5 Steps to a Perfectly Organized Garage

Is your garage crowded, disorganized or just plain messy? This simple plan will help you tame the garage in a day.

5 Steps to a Perfectly Organized Garage studiovin / Shutterstock.com

Chances are that an overgrown mess is hiding behind your garage door.

When Consumer Reports surveyed more than 1,000 garage owners nationwide last year, the nonprofit learned that 62 percent of them admit their garages are crowded, disorganized or messy.

Almost one-third of Americans don’t even park cars in there.

You can easily spend a small fortune hiring a professional organizer and buying high-end custom storage. But you can also do it yourself for little to no cost. These steps are the keys to tackling the task in as little as one day.

1. Clear the clutter

First, gather supplies like garbage bags, empty boxes or bins, or perhaps a small Dumpster.

Then get rid of items that are no longer used or needed, and ask yourself whether you really need to keep any items that weren’t used in the past 12 months.

It helps to sort discards based on how you plan to dispose of them: trash, sell or donate. Everything else will constitute a “keep” pile.

2. Sort what is left

With the unwanted items out of the way, you should have room to sort the “keep” items. If you don’t, consider removing everything from the garage so you can sort the “keep” items elsewhere. That also gives you a blank slate in the garage.

Now, sort by grouping like items together. For example, your groupings might include power tools or sports equipment.

3. Determine the garage’s purpose

When you’re done sorting, examine your groupings and the space you have in the garage. Think about the various purposes the garage serves, and list those purposes by priority. This list will help you determine the best way to store things.

Examples of garage purposes include:

  • Parking. Remember to set aside enough space for this zone so that car doors can swing open freely.
  • Recycling
  • Workshop station
  • Woodworking station
  • Crafting station
  • Tools storage
  • Sports equipment storage
  • Garden supplies storage
  • Holiday decoration storage

4. ‘Zone’ things into place

Professional organizer and author Peter Walsh breaks down the purposes a space must serve into “zones.” He tells O magazine:

“What do you want your garage to be used for? Parking? Storage? Maybe woodworking? Make every area its own zone, based on use, and keep only the things that fit in each.”

Use your list of purposes to determine:

  • The zones your garage needs
  • Where each zone should go
  • How much space each zone should take up

Then put “keep” items back into place based on the zone in which they belong.

5. Store wisely

Following a few organizational principles will help you zone things back into place more efficiently:

Store vertically. There are only so many square feet of floor space in any given room. So maximize wall space with mounted or freestanding shelves or with pegboards, for example. If wall space isn’t enough, Consumer Reports suggests the ceiling:

The ceiling has become the new frontier in garage storage, with systems designed to hold items as varied as hurricane shutters, big coolers and surfboards. Overhead storage is an economical alternative to a cabinet for large, long and relatively flat objects.

These types of storage systems generally can be found for relatively low prices at home improvement stores, department stores or secondhand stores.

The Art of Manliness blog reports that custom mounted shelves can be as cheap as the cost of a few “L” brackets and wood planks. The Home Depot and Family Handyman magazine have tutorials for a simple pegboard and a folding pegboard, respectively, and the blog Mom 4 Real has a tutorial for a neat portable tool caddy made with pegboard.

Consider frequency of use. The items used most often should be stored such that they can be accessed most easily. Thus, seasonal items might be stored higher up so that more commonly used items can be stored within sight and reach.

Label, label, label. This is especially important if you are an organizationally challenged person who is liable to simply toss something back in the wrong place if you are even remotely unsure where it belongs.

What’s your favorite garage organizing tip? Let us know what has (or hasn’t) worked for you by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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