getting a little money back.

Create Storage in Your Garage to Get and Stay Organized

collage of paige organizing closet and finished product on the right sid

You are ready for step three, adding organization systems like shelves and racks, once you’ve purged all of your unnecessary stuff. You’ll need a place for things to go, where you can easily find items and put them away again.

“This is the fun part,”; Killian said. “This is where you get to pick all the containers and put together all the stuff you did decide to keep.”;

Beach turned to Craigslist when she moved into a garage that had zero shelving.

She found an affordable option that worked well for her, and the relatively simple step made a huge difference in how well the garage functioned.

“Before, nothing had a place to go, so everything ended up in a random place, and no one could find anything,”; she said. “My son’s toys were literally on the floor. It was organizing those small things that made our work so much easier.”;

Garay, on the other hand, added DIY garage shelves after watching a how-to video tutorial, which she links to in her garage reorganization blog article.

She also uses clear, plastic tubs. Being able to see through them helps her find what she’s looking for without pulling each one down. She labels the bins to make stuff even easier to find.

“I remember I didn’t pay much attention, and I didn’t know what to buy when I went shopping because there were so many choices of bins,”; she said. “I had to go back home and take measurements. So make sure you find storage that fits your space.”;

She recommends stacking to make the most of your shelves. Store heavier boxes and stuff you need most often near the bottom, but make sure these things can be easily moved without disturbing what’s on top.

Both women also improved the way they organize tools by using wall-hanging systems. One woman installed pegboard. The other bought a garage tool rack, available at hardware stores.

Garay said she initially felt overwhelmed when she started her garage reorganization. She got through it by tackling one area at a time, always starting with the one that bothered her the most. “Don’t give up, and keep going at it. Once you finish that part, you’ll be more eager to continue on to the other parts,”; she said “Just remember, it won’t happen in one day. So don’t try and burn yourself out.”;

Laura Bolt contributed to this report.

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