The summer can be a hard time for a garage. The bicycles, baseball bats, rakes, lawn mowers and other outdoor implements that hang unused throughout winter get pulled out again and again, and they don’t always make it back to where they’re supposed to go. The start of school — which for many students marks “the end of summer” (though it doesn’t truly end until three weeks into September) — is a great time to reorganize and clean out your garage.
Follow these steps to get your garage in tip-top shape, and maybe even park your car in it from time to time.
1. Set Aside a Weekend Afternoon.
Properly cleaning a garage always takes longer than expected, especially if you take frequent beverage breaks.
2. Gather your Supplies.
Hoist up your garage door and take a look at what you’ve got to work with and what you need to do. For a full cleaning, you’ll need at least the following:
- Another pair of hands. You might have to do some heavy lifting, so have another person who can give help when you need it.
- A push broom
- A trash can (with liners)
- A box (or boxes) for collecting things you’ll donate
- Work gloves
- Any cleaning supplies your garage will need
3. Empty the Garage Meticulously.
With each item you find in the garage, you must make a decision: keep it, donate it or throw it away. Garbage goes in the trash and donations go in the box. For items you want to keep, sort them on the lawn or in the driveway into collections based on how they’re used or how you will store them. Do your best to empty the garage completely.
4. Comb through All your Stuff.
Your decisions to keep, donate or pitch might have been rushed. Sort through your items again, including any tubs full of stuff, and make an ultimate decision. This is a good time to bring in your significant other to avoid arguments later.
This is a good time to purge your holiday decorations. If your Christmas ornaments are looking a little old, for example, this is a great time to replace them; you’ll find the best price on Christmas decorations during the summer.
You might also find some things you forgot you had, or some items that you could repurpose to your current needs. Instead of thinking about where you can store everything, think about how you can reuse them now elsewhere.
5. Consider (and Install) your Organizing Options.
Now that you know what needs to go back in the garage, you can get a better idea of what types of organizers will best suit your needs. From plastic tubs to peg boards to storage bags for artificial Christmas trees, decide the best way to keep your stuff organized and easy to reach. Don’t forget to label things, too, to make them easier to find and easier to put away.
This might involve a trip to the local DIY store for more supplies; make sure you leave someone behind to watch over all the stuff you’ve pulled out of the garage in case someone mistakes it as an untended garage sale.
Better yet, send someone else to do your shopping while you get a start on the next step.
6. Wash the Garage.
Prowl the corners for stray cobwebs. Wash any windows. Sweep all the dust and dirt off the floor (a good wet-dry vac can come in handy here). You might need to work to get out old oil stains from the floor. If you want to repaint the garage — and particularly the floor — now’s the time to do it.
7. Put Everything in its Place.
This is where it all comes together. Bring all the things you’re keeping back into that garage and then revel in your success. You should now have a space that is clean and well-organized, where you can park your car or cars, and where you can find what you’re looking for without much thought.
At least, until next summer.