21 Garage Cleaning Tips for the Overwhelmed

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Is your garage feeling more like an obstacle course than a storage solution? Are you overwhelmed just thinking about where to start?

Trust us. You’re not alone.

But here’s the good news: you’ve got the power to transform that chaos into a clean, organized space that’s easy to navigate and even easier on the eyes.

In this article, we’re going to share 21 practical, manageable garage cleaning tips to tackle that clutter.

We’ve focused on simple, achievable strategies that won’t break the bank or require a degree in interior design.

Whether you’re wrestling with limited storage, struggling to maintain cleanliness, or just busy, we have something for you.

So, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and dive into this guide. It’s time to reclaim your garage!


21 Practical Garage Cleaning Tips for When It All Seems Too Much

1. Purge and declutter

When we bought our first house, I was amazed at how quickly my garage went from clean to cluttered. 

The first step towards reclaiming your garage is to purge and declutter.

This may seem daunting, but with a systematic approach, it’s pretty manageable.

Start by categorizing your items and tackling one category at a time. Whether it’s tools, seasonal items, or sports equipment, it doesn’t matter where you start.

As you sort, apply the “one item in, two items out” rule. For every new item you keep, remove two others. Donate, recycle, or dispose of anything that you no longer use or need.

This helps declutter while allowing you to take inventory of your stuff and ensuring you only keep useful and valuable items.

2. Use storage solutions

The right storage solutions are the key to maintaining a clean and organized garage. Investing in cabinets, shelves, and bins can help to optimize your space.

Consider cabinets and shelving units on wheels. They offer flexibility, allowing you to quickly move and rearrange items as your needs change.

Bins and totes can store smaller items, while shelves and cabinets are ideal for larger items and tools.

Remember, everything needs its own designated place. This will make it easier to find what you need and prevent things from piling up and creating clutter.

3. Paint the garage

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders for your garage, making it look cleaner & brighter. It can also help to protect your walls and floor from wear and tear.

Choose a light color to reflect light and make the space feel larger and brighter. Consider using a semi-gloss or gloss paint finish for easy cleaning.

Remember to prep your surfaces properly before painting for the best results. This may involve cleaning, patching holes, and applying a primer.

4. Proper lighting

Good lighting is crucial in a garage. It improves visibility and makes the space feel less confined.

Whether you’re working on a project or simply trying to find something, adequate lighting can make a world of difference.

Consider installing LED lights for energy efficiency and longevity. Design your garage lighting layout to illuminate critical areas such as your workbench or storage units.

Also, take advantage of natural light by keeping windows clean and unobstructed.

5. Keep the car in the garage

While using your garage as additional storage space can be tempting, try to keep it clear for your car.

Parking your car in the garage has many benefits. It protects your vehicle from the elements, increases security, and even reduces insurance premiums in some cases.

More importantly, it forces you to keep the space clear and organized. Every time you pull your car in, you’ll be encouraged to keep the floor free of clutter.

If necessary, designate specific storage and car parking zones to ensure there’s always room for your vehicle.

6. Close the garage door

Leaving your garage door open not only invites potential thieves but also makes your garage seem more cluttered and disorganized.

Keep your door closed as much as possible to protect your belongings and maintain your home’s curb appeal.

This also helps reduce dust and debris entering your garage, making cleaning easier. 

7. Use vertical space

Your garage’s walls hold untapped potential for additional storage.

Using hooks, pegboards, or wall-mounted storage systems, you can free up precious floor space and make your tools and equipment easily accessible.

Pegboards are particularly versatile and customizable, allowing you to hang everything from hammers to bicycles. Hooks can be used for items like ladders, hoses, and even garden tools. Wall-mounted shelves or cabinets can hold bins, boxes, or loose items.

By using vertical space wisely, you can maximize your garage’s storage capacity and keep your things neat and organized.

8. Take it one step at a time

Cleaning and organizing a garage can seem overwhelming, especially if it’s been a while since you last tackled it.

But remember, you don’t have to do everything in one day. Break down the task into manageable chunks.

For example, one day, you sort through and categorize items. The next day, you purge unnecessary items. And another day, you install new storage solutions.

Taking it one step at a time makes the task less overwhelming, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it until your garage is a space you can be proud of.

9. Use garage sales or donate

As you sort and purge items from your garage, you’ll likely find things you no longer need but are still in good condition.

Consider selling these items in a garage sale or donating them to a local charity or thrift store. Several national charities will take oversized items like furniture, appliances, and musical instruments.

Not only will you clear out space in your garage, but you’ll also give these items a second life and possibly make someone else’s day.

10. Keep it maintained

Keeping your garage clean and organized is not a one-time task. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent it from falling into disarray once you’ve put in the effort to tidy up.

Take a few minutes each week to return items to their designated places, dust surfaces, and sweep the floor. Regularly assess whether your storage solutions are still working and adjust as needed.

Regular upkeep goes a long way in keeping your garage a space you’re proud to show off.

11. Digitize photographs to Save on Storage

If your garage has become a storage space for old pictures and photo albums, consider digitizing them.

This will free up physical space and preserve your memories for longer. Many services can help with this process, or you can invest in a photo scanner and do it yourself.

Once digitized, photos can be stored on your computer, an external hard drive, or a cloud service, ensuring they’re safe from physical damage.

12. Get family members involved

Garage organization is not a one-person job, especially if the whole family uses the space. Involve everyone in the process – from sorting items to maintaining cleanliness. This can be a great opportunity to teach children about organization and responsibility.

If a family member is a hoarder, take the time to discuss and find a compromise. Remember, the goal is to create a space that works for everyone.

By involving the whole family, you’ll ensure everyone takes ownership and plays a part in keeping the garage clean and organized.

Garage cleaning tips: Get the family involved

13. Organize items by category (seasonal, auto, garden, toys)

Organizing your items by category on metal racks or shelves can significantly reduce the time it takes to find what you need.

Metal racks are durable, easy to clean, and can handle heavy items.

Designate a shelf for each category – one for auto parts and tools, another for garden equipment, a third for kids’ toys, etc.

This will also help you quickly identify and purge items you no longer need.

14. Prioritize and prepare

A little planning goes a long way in successfully organizing your garage.

Start by making a list of tasks in order of priority. Next, assess the materials you’ll need for each job.

Do you need more storage bins, new shelves, or hooks for hanging items? Having these items on hand before you start will make the process smoother and less frustrating.

15. Create designated spaces, such as a craft room or work area

If you use your garage as a work area or craft space, it’s worth creating a designated spot to work.

This keeps your tools and materials organized and makes your tasks more enjoyable because everything you need is at hand.

16. Dedicated storage for items like tractors, lawnmowers, and snow throwers

Bigger equipment can pose a real challenge when it comes to garage organization. Consider dedicated storage solutions for things like tractors, lawnmowers, or snow throwers.

These could be as simple as sturdy hooks for hanging, platforms for storing items off the ground, or even custom-built solutions.

17. Proper storage for garbage cans, recycling bins, and yard waste

Your garbage cans and recycling bins deserve a designated spot in your garage.

Specialized storage solutions can help manage these items like shelving units that accommodate standard can sizes or hooks and hangers for bags of yard waste.

18. Hang long-handled items on walls for easy access

Storing long-handled items like mops, brooms, and tools on wall-mounted hooks can free up floor space and keep these items in easy reach.

Plus, hanging tools and equipment on the wall reduces the risk of them getting damaged or causing an accident.

19. Coat or seal your garage floor for easier cleaning

A coated garage floor can make cleaning a breeze.

Epoxy or polyurea floor coatings are resistant to stains, spills, and dust, making them an excellent option for garages. Plus, they can give your garage a professional, polished look.

20. Properly store books and magazines (or donate them)

If you’re storing books in your garage, consider whether they all need to be kept. Books that are no longer needed can be donated to libraries or schools, sold at a garage sale, or recycled.

If you must store books in the garage, use plastic bins to protect them from moisture and pests.

21. Regularly clean out and maintain your garage

Maintaining a clean and organized garage is particularly important during extreme weather conditions.

This space often becomes the first line of defense against rain, snow, and mud. Regularly sweeping the floor, wiping down surfaces, and properly storing items can keep your garage in top shape, no matter the season.


Wrapping It Up

There you have it, folks! Our 21 best garage cleaning tips to help transform your garage from a disorganized mess to an efficient, clean, and organized space.

Remember, the goal is not to make your garage magazine-perfect overnight. It’s about making gradual, lasting changes that will turn your garage into a space that works for you and your needs.

Every step gets you closer to that goal, from purging and decluttering to the strategic use of storage solutions to freshening up the space with a new paint job or improved lighting.

Don’t be afraid to get the family involved or embrace the power of digitization. Remember, even the larger items and bulky equipment have a place in an organized garage, and a well-maintained space can weather any storm.

Take these tips, roll up your sleeves, and dive in. Take it one day at a time. Celebrate your wins, learn from setbacks, and always keep your vision of a clutter-free, organized garage in mind.

Before you know it, you’ll have a garage that’s functional and a space you’re proud to show off.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

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