Get Your Garage Back in 7 Sanity-Restoring Steps

Professional organizer Donna Smallin, author of "The One-Minute Organizer: A to Z Storage Solutions", shares hard-earned advice for controlling garage clutter.

  1. Visualize the Possibilities

    Garage Makeover

    "Imagine what the space will look like when it's cleaned out and how nice it will feel to drive into it each time you come home," Smallin suggests. "Hold this image in your head to inspire you."

  2. Take Everything Out

    Empty Garage

    Carefully carry everything out of the garage and lay it down on the lawn or driveway. "Group things in categories," Smallin says. "All the garden tools together, for instance, or all the sporting goods."

  3. Sweep Up


    Broom clean the entire space, taking care to get all the leaves that may have blown in and any cobwebs that may have gathered in forgotten places.

    Related: Keeping Your Workshop Clean

  4. Decide What You Want To Keep

    Garage Tools

    Cleaning day is a great time to check the condition and usefulness of the items stored in your garage, Smallin points out. Put aside anything that's broken beyond repair or simply not needed anymore.

  5. Find New Homes for Old Stuff

    Yard Sale

    People in your community may be interested in the things you no longer need. "Consider holding a yard sale on another day, or look into organizations that accept donations of sporting goods and household items."

    Related: How To—Hold a Successful Yard Sale

  6. Assess Your Storage Needs

    Garage Storage

    An empty garage lets you see whether you have enough shelving, boxes, and cabinets to neatly store the items you're keeping. A quick trip to a local home improvement store can fill in any gaps. "It's good to get things up off the floor," Smallin says. "Be sure to take advantage of wall space."

    Related:  10 Favorite Wall Storage Ideas

  7. Create Stations for the Things You'll Keep

    Garden Tool Storage

    When you're returning things to the garage, keep items organized by category—tools, garden equipment, sporting goods and so on. "Things are much easier to find when they're grouped together," Smallin says.

  8. For More...

  9. Don't Miss!


    Even if you've got your heart set on hardwood flooring, it's worth considering the alternatives. Sometimes, materials that only look like wood can be just as good as—or even better than—the real thing. Explore your options now!