What’s In Your Garage…Your Car or Clutter? By Lori Firsdon

01 Aug 2012 9:39 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

There are many people who are leaving their second biggest investment, their car, in the driveway while their garage holds items they no longer use. Organizing your garage will not only allow room to protect your car from the elements, but outdoor projects become easier when you can find things faster.

A great time to organize your garage is the day before trash pick-up. Trash items can be taken right to the curb as you find them. Start organizing your garage by getting out as much trash as you can so it’s not in your way as you organize. Also, sort out any paint and hazardous chemicals you will not be using to take to your city’s solid waste department for proper disposal.

Next, look for items that could be stored in your home and take those inside. Most people are in and out of their garage everyday and their unfinished basement once in a while. Stop tripping daily over items that are used infrequently in the garage and store them in your indoor storage area and out of your way.

Another category that will immediately free up space as you organize are those items you want to donate. Put the donate items right in the trunk of your car so they make it to the donation center and not back into your garage.

Once the trash, donate, and the items that belong in your home are out of the garage you can sort the remaining items into categories. The most common categories I find while helping someone organize their garage are; tools, lawn/garden, car supplies, kids toys and bikes, sports equipment, paint/painting supplies, pet items, recreational items such as coolers and lawn chairs, and materials used for projects. Sorting into categories will help you see how many items you have, making it easier to eliminate any duplicates.

Now that you have the items sorted it’s time to find permanent homes for them. The front of the garage should be used for those items you don’t use very often while the back of the garage is used for items you take in and out of the garage regularly. It makes sense to store the snow blower at the front of the garage during the summer months while keeping the lawn mower at the back of the garage for easy access. As the seasons change so does the location of this equipment. Kid’s toys and bikes are another good thing to keep towards the back of the garage. This cuts down on the possibility of your car getting scratched as they leave the garage while making it easer for kids to get their belongings.

Also at the front of the garage should be items used frequently in your home. Extra bottled water, packages of paper towels and pet food and be kept near the service door for easy retrieval. Keeping a cubby for outdoor shoes in this area is also helpful. I also recommend a small trash can and recycle bin be kept towards the front, making it easy to dispose of trash from the car.

When thinking about the permanent location of items, those items you use infrequently should be located on higher or lower shelves saving the shelves that are at chest level for those you use on a regular basis. Paint and painting supplies could be stored on a higher or lower shelf while everyday tools are stored at chest level.

Once you have found a home for everything label shelves and bins with the category names. This makes items easy to retrieve and put away. Labeling not only helps you find it faster, but others in your household know where things belong.

When your finished organizing the garage take a step back and look at the trash/donate piles and then look at your car. Remember which one is most important to you so you stay motivated to keep your garage clutter-free.