How to clean and organize the garage
As much as homeowners value space, garages often end up being dumping grounds for both useful items and junk.
“Any storage area or less often used room runs the risk of becoming littered with items that could be of potential use, memorabilia with no defined storage or archival plan, and even new items [for a] home,” says Clare Kumar, member of Professional Organizers in Canada and founder of Streamlife.
“This is made even more likely in a garage which may be either physically uncomfortable or unappealing,” she says, adding most of us don’t want to be in cold, hot, dark or dirty places.
But the garage does serve a purpose, Kumar adds and is ideal for tools, gardening equipment, outdoor accessories, outdoor sports equipment and car maintenance supplies.
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Kumar says we also need to consider the temperature — garages tend to have a mixture of them throughout the year.
“Items must be stored in hospitable environments, so keep in mind moisture and temperature levels in the garage when deciding what to keep there,” she continues.
She says garages are not likely good spaces for paper storage (it can get too humid in the summer) and paint (when it is too cold in the winter). You should also consider the security of garage and access. She doesn’t recommend storing bikes (unless you are locking them up) or other valuable items.
You should also consider the dirt, dust and bugs that linger in garages. Kumar doesn’t suggest storing patio pillows, for example, out in the open. “They could make very comfy nesting material for critters.”
Organizing also comes down to understanding your space and the type of storage you have. Some garages have shelving units, while other homes come with table storage.
Home decor and tips site Houzz suggests using all of your vertical and ceiling space to start.
“This rule is particularly important if you’re planning to actually park your car here. Make sure that you’ll have room for your car without running into or onto anything,” Houzz’s Vanessa Brunner wrote.
And before you start cleaning, you have to take everything out, she adds. “Looking at the space you have as a blank canvas can give you a better idea of what you’re working with.”
Melissa Maker of Clean My Space adds over time, garages also start to develop a stench and the first thing you need to do is air it out. Next, she adds, check for signs for mould.
“Mix one gallon of water with six to eight ounces of oxygen bleach and use a sponge to apply to the walls. Leave it on for half an hour then scrub with a tough scrub brush … wear a protective face mask and rubber gloves while doing this.”
Follow up by wiping down the walls with hot water and a sponge. “If the mould is deep in the walls this probably won’t be enough to get rid of entirely and a mould removal expert should be called.”
And once everything is cleared out of the garage, scrubbed and ready for organization, here are Kumar’s tips on putting things back in order. She recommends a four-step PLAN to get organized.
Figure out your garage’s zones and the types of storage you need. She recommends breaking it down to gardening, sports, toys, tools, waste disposal and the car.
Organizing also means getting rid of clutter you don’t need. When you curate your possessions and only keep what you need, your priorities are going to be easier to manage. And what should you do with all that clutter? Host a garage sale.
“Use shelving or track systems to make the most of the vertical space on walls,” Kumar says. “You can also add ceiling mounted storage if necessary. Be strategic in what you choose to store there, making sure it’s manageable to retrieve. Ideally, the higher the storage, the lighter/less breakable an item.”
She adds make sure your garage is also well lit while you’re organizing but also in general for work. “Adequate lighting is often neglected. It’s more inviting to work in a well-lit area.”
Once your garage is cleaned and organized, it’s important to keep up those habits. “Put things away promptly and be conscientious when shopping. Create a home for new items right away.”
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