How to organize your garage this weekend – in 3 easy steps

Organize your garage once and for all with these decluttering hacks from the productivity professionals

Organize your garage
(Image credit: Arnel Hasanovic for Unsplash)

Is it high time to organize your garage? If so, you're not alone. Most of us use the garage as a catchall for everything from paint cans to sporting goods. And when we hit peak Marie Kondo mode during 2020's months of quarantine, chances are some of that home clutter-clearing resulted in even more piles in the garage. 

While the garage is a great place for extra storage, it's essential that it stay clean and organized. Otherwise, you'll be digging through mounds of junk when you're trying to locate your garden tools, holiday decorations, or beach chairs. 

Trust us, there is nothing more satisfying than a perfectly organized garage. It will make it easy to find what you actually need in less time. Certified professional organizer and National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) president elect Amy Tokos suggests putting high-use items like chairs or sports equipment in the path to your car. "That makes it easy to grab-and-go...but also to put it away when you get home," she says.

Want to save yourself time and hassle later? NAPO experts offer timely tips to create a streamlined garage in three easy steps. 

1. Clear it out

The first thing to do is to get rid of anything you don't have a need for. If you have items that are in good shape, like a baby stroller, tricycle, or toys, NAPO suggests a garage sale. 

If you don't have enough things for a full-on tag sale, you can chat with neighbors about hosting a group sale. Or, list one or two items for sale on Facebook Marketplace and donate the rest. Finally, things that have seen better days should go straight to the trash. Fill up some boxes to take to your local dump or consult a junk-clearing service to cart them away. 

2. Create separate zones

Now that you've emptied the junk, you'll want to organize your remaining things in separate zones. Think garden, tools, sport, camping, and holiday. And when you're considering the layout, make sure the items you use regularly are the most easily accessible. So, maybe your bicycle and children's soccer balls are in the front right corner, but holiday decorations are in the rafters, reachable by a ladder or storage lift a few times per year. 

Plan on dedicating the weekend to sorting your stuff. It's better to organize the whole garage all at one time. Chances are, items that belong in each zone are spread throughout the space. As you go through, gather everything that belongs in one category and create its dedicated space. 

Want to level up? With everything out of the garage for categorizing, it's the perfect time to clean and paint the space. A fresh coat of clean white paint will be the perfect backdrop for that coveted Instagram-worthy level of organization. 

3. Hang, store, and label

Now that you have all of your categories decided, it's time to get everything back into the garage and in its proper place. Keep things contained by enlisting the right types of equipment. Shelving, racks, and uniform plastic bins are key. 

Free-standing shelves, wall-mounted systems, or overhead racks work well to get bikes, tools, and gardening equipment off of the floor. You'll be able to find all of those pieces, plus the hardware needed to hang them, at your local home improvement store. 

Also, it's time to say goodbye to your hodgepodge of old bins and repurposed moving boxes. Storage bins should be consistent in size to create secure stacks. And don't be tempted to purchase the cheapest option. Bins should be made from thick plastic and have tight lids to prevent moisture, mold, and rust. 

Finally, clearly label each bin so that other family members can easily find items. While you might be at the end of a long garage-clearing journey, it's important not to skip this step! It'll help you maintain the organizational system you've spent hours (or days) implementing, and help the rest of your family follow suit. 

Our favorite garage organization products


(Image credit: Home Depot)

When dealing with garage organization, don't be tempted to go too "cute." We're talking about heavy equipment that needs to be stored in an environment that's exposed to dust and moisture. Our favorite garage organization products favor function over fashion. 

  • HDX 38 Gal. Tough Storage Bin in Black: These Home Depot storage containers aren't exactly sexy, but they are heavy duty enough to product whatever you want to put inside. Plus, inset tops make it easy to stack as many as you'd like without losing stability. 
  • Garage Storage Labels: Be sure to identify what goes into said storage containers with storage labels. These cute Container Store labels have everything covered, and a tough adhesive won't come off over time. 
  • Rubbermaid FastTrack Garage Multipurpose Storage Rail System: A rail hanging system is vital to getting items off of the floor. This handy set comes with an array of hooks and holders for power tools and lawn equipment. 
  • The Essential Garden Seat & Tool Kit: Want to keep your gardening equipment organized? This genius — and chic — kit from Food52 doubles as a seat while you prune. 
  • Husky Heavy Duty 4-Tier Shelving Unit: You'll probably see a lot of cheap plastic shelves on the market, but this stainless steel design is worth the investment. Those bins you just filled with power tools are going to be heavy, and you'll want a shelf that can hold everything without bowing or tipping over. This Husky model can support up to 1,500 pounds. 

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