How To Clean Out Your Garage – Tips For Cleaning and Organizing

Garages are a magnet for clutter. Anything that doesn’t have an obvious home in the house tends to end up in this lesser-used space. Lesser used, that is until you need to use it for a woodworking project or to park the car.

When this happens, you have one choice: clean out the garage.

But don’t just clean it enough to use it. Clean it so that it stays tidy and organized for months, if not years, to come. And maybe even make a little money while doing it.

Don’t believe it can be done?

We’ve researched tried-and-true methods for cleaning and organizing garages and put them to the test. Below, we will share with you what worked for us so you can finally conquer that garage clutter and reclaim this valuable space.

Ready to get to work?

couple clearing out the garage

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Where to Start with Your Garage Clean Out

If you normally clean your garage by moving stuff from one side to the other, we are here to teach you a new trick that will change your cleaning habits forever.

Start by scheduling your garage clean-out for a nice day where precipitation and wind are not in the forecast. If you have a cluttered garage, you may need to wait for an entire weekend of nice weather before you get to work.

Good weather is critical because you will be taking everything out of your garage and staging it in your driveway or front yard. This way, you can see the complete picture of what is in your garage. It will also help you better organize everything when you move your items back inside.

As you pull each object out of the garage, group it with others by type. Put all your tools in one corner of the driveway and all your yard maintenance gear in another. Put the paint cans in one pile, orphaned household items in another. 

For now, don’t worry about what you want to keep and what you don’t. Though, do put any items that are trash straight into the bin.

read our article on
the best garage storage systems.

Sometimes it’s easier just to get a pre-built system that works. We have put together a list of the best garage storage systems to keep your garage tidy!

How to Decide What to Keep

mom and son figuring out what to keep

Once you have everything out of your garage and separated by type, it is time to decide what you want to keep.

One of the benefits of piling everything by type is that you can easily see where you have doubled up. Do you still have that old drill and the new one your son bought you for your birthday? Toss the old one in your “get rid of pile.” Have three half-used paint cans of the same color? Toss what has gone bad and consolidate the rest.

After any multiples have been dealt with, it’s time to put your Marie Kondo skills to the test. 

Take each item left in your keep piles and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it work?
  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • Do I still have an obvious use for it?
  • Does it belong in the garage?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it is time to find that item a new home.

For objects that don’t belong in the garage, make a separate pile and return them to their rightful spot later. For items that no longer work, it’s time for them to meet the trash can. For those objects that you no longer have a use for or haven’t used any time recently, you have a few options of how to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

woman having a yard sale

Once the broken items are in the trash and you’ve separated the rest of the “non-keepers” from the things you want, it is time to consider how you want to get rid of your extras.

Depending on how much time and effort you want to put into the project and what items you have, any one of these options might be viable.

Sell Them

If you have too many unwanted items, you can hold a garage sale and earn extra cash. It would be an especially great option if you timed your garage cleanout with your whole house spring cleaning.

Of course, hosting a garage sale will take some time and effort, but you are likely to see some return in the form of cash you would otherwise not have seen.

If you only have a few items worth selling, consider posting them on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other local listings. You could even try your luck at putting the things on the curb with a sign designating their price, depending on how honest your neighbors tend to be.

Donate Them

If you don’t want to put in the effort to sell your unwanted items, consider donating them. 

Many cities have Good Will drop off boxes or locations where you can give your extra goods, no questions asked. Habitat for Humanity is another good option for garage items, but they are a bit stricter on what they accept, so be sure to call ahead.

Don’t be afraid to do a quick internet search of your local area, either. Often, you’ll find specific charities looking for things like old tools, sporting equipment, and similar items. In addition to getting rid of some clutter, you’ll also get an emotional boost from helping others out.

Toss Them

If all else fails, you can always throw away your unwanted items. If you go this route, you may want to consider renting a dumpster. If you have a lot of trash, this can be cheaper than paying for the overage on your curbside service and more effortless than hauling the items to the dump yourself.

How to Clean Your Garage

a picture of an empty and clean garage

Once you have all the items out of your garage, you’ll want to take advantage of that emptiness by doing a deep clean before putting everything back inside.

Start with a good dusting of all surfaces, including walls, and a good sweep of the floor. If you notice any grime or stains on your walls, you may consider scrubbing them down with a sponge or sponge mop.

For your concrete, you can use a power sprayer or traditional mop and bucket. Oil stains will need special attention, especially those that have been set for some time.

Once your garage is sparkling and cobweb-free, you may want to consider doing some updates before putting everything back inside.

Now is the time to add new cupboards, shelves, and other organizing equipment. A cleaned-out garage also provides an excellent opportunity to paint your garage floor to add a touch of color and to better preserve the concrete against cracks and stains in the future.

How to Organize Your Garage

a picture of organized garage

Once your garage is cleaned and ready to go, it is time to bring everything back inside. But don’t just start throwing things back where they were. If you want your garage to stay cleaner longer, you need to organize it in a way that is conducive to clutter-free living.

Because you piled all your items by category, you are already a step ahead when it comes to organizing your garage. Keep like-items together so that they are easy to find and easy to remember where to put away.

Use shelves and cupboard top spaces for storing items you use frequently. Pegboards, hooks, and hangers are all great places to store tools, brooms, shovels, and other things you may need to access in a hurry.

For items that get used less often, such as paint supplies, specialty tools, and seasonal equipment, utilize the storage available in cupboards, high shelves, and overhead trusses. 

If you have items like bikes, strollers, and trash bins that need to be moved in and out frequently, ensure a clear path is available to retrieve them. 

Whenever possible, keep things off the floor. Not only does this make your garage more functional, but it makes it look cleaner and more organized. A space that looks well organized is actually less likely to collect clutter than one that looks messy.

When reorganizing your garage, remember:

  • Keep like items together.
  • Keep frequently used items in sight.
  • Use cupboards, tubs, and high shelves for storing less-used items.
  • Don’t block in items that are moved in and out frequently.
  • Keep things off the floor and work areas clear.

Keep It Clean

The only thing harder than keeping your garage clean is cleaning it out after you’ve let it get cluttered. But taking the time to clean your garage out the right way is worth it in the long run. 

By taking everything out, getting rid of any items you do not need, and reorganizing in a way that is conducive to keeping a clear space, you will set yourself up for a clutter-proof garage in the future.

Have questions or concerns about cleaning your garage? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Aaron Green
Aaron is the founder of and Essential Home and Garden. He likes to spend his spare time with his family, and doing DIY projects in the home and garden.