Overcoming garage clutter frees up storage space

Sep 2022

Garage clutter and the absence of smart storage makes the space one of the great underutilized areas in our homes. In fact, 44 per cent of respondents to a 2019 survey said their garage was the most disorganized space in their house (it’s a U.S. survey, but we Canadians shouldn’t assume we’re any tidier than our southern neighbours!).

If your garage is a clutter magnet, read on: help is at hand.

Where to start

Allot yourself a day, a weekend or even longer to organize everything in your garage into three piles: scrap or recycle, sell or give away, and keep. Be ruthless and you’ll be amazed at how you can whittle all that stuff down to what you actually need.

Do a floorplan

Make a scale drawing of your empty garage and then figure out how much space you need for your car or cars, leaving enough room to walk behind your vehicles and between them so you can open the car doors easily. The floor plan will tell you how much space you have for storage and work areas along the three walls.
Tip Ever noticed how some garages have a tennis ball strung from the ceiling? It’s a parking guide: when the windshield touches the ball, the car is in the right spot.

Organize your belongings

Group what you want to keep in the garage — all the sports equipment, for example, or your gardening tools — and decide where to put it so it stays together and can be accessed as needed. For example, if your family members are avid bicyclists, put the bikes close to the garage door where they’re easy to reach (a wall-mounted bike hanger from a big box store saves floor space); items that are used only occasionally could go in an out-of-the-way corner.

Looking up to reduce garage clutter

The garage ceiling is a great, unused storage space. Racks, available at building materials stores, let you stash away everything from an extension ladder to bins of seasonal clothing, holiday decorations, camping equipment and other items you don’t use on a regular basis. Motorized and manual hoist storage racks are also available from specialty garage outfitters and online sources like Amazon; they work well for heavier equipment like a lawnmower.

Shelves or cabinets?

Metal cabinets look snazzy but do you really need to spend the extra money when wall-mounted adjustable shelving is not only cheaper but lets you easily see where every item is? And remember: cabinet doors open outward, reducing even further your garage space every time you need to find something. IKEA can be a good source of practical and affordable storage solutions for your garage.

Specialty storage items

There’s an endless number of clever specialty products, available at big box and hardware stores, along withgarage clutter DIY solutions to reduce garage clutter and maxing out your  space:

  • A long-handled garden tool caddy, available at hardware and other stores or online, keeps shovels, rakes and other equipment tidy and easy to reach.
  • Study wall hooks make storing sports equipment like hockey nets a breeze.
  • For small items, take advantage of unused corners by making your own triangular shelves of plywood and angle brackets.
  • A folding workbench gives you a working area when you need it and space when you don’t.

Closing the door on your newly tidy garage

Now that you’ve got garage clutter under control and organized the space, don’t forget about the door. It needs regular basic maintenance to keep operating smoothly and safely. That maintenance includes lubricating moving parts, keeping the weather stripping in good condition and ensuring the auto-reverse system, which reverses the door if it hits a person or object, is working correctly. Check out this video for some good tips: