Getting a Grip on Your Garage

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy flickr
If you’re like most Americans, COVID-19 is still cramping your style more than a month after the pandemic begun.  That means you’re spending a lot more time at home since there’s precious little to do.  Instead of whiling away the time watching TV, I’ve got a better idea.  Why not take the time to organize your garage?  Intended to house a car or two, the garage in most homes has become the catchall area used to store everything from household chemicals and tools, to disused furniture and toys.  If your garage has denigrated into little more than a household warehouse that’s chock full of junk, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and clear it out.

You know you have a problem garage when… – If you’ve had trouble finding something stored in your garage, or have trouble negotiating your way through it due to clutter, it’s high time to take the bull by the horns.  Forget the fact that you don’t you know what all is in there, much less what you’re going to do with all the junk.  Acknowledging the problem is the first step to finding a solution.  The second step is motivating yourself into taking action.

      1.      Dude, where’s your car? – If you’re like most people with a cluttered garage, then your car sleeps in the driveway.  Since wind, weather and sun take their toll on any vehicle, by organizing your garage and clearing out some of the clutter so you can park a vehicle inside, you’ll add years to the life of your car by being able to park it indoors.

      2.      The man or woman with a plan – I know your garage may currently look like a landfill, which makes the thought of tackling the task seem daunting.  Understand that as big of a job as organizing your garage may seem, it doesn’t have to be done all at once.  The most important part of the plan is to assess what’s currently stored in your garage.  Wade in there and write down what’s what.  Are your tools in one location or are they all over the place?  Have your gardening implements begun to commingle with your sporting goods?  Do you really want your holiday decorations parked right next to the paint cans?   By taking a quick inventory of what’s in there, you can get some idea of how and where to start making sense of the mess.

Image courtesy Wallpaper Flare
Is your stuff stacked sky high? – One of the best ways to get a grip on garage clutter is to verticalize.  By that, I don’t mean piling or stacking the stuff on top of each other.  That’s generally the way the garage got into a state of disarray in the first place.  What I’m talking about are adding things like shelves, pegboards, hooks, hanging racks and bins that eliminate clutter and help you find a place for everything so you can keep everything in its place.  Think about it.  Instead of letting your kid’s bikes take up so much floor space, you could easily add hooks that will let you park them on the wall.  Want to get that kayak or johnboat off the floor?  It’s a snap to install a hoist that will let you store a small boat on the ceiling.  Tired of tripping over your gardening implements?  A garden tool organizer will allow you to hang your rakes, shovels, shears, string trimmer and more on any wall.  Shelves, wall-mounted storage lockers and stackable bins can help you take what’s currently lying on the garage floor and store it high and dry.

      4.      You don’t have to do it all in one day. – The trick to making a molehill out of a mountain is to start small.  Pick one area and focus on it until everything that belongs is there.  Then decide how best to minimize the space it occupies.  If you’re a do-it-your-self devotee, why not start by organizing the tool bench.  If you’re a jock, isn’t it high time you picked up all your sporting goods and workout equipment?  If you’re a neatnik, I recommend beginning by getting a handle on all your cleaning solvents.  The trick is to get one area organized before moving onto another instead of letting the enormity of the project grind progress to a halt.  Once one area is polished off, you can then decide what to tackle next.  While you’re at it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start culling the herd a bit by deciding what to keep and what to toss.  Sometimes the best way to eliminate clutter is to discard or donate something that you haven’t used in years.

      5.      Parking place or pack rat? – Relegating something to the scrap heap isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless that’s how your garage got so disorganized in the first place.  If your car can no longer fit in the garage, is all the stuff that’s currently taking its place really all that valuable?  When you realize that the average cost of a car these days is more than $35,000, the answer is that all the contents currently residing inside your garage don’t come close to the value of the family sedan.  My point is that unless you consider yourself a hoarder, maybe its high time you unloaded some of the stuff you’ve been squirreling away in the garage.  

Image courtesy flickr
      6.      One man’s trash is another man's treasure. – Back in February it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a garage sale in seven years.  That compelled me to root through the garage, the crawlspace and all my closets to see what I could unload to the public for a profit.  Not only did I lighten the load, but I put more than $300 in my pocket by posting a few signs on a couple of major crossroads and spreading my castoffs on the driveway for a few hours. 

    7.      What happens when you assume? – Once you get started with the cleanup, don’t assume you know what’s in every box and bin.  Open them all up and take a look at what’s in there.  While a box might be labelled Xmas decorations, it could just as easily contain Halloween costumes or that old fax machine you no longer need or want. 

      8.      Shake, rattle and roll – Believe it or not, it always isn’t the biggest things that waste the most space in a garage.  Fasteners, fixtures and small implements have a tendency to grow like weeds over time.  If your nuts and bolts are mixed in with your batteries and your drill bits are snuggled up with your picture hangers, it’s time to reorganize your hardware. 

      9.      Keep them dogies moving. – If you want to really get a handle on garage clutter, consider moving some of the things in there to another location.  Does your weed whacker really need to be in the garage when you have a garden shed?  Is the best place for seasonal d├ęcor in the garage, or should you shift those lightweight boxes into the attic?  Last but not least, if you want to keep your garage from slipping slowly into chaos in the near future, make sure you label all the boxes and bins so everyone in your household knows exactly where everything belongs. 

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. It amazes me that so many people use their garages for everything but what it was intended for.


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