The garage may be the main storage space for cars and tools, many homeowners use this extra square-footage as an additional utility room or even a ‘man cave.’ Unfortunately, the garage also is commonly and conveniently denoted as the spare, unseen space to stash and toss all the junk, toys and other items that might have fallen out of favor.
When the garage has become a virtual junkyard, it’s time for a cleanup. Use these garage organization ideas to declutter your garage and maximize all that extra space.
Garage Organization: Recycle & Donate
The first step to embracing garage organization and decluttering a messy, junk-filled garage is to toss or donate all those items that are unused and unwanted. In a society that sometimes consumes without care, it’s easy for homeowners to amass gadgets, tools, appliances and other items they just don’t need.
Purging these unnecessary items can feel a bit overwhelming, and some homeowners may have difficulty parting with items for fear that they may be necessary in the future. Not sure what to keep, what to toss and what to donate? Here are a few things to consider:
When to Donate
- You can’t remember the last time you used the gadget, appliance or item
- You live in an area where the item, tool or appliance is unnecessary (e.g. a snow blower in Florida)
- The item is in great shape, but it’s just not your taste or style
- Your children have outgrown the toy, gadget or item
- The item has been replaced or upgraded by a newer model
Some items might not be able to be resold but they can be recycled. Call your local recycling company to see what can be picked up for recycling. In addition, some companies may specialize in recycling computers and other electrical items. Don’t throw anything into a dumpster unless you know it can be safely sent to a landfill.
What can be recycled? Earth911 has a list of 10 items that are found in your garage that can be recycled; here’s the site’s full list:
- Pesticides and Herbicides
- Power Tools
- Motor Oil
- Some Automotive Parts
- Skateboards and some other outdoor equipment
- Propane Tanks
- Outdoor Tools
The garage is sometimes the catch-all area where homeowners toss bags of old clothes. If these clothes can’t be donated because of stains, holes or other issues, there also are recycling companies that focus on textiles. There might be one in your area, and this is a much more sustainable option than simply discarding all those clothes.
What to Throw to the Trash Bins
Some items are simply trash. If you’ve ruled out recycling prospects and the item can be safely discarded, you might just toss it with the trash. Obviously, old wrapping paper, gift bags and items that are biodegradable may just be too ripe to save and should be tossed.
Garage Storage Ideas: How to Organize the Space that Remains
After purging all those unused and unwanted items, homeowners may be surprised at the amount of space that has opened up. Now it’s time to properly store all the items that are needed. Instead of simply lining the floor with bikes, toys and tools, embrace garage storage solutions with these easy garage storage ideas.
For tools, buy or build a tool bench with storage. If the garage already includes a tool storage area, consider organizing drawers more efficiently. Label all drawers or cubbies so contents are easily identifiable.
Bikes can be hung on the walls with hooks, or simply store bikes off to the side in a designated area. Keep tire pumps near the bikes for easy and quick access. Helmets and other safety gear can be stored in containers in the bike area (just be sure to label storage containers).
Depending on the size and function of toys, homeowners can hang items on the garage walls or install shelves to store outdoor toys. Be sure that anything that is hanging doesn’t pose a safety hazard. Don’t want all those sand toys, trucks and other outdoor playthings to be visible? Install cabinets to ensure everything is out of sight.
Set Storage Limits for the Garage
To ensure that the garage doesn’t continue to become the place where all unwanted items are kept, get in the habit of donating and retiring items that are nonfunctional, unloved or simply not in use.
Each quarter, do a closet cleanse of all the clothing that doesn’t fit or is simply unworn; take those items to a local thrift store or a textile recycling company. The same rule applies for old toys and gadgets. If there are no more siblings who will grow into those hand-me-downs or who will play with out of favor toys, don’t send them to the garage…donate them!
By consistently evaluating what is needed and what is unnecessary, homeowners can take control of their waste and their clutter. Too often, unused items are simply stashed away—either in a garage or basement—with the assumption that we might need them again. Unfortunately, those items sit unused, collect dust and take up space.
The garage offers more square footage than most homeowners may realize. By keeping this area organized, homeowners can maximize the space. That once cluttered garage could be used for a man cave or even as a woodworking space. Figure out what potential lies beneath all those unused items heaped in the garage, and then transform that area into something useful and clutter-free.