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It’s almost spring, a.k.a that fateful time of year when the urge to clean, purge and organize everything in your life becomes overwhelming. The snow has melted, clouds have cleared and things are feeling fresher outside, so it’s natural to want your interior world to feel the same. One of the toughest areas of your home to organize? The garage.
Organizing your garage can sometimes feel like trying to wrestle an alligator covered in olive oil, it just wants to stay dirty. Whether it’s weather damage from any number of storms this year or your children’s endless amounts of sports equipment — the garage can be a breeding ground for clutter. And since it’s not technically part of your insulated home, and rather a middle ground between it and outside, it can be easy to let it slide. Fast forward to years later, and you have boxes of junk in there you don’t even recognize and no clue where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
We asked Bailey Carson, a Home Care Expert at Angi all about the best tactics and tools for spring cleaning your garage this spring. He had some words of wisdom and warning when it comes to a massive home organization project like a garage, and many product recommendations as well.
We’ve outline his advice into 4 different tips, and included necessary products for getting each done. Follow these steps, take it slow, and you’ll be that much closer to getting to use your garage, rather than wish it away.
Editor’s Note: While the general product categories were Carson’s advice, the following brands were selected by SPY editors for feature in this piece.
Step 1: Come Up With a Plan, and Start Small
No two garage organizing journeys are created equal. Maybe yours is filled with countless boxes of junk and needs a full clean out. Maybe you’ve got a little water damage and need to install new shelving. At the start of the season, take stock of what needs to be done and write out a to-do list. This will instantly make the project feel more manageable, and give you an action plan as well.
“After you have your plan in place, it’s time to get to work. It can be overwhelming to take on the entire garage at once, so we recommend splitting it into sections. Start with one small area that seems manageable to you, like a shelf or workspace,” said Carson.
Step 2: Go Through Everything, and Be Honest With Yourself
The start of spring is a great time to give away belongings, and Carson has some advice for how to go about it while spring cleaning your garage.
“Sort your belongings into keep, donate and discard piles. Be honest with yourself and only keep items that you actually use, especially if you’re working with limited storage space,” said Carson.
If your children moved out years ago and you’re still storing their stuff, it’s time to call them up and get them to be honest about what you can and can’t give away. It might be tough to part with some things, but you’ll feel so much better after shedding the layers of stuff you no longer need, and being able to actually walk through and use your garage again.
Step 3: Organize, Install and Label
Carson’s next tip? Organizing. Spring cleaning your garage definitely involves a successful organizing strategy.
“Once you’ve decluttered your items, you can re-organize your garage. If you need more storage space, consider installing built-in shelving, bringing in wire racks, creating hanging storage or separating items into bins and tubs.”
A small garage doesn’t need to significantly limit how many of your belongings you can keep. Thankfully there are plenty of storage solutions you can utilize, like shelves that use vertical space, hooks that keep items off the ground and tubs that protect against the elements. We’ve picked a few of our favorite tools for garage organizing below.
Husky Overhead Ceiling Mount Garage Rack
This overhead garage rack from The Home Depot makes vertical storage easy, and is perfect for storing items you only need once or twice a year, like holiday decorations. Its 600 pound weight capacity can handle a lot, and the scratch-resistant finish will resist damage for years to come.
Garage Essentials Ultimate Shelf and Track Storage System
This multipurpose garage storage system gives you shelves and hanging storage, an organizational two-for-one if you will. It has 24 hooks for things like winter coats, helmets, bags and even bikes. The shelf up top has a 1,500-pound weight capacity and the powder-coated steel frame is made for all seasons.
Husky Black 4-Tier Industrial Shelving Unit
This heavy-duty shelving unit from The Home Depot is made to be as durable as possible and can support as much as 2,500 pounds per shelf. Each shelf is 24 inches deep, the perfect size for their standard weather-proof totes, and it requires no tools for assembly. You can also adjust the shelves based on the size of what you’re storing.
HDX 27-Gallon Tough Storage Tote
These 27-gallon tote bins are perfect for pairing with any of the shelves above, especially the ones with 24 inches of depth since they’re only 19.61 inches wide and will fit nicely. They’re made of durable polypropylene plastic that’s excellent for protection against the elements, and they come with snap-on, lockable lids for convenience. The 27-gallon capacity gives you plenty of room for storage, and each one can handle at least 900 pounds of evenly distributed weight on the lid, so you can stack one on top of another with no problem.
The cardboard boxes aren’t going to cut it anymore. These 27-gallon totes are made of a polypropylene plastic blend for protection against the elements, and the lockable lids are easy to snap on and off, and are made for stacking on top of one another. Each bin has plenty of storage space, and can handle as much as 900 pounds of stuff.
Step 4: Deep Clean
Organizing alone will do a ton of good, but if you’ve already cleared out your garage you might as well do a deep clean. Carson recommends you “start by sweeping and cleaning your garage floor. If you have sealed concrete floors, mop with a solution of one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water,” said Carson.
If a sweep and mop don’t do the job, he also recommended the following methods:
1. A grease-fighting dishwashing liquid
2. A solution of one ounce Trisodium Phosphate in one gallon of hot water
3. Lemon juice mixed with baking soda or cream of tartar
A pressure washer can also be incredibly helpful on concrete floors, and help break down stubborn, stuck on stains.
While cleaning the floors, “wipe down the major surfaces in your garage, like the shelves, cabinets and storage containers.”
He also recommended “taking note if anything is damaged or needs your attention later.”
“Fill any concrete cracks with epoxy paste by working the paste into the crack, scraping the excess paste away, letting it dry and sanding it down. If you have unsealed concrete, you may want to apply an epoxy concrete sealant as well.”
Clorox Driveway/Garage Cleaner
This gallon garage cleaner is made to remove stubborn oil stains and restore your garage floor to look like new. It doesn’t require diluting and can be applied directly to your concrete floor, scrubbed and rinsed away with ease.
Sun Joe High Pressure Washer
A pressure washer can be very effective at getting rid of oil stains and other grime on a concrete garage floor. They’re also very easy to use, and satisfying as well. This one generates 2030 PSI with an 1800-watt motor and is built for tackling a variety of cleaning tasks, including garages who have been through a long winter.
PC Products Epoxy Adhesive Paste
This adhesive paste from PC Products is made to be an all-in-one bonding agent, sealant and filler for both indoor and outdoor cracks, crevices and breaks. It’s made to bond back together a variety of materials, including fiberglass, wood, concrete, brick, glass, ceramic and rubber. It has a wide temperature range and has an extended working time, so you don’t need to rush to reposition, adjust or reshape it before it dries.