Most people would agree that a garage, by definition, is designed to house a car. Yet, why is that so many of us decide use this space as extra storage, opting to leave the car exposed in the driveway?
Consider this recent survey from Gladiator® GarageWorks. Among those surveyed, one in four had garages so cluttered, they could not park their cars inside.
What’s even more surprising is that while 25% of people admitted to a cluttered garage, only 8% described the rest of their house as cluttered. In other words, far more people are comfortable with a messy garage than they are with a messy house.
While many people aren’t using their garages for parking, it would seem that there’s no better time to change that, especially since the cost of a new car is only going up — with the average now being over $30,000. Why would you leave your car out in the open, where bad weather and burglars could potentially damage your investment?
That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to clean out your garage. If you’ve been using your garage for storage for many years, it is likely that the very idea of cleaning out your garage is exceedingly stressful. To stave off such anxiety, it’s good to have a plan of attack.
So here’s our step-by-step approach to decluttering and cleaning out the garage so you can use it for its true purpose — as a place to park your car!
Step 1: Empty Your Garage
The biggest impediment to organizing your garage is the sheer amount of stuff that accumulates over the years. That’s why it’s so important to completely empty your garage of stuff before you start to reorganize what you do have.
You are going to want to pick a day that you can dedicate to removing everything — and we mean everything — out of your garage. Don’t leave a spare tool or piece of sporting equipment behind.
Make sure you start early, especially if you’ve spent years collecting boxes and other clutter. You want to make sure you have enough time to empty your garage and sort everything without needing to leave a bunch of stuff on your lawn overnight.
Get everyone in your family involved. The more people you have helping out, the easier it will be to get everything out of the garage.
Step 2: Get Rid of Stuff
The main reason your garage is full of clutter is because you are likely holding on to things you simply do not need. Therefore, once you have emptied your garage, it’s time to make some tough choices. You must seriously ask yourself if you need the various items and boxes you have stacked floor to ceiling. For example, if you come across something you forgot you even owned, it probably isn’t necessary for your daily life.
If you want to plan a garage sale, now would be the time. However, you also need to be careful when holding a garage sale. Too often, people will use them as an opportunity to rationalize re-storing things that don’t get sold. Garage sales are a great way to make a few extra bucks off the stuff you don’t want anymore, but you also need to commit to donating everything that doesn’t get sold to a local charity. Furthermore, it is quite possible you have collected things that aren’t even worth donating. In that case, be ready to simply throw stuff out.
To effectively declutter your garage, you need to be ruthless with getting rid of stuff. Even if it hurts a bit at the beginning, the pain will subside once your garage is organized — and you can park your car in it.
Step 3: Sweep and Air out Your Garage
Now that everything is out of your garage, you want to take advantage of the opportunity to really clean it. If you have a family team working on the project, consider assigning the person most likely to throw stuff away to the task of sorting through everything while other team members work on cleaning the garage.
Of course, garages don’t typically need to be as spotless as say the kitchen. However, you do want to get out a Shop-Vac® and really give it a good once over. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to reach the deepest corners of a garage, so you never know what might have been hiding behind all of those piles of boxes.
You also want to take this opportunity to air out your garage. When used for storage, garages can get oppressively musty. So open up the door and all the windows — if you have any — and really let the space breathe for a day.
Step 4: Make a Plan for Organization
After you have cleaned your garage and thinned out the stuff you are storing in there, it will be tempting to just quickly move everything back to where it came from. This is likely the approach that led you to have such a cluttered garage in the first place, though. Instead, take this time to really plan out how you are going to keep your garage organized moving forward.
These days, many different companies have released excellent lines of garage organization furniture. These storage systems are designed to be hyper-durable while also being suited for storing the types of tools and equipment that are likely to be kept in your garage. For instance, they have hangers specially designed for holding garden tools or sporting equipment. They are also designed to keep things tight against the walls of your garage, so it’s easier to ensure everything stays out of the way, leaving you with space to park your car.
While investing in new storage furniture may seem pricey at first, it can actually save you money in the long run. Keeping your garage free for your car is a great way to preserve the condition of your vehicle. Furthermore, other tools and equipment stored properly will also last longer. So don’t be afraid to invest in quality.
Additionally, by taking time to organize, you will solidify a plan for storing your stuff that will help guide how you store new things in the future. If you have a section dedicated to kids’ outdoor toys, you will know that that is where any future toys are to be stored. The same goes for any fishing equipment or lawn maintenance tools. Furthermore, as you gather more stuff, you will have a better sense of how much space you have available for new storage. If you are running out of space, this will help encourage you to get rid of the old before replacing it with something new — or help you realize that maybe you don’t need the new item after all.
Step 5: Get Your Garage Ready for Your Car
Now that you’ve finished clearing out the stuff, planning your future organization and cleaning your empty garage, you want to make sure your space is prepared to house your car.
Start by giving your concrete slab a quick look over. Parking a heavy car in your garage can put a lot of stress on your garage floor. If your garage floor has severe cracks, you are going to want to get them professionally repaired. If you are an ambitious do-it-yourselfer, you can even purchase a polymer cement crack sealant and tackle the project yourself.
Similarly, now is the time to address any severe staining you may want to clean. If you want to keep your floor oil and gasoline stain free, you should also consider sealing it. This will make future mopping and sweeping much easier.
Like so many garage maintenance jobs, this is much easier to complete when your garage is empty. So take advantage of the opportunity and get your garage, especially the floor, in top shape before you move everything back in.
Step 6: Return Your Stuff to Its Proper Place
You have gotten rid of the bulk of your stuff, made a plan and set aside specific places for all that remains. Time to set up your new organizational furniture and put everything in its proper place.
However, for most of us, as we put everything back, we’ll suddenly realize that we still have too much stuff. So it’s a good idea to be prepared to do a second purge. Don’t be afraid to stick to your original plan. If you only have so much space assigned for sporting equipment and you realize you are still holding on to more than can fit in that assigned spot, you need to make a few more tough decisions. It’s important to let your plan — not the amount of stuff that remains — dictate how much you return to your garage.
Additionally, if some of your stuff needs to be cleaned, things like lawn mowers or power tools, now is the time to do it. You’ve spent hours getting your garage clean, so you don’t want to track grass clippings or wood shavings into your revitalized space.
After you have all of your stuff properly stored, its time to pull your car into its spot. You’ll feel incredible once you drive your car into the garage. All of your hard work will have paid off as you pull your vehicle into its new home.
Step 7: Get Your Garage Door Inspected
There is one final issue you should make sure to address now that you have your garage cleaned out. When your garage was being used as a glorified attic, you likely neglected to use your automatic garage door nearly as often as you will now that you will be regularly parking your car in your garage. That’s why you should take some time and get your garage door professionally inspected and serviced.
There are a number of issues that can arise if you have neglected to use your garage door. First and foremost, if the chain and mechanisms haven’t been used regularly, they will likely need to be re-lubricated. Dust and grime can harden the lubrication, severely impeding the function of your automatic garage door opener. By adding additional stress to a poorly lubricated system, you can eventually blow out the motor, which will be a much more expensive fix than merely getting the system regularly serviced.
You also want to make sure your safety features are working in peak condition. If you are not using your garage door regularly, you and your family likely will not have developed the kind of garage door safety awareness that can help you avoid accidents. For instance, if one of the automatic sensors that prevents the door from closing on an obstruction — including an unsuspecting family member — isn’t functioning properly, the likelihood of a potentially severe injury is greatly increased.
You also want to make sure all of your hard work in cleaning out your garage was worth it, though. You don’t want to be frustrated by the sudden realization that your garage door isn’t functioning properly, leaving that recently cleared car-sized space empty.
While you can schedule garage door service later, try not to put it off too long. We suggest at least making your appointment while you are working on everything else, so this last but important step doesn’t get forgotten.
Luckily, here at Central State Door Service, we have years of experience and specially designed service plans that make us the best Central Pennsylvania garage door service professionals.
We hope this guide to cleaning out and maximizing your garage space proves useful as you seek to declutter your life and extend the life of your vehicle. Although the piles of boxes and tools may appear daunting at first, we know that with a little strategy, some elbow grease and a healthy dose of motivation, you can transform the way you use your valuable garage space. As the prices of vehicles only increase, there’s no better time to invest in a great place to park your car where it will be protected from inclement weather and stay secure from those with ill intents.
Trust the Experts at Central State Door Service
Regardless of whether you need parts in your garage door replaced or simply need a routine service, our professional and courteous service technicians are there to make sure your sweat and hard work of cleaning out your garage doesn’t go to waste.
Perhaps your organizational efforts have even inspired you to install a brand new garage door. With a diverse line of gorgeous, durable and highly-functional automatic garage door systems, we are also your go-to resource for new installations.
So if you are looking to get your pre-existing door into shape or you want to give your garage a whole new look, contact us at Central State Door Service. A member of our friendly team will contact you about our various service options along with a free service quote.