Garage declutter guide

25 May 2022
If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, chances are that it’s in need of decluttering. Garages have a way of becoming a room-sized version of the household junk drawer: a place to store everything else. However, this inevitably results in layer upon layer of clutter, making it almost impossible to get things when you need them.

An image of a cluttered garage for our garage declutter guide

The solution? It’s time to declutter your garage. You only need to do this once a year, or even less frequently if you’re organised, but it does require a decent amount of time – especially if it has been a while. Our comprehensive garage declutter guide covers both how to tidy a garage and how to organise it for more efficient future tidying.

Do a pre-tidy

The full garage declutter will be an involved process, but there are a few things to give yourself a head start. Before the big day, begin by tossing out anything that you know you don’t need (assuming it’s within reach). This saves you time on the day and limits the amount of rubbish you’ll need to shift in one go. It will also get you in a decluttering mindset as you begin thinking about what’s in your garage, what you intend to keep and what you’re ready to let go of.

Get prepared

Next, you’ll want to set up your tools for the big garage declutter. At a minimum, you’ll need:

If you’re planning to install additional storage, now is also the time to make sure it’s ready. It’s tempting to declutter first and install new furniture later, but you’ll quickly find that clutter expands to fill the space available! That’s why it’s worth having the furniture on hand – whether in a flat pack or assembled in a different part of the house – on the day of the big garage declutter.

Be prepared for your garage declutter and order some boxes and packaging with us!

Clear a space

All of the clutter you’re removing from your garage will need to go somewhere while you sort, clean and tidy. Clear a space, ideally directly outside of the garage, either indoors or out. This staging area will ensure that you can get at every corner of the garage, give it a good tidy, and put things back in a sensible way.

Remember to factor in the weather if you’re working outdoors and plan your garage declutter for a day with good weather. Having a few tarpaulins ready to toss over the contents of your garage is a good way to protect against some unforeseen light rain.

If you’re storing the contents of your garage indoors, you need to be careful not to spread dirt or dust. The simplest solution is putting down some painter’s dust sheets.

Remove everything you can

The main tasks of the day will be removing everything from your garage, cleaning the space, sorting out what’s worth keeping, and then putting it back in an organised way.

The first step is to get everything out of your garage and into the staging area that you’ve already prepared. While you have a big area to work with, you can also do some preliminary sorting. Set things out on your dust sheet or tarp in groups – children’s toys in one area, summer gear in another, and so on. This will save you time when it comes to putting it all back.

Don’t forget, if you are trying to clear out your garage for something else like a car, bike, exercise machine, you don’t need to bin anything to make room! You can use self storage with us!

Dust and vacuum everywhere

With the garage clear for the first time in ages, you’ll finally be able to get a look at it – and you’ll probably find that it’s in need of a deep clean. By far the most common issue in the garage is dust, so you’ll want to have plenty of dusters handy.

Open the windows to get some air flowing, and – if it’s particularly dusty – you may want to wear some goggles and a face mask. You may look a bit silly, but that’s better than getting dry eyes and a mouthful of dust.

One of the top tips for cleaning out garage dust is to use the vacuum cleaner. You may need an extension cable to get it to reach if you don’t have outlets in the garage, but it’s the fastest way to bust dust.

Does your garage need a makeover? Here are some garage design ideas from experts to help you kickstart your garage renovation.

Get rid of oil, rust and paint stains

Now that the dust is gone and the garage declutter is underway, you’ll have easy access to the floor. It has likely accumulated some dirt of its own over time, often in the form of oil, rust and paint stains.

There are plenty of approaches to cleaning oil stains. Begin by soaking up any still-wet oil using newspaper or cat-litter. Next, give it a scrub with baking soda and water to loosen the oil. Then, scrub it with soap and water. Leave it to dry and repeat as necessary. If the oil stain is particularly stubborn, some people say that mineral spirits will help loosen it.

To clean garage paint stains, paint stripper is the obvious choice. Follow the instructions on the pack and leave it to set before scrubbing it clean. It may take a few applications to get rid of big stains.

The trick to removing rust stains is acid – concentrated lemon juice or Coca Cola are a good start. Soak the stain thoroughly and leave it to sit for an hour or two before cleaning with water. Repeat if necessary and you’ll have a spotless floor in no time. 

Look out for damage

While you’re waiting for your stain-removers to work and the garage is mostly empty, it’s worth taking some time to look around for damage in your garage. Check for cracks or other structural issues like a sagging roof. Some cracks are normal, but it’s worth taking a picture and checking back on them in a few months to make sure they’re not spreading.

Mould is another common issue, and it may have been hidden by clutter. Fortunately, it’s easy to address. Spray it with mould-remover or watered-down bleach and it should disappear – but check back in a few weeks to make sure it’s not coming back.

Apply a fresh coat of paint

If you’re really looking to give your garage a refresh, this would also be the time to break out the paint and put a new coat on the walls. Paint makes it harder for mould to grow and keeps your garage looking nice.

If you have a concrete floor, you can even paint it to make it more resilient against spills and stains. Be sure to use a paint that’s designed for this purpose, otherwise it won’t be absorbed properly.

Are you thinking of converting your garage to become another room in the house? Check out our top ideas for a garage conversion

Set up storage solutions

Stacking your items or tossing them in a pile is all well and good, but it doesn’t exactly lead to effective organisation. Instead, it’s worth using your garage declutter as a chance to set up some shelving, storage cabinets, hooks and other storage solutions to make the most of the space in your garage.

Garage specific shelving is an affordable choice, and it makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to consider the ceiling – some carefully placed hooks or netting can turn otherwise useless space into storage.

An image of garage items hung up for better storage for our garage declutter guide

Sort and dispose of things

You’re almost done – now it’s time to sort through the contents of your garage to work out what gets to stay. The classic garage decluttering test is to ask yourself whether you’ve used an item in the past year. If not, it may be time to get rid of it. There’s no use dedicating valuable storage space to something you only use once a decade.

Remember that you don’t need to hold on to one of everything. Often, your family, friends or neighbours will be able to lend you things like tools, or you can rent them as you need them.

Once you’ve determined what you can get rid of, you need to determine how you’re getting rid of it. For things that are in good condition, your first stop should be to offer it to the charity shop. If they’re not interested, you could either try to recycle it or take it to the tip.

If you’re not quite ready to dispose of some garage items, store them with us! We have the perfect self storage facilities for your ‘second garage’.

Put everything back – thoughtfully

The last step in the garage declutter is to put back everything you want to keep. There’s an art to creating a place for everything in a limited space, but it can be done. This serves two purposes: it makes it easy to find a given item when you need to, and it makes it clear where new items should go.

The first step is to set up storage for the things you access most frequently. These should be easy to reach since you’ll be back and for the for them frequently. With the most convenient spots set aside for commonly used items, it helps to come up with a logic for the rest of the room.

Perhaps garden equipment gets one zone, holiday stuff another, and sports gear another. Whatever your system, having a “neighbourhood” for different things saves time and helps keep clutter from piling up.

Labelling your storage is another easy way to keep a clean garage and make sure you can easily find things – it’s hard to lose the hammer when you know it’s always in the drawer with “tools” written on it!

Limited space in your garage? No garage at all? We can help! Access Self Storage offers cheap, modern storage nationwide, making it the ideal garage-away-from-home. We have self storage facilities that are the same size as a single garage, and even bigger! Find a store near you with our store finder