If your garage looks like it has recently been hit by a cyclone, spring is the perfect time to get it back into usable shape.
Start by taking everything out of the garage and separate items into categories on the driveway - tools in one area, sports equipment in another, automotive materials in a third, and so on. As you’re categorizing, think about what you use and what you don’t. If you haven’t touched an item in 12 months, you probably don’t need it. Create three dumping piles; one for goodwill, one for garbage collection and one for safe waste disposal. Be realistic and efficient during this process because there’s little reason to clean clutter just to put it all back again. I’m pretty sure no one needs four pairs of pruning shears or a collection of broken, uncomfortable snow shovels. If you don’t use it, let it go.
Once you’ve removed everything from the garage, take care to clean the floors thoroughly. It’s always a good idea to safely discard any sand, salt or melting activator that’s still scattered around from our recent snowstorms. Also, make sure you clean any fluid that may have spilled or leaked from the car. These materials can often be fire hazards and are very harmful to pets and small children. Did you know just one tablespoon of antifreeze is enough to kill a cat? Don’t take the risk.
Once you’ve cleaned, it’s time to assess the area and decide on appropriate shelving and storage solutions. You can find everything you need at your local home improvement store, but make sure you think out of the box and use as much wall and ceiling space as possible. Personally, I love ceiling mounted racks to hold items that are used infrequently, such as holiday decorations. I also hang my mountain bikes from hooks mounted to the ceiling as they take up too much floor room otherwise.
Once you’ve analyzed what you can hide up and away, it’s time to tackle the walls. I am a big fan of slat wall panels and pegboards because they are so versatile and customizable. You can hang anything from hooks to containers, which means ladders and large tools can have space off the floor and smaller hand tools and other items can be organized into category-specific bins. The key here is to be able to hang as much as possible so you free up your floor space for items that can’t be suspended, such as the lawnmower.
I always suggest keeping your floor as clear as possible so you can access what you need easily, and you can clean frequently too. If you must use floor space, consider investing in rolling cabinets or tool chests, which will be much easier to move as the seasons change and you need access to different areas of the garage.
A clean, organized space will make your life a whole lot easier because it will allow you to find what you’re looking for and will help you keep an eye on items or materials that can leak or attract unwanted insect or rodent company. It’s not the most fun project, but it can be a huge time and patience saver for years to come.