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.
- Related: 12 garage storage ideas - make it useful for more than just parking the car
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 It Up
Now that you have all of your categories decided, it's time to get everything back into the garage and in its proper place. One of the best ways to maximize your garage space and keep clutter off of the floor is to utilize your walls. Luckily, there are a number of ways to do just that in a visually appealing format, at every price point.
Looking for an affordable solution? Simple ladder hooks (opens in new tab) easily get the job done. Screw as many as you need in a row along your walls. Then, they can be used to hang everything from bicycles, rakes, and shovels to smaller tools like hedge clippers and trowels.
For a more malleable option, a large pegboard (opens in new tab) is great for organizing such smaller items as tools and garden accessories. Another great alternative, if you’re willing to invest a little bit more, is a PVC slatwall (opens in new tab). It can be organized with hooks both small and large to truly do it all, hanging your big-ticket items as well as neatly stashing tools. The best part is, you can choose a style in a clean white color for farmhouse shiplap vibes.
Handy? Another genius solution is to install kitchen cabinetry. This is a great way to upcycle your old cabinets when you’re ready for an upgrade inside. If you want your space to double as a semi climate–controlled hangout, experiment design-wise by painting your old cabinets in a bright color. It will warm up your garage design while keeping unattractive tools, paint, and gardening accessories out of sight.
4. Store It Away
Next, 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.
A multi-pack (opens in new tab) is a great way to ensure uniform sizing, and clear bins make it easy to quickly peak at what’s inside. For really heavy items, consider wheeled totes (opens in new tab) for movability.
Then, don’t just stack your bins on the floor. Consider a freestanding rack, or to save space, opt for an overhead hanging rack (opens in new tab). If you decide to DIY your shelves, just be sure to use sturdy anchors, since these items are bound to be heavier than your typical household knick knacks.
5. Label It
Take a page from The Home Edit’s book and carefully label your newly organized goods. In fact, The Home Edit (opens in new tab) has their own line of garage organization labels you can enlist for the job, or purchase custom labels on Etsy (opens in new tab).
If you plan on organizing more than just your garage, you might consider investing in a Cricut (opens in new tab) cutting machine. This way you can print custom labels (and a ton of other things) for every room in the house.
How do I maximize my garage space?
The best way to maximize garage space and keep your belongings neat and organized is to utilize wall and ceiling storage. Mount pegboards and slat walls for hanging, and consider magnetic options to keep loose nuts and bolts off of the ground.
Use things like folding workbenches (opens in new tab) and rolling kitchen carts (opens in new tab) to create mobile workstations for building, gardening, and crafts. Finally, be diligent about returning items to their proper place when you’re done. With some handy wall storage and a few sturdy bins, you can get more mileage out of your floor space and finally have room to park your car (or a sofa and a mini fridge).
Our favorite garage organization products
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) can support up to 1,500 pounds.
- 12 garage storage ideas – make it useful for more than just parking the car