Taking A Day To Clean Out The Garage

Our garage had gotten, in a word, crazy.  We have a three car garage.  With two cars, this leaves one empty area for the rest of our ‘stuff’.

Unfortunately, this area had turned into a big mess.  Bikes, kid toys, the lawn mower, other lawn stuff, and a multitude of other items had turned the third garage bay into a nightmare.  It was impossible to get anything out without having to take something out first.  We actually got to the point where we avoided taking bike rides or having the kids play with the stuff stored there, simply because it was too hard to do anything there.

In addition, the ‘flow’ of other stuff just didn’t make sense.  We had shelving units in a couple of different spots, in addition to some permanent wall shelving, but on each shelf area there was a mixture of different things.  Kids toys (bubbles, playground chalk, balls, etc.) were on three different shelving areas.  Also, gardening stuff, fertilizers, random garage stuff, it was everywhere.

It got to the point where it was so bad that we didn’t even try to straighten up anymore, because it became obvious that it had to be dealt with on a larger scale versus just ‘picking up’ or ‘moving things around’.  Realizing that was a good revelation, but it did have the negative consequences of making it worse, since we basically abandoned  all pretense at keeping clean once we realized an entire overhaul was needed.  So, it got bad.  Really, really bad!

Something had to give.

Fixing this was something that Mrs. Beagle and I wanted to do together.  While the garage was typically my domain, when we stared adding in all the kid stuff, it became a more shared space.  I think what happened is that the kid space got shoved into whatever available space came up, and was never organized.

That was about to change.

We actually sent the kids packing for the day over to their grandparents, so that we could focus on this.   At the end of the day, the transformation was remarkable.

Sorry, no pics, but I’ll walk you through the process.

Everything out.  First, we cleared out everything from the garage.  We didn’t move the tool bench I have there, because it weighs about 800 pounds.  I also left a few items on some of the permanent shelving units because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere.  But, everything else came out.

Get rid of the dirt.  With everything out, I attacked the floors with the broom, sweeping up all the dirt, leaves, and other stuff that makes its way into a garage no matter what.  With nothing in the way, I was able to get a lot of stuff swept up.  I followed this up by hosing down the slabs to get even more dirt out of the garage.

Identify easy trash and giveaway. While I waited for the water to dry, we had lunch and I started going through some of the obvious stuff that was garbage.  Into the bin it went.  The main thing that was taking up a lot of room was boxes.  Lots and lots of cardboard boxes.  From diapers.  From baby wipes.  From Amazon orders.  They all got broken down and stuck into the recycling.  I also found stuff that we didn’t need but could be donated.  Instead of starting a ‘pile’ I moved that right into my trunk, which would force me to take it to the donation center.

Set up shelving.  One of our goals was to have all the kids stuff in one spot.  As it was, they got a shelving unit set up in the front of the garage, so that their toys could be right in front.  The shelving unit was cleaned off and set up.  Another shelving unit was moved to the back of the garage.

Set up areas. We then started setting up stuff in areas where everything would be put together.  The back corner of the extra garage stall was for all the yard stuff.  The wheelbarrow went in, then the trimmer, edger, and other stuff went into the wheelbarrow.  Fertilizer, dirt, etc. went in that area.  Everything was put in a place where it took the least amount of room, yet was available so that I wouldn’t have to tear the area apart.

Big stuff in.  The bikes, the wagon, the bike trailer, the lawn mower all went into the third stall.  I put them in as if they were going into angled parking spaces.  This let me put everything against the wall, while keeping an ‘aisle’ clear.  That way, any item could be taken out and put in without having to move anything else.  This is huge!

Random stuff.  After we got all this done, there was still a lot of random stuff that didn’t have an exact spot.  A lot of it we decided we didn’t need and threw away.  Other stuff got put into a ‘random’ spot on the shelving unit that was available.  A few items fit better inside in the basement, going with other like stuff (e.g. a cooler).

Final cleanup. After everything was finally put away, I did a last sweep of the garage.  Then, I took the leaf blower and blew off the driveway.  A lot of little dust and such had come off, and I knew if I just left it there, it would eventually just blow right back into the garage.

At the end of the day, the garage looked awesome.  It took about five hours total between the two of us.

The first thing my wife did the next morning was take the kids out to play.  We also went for bike rides, and when we went for after-dinner walks, we were able to take whatever it was we wanted to use to take the kids (bike trailer, wagon, stroller) without making a decision based on what would involve the least amount of moving things around.  That’s honestly what had been dictating that decision for the last few weeks.

Our next step will be to keep it clean and to make a clean transition down the road when the summer stuff needs to be put away.  I did keep that in mind when laying things out (e.g. the lawn mower can go where the snow blower is now).

I think we’ll have a much better remainder of the summer as far as the garage is concerned.

What de-cluttering projects have you undertaken recently?

19 thoughts on “Taking A Day To Clean Out The Garage”

    • Moving sucks but it does help you ‘start over’ in terms of being clutter free, at least if you do it right.

  1. A few months ago I had to rearrange my closets. There is not much storage space in my current rental house and everything was just shoved randomly in a closet. This meant it was a hassle to find anything and it looked messy. So I took everything out and rearranged it and this took up most of a day. I’m still going through stuff I don’t want and donating some and throwing out the rest. I’m trying to keep in mind that I will (hopefully) be moving soon and I don’t want to pack junk to take with me. That seems to help me out.

    • Taking everything out of a closet and putting it back is the only way to go. I remember getting mad at my dad when I was a kid when he made me do it that way, but it worked really well, so well that I’ve never done it any other way when it’s time for a ‘major cleanup’.

  2. The last time we majorly decluttered was when we moved into my townhouse a year ago. We had a garage sale and donated everything that didn’t sell. It might be time for another shot at it though because we always accumulate random junk!

  3. “We actually got to the point where we avoided taking bike rides or having the kids play with the stuff stored there, simply because it was too hard to do anything there.” – been there done that lol. Have fun cleaning! It feels a lot better when everything is nicely organized and you can actually get around the place.

    Are you making use of all the space for organizing things?

    • We are trying. We have plenty of various shelving. The trick is to keep things that go together all together in one area.

    • It is. We just got back from a camping trip and it was so nice to unload the bikes and such and just put them right where they need to go and not have to ‘clear a spot’

  4. Man, I’m right behind you. Now that I’m finally getting settled in again in Texas, I’m on garage duty this weekend. I’m actually really looking forward to it.

  5. It gives me a headache just to look at clutter in any room of the house. As a consequence, I have tried to spring clean all the rooms at rotation, not all at once! One room at a time, when I am really geared up to work, at least once a month, so this keep things tidy. Well, not really neat and shiny but not so messy and topsy turvy.

    • I’m a big fan of this strategy, so that it’s not overwhelming (in which case people just seem to give up). Over time, things never get ‘so bad’ that even though it’s not spic and span, your house still keeps looking pretty good. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Wow, the moment you quit taking bike rides would have been the breaking point for me! It’s so hard to get the enthusiasm up for a project like that, but once it’s done, it is so much easier to maintain. You did the right thing sending the kids off so that you could focus… lol.

    Have you thought of a garage floor epoxy? Besides looking nice, it makes the garage even easier to keep clean and it keeps from tracking stuff into the house.

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