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Garage a mess? Here’s how to tackle that today

Having a garage can be a game changer, as it is much more than a place to park your car — if it is properly organized. “A full-functioning garage provides seasonal storage, kitchen pantry overflow, a place to store hobbies and sporting equipment, alleviates storage space in a small home, and of course stores your car, your second largest investment,” John Trosko, Professional Organizer, Owner, OrganizingLA explains to 21Oak. “By investing in some organization, you will be able to find things without wasting time looking or spending money replacing things. A garage also provides some useful active project space during unpleasant weather. So, there is always a return on your investment.”

Rudy Umans / Shutterstock

Things to think about before you start

Before you start to apply these garage organization tips, you need to think about what you want to use your garage for and what you are willing to sacrifice — and be ready to put in the work. “How you approach and organize is less important than taking action, categorizing, and making tough decisions to part with things you don’t need any more, freeing up space for more important needs,” says Trosko. Knowing yourself (how you work, how you focus, working by yourself or with a partner/teammate) can also make all the difference in your success. “Embrace your strengths,” he says.

Before you begin, think about the following and suit your approach according to how you answer these questions:

  • What is my end goal? What do I need my garage to look like, how do I want it to function?
  • Do I prefer open shelving, closed cabinets door? Hooks?
  • How much time am I able to spend on the garage?
  • When can I book myself to get this done?
  • Do I need help, or can I do it myself?
  • What basic supplies do I need? Trash bags, post-it notes? Cardboard boxes? Maybe a folding or card table (for sorting or review)?
  • How will I discard items I am getting rid of? Donate? Trash? Recycle? Post online ads?

There should be a method to the madness of garage organization

There are various approaches to garage organization, according to Trosko.


Trosko and his team utilize the S.P.A.C.E. methodology popularized by professional organizer Julie Morgenstern. “Based on a five-step approach, the system allows you to organize the garage, or any other room in your home or life,” he explains. The concept is simple: Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, and Equalize.

The “I have lots of time approach”

The second approach is a little more time consuming. “Pull everything out into the driveway, categorize as you go along (household, sports, trash, recycle, projects, tools, etc.), identify donations and trash, box “categorized items” into clear plastic or cardboard boxes that safely stack,” he explains. Then, load everything back into the garage into general categories. At this point you can assess your bigger storage shelf needs. “Plan, purchase and install shelving or storage to fit your categories,” he continues. “Install shelving to store your items, making sure to label everything.”

I have very little time approach

Just because you don’t have a lot of time, doesn’t mean you can’t organize your garage. This approach involves breaking down your items into specific categories (books, old electronics, papers) or breaking the space into sections (floor, area by the kitchen door). “Spend as little or as much time as you can spare, making sure you can clean up, bag up, or process your decisions for the next available appointment,” he advises. “Another great way to jump-start your garage organizing project is to identify large chunks of donations or trash and get those out of the garage first. Continue to pace yourself and work in small chunks of time.”

How to keep your garage organized

Once your garage is perfectly organized, you are going to need to keep it that way. “Once your garage is more manageable and organized, put some time on your calendar once or twice a year to maintain your systems, find homes for incoming items, and donate/trash what doesn’t serve your life anymore,” he suggests. “Think about the time you toss something into the garage from the house, put things away best you can, when you use them.”

He also points out that it is important to keep all the other members of your family on the same page. You can help do this by assigning cabinets or hooks to different people.

What you need

Muscle Rack Heavy Duty Steel Garage Store Shelves

Obviously, you need shelving to organize your stuff. This reasonably priced option from Home Depot is perfect for stacking your plastic bins.

IRIS USA Quart Storage Bins, 6 Pack

Before you start sifting through your items, you need to invest in plastic storage bins.  You might want to consider getting a bunch in different shapes and sizes. IRIS USA offers some of the best bins on Amazon in sizes ranging from 5 to 72 quart.

OXO Good Grips Expandable Wall Mount

A wall mounted organization system is perfect for hanging anything from mops to rakes.

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Leah Groth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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