THE HOUSE CLEANING SERIES TIPS: THE GARAGE
Is a garage cleaning intervention in your horizon?
When you moved into your home, you stored all of the moving boxes in your garage and unpacked them as you got around to it. It’s now four years later and you’re still parking in the driveway. The unpacked boxes grew to include the kid’s bicycles, lawn chairs from the last house that you meant to throw away and that canoe you just had to have but have never used. You can no longer get to the extra refrigerator let alone the holiday gifts you think you hid for the kids two seasons ago.
Does this sound like you? Is a garage cleaning intervention in your horizon?
Cleaning out the garage doesn’t have to be the job you dread the most around your house. Yes, it can seem overwhelming because of the sheer size of the room and the amount of stuff you may have accumulated, but a garage can be an extension of your home and serve as a very useful space.
If you’re ready to tackle the job, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you navigate through the process:
Move ‘em out
The first thing to do: move everything out of your garage. Yes, everything. This sounds like a daunting task but it’s the necessary first step to making this space work for you. Place things on your driveway or yard.
After your garage is empty, look up. Are there cob webs that need to come down? Do you need to change the light bulb? Has the inside of your garage door ever been wiped down? It’s a good time to address what’s over your head now that you have room to move.
If your garage has windows, take the time to clean both the inside and outside glass. While you’re at it, wipe down the door into the house or to the backyard. Dust, cob webs and dirt find a way to attach themselves to most any surface in the garage.
Next, sweep out the garage. If you have stains, mix a few teaspoons of mild dish detergent and warm water. Place on the stain and scrub with a stiff brush. If you’re taking on oil stains, place clay based cat litter or saw dust on the stain. Let sit for 10 minutes and sweep it up. Both cat litter and saw dust will act to absorb the oil on the surface of your garage floor. If this doesn’t do the job, try a commercial grade degreaser. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Next, spray out the garage starting at the back and work your way to the driveway. A pressure washer or garden hose work great. Pay extra attention and stay away from spraying the dry wall.
By now, the interior of your garage should look great. You can start to get an idea of what you really want to use the space for now that nothing is obstructing your view. You’ll probably be surprised at how much room you actually have!
Toss. Donate. Keep
While you wait for the garage floor to dry, it’s time to tackle the ‘stuff’ that has taken over your parking space. This is a good time to be honest with the clutter that you’ve accumulated. Do you really need the canoe or extra refrigerator? Have the kids outgrown their bikes? What good is the broken flowerpot?
With all of your belongings on the lawn or driveway, you’re probably eyeing a few things you haven’t seen in quite some time or you’re probably kicking yourself for buying a new leaf blower when you see the one you bought three years ago staring back at you.
Your first task: Make a designated space for those items want to keep, those you want to donate and those that belong in the trash. Have each member of the family pitch in and be responsible for those items that belong to them. (You might even find that some things belong to a family member or your neighbor).
For some, getting rid of things is very difficult. Think about it this way: If you haven’t missed it since you’ve moved in, chances are you don’t need it or you already have another one.
Check your local listings for donation companies. Some will even pick up your things including cars, boats and motorcycles.
See your space for what it is
Now that the floor is clean and you’ve purged your belongings, what do you envision for the space? Will you in fact be using it as its intended purpose for parking a car? Is it time to move your woodworking hobby up from the basement and out to the garage? Do your kids want to use the extra furniture you inherited from Grandma Sue and turn the space into a kid’s only zone?
Whatever you envision for your new found space, put it down on paper or visually walk your mind through how you see each space working. Your garage may be able to serve many purposes year round or during certain months.
Organization is key
Just like any other room in your house, organization is key to making this space work in the way it’s intended to be used. If you and your family can commit to putting things back where they belong, your garage doesn’t have to look like it did before the cleanout!
There are countless ways to store your garage belongings. Clear plastic bins are always a good option. They keep the contents dry, bugs out and allow you to see what it inside. Bins are easy to stack and portable.
There are also multiple options for shelving units. If you’re handy, develop your own with materials you might have on hand. If you’re not a DIY person, it pays to research the easy to install systems or you can even check your local listings for professional organizing services.
Another option for organizing is cabinets. There are various options today that include versions with doors or without. For some, being able to see what is in a cabinet is important. It’s a reminder of what is there and what should not be there. Some prefer doors on their cabinets for a cleaner look.
Don’t forget to think vertically. You can use the space beyond your walls for terrific storage. Think ‘loft’. There are a number of commercial options for mounted ceiling racks that allow you to add extra space but allow you to still use your garage doors. Also, they have ceiling racks on a pulley system that allow you to maneuver your items up and down without you having to get on a ladder.
If there is one thing you can’t overdo for a clean garage it’s labeling. Get in the habit of labeling everything so when you’re in rush and want to set that new hammer on the work bench, you can look up and see the pegboard has a nice empty spot labeled ‘hammer’. You won’t have to second guess where it belongs or where it will be when you really need it.
Grouping like items together saves time. If you live in a climate that gets snowy weather, chances are you and your family only needs your snow boots, hats and gloves a few months out of the year. Store your dry boots in one container and all of your clothes in another. After you clearly mark your storage containers, make sure they both stay together. You’ll thank yourself next winter.
Now that you’ve done the hard work, you should be enjoying the garage that you worked so hard to achieve. You and your family will be able to get the maximum use out of it now that you’ve taken the time to clean, declutter and organize.
— Amanda Pokorny