Garage need overhaul? Do it!

Is your garage safe and well organized?

By Barbara Pierce

Imagine a world where you could actually park inside your garage. Where your garage is clean, well organized, and you can quickly find anything.

There’s always something more important to do than cleaning out the garage. So we learn to live with the clutter. We just keep adding to it: sports equipment, workbench with tools, more tools, bicycles, camping equipment, boxes of Christmas decorations, pool toys, etc. etc.

Anything we don’t have room for in the house goes in the garage. We just keep shoving it in as we tell ourselves that one day, we’ll take care of all this stuff.

That day is here.

Lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis is a good time to get to those projects you’ve been putting off for years.

Suggestions from experts to get you started:

— How to begin: Begin by ordering a Bagster or rent a small dumpster, advised John Granza, owner of John’s Clean-Outs & Property Preservation in Rome. The business offers a wide range of clean-outs and junk removal.

“Anything that could explode and start a fire should be stored in a cool, dry place.”

A Bagster is a small, 3-cubic-yard bag made of tough material for single use. You can purchase it from home improvement stores or online. After you fill it, schedule to have it picked up by waste management. For dumpster services, it can be rented from Dumposaurus Dumpsters & Rolloff Rental site.

A small dumpster holds more than a Bagster. Most garage cleanouts can be completed with a 10-yard dumpster, but this can vary depending on how much stuff you’re throwing away.

If you work together as a family on this project, chances are every family member will have a stake in keeping things in order.

— Clear the way: This is the first thing to do. Get the stuff that’s scattered all over the floor out of the way before you get to the shelves and cabinets.

Put the stuff out in the driveway.

“I typically start cleaning a garage at the outside door, moving inward and concentrating on clearing the floor,” said professional organizer Beth Levin on Budgetdumpster.com.

— Sort things out: “Make categories for each item: ‘keep,’ ‘garbage,’ or ‘donate,’” said Levin. “Separate the items in piles as you bring them out from the garage.”

As you bring things out, put into the Bagster or dumpster things you are throwing out. Put the things you’ll keep in one pile and the things you’ll donate in another pile. You may want a third pile for ‘sell.’”

Have plastic bins, cardboard boxes or bags on hand so you can pack up donation items as you work and stash them out of the way.

Decisions, decisions

— About what to keep: Be brutally discriminating as you sort through every item, asking: “Do I really need this? Have I actually used it? Will I use it?” I hate to break it to you, but the only way you’ll ever be able to park your car(s) in your garage is if you purge.

Don’t keep things that aren’t in working condition. Ditch all those gizmos you’ve been meaning to fix.

Throw out the old stuff. Check expirations and wipe down old cans of paint, pesticides and other garage goodies. Extreme heat and extreme cold can alter paint formulas; your garage is not an ideal place for storing leftover paint.

“Combustibles like gasoline aren’t good for long-term storage in a non-cool place like a garage,” added Granza. “Anything that could explode and start a fire should be stored in a cool, dry place.” Oily rags can be combustible; toss them out.

Donate the sports equipment that your kids have outgrown or lost interest in to make some other kid happy.

— Clean the space: While you’ve got your garage cleared out, it might be a good idea to scrub it down before putting things back.

— Organize: Once you’ve decided what to do with all the stuff you don’t want, it’s time to put back the things you’re keeping in an organized way.

Group “like” items together (camping gear, garden supplies, car washing supplies, etc.).

Put the items you use frequently in the most accessible location.

Consider purchasing a freestanding, heavy-duty metal (not plastic) shelving system for along the walls. Be sure to securely anchor the shelves to the wall. This is good for frequently used items.

Purchase clear plastic containers with airtight lids and ditch the cardboard boxes as cardboard is the perfect environment for bugs to nest and for mold to grow.

Use a pegboard to organize hand tools, like hammers and hacksaws.

Use wall hooks to hold larger items such as rakes, shovels, bicycles and beach chairs.

Make sure your kids can reach the things they need to reach.