When the weather outside is frightful, all dedicated do-it-yourselfers know what to do: take it inside. That’s right; it’s time to organize the garage. Call it what you will – the Man Cave, the Storage Room, the Personal Dumpster or even just the Garage – this open place is pretty important because it’s usually big enough to put anything and everything you accumulate over the years. The garage tends to be the catch all for what you may want or need or plan on keeping, but can’t fit into storage areas inside the living space of your home. Not to mention, using it for what it’s actually built to protect: your car.
In addition to storing your cars and your stuff, garages also house functional equipment like the water heater and furnace, so it really is a good idea to add maintenance steps into your garage cleaning process.
1. Just get started. If you want the end result to be a clean, organized and presentable room, the best advice is to bite the bullet and dig in. Weather permitting, start by taking everything out and clean the space itself. Paint the walls, wash the floor, install shelves or cabinetry, as well as hardware that utilizes any vertical space. The trick is to get as much off the floor as possible, so don’t forget the ceiling space – it’s a great place to hang bicycles and seasonal items. Consider using a hoist pulley system that can be installed directly into ceiling joists.
Working with a clean space lets you decide where to put what – which areas of your garage are best suited for storage or for a workshop perhaps. Think of your garage as a room, take measurements and draw a floor plan just like you would with any other room in your house. If you can’t clear the room, this step can also be done by dividing it into quadrants, then clearing and cleaning one-by-one until you’re satisfied.
2. Change the furnace filter. Now is also a great time to check the furnace filter and either clean it or change it when it’s dirty. Typically, check filters on a monthly basis, which keeps the furnace running efficiently and saves on your utility bills.
Remove the filter, hold it up to the light and look through it. Filters are designed to protect the blower motor from dirt, so if it’s filled with particulate matter it’s doing a good job. It’s important to buy the right filter for your furnace, one that’s the correct size and type. Typically the filter part number is written on the access panel of the furnace. It’s also a good idea to have a few of them on hand for easy replacement. Or you may be able to purchase an electrostatic padding that fits into the filter casing and can be washed and replaced. These usually last longer, about five years. Wash it in soapy water about once a month during heating season and let it dry before replacing it.
Either way, install the new or washed filter in the same direction as the old one, because they’re made to work by filtering air in one direction. Okay, now that the space (and the furnace) is cleaned up the way you like it, turn your attention to your “stuff.” It’s time to decide what to keep, what to donate and what to throw away. And finally, how to organize what you keep.
3. Talk to yourself. Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I toss it? Do I donate it? These questions can help you categorize your stuff into piles that you can then act upon, whether it’s grouping them so they’re easy to find, how they’re used, if they take up huge amounts of space or if they’re nice enough to donate.
4. Label everything. Store like items in the same place, and label the place in the space! Labeling storage containers and shelves can be time-consuming and tedious, but it’s a good way to optimize storage options, big time. Using storage containers on shelving units keeps all your stuff clean. And keep in mind, if you use clear storage containers you’ll be able to see the contents, which can shave minutes off your search.
5. Remember safety. Place hazardous materials like fertilizers, pesticides, paint, sharp tools, guns and hunting equipment in locked boxes or areas where kids can’t get at them. Smaller storage sheds and containers are relatively inexpensive and can be assembled or installed outside, to increase your storage space and accommodate potentially dangerous stuff.
Organizing your garage can take the entire winter, but once it’s done, you’ll be proud to open the garage door!
About the Author
Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.