Get your garage ready for summer

A lovely woman named Meri who works for California Closets e-mailed me last week to see if I would be interested in talking to Peter Walsh about garage organizing. Her offer came literally minutes before I was to interview him about office organizing. I told Meri that Peter is probably getting sick of us here at Unclutterer, and maybe she could just pass along some of his tips by e-mail.

She happily obliged, and a day later the following advice arrived in my inbox. If you’re in need of turning your garage back into a garage, these tips can serve as your instructional guide to a clean and organized space –

  1. Remove: If you want to really organize from the ground up, take everything out and take a good look at the space you have.
  2. Measure your car: When everything is out of your garage, pull in your cars and mark the floor where your car ends on all sides. You now know how much room you have if you want your car to fit.
  3. Throw Out: Get rid of the old and damaged. Decide what items are no longer useful, damaged, or have missing pieces, and dispose of them.
  4. Recycle: Reduce the clutter and be eco-friendly. Old newspapers, magazines, glass, aluminum, old oil or paint can be recycled.
  5. Donate: Time to get rid of the things that won’t ever fit or you won’t ever use again. If the items are still in good shape, donate them to a worthy cause.
  6. Group Items By Category so they are easy to find: When returning items to your garage, group like items together, such as sports and recreational equipment, garbage and recycling, lawn and garden, hardware, home maintenance, and tools.

I really liked the second tip to outline the car while the garage is empty. Simple, practical, and a fantastic idea. Once again, thanks to Peter Walsh for his terrific advice.

27 Comments for “Get your garage ready for summer”

  1. posted by WilliamB on

    #7: Dispose of any unknown or hazardous materials at a HazMat disposal site! BTW, latex paint can be thrown out (as opposed to HazMat) if you let it dry out first.

    Tips 1 and 2 are great, the rest are pretty straightforward. I would put the list in a different order though:
    1. Remove.
    2. Dispose of HazMat.
    3. Donate or sell.
    4. Recycle.
    5. Throw out.
    6. Measure car.
    7. Group by category.

    And then #8: maintain. When I first moved in I did all of the above, including cleaning the unorganized dusty materials left by the contractors. Some years later the garage isn’t in such pretty shape. Time to do it again.

    Another possibility: do you need to store your car in the garage during the summer? I don’t so I leave bike, gardening tools, and other summer gear in the middle. In the winter they get put away in their less convenient permanent homes. It’s so much easier to go for a ride when I don’t have to get the car out of the garage, let the bike down from the ceiling with pulleys, and dust it off.

  2. posted by Adventure-Some Matthew on

    I should print this out and drop it off at one of the homes I drive by every day. This gentleman’s garage “might” have a path from door to door!

    When outlining your car, don’t forget to leave enough room for open doors. I’ve been in garages where it was easy enough to park, but a tight squeeze in and out of the car.

  3. posted by timgray on

    Ahh a topic at the front of my mind… Garage. This year I have to fit a sports car, 2 motorcycles, and 2 recumbent trikes, PLUS all the garage tools and my engine project into a single stall garage. This means I need to do the “hard purge” and get rid of close to 70% of everything in the garage. Camping gear needs a new home and I’m reclaiming space in the rafters for that.

    Bikes: I found that getting and installing the “bike lift” rope and pully systems get the bikes up and out of the way are very effective and easy to use.

    Tools: you cant beat a good toolbox. you need one, get one big enough to hold ALL your tools. It’s worth it in the long run.

    Garage stuff: I found that much of my garage has things that I really do not need, but I hold on to for some strange reason… The touch up paint for the car I had 3 cars ago, spare tiles for the kitchen tile work, really old cans of paint. All of that really needs to go away, I can see holding on to a couple of spare kitchen tiles, but not 20 of them.

    Storing vertically : seasonal items only, or rarely used items like camping gear. Dont store boxes of your aunts porcelain dolls up there. If your above garage storage is not mostly empty by june, then get rid of the stuff up there. (unless it’s full of Xmas yard ornaments..)

  4. posted by Karen on

    I would add CLEAN right after REMOVE. It is much easier to clean up any leaks, dirt, leaves, etc. with everything out of the way.

    When I was a kid, we used to take everything out of the garage once a year, scrub and hose off the floor, and then put everything back. Ok, that last part didn’t make much sense, but at least it was clean.

  5. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    For marking out the car on the floor – pull the car in, drop a tennis or whiffle ball on a line from the rafter so that it just hits the windshield.

    Put blue painter’s tape on the floor, outlining the car and including swing room for the doors, don’t forget the hatchback door if you’ve got one of those. Drive the car out of the garage. Voila! You’ve got a permanent marker for the car to stop with the hanging tennis ball, and the blue tape pulls up easily with no residue when you’re done with the project.

    Great topic – thanks, Peter and Erin,

    Ruth

  6. posted by JustGail on

    Good tips. WilliamB’s point about keeping what’s used at the current time of year in the garage and rotating “out of service” items to less convenient storage is good, esp. if you can have a small shed in your back yard.

    When you measure the car, don’t forget to allow for opening doors. We’ll not discuss how I know to remind people of this.

  7. posted by JustGail on

    oops – I read comments too fast, and now I see others pointed out the “open car doors” issue also.

    Under #3 (get rid of old or damaged items), keep in mind some items should not be stored in garages (most attics either). I’m thinking mostly of paper/textile items. If not sealed, bugs and mice will destroy them, and if sealed in plastic, mildew might.

    The “maintain” is also key. If nothing else, making yourself haul everything out every year might make the keep/delete decision easier.

  8. posted by Dawn F on

    I highly recommed installing ceiling-mounted shelves. We have a set of 2 of them and keep outdoor Christmas decorations, a large wreath and lights on these shelves. Since these items are only accessed twice per year (once to take down and once to put up), having them on shelves mounted to the ceiling is perfect! The shelves are affordable and sturdy (we got ours from Lowe’s).

    I also recommend installing a handy shoe rack in the garage for outdoor yard/sports shoes.

    I love to organize and clean our garage (am I nuts?)! We park our full-size Tundra and a Tahoe in our standard size garage plus store a large tool box on wheels, small work bench, recyling bin and the usual outdoor/garage type items. We have one wall that has long wire adjustable shelving mounted starting half-way up the wall and then up to the ceiling (at the level of the Tahoe side mirror).

    One long shelf is gardening and pots, one long shelf is car care products, one long shelf is painting and accesories and one long shelf is sporting goods and a few bulky items like a sprayer and a hand-held waxer, which we rarely use. Our system works out great for us and forces us to ONLY store what fits making us really choose carefully between what we need, what we want and what we can live without.

    Great topic today!

  9. posted by Anonymous Homeowner on

    > Another possibility: do you need to store
    > your car in the garage during the summer?
    > I don’t

    Many HOAs do not permit homeowners to park their vehicles on their driveway.

  10. posted by Shalin on

    Very cool and good tips for my summer garage organization/design project.

    I took the car-dimensions into account into my sketches, but I think I’ll have to do that in real-life and use the tennis ball or similar idea (http://www.smarthome.com/71872.....tem/p.aspx).

    –Shalin

  11. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I’m with Karen in adding “CLEAN” after the “remove” step. Our garage is home to multitudinous spiders and a few mice (impossible to completely get rid of since we live near the woods and they always find a way in, no matter how many holes and cracks we seal), and I have my “messy” workbench out there. Every year we take *everything* out and sweep out all the webs and stray leaves and droppings and miscellaneous stuff, then hose down the floor. While we’re waiting for that to dry, we sort through all the stuff and decide what needs to go. And every time we do it, it seems like we find a better way to organize things. I’m actually looking forward to the whole process again this summer.

  12. posted by Bridget on

    I second the tennis ball trick. Perfect for small garages, this means you can A, make the most of your space while still getting the door of your garage shut, and B, make sure there are no errant bumpers ending up in shelves or knocking things over.

  13. posted by Kerri on

    @Dawn: great tip on the shoe rack for garden/sports shoes! Why didn’t I think of that before all the dirt got tracked into the mudroom??!

    This article is so timely–cleaning out the garage was already on my to-do list this week.

  14. posted by infmom on

    The problem with taking everything out of a cluttered garage is that then it’s all over the yard and you have to put it back. We have tried that approach a couple of times and inevitably we have just flat-out run out of energy before everything gets put back. One time it took us a week. The other time, an unexpected rain storm blew in and we had to shove it all back willy-nilly before it got soaked.

    The next time we clean the garage, and by golly there will be a next time, we are just going to work our way around it bit by bit and deal with things as we get to them. That way most everything stays inside till it’s dealt with and we don’t have a back yard full of stuff.

    Oh, and we don’t park the car in there. Our house and its driveway were built in 1930 and there is not quite enough room to get the car down the driveway, even if the garage was clutter-free enough to accept it. :) I do park my Vespa in there, though, just like the garage in the photo!

  15. posted by Karen on

    @Lori I live in the woods, too. No wonder we think alike! And I agree that there is no way to keep mice out completely. I try to keep it neat enough so I can find their nests once they find a new way in.

  16. posted by Daily Review #59 | The Queue Blog on

    [...] Get your garage ready for summer – I just spent part of this weekend doing that. I’d buy less tools if I did this more often. Because I could find the tools. [...]

  17. posted by The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Lunch Edition on

    [...] Get Your Garage Ready for Summer This was high on my to-do list recently, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. When our child was born last week, my parents and in-laws came to visit, and my father and father-in-law cannot sit still. So, out of boredom, they did this out in our garage, getting rid of a lot of obvious junk, rearranging some stuff, and leaving some questionable items out for me to look through. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  18. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Lunch Edition on

    [...] Get Your Garage Ready for Summer This was high on my to-do list recently, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. When our child was born last week, my parents and in-laws came to visit, and my father and father-in-law cannot sit still. So, out of boredom, they did this out in our garage, getting rid of a lot of obvious junk, rearranging some stuff, and leaving some questionable items out for me to look through. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  19. posted by Michael on

    Anyone have ideas on donation places? I know about the Salvation Army, however, are there other places that may need more assistance?

    Thanks,

    -michael

  20. posted by Sue on

    We have tried the take-everything-out-and-clean-and-put-it-back method, but it becomes too exhausting to complete in one day. I have reverted to the do-one-side-of-the-garage-in-a-day method with great success. Since there are only three walls in our garage, it can be done in less than a month of Saturdays. The key is doing it on the weekends, because our trash pickup day is Monday (6am) and that gives us less time to weaken and rescue something from the curb.

  21. posted by mydivabydesign - The Diva's Home on

    Straightforward advice or not, many people don’t follow it! It really is easy to get organized, just not so easy to get started when you feel overwhelmed! Clearing clutter is the best way to get good energy or Chi flowing through your home (and even your garage).

  22. posted by All Kind Mortgage » Blog Archive » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Lunch Edition on

    [...] Get Your Garage Ready for Summer This was high on my to-do list recently, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. When our child was born last week, my parents and in-laws came to visit, and my father and father-in-law cannot sit still. So, out of boredom, they did this out in our garage, getting rid of a lot of obvious junk, rearranging some stuff, and leaving some questionable items out for me to look through. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  23. posted by lola on

    @Sue – That’s very similar to what we do, except we do it after our garage sales. Saturday we sell everything at the price we hope to get, then Sunday, we have a no-holds-barred free-for-all where we take any reasonable offer a customer makes. During the last hour or two, we’ll start giving stuff away because the goal is to not bring anything back in! The leftovers are packed in the car and driven to the Goodwill Store.

    @Michael – Try http://www.charitynavigator.org/

  24. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Lunch Edition | Frugal Living News on

    [...] Get Your Garage Ready for Summer This was high on my to-do list recently, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. When our child was born last week, my parents and in-laws came to visit, and my father and father-in-law cannot sit still. So, out of boredom, they did this out in our garage, getting rid of a lot of obvious junk, rearranging some stuff, and leaving some questionable items out for me to look through. (@ unclutterer) [...]

  25. posted by Garage organization – Is it as ready for Summer as you are? « Home Staging, Home Organizing and Family Solutions – Stagetecture, LLC on

    [...] Unclutterer has a feature on how to organize your garage for the summer.  Go grab your spouse, and read on! [...]

  26. posted by Garage organization – Is it as ready for Summer as you are? on

    [...] Unclutterer has a feature on how to organize your garage for the summer.  Go grab your spouse, and read on! [...]

  27. posted by Overhead Rolling Garage Doors :: B&D Roll-A-Door distributed by Garador - Vancouver Based Company on

    [...] and make sure that these are neatly stacked with space for air to flow between each item there. Unclutter provides some good tips for just how to effectively tidy your [...]

Comments are closed.