Remember when people used to park their cars in their home garages? We do, but just barely. Joking aside, these days people use their garages more often for storage than as a place to keep their cars safe. Instead, many park their cars in the driveway, just outside the garage.
In an area with mild weather, that’s fine, but when heavy snow begins to fall, or you notice your car’s paint fading due to constant sun exposure, you may want to give it its own indoor space.
Whether you have a one or two-car garage, these instructions will help you clear it out and clean it up so that your vehicles, if they could feel, would feel welcome and at home.
It starts with decluttering.
The State of Our Garages
More than any other room in a home, the garage is likely to have a lot of clutter. This is because it’s convenient to put things in there, whether you really need them or not. Instead of using a garage simply as storage for things our families need regularly, we’re likely to put away things that we just want out of the way.
Expect the process to take time, maybe several days. You can also consider decluttering the garage a family affair or get friends and relatives to help. In fact, they may be interested in some items you no longer want.
Go through the piles, boxes, and shelves, and provide four areas for your belongings. These will be things to keep, things to donate, things to sell, and things to trash. You can take some inspiration from the KonMari method and decide if items “spark joy,” or you can ask when the last time you used something was. Also, ask yourself if you’re likely to need it in the future. If the answer is that you might, but deep down you don’t think you will, you can get rid of it.
We understand that some mementos are worth keeping, even if haven’t looked at them and won’t look at them for years. These include baby books and other items with deeply sentimental value that are irreplaceable.
You may end up sorting several times. Perhaps you’ll go through a dozen boxes and then need to deal with the piles. That’s fine.
Stuff to Get Rid Of
You’ll notice that three of the piles fall into this broader category of “stuff to get rid of.” How do you decide what items belong in which subcategory?
If it’s something in good condition, it can generally be sold or donated. Thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army take a wide variety of gently-used goods. You can sell some items quickly with the Decluttr app or advertise items for local sale with an app like Letgo. Both are available for iOS and Android. Of course, you can always sell on eBay or Craigslist.
You can throw out or recycle broken items. Search for recycling centers near you on Google to see where they are and what they take. You can also call for trash pickup for the rest, or take it yourself to a local landfill.
Time to Organize
Once you’ve eliminated all the stuff you don’t need from your garage, it’s time to sort those things you do. Separate out what you need to keep at home from what should go in storage. Things to keep in the garage at home may include sports equipment appropriate for the current season, your lawnmower and snowblower, your toolbox of general-use tools, gardening tools, car repair and maintenance equipment, paint, and bicycles.
For most tools, you can install shelves. Just make sure that when you park the car, there will be enough room for the driver and passengers to get out. You can hang bicycles on the wall, and put things like the lawnmower in a far corner.
There are two good reasons to put anything else in self storage. First, if you still don’t have enough room for your car in your garage after getting rid of the clutter, you’ll need a good place to put some of your stuff.
Second, a garage isn’t the best environment for a lot of our belongings. The outside weather can essentially seep into your garage and cause a lot of damage to a variety of belongings. Instead, consider putting them in a climate controlled self storage unit. This will protect your possessions from high heat and humidity as well as very cold and dry conditions.
We know this will be a lengthy process, but we think you’ll find it worth the effort. And, with all this done, you’ll be able to park your car in your garage!