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Garage from Hell? Tips to Get the Clutter Out

Garage from Hell? Tips to Get the Clutter Out

By Richard Price - Millbury Sutton ChronicleOctober 15th 2015

The garage. Or as it is known by many—purgatory for stuff. But is it so full you can barely get out of your car? That is, if you can still park it inside.


It’s time to purge. You know it and so do your neighbors. Thankfully, fall is one of the best times of year to get the junk out: it’s cooler, dry and summer items like lawn furniture and camping equipment can be stored.


But let’s face it, it’s a daunting task. Barry J. Izsak,  Certified Professional Organizer in Austin, Texas and author of Organize your Garage...in No Time said a cluttered garage is common,

“According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, 40 percent of Americans rated their garage as the messiest room in the home,” said Izsak. “Based on my experience with clients, I would say that this number could easily be 60 percent or higher.”

Izsak should know. He has been a professional organizer for twenty years, specializing in senior move management for the past ten years in Austin.


Based on his years of experience, here some helpful tips from Izsak.


Q: How cluttered are most people’s garages?

BI: Without a doubt, the average American two-car garage has become a no-car garage because it is crammed full of clutter. It is ironic that the one room of our house where the door is open daily for the whole world to see is the most unsightly, poor utilized and neglected.

It has become the family dumping ground. It’s a room shared by the entire family yet there is no system in place. It ends up being the room where everyone throws everything that they don’t know what to do with.


Q: Is this a big project or can it be tackled in a day or weekend?


BI: Before a person even starts the organizing process, they need clear idea in mind how they plan to use their garage, what they truly need to store there and if their intention is to park a car in there—or not. Once a person determines what the end result will be, then the organizing process can begin.

The cardinal rule is to break the job into small, manageable tasks. It’s not realistic to think you can tackle 20 years of clutter in a day.

The first step of the garage organizing process is what I refer to as reducing the volume or a “gross sort.”


Q: What does that mean exactly?


BI: It means making the simple and easy decisions first and eliminating as much stuff as you can as fast as you can. It will give you an immediate lift, a great feeling of accomplishment and help you clearly see what is left to deal with. This serves two purposes. It will better enable you to select the appropriate system for your needs and give you an accurate sense of what you need to create space for. Q: How do you do that? BI: Take a quick look around and go for the items which can easily be tossed or given away, that baby stroller which hasn’t been used in four years, the six boxes of old National Geographic, the broken VCR, three old pairs of skis (one with broken bindings) the puppy crate from your now 4-year-old German Shepherd and the almost new treadmill which seemed like a good idea at the time, but is now simply gathering dust.

Your goal now is to get through this part of the process quickly and make only fast and easy decisions. The idea is to get as much cleared out as quickly as possible. Now is not the time to sort screws or plumbing parts. If you come across a boxful of old papers or mementos which need to be carefully gone through, put it aside and save that for later. You will be amazed at how quickly you will begin to see visible progress if you don’t let yourself get bogged down with the small stuff at first.

Consider the year round temperature of where you live, humidity levels, bugs, etc. as all of these factors will determine what can be safely stored in the garage. If your area experiences excessive high heat, freezing temperatures, high humidity, excessive bugs, you are not going to want to store furniture, clothing, photographs, [or] family heirlooms in the garage.

Items that are used less often can be stored on overhead shelving or racks (think camping gear), while items used more often should be placed within easy reach. Heavier items should be stored lower to the ground, so as not to risk them falling down on someone or on your car—that is, if you can still park one in there.


Q: What about safety issues?


BI: Store paints, toxic chemicals and pesticides in a locked cabinet, heavier items on the lower shelves to prevent injury, keep flammable items away from heat sources and work areas, do not use power tools with frayed or tattered cords and unplug when not in use, wear goggles when using power tools and gloves when working with toxic substances. Good ventilation is important; keep the garage door open.


Garage clutter, keep or toss it? Ask yourself...

• When was the last time I used it?

• Is the item still useful and relevant?

• Is the item in good working condition and safe to keep?

• Do I have a logical place and enough space to keep it?

• What’s the worst thing that will happen if I get rid of it?

The Arranging it AllSM team is mentored and trained by a Certified Professional Organizer.

National Association of Senior Move Managers Accredited A +

The Board of Certification For Professional Organizers Certified NAPO - National Association of Professional Organizers Member NAPO - National Association of Professional Organizers Golden Circle Member - 20 Years Certified Senior Move Manager National Association of Senior Move Managers Member NASMM Circle of Service

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