Lori Bruhns

Tackling the Garage!

This month’s article will help all the Dads and grease monkeys in your life. We are tackling the GARAGE. For some men (and women too), this is a sanctuary, the place where your man goes to get away from it all. For some, it is THE MAN CAVE. But for most, it is a place to store seasonal items, sports equipment, tools, kids’ big item toys and, if you’re lucky, a car.  (Who would of thunk it? A garage that has a car in it?!?!) So weather you are going to surprise the man in your life with a spruced up space for Father’s day or tackle it together, here are some tips to get you started. 

Step 1:  Block Off Time – The garage can be one of the most time consuming areas of the home to organize, because it does so many different jobs.  

  • Set aside 1 or 2 sunny days in a row.
  • Start early in the day so you can use as much daylight as possible.
  • Schedule your garage cleaning to coincide with the hours of your local dump.  
  • Make it a family event.  Don’t try to tackle it all by yourself.  You need extra hands and input.

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies This is a big sorting, tossing, and repackaging project, so you’ll need lots of containers here.  I recommend having the following on hand when you start:

  • Several clear storage bins.
  • 6-10 heavy duty cardboard boxes.  Small enough that you can lift them when full.
  • Box of 33 gallon, heavy-duty trash bags.
  • Wire shelving,.
  • Industrial hooks for hanging heavy items.
  • A tool chest.
  • A closet or some type of furniture with closing doors, and
  • Office supplies – sheets of paper, pen, Sharpie, ball of twine, packing tape.

Step 3: Spend Time Thinking About What Belongs in the Garage Before you begin, talk with your family about how you want to use the garage space.  There’s little use organizing it if everyone doesn’t agree on what belongs there.  At a minimum, you’re likely have:

  • Outdoor items, to keep the mud and bugs from coming indoors!  Sporting goods, gardening equipment, lawn furniture, camping equipment.
  • Flammable products, such as gasoline, a kerosene space heater, a camping lantern, turpentine or other solvents.  Ideally, these should all end up in a metal storage closet.
  • Paint and supplies.  If your garage gets cold, keep cans of paint in the basement instead (at least 10 feet away from your hot-water heater and furnace).
  • Tools of all sorts and varieties.
  • Car products.

Step 4: Empty and Sort Now you’re ready to plunge in!  Start by cleaning everything out of the garage.  As you do,

  • Use space directly outside the garage or in the center of your garage to create piles of “like” items.
  • Place labeled, large pieces of paper on the ground so you don’t forget which pile is which. You can customize your piles according to what you keep in your garage, but to get started, here are a few suggestions:
    1. Cleaning supplies
    2. Gardening equipment
    3. Car equipment
    4. Sporting goods
    5. Trash
    6. Keep, but take inside
    7.  Donate

Step 5: Move “Piles” Back into Garage Once everything has been removed and sorted and all of your shelves are clean and bare, it’s time to start moving your piles back into the garage.   As you do:

  • Work from the inside out. Store like items together. Store items that are used in the home beside the door leading into the home. (examples; paper towels, cleaning supplies, bulk products). Store items used outdoors on the walls leading to the garage doors. Store seasonal & infrequently used items up high. Store hazardous material in closed door areas.
  • Use your wall space! This unthought-of area is ideal storage space: a key components to organizing. Think vertically vs. horizontally.  Ceiling space is also very usable.  Hanging items above cars. If your ceilings are tall enough, a loft is a wonderful storage area too.


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Lori Bruhns

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