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How to Spring Clean Your Garage: 7 Decluttering Tips

If “declutter the garage” is on your spring-cleaning list, you’re in luck!

Today I’m sharing 7 tips to help you declutter your garage this spring.

To illustrate those tips, I’m sharing pics from my old in-home professional organizing days, when I worked with a client to help her get her garage in order. 

Here’s a BEFORE pic of where we started… can you and your garage relate? 

#1. Make the stuff in your garage reflect your life NOW

Garages often become the dumping ground for things we aren’t sure what to do with. That coffee table from college? Roller-blades from high school? The turkey frier we thought was awesome but (shockingly) we’ve found that we rarely have the need to deep fry a large fowl?

Think about your life NOW when you look at your garage. Each item inside absorbs your time and energy to store and maintain. Make it worth it.

For example, if you have paraphernalia from your early-twenties backpacking phase, but the only backpacks making a regular appearance in your life now are the Ninja Turtle ones your kids take to school, well, perhaps it’s time to bequeath your gear to some young soul with stronger legs. (I speak from personal experience, after donating my backpacking equipment to the college-aged kids across the street. My backpack has been all around the world in recent years. So much better than gathering dust at my house!)

To make sure you only keep items that reflect your life now… Jot down a list of what you need your garage to do for you.

In other words, what is the PURPOSE of this space?

For this client, the PURPOSE of her garage was…

  • Woodworking
  • Tools
  • Outdoor sports
  • Gardening
  • Camping

As we sorted, we made sure the items we kept fit within the parameters of this list.

Keeping purpose in mind is key to decluttering any space. 

#2: Donate duplicates

How many hammers, screwdrivers, and tape measures do you need? Unless you’re an octopus, you only have two arms. At most, you could probably wield two hammers, Thor-style. (And if you want to do that, by all means, rock it out.) But donating your duplicate tools helps others in need, and–surprise bonus–having less tools means you’ll take better care of the ones you have.

#3: Toss the Miscellany

Bags of random, rusted screws. Jars of various hinges. The extra hardware that came with your blinds… or maybe those were from the blinds at your last house… no, wait, those go with those IKEA shelves…. I think.

Garages accumulate LOTS of miscellaneous small items. And wasting time sorting out miscellany will grind your garage decluttering project to a halt.

A good rule is…

If you don’t know what something is as soon as you look at it, toss it.

You were living your life just fine before you “discovered” it in your garage and you will live your life just fine thereafter.

If it would take you 30 minutes to sort that bag of random screws, throw them away or post them on a Buy Nothing site. I’m serious. Screws are cheap. You can afford to buy new, correctly-sized screws when you start a new project.

Only keep screws, nuts, bolts, and the like that are still in their original labeled packaging. Let go of the rest.

#4: Opt for open shelves

I’ve never been in a garage that had too much open shelving. Open shelving is gold.

Good storage should mimic a store.

Imagine if you walked into Lowe’s or Home Depot and they’d replaced all their open shelving with closed cupboards. It would be nearly impossible to find anything. 

Buy yourself some basic, freestanding open shelving and then channel your inner stock boy. Put like items together, stacked neatly back-to-front, with labels facing out. Group similar, small items (nails, work gloves, etc.) into clear, open containers.

#5: Label everything

I’m not sure who designed the tool chest, but they either had a photographic memory or were clairvoyant. I can just imagine them closing their eyes and conjuring images of the tools hidden inside these bright red drawers. Yes… the extra blades for the bandsaw will be found in drawer 3 on the lower level.

But for most of us, finding anything in one of these contraptions is nothing more than an exercise in frustration. We open drawer after drawer, trying to find the right-sized socket wrench, getting more frustrated as we go.

For this project, I labeled the outside of the tool chest with my favorite fancy labeling supplies–Sharpie and painter’s tape. I did the same with any closed cupboards.

#6: Hook It Up

Anything that can be attached to the wall on hooks should be. I’m talking leaf blowers, extension cords, sleds, snow shovels, ladders, your cat. (Kidding! Gotta make sure you’re still reading…)

Install peg board to hang hammers, wrenches, and other quick-grab tools. Unlike your living room, your garage is not the place to hang an artful cluster of decorative mirrors. Make those walls work for you and cover them with as much functional swag as you can.

#7: Corral the Tall-Skinnies and Rounds in Laundry Hampers

Sports equipment presents a particular challenge, as it is often tall and skinny (think baseball bats, hockey sticks, fishing poles, etc.) or round (all manner of balls). These awkwardly shaped items don’t fit well on shelves or walls, but are perfect in sturdy, tall, lidless laundry hampers. I have two in my garage to hold all our sporting equipment. Simple, easy, and affordable.

I hope this post inspired you to get into your garage and give it a good decluttering this spring!

To less stuff and more you this spring!

PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to declutter your home, simplify your work-life, and calm your mind… Sign up for my FREE 30-Day Simplicity Challenge!

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