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6 Tips To Declutter and Organize a Messy Garage

Updated: Apr 3

Want to hear a dirty little secret?

Right now, our garage is messy. It's an unorganized mess and, quite frankly, in shambles. Primarily it's messy because we have not yet invested in the right organizing products and systems. We're using shelving from our old house in California, and they are not at all the right size or setup for our new house, but we are trying to make it work until this summer when we have time to tackle a full garage organizing overhaul.

I know many of you also have messy garages that have seen better days. So, it's good to know we're in this messy garage situation together.

I read an interesting article from the National Association of Professional Organizers — they found that 50% of homeowners named the garage the most disorganized area of their house. And two more interesting facts:

  • Only 11% of homeowners say they're satisfied with their garage and wouldn't want to improve it. (Wall Street Journal survey)

  • When purchasing a home, 80% of buyers factor in the garage when making their decision. (Impulse Research survey)

But the good news is that with a little thoughtful planning, a motivated mindset, and a bit of heavy lifting, you'll be able to get our garages looking good and in tip-top shape. So, if you have a messy garage and need help decluttering and organizing, here are six useful tips to help you organize and restore order to the chaos

1. Ask yourself the hard questions

Garages are one of the most challenging spaces to declutter and organize. Not only do they tend to be a good size, but it's also where we dump our unmade decisions. We store our keepsakes, miscellaneous items, backstock items, and everything else. Therefore, there can be a lot of emotional ties and connections, and those are the items that are the hardest to let go of.

If you have difficulty deciding about the belongings you have accumulated, ask yourself these questions to help you decipher whether your items belong in your space.

• Do you absolutely love it?

• Do you have space for it?

• How do you use it?

• When was the last time you used it?

• When will you use it again?

• Where should be its home base?

• Could it better serve someone else?

• Would you rebuy it?

• Why are you keeping it?

2. Use the 20/20 rule

The 20/20 rule, created by The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, set the notion that if you can replace something in less than 20 minutes for less than $20.00, you don't need to keep it. The belief is that there is a low chance you'll actually have to replace the items once you let them go.

In my experience helping clients organize, the 20/20 rule works best when decluttering smaller items with little to no sentimental value — the "just in case" items that you think you might need someday. This can include tools, gardening supplies, camping supplies, and household utility items.

3. Set your garage up in zones

To install long-term organizing success, sort your like- items into zones. For example, in your garage, you might have a camping zone, a house utility zone, a snow sports zone, a tool zone, a gardening zone, or a toy zone. By creating zones, you'll significantly maximize the functionality of your drawers, cabinets, shelves, and workbench. Since everything you need is in one designated spot, finding things, knowing what you have, putting things away, and cleaning up becomes an easy-peasy task.

Zones can also act as your "space limit." This means that once that area fills up, it's time to purge and eliminate — you cannot add anything to that space until you get rid of some items

4. Take advantage of vertical space

If you've already decluttered and are still longing for more space, you can always take advantage of walls' upwards real estate — and don't forget about using your doors or your ceiling space for additional storage solutions.

Tap into your vertical space with tall cabinets, pegboards, shelving, hooks, or ceiling racks. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the extra storage space you'll have on your hands.

5. Buy and assemble organizing products last

It's so tempting to run out and buy the cutest organizing products on the shelves and try to make them work in our spa e. Unfortunately, these products often become an epic fail, with very little long-term organizing success because they typically aren't the correct size or shape for spa e. Incorporating the right organizing products makes a big difference in increasing space and function, but you'll need to do the prep work to ensure you buy products that will work for your space long term. When you save the buying for last, it helps you pinpoint the size, shape, placement, and usage, and often you realize you can repurpose and use items you may already have.

6. Hire someone to help with the garage mess

I know I'm biased, but hiring a home organizer to help you tone down the mess will be the best investment you make for your health and happiness. My clients tell me they feel less stressed, are more efficient, are more productive, and, most importantly, are extremely happy. So, if you are considering hiring someone to help declutter and organize your messy garage, now is the time!

Here is a small garage project my assistant and I tackled a few weeks ago. The garage took up 10 hours (two people), and we had three trips to the local donations center and one large pickup from Junkluggers. We were able to reuse a lot of our client's storage shelves and added $300 worth of additional organizing products.

Say Goodbye to your messy garage

Our garage organizing season is right around the corner, and we're booking our spring/summer projects now. If you want to make your garage decluttering and organizing task less daunting, we'd love to help. We have experience in optimizing spaces and knowing what organizing systems will work and what products and systems will instill long-term organizing success. You can book your free garage organizing consultation through our website form.

The Organized House was named an expert in garage styling, transforming, and renovation. Check out the article we were featured in: Garage Conversion Tips for a Functional & Stylish Space | Redfin


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