Where’s the bike pump? How about the plant fertilizer you bought two weeks ago? Why are these snow sleds blocking the recycling bin? Is your garage too cluttered to find what you need or hold what you want?
“The average American two-car garage has become a no-car garage because it is crammed full with so much clutter,” said Barry J. Izsak, certified professional organizer and past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Izsak likens the garage to a “purgatory” for all the stuff you don’t know what to do with. He should know since he is the author of Organize Your Garage in No Time.
“It is ironic that the one room of our house where the door is open for the whole world to see is the most unsightly, poorly utilized and neglected. The garage has become the family dumping ground,” Izsak said, who owns the Austin organizing company, Arranging It All.
Looking for a solution to the garage clutter war?
“There is a solution for everyone regardless of your budget, your organizing IQ, how handy you are and whether your garage has been a dumping ground for the past 30 years,” he said. Many garages are so crammed with clutter that cars lose out, Izsak said. With a little planning and elbow grease, you can do better.
• Be realistic and have focus. If you haven’t camped in five years, maybe it’s time to get rid of some equipment. Are you storing holiday decorations that are never used, or do you have more than one lawnmower? Take a good look at what you’re storing. If you’re not using it on a regular basis, it’s time to purge or donate it to charity.
• Analyze your needs. Think about how you want your garage to look when it’s finished. Create a clear vision of garage zones, whether that means by individual or category (sports/gardening/tools). Then, start working. “Remove, sort, weed, select a home, containerize if necessary and replace,” Izsak suggested.
• Consider the elements. Depending on where you live, temperatures can reach 120 degrees in the summer, Izsak said. Be cautious when storing paperwork, photographs and clothing in a garage.
• Get it off the floor. All kinds of fancy organizational tools can be bought, but if that’s not in your budget, use some well-placed $2 hooks to hang bikes or 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood in the rafters to hold winter gear or fishing poles. Getting things off the floor will maximize space and make your garage seem less cluttered while keeping your things dry, clean and away from insects and rodents, Izsak said.
• Be safe. Store paint, toxic chemicals and pesticides in a locked cabinet. Store heavier items on the lower shelves to prevent injury. Keep flammable items away from heat sources and work areas. Good ventilation is important while organizing; keep the garage door open.
• Go with what works for you. There’s no wrong way to organize, but you should stick with the system you’ve chosen for long-lasting organization.