How to Clean Out Your Garage

A Stress Free Guide to Garage Cleaning

Imagine a world where you could actually park inside your garage. What if we told you that dream could be a reality with just a weekend’s worth of work?

We rounded up expert garage cleaning tips and turned them into a six-step plan you can use to get your garage organized quickly and painlessly.


How to Clean Out Your Garage in 6 Steps


Step 1: Make a Cleanout Plan

Your garage cleaning project will go much smoother if you lay some groundwork first. So, before you dive in, here’s what you need to do:

  • Decide where you’ll donate any appropriate items. Donation-worthy items you might find in your garage include:
    • Sports equipment.
    • Tools.
    • Leftover remodeling materials such as paint, lumber or flooring.
  • Decide if you want to sell any of the items you no longer need.
  • If you want to sell, decide whether you’ll have a yard sale (if so, set a date now!) or sell online.
  • Decide how you’ll get rid of the junk. Will you:
    • Bag it up for the curb?
    • Haul it to the dump yourself?
    • Rent a dumpster to get rid of it all at once?

A Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great option for donating tools and remodeling supplies. You could also look into donating to a local home building charity in your area. For sports equipment, search for sports or children’s charities in your area, or contact local schools to see if they have a need.

Image of Sports Equipment Stored in a Cleaned Out Garage

Sort frequently-used sports equipment from items that can be donated or thrown away.

When it comes to junk removal, cleaning out your garage may leave you with a pile of stuff that’s too big for the curb—especially if you’re getting rid of lots of large items such as old patio furniture or lawn care equipment. If you think you’ll end up with more than a couple pickup truck loads, it might be easiest to rent a dumpster.

Step 2: Decide on Your “Keep” Criteria

Before you start cleaning out your garage, set some ground rules for deciding what to keep. This tip will speed up the process by preventing you from agonizing over each individual item. Base your rules on whatever will work for your own situation but some ideas might include:

  • Keep only things you’ve used more than once in the past year.
  • Keep only things in working condition. Ditch all those gizmos you’ve been “meaning to fix.”
  • Keep only as many items from a set as you actually use.
  • For tools or equipment that you only need rarely, keep only the ones you can’t easily rent or borrow.

Step 3: Take Everything Out

Pick a section of your garage to start with and pull everything out onto the driveway to sort through. Besides making it easier to work, this garage cleaning tip will also allow you to see what space you have to work with and what types of storage might work best when it’s time to organize the items you’re keeping.

Image of an Organized Garage With Items Stored on Shelves

Installing shelving units can free up much of your garage’s floor space.

Step 4: Sort, Sort, Sort

Time to cue up that “Mulan” song and get down to business.

With your “keep criteria” firmly in mind, designate one area of your driveway or yard as your “keep” pile and start going through the first round of stuff you pulled out of the garage. If you plan to sell anything, designate a “sell” pile as well.

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

If you haven’t rented a dumpster, keep garbage bags handy too, so that you can bag up the junk as you go. Working this way will make the cleanout process much faster!

Once you’ve sorted one section, go back to step 3, remove another section of stuff from the garage and start the sorting game all over again.

Step 5: Put Your Cleanout Plans in Motion

Now that you know what you’re keeping, it’s time to clear out the rest.

We recommend starting with the junk. If you rented a dumpster for your garage cleanout, just give the company a call to come pick up the container. If not, it’s time to pile your bags up at the curb or load up a pickup truck if you have items your trash service won’t take.

Using a Dumpster for a Garage Clean Out

Have a garage full of junk? Easily dispose of it with a dumpster rental.

Next, drop off your donation items. Or, if your chosen charities offer it, call to schedule a pickup.

If you held on to any items to sell, now’s the time to start organizing your yard sale or listing them online. You might also consider taking your stuff to a consignment shop. It may take a while for your items to sell and the shop will take a percentage, but this is the most convenient option for someone who’s short on time.

Step 6: Get Organized

Now that you’ve whittled things down to just the items you’re keeping, seize the opportunity to keep clutter from building back up. So, what’s the best way to organize a garage? It depends on what exactly you need to store, but here are some tips to consider:

  • Use shelving units to keep frequently used items within easy each.
  • Use cabinets or closets for items you use less frequently.
  • Use a pegboard to organize hand tools such as hammers and hacksaws.
  • Use wall hooks to hold larger tools such as rakes and shovels, or stand these items up in a large, sturdy bin.
  • Group items by category so that you always know where to find what you need—and can easily put it back where it belongs when you’re done.

Results of Organizing Your Garage

A well-organized garage will make it easy to find commonly used items.

Cleaning out your garage doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With these tips, you can tackle it one step at a time and reclaim your parking space within a single weekend! Have your own advice to share? Let us know in the comments!

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