As spring approaches, most people turn their attention toward preparing their homes for warmer weather. For many, this means cleaning and organizing garages that are overrun with boxes, old tools and other non-essential items. Here are some tips for turning your garage into clean and spacious area you can actually use.
- Rent a dumpster. If you’ve been accumulating boxes, packing Styrofoam and other junk in your garage, you will need a place to put it. Consider renting a small dumpster for a day or two, so you can eliminate any non-necessities. Just make sure you are allowed to throw away certain items, since chemicals and small appliances are typically banned.
- Have a sale. If your garage is glutted with things you no longer use, consider having a sale. You’d be surprised how many people would be interested in your old furniture, tools, children’s toys or gardening equipment. If you still have leftover items at the conclusion of the sale, see if you can donate them to a local nonprofit organization.
- Rethink space. Once you’ve filled your dumpster and your Goodwill pile, you should start thinking about how you can use all the new space. If you need to stow one or more vehicles inside, you will want to affix as many items to the wall as you can. If you plan to use the garage as a workshop, you can use shelves or old dressers to store items
- Create designated areas. When everything has a place, nothing gets lost. One good way to do this is to create zones within your garage. You can use one zone for tools, another for gardening supplies and so on. However you decide to do it, make sure everyone in the family understands that items should always be returned to their designated zones.
- Choose the right containers. Avoid using cardboard boxes to store items, since this can leave them vulnerable to water damage and pests. Invest in plastic storage bins that will keep water, mice, spiders, ants, roaches and other critters at bay.
- Leverage overhead space. When most people think about organizing their garages, they focus on hanging items from the walls. While this is a fine way to conserve floor space, it disregards a wealth of open area right above your head. Consider constructing an overhead frame by strategically mounting two-by-fours to the joists in your ceiling. You can then slide your plastic bins into this overhead frame, where they will be safe, secure and out of the way
- Find alternative storage. Most every garage contains at least a few items that rarely get used. Take an honest inventory of your garage and see if you can find a few things that are simply taking up space. If these things have sentimental value or you believe you will need them at some point in the future, see if you can find someplace else to store them. If you don’t have a basement or external shed, consider renting a small off-site storage unit, so you can keep your garage clean, clear and functional.
- Dispose of any chemicals properly. If you’re like most people, your garage will include paint thinner, old chemicals or some other hazardous materials. Make sure you know how to properly dispose of these, or you could end up paying a hefty fine. Most municipalities accept chemicals on specific days, according to set schedules. Check with your town’s sanitation department to learn when and how you can take advantage.
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