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As I was cleaning out my garage over the last couple weekends, I started thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made with garage organization in our three different houses over the years. I wanted to share with you those mistakes so you can avoid them.
We moved into this house about two years ago and we’ve never had the time to get our garage organized. Since we don’t have an outdoor shed, we have to fit all of our lawn equipment in our garage.
We just don’t have that much space to work with, so we have to be really careful using the space in our garage so that we can fit both of our cars in there.
We have made so many mistakes organizing garages and I wanted to share them so that I could remember and I could help you avoid the same mistakes.
1. Not Emptying the Garage Completely
The first mistake I’ve made repeatedly when trying to organize a garage is not emptying the garage all the way. There are a few reasons you really want to do that.
One is you can finally do a good job of cleaning it. When it’s completely empty, you can blow all the leaves out, get a good sweeping, and really get it clean.
Also, it helps you look at the garage as a blank slate. When you get everything out and you look at it with fresh eyes, you can really think about where things make sense to be stored and not just storing them where they’ve always been.
2. Not Protecting Yourself from Injuries
Don’t forget to protect yourself when you’re working in the garage. Garages tend to have a lot of sharp things, so it’s a really good idea to wear work gloves to protect your hands and your nails when you’re out there.
I also realized that when I’m using a broom or a leaf blower in the garage, if I wear a face mask, it can help keep all that dust out. For somebody like me with bad allergies, it can really make a difference to keep that junk out of my lungs.
3. Not Allowing Enough Time
The next mistake that I can’t seem to stop making is not allowing enough time to organize the garage.
My husband and I thought this latest project was gonna be maybe one day… maybe two days. It took us four full weekend days plus several evenings!
I’m glad we finally got it done, but I really wish we’d been a little bit more realistic about how long it would take. I would say, if yours is a mess, give it two full weekends at least.
4. Storing Things In the Garage that Don’t Belong
We had some pretty wacky things in our garage, like an antique adding machine! Why? I have no idea!
Before you get started organizing your garage, give it some real thought about what sorts of categories of things you want in your garage.
In this house, we have an unfinished basement for storage, so there’s no reason to store things that don’t belong outdoors. In a previous house, we didn’t have a basement, so our garage had to be all-purpose storage for things like Christmas decorations.
If you need to have a lot of storage in your garage, you might want to think about adding overhead racks that can hold large bins.
We really wanted to keep the garage items down to only outdoor things, so that included lawn equipment, bikes, and outdoor toys. That helped us to narrow down which things belonged there and which things needed to go.
5. Not Planning for Clearance On All Sides
A mistake I’ve made repeatedly when organizing our garage is not thinking about clearance, and I mean clearance in all three dimensions.
If you’re going to be walking through your garage, you have to think about having floor space to walk. You have to think about having horizontal space to swing car doors, and you need to think about having vertical space over your head.
In the past, we had hung some of our bikes from the ceiling and I really hated the feeling of having those so close to my head when we walked through the garage.
If you’re going to be getting in and out of cars in the garage, you need to think about where those doors are going to swing.
If there is any chance of those car doors hitting walls or other cars or things in the garage, you might want to think about ways to protect them. You can use pool noodles to create a nice bumper if you have something that might get hit by a car door.
6. Not Utilizing Vertical Space
Speaking of the vertical space, you definitely want to get things off the floor as much as possible, especially if you’re trying to park cars in there.
You can get bikes off the floor by mounting them on the wall. You can look at what things would make sense for mounting on your ceiling. For example, ladders can work well on the ceiling.
Also, overhead racks for bins are great way to get a lot of extra storage on the ceiling. Think about hanging tools on the wall too. There are tons of different types of hooks for various tools.
7. Getting Distracted by Other Projects
I am totally easily distracted and one of the traps I often fall into when we’re cleaning the garage is getting distracted with all kinds of other projects, either cleaning things or fixing things.
When you’re cleaning and organizing the garage you have to stay focused on just that project.
This time around, we ended up having to fix the drain in our garage floor, because it was falling apart we were afraid someone was going to fall through it. It needed to be done but it probably should have been done the weekend before we started organizing the garage!
8. Buying Storage Solutions Before Sorting
The next thing that I’m totally guilty of is buying storage solutions before actually sorting out what you need to store.
It’s really tempting to go to Home Depot and see the nice big multi-pack of garage storage tools but then you bring it home and you realize you don’t have the right number of hooks and things that you need for the actual items you have in your garage.
Step one is to figure out what you need to store. Step two is to buy hooks and bins and whatever you need to store those items.
9. Skipping Specialized Storage Solutions
If you have something unusual that you need to store, don’t be afraid to look for solutions for that specific thing.
We’ve had a wheelbarrow stored in our garage and it’s one of the most difficult things to store! Until I looked on YouTube for “how to store a wheelbarrow”, I had no idea that you could actually hang one on the wall.
A wheelbarrow hanger is a great, inexpensive solution and I’m glad to finally have the wheelbarrow out of the way.
10. Blocking Your Access to Important Items
The next mistake is not thinking about which things you need to access easily in your garage.
If you’re going to park your cars inside, it’s going to be hard to get to some of the things in the garage. You really don’t want that to happen, especially if you’re in a place that has winter snowstorms.
I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t been able to get to my snow shovel when we were snowed in. This time around, I made sure to mount that snow shovel right next to the door to the inside of my house so I could just grab it and use it anytime I need it! I can even use it in the backyard to dig out a little space for my doggie to go potty.
11. Not Helping the Drivers Park in the Garage
And finally, once you’re done cleaning and organizing your garage, make sure that you help out the drivers who need to park cars in there.
The previous owners of our house had left a tennis ball hanging from the ceiling that they used to help park their cars. It was fine, but if the garage was empty, it meant we were walking into this ball all the time. And with young kids around, it also meant some crazy games of tetherball in our garage!
To get my car in the right spot, I need to make sure that I don’t pull forward too far because we need space to walk in front of the cars.
What I figured out was I could put a line of yellow tape right behind where I parked my car. I put it down right where the garage door comes down behind my car.
Then I could look at it in the rearview camera of my car and be able to tell that my car was in just the right spot. This has really helped make parking in the garage much less stressful for me.
It was so much work to get our garage organized, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. When the snow comes, I’m
gonna be ready and I’ll be able to get to my snow shovel.
When you get to organizing your garage, I hope this list will help you avoid the same mistakes that I have made over and over again!