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Garage Cleaning Tips That Will Give You a Sparkling Storage Space

6 minute read, by Closet America, on May 22, 2018

By following these straightforward and easy-to-apply tips, you’ll be well on your way to a sparkling, well-organized garage. 

Cleaning the garage is always at the top of every family’s to-do list and for good reason. This is probably the dirtiest, most clutter-filled room in the entire house… and it might be the most time-consuming cleaning task known to man. If you’re itching to take care of this herculean project this spring, clear an entire Saturday from your calendar. Get into something comfortable, put on some music, and recruit whoever is around to help. By following these straightforward and easy-to-apply tips, you’ll be well on your way to a sparkling, well-organized garage.

Tip #1: Take everything out

First, open your garage doors wide and let the light in and don sturdy rubber gloves. Take everything out of the garage and lay it all out on the driveway. Make two categories—things that have a specific home (everything in its place, perfectly), and things you’re not sure where they should belong. As you touch each item, run over everything with a damp rag. You’ll want to have a lot of these on hand for this task because they’ll get really, really dirty.

Tip #2: Sort everything

Now that everything is laid out in front of you, it’s time to go through it all. Deposit old, unused furniture directly onto the curb. Keep your household trash can at the ready for any items that are broken or not worth giving away. (And if you store your outdoor trash cans in the garage, now would be a great time to clean and deodorize. Our favorite easy-to-follow tutorial shows exactly what to do.) Next, set up a large plastic bin or cardboard box to place everything you’d prefer to give away or sell. Now get to sorting. Place everything in piles according to the following suggested categories:

  • Long-term storage (keepsakes, paperwork)

  • Seasonal storage (holiday decor)

  • Functional tools (extension cords and wrenches)

  • Outdoor equipment (bikes and rakes)

  • Frequently used items

garage cleaning tips that work

Tip #3: Give your items a bath

Take bikes, scooters, and all outside toys to the lawn and spray them down with the water hose until all the dust, cobwebs, and mud are gone. Do the same with your long-handled and gardening tools. Lay everything out in the sun to dry—they’ll be shining by the time you need to put everything back into the garage.

Tip #4: Tackle the tool chest

Consider emptying your standing tool chest or toolbox entirely, getting rid of empty nail bags and used sandpaper. Make a sudsy bucket of soapy water and dump in your screwdrivers, wrenches, wall hooks, etc. Run a damp cloth along the inside of each drawer to do a quick dust. Or, if your storage unit is easily moved, go out into the yard and spray the whole thing down with the hose, opening everything up to dry in the sun.

Tip #5: Work from top to bottom

Now it’s time to tackle the garage itself. Start at the top, using a broom in the ceiling corners and around the door hardware to dislodge cobwebs and dust. Do the same with all light fixtures. Get out the shop vac (or your indoor vacuum cleaner), attach the brush attachment, and go to town on the shelves, nooks, and crannies. Run a damp cloth over all shelves and surfaces for good measure.

ten garage clean tips

Tip #6: Refresh your walls

If your walls also need work, wrap a paddle floor duster with a damp rag and use the extended handle to help you easily wipe down the walls. Melissa Maker, one of our favorite cleaning gurus, always suggests using an “S” pattern for cleaning tasks like this one, and we like to follow her example. Tackle the garage doors with a hose (on the outer side) and the rag-covered duster (on the inside), using the vacuum where necessary to take care of bigger messes. Spray undiluted white vinegar (or DIY cleaning cocktails diluted with water and essential oils) lightly on the walls and surfaces to deodorize.

Tip #7: Make the floor shine

Then take a wide shop broom and sweep the floors like you’ve never swept a surface in your life. Start from the back wall and work your way outward toward the doors. Every leaf, flek of sawdust, glittery ornament fragment, and speck of dirt needs to go out the door and far away (or into a pile to be immediately vacuumed). If the floors are in need of deep cleaning, use an oil stain remover or garage degreaser and a bucket of soapy water to give the entire space a good mopping. You could also take the pressurized water hose and spray outward toward the garage doors so the water flows down and away from the house. If you plan on doing this, be aware that you’ll need to leave the doors open to let everything dry completely (possibly overnight).

garage organization

Tip #8: Prep for organization

At this point, your garage should look as close to new as you can get it. Now is the time to make sure you have the organizational systems necessary to make the best use of this incredibly busy space. You could follow online tutorials for crafting your own organizers for sports gear, plastic bins, and recycling… or you could invest in a custom organization system that will meet all your needs right out of the gate. Whichever route you choose, make sure your organizers are the highest quality, sturdy, easy-to-clean, and perfectly matched to the dimensions of your space. You won’t be cleaning out the garage every weekend, after all, so you need these solutions to last a long time.

Tip #9: Fit everything in

It’s time to start organizing. Go through the remaining items in each category one more time and cull wherever you can. Donate, sell, or throw away as much of the clutter as possible. Start with the items that already have a distinct home, making sure you got all the dust and dirt off before replacing them in their rightful places. Then put items away thoughtfully, one at a time, in the areas where you still have space remaining. Use additional plastic bins where necessary, and label everything. Finally, roll in your outdoor recreation items.

Tip #10: Deal with the rest

Remember that box of items you plan to give or throw away? In your final trick of the day, go through this collection and figure out what you can sell. Donate items where necessary—hazardous waste disposal facilities in most cities gratefully accept used paints and chemicals, which is a far greener solution than leaving them in the dumpster. Finally, give yourself a hearty pat on the back (or a glass of wine) and show your family all the fantastic work you’ve done. It’s likely they’ve never seen the space this clean since you moved in.  

custom garage

Take These Cleaning Tips to the Garage and Get Started!

Cleaning this space may seem daunting, but there’s nothing more satisfying than completing a huge project like this one on a gorgeous Spring Saturday. With help from our step-by-step tips, tried-and-true organizational systems, and a day of elbow grease, cleaning the garage will just be one more checked off item on the “honey-do” list. Get that date on your calendar and prepare for the cleanest garage your home has ever known.

Looking for customized tips on how to organize your own garage? Schedule a free consultation with the Closet America team. When you’ve got professionals on your side, getting everything in its place, perfectly, is a lot simpler. We’ll travel to your home, anywhere in the DC-Baltimore Metro Area, and sit down with you to discuss your challenges and dreams. Together we’ll create the streamlined garage you’ve always wanted.


Lead Image by Pixabay user Klimkin

Image 3 by Pixabay user Myriams-Fotos

Closet America was able to work with my unique circumstances in order to give me the best use of my space.

Amy B.,
Fairfax Station, VA

Let’s Start Your Project

Whether you’re interested in a custom-designed closet, office, pantry, or garage, starting your project couldn’t be easier. Just fill out the attached form or give us a call to schedule your free in-home design consultation. You can download our brochure and you’re welcome to visit our Landover Maryland showroom, to see how beautiful our custom-designed organization systems look in person. We want you to experience the Closet America difference and see how we build organizing solutions for life.

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