The Garage Organization Guide
for Every Home and Budget

By Tara Sebolt
Neat garage tools hanging on a storage rack

Do you keep your garage door closed to hide the clutter? If you’re worried about a disorganized garage, you’re not alone. According to the US Department of Energy, 25% of Americans with two-car garages don’t have space for a car.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a professional cleaning service to get your garage in order. This garage organization guide can help you clean and organize the space effectively. Whether you’re on a tight budget or are ready to go big with a garage storage system, these garage organization tips can have your space organized in a weekend.

Tips for creating the perfect garage organization system

Before you step foot in a home improvement store or container store, take some time to decide what you want out of your garage. Does it need to be a place for your children to play, with storage for chalk and other outdoor toys? Or, do you need space for car care and maintenance products because you’ve invested in a luxury car?

Think about your garage space and remember these important tips when organizing your garage:

  • Plan, plan, plan: Get out some paper and draw out what you want your ideal garage storage to look like. Include sections for each category of item and consider the best way to store those items.
  • Consider a system that can be rearranged: Two years down the road, you don’t want to walk into the garage and realize it’s no longer the optimal design. With track systems and other garage storage systems, you can usually rearrange the hooks and racks to best fit your current needs.

Steps to cleaning your garage

Before you set up shelving or wall mounts for garden tools, give your garage a thorough cleaning. Even if you’ve been storing chemicals like lawn fertilizer or motor oil safely, your garage could probably use a good scrub. Pick a weekend and set aside a morning, afternoon, or a whole day to clear out and sanitize your garage.

1. Get everything out

In order to be able to clean your garage, you’ll need to take everything out. Pull out all the sweaty sports gear like helmets and drag out the bins of holiday decorations that never seem to be put away neatly.

As you empty your garage, try to create categorized spaces for each type of object. For example, make a section with lawn and garden tools and one with sporting goods.

Empty garage interior in American house. Northwest, USA

2. Decide what can stay and what needs to go

Start going through your piles and sort out which items you can spare to part with. Decide beforehand what your criteria is for keeping an item. One easy way to do this is to ask yourself if the item has been used in the last year.

If you’ve used the item in the past year, you may want to keep it. If you’re not sure if you’ve used it, keep it but mark it with the date any time you use it. A year later, check your dated boxes. If you’ve used an item, keep it. If not, toss it out.

3. Clean up the toss pile

Sort through your discard pile and decide what to do with each. There are usually three options when you want to get rid of items: donate, sell, or just toss them.

  • Donate: Get some boxes and start filling them with items that can be donated to a local charity or thrift shop. Make sure you call your local donation center to make sure they have the capacity for your donations. You can also ask around and see if there are any local programs, such as local sports teams, that need gently used equipment.
  • Sell: Throwing a garage sale is the standard option for getting rid of extra things in your garage. However, having a garage sale made just add more stress to your garage organization project. You can also list items on online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
  • Throw away: Broken items, or items so worn that they’re no longer worthwhile, need to be tossed. Depending on how sentimental you are, throwing items away can be difficult, but if they aren’t being used by you and aren’t able to be used by others, it’s probably time to let them go.

4. Scrub away the grime

Give your garage the deep cleaning it’s been desperate for by going from ceiling to floor. Follow these quick steps to have your garage cleaned up and sanitized in no time:

  • Start by dusting shelves and the garage door tracks and motor.
  • Move on to wiping down the walls of the garage with a damp cloth and mild soap.
  • Sweep the floor of dust and dirt. Hose down the floor and use dish soap to mop it, being careful not to slip on the slick surface.

For tough stains like motor oil, you may need to use a special cleaner or try a homemade option with dish soap and kitty litter. Give your floors two to five hours to dry completely. You can also use this time to set up preventative pest control to fight off roaches or rodents.

Garage organization ideas for a tight budget

Your garage may not be high on the priority list for home renovation projects. The kitchen, bathrooms, and a new water heater all come first. Just because you don’t have a huge budget for renovations doesn’t mean you can’t put together a completely organized garage.

These tips for organizing your garage on a tight budget will maximize your dollars to create a useable, organized space.

  • Use pegboard: Pegboard can be found at almost any home improvement store at a relatively inexpensive price. There are lots of inexpensive pegboard hanging baskets and hooks that can be attached anywhere on your pegboard.
  • Reuse old furniture: Scour online marketplaces or garage sales for free or cheap furniture that you can repurpose into storage for your garage. Old bookshelves, for example, make excellent storage cubbies for plastic totes and bins that would otherwise be stacked on top of one another.
  • Use your ceiling: Make use of the empty space that is your garage ceiling. A few heavy-duty utility hooks and a piece of plywood mounted onto the ceiling can be used to hang bikes or tools. Just be sure you check the load rating of the hooks you buy.
  • Put your budget into labeling: If most of your things are already in storage bins but you don’t have the budget for shelving, invest in the process of labeling. Zone out your garage by categories like sporting goods or lawn care equipment. Label each zone by putting down colored duct tape on the floor and hanging a sign on the wall of each section. Fill each bin with related items and label them. Stack the bins in their designated zone with labels facing out. Be sure to stack with the heaviest bins on bottom.

Top products for garage storage on a budget

Even with a tight budget, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a clean and organized garage. Check out some of these top products, all of which are under $25 and can be used for several different applications in your garage.

Berry Ave Broom Holder and Garden Tools Organizer

Cost: $13.97

Customer rating: 4.6/5 stars

Best uses:

  • Storing brooms and mops
  • Garden tools like rakes or shovels
  • Sporting goods like baseball bats or ski poles

Vanitek Heavy-Duty Magnetic Tool Holder Racks

Cost: $23.99

Customer rating: 4.3/5 stars

Best uses:

  • Holding metal tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches
  • Holding metal garden tools like spades or pruning shears

Amazon Basics 3-Shelf Shelving Unit

Cost: $24.67

Customer rating: 4.2/5 stars

Best uses:

Garage makeover tips based on your hobbies

If you’d like to invest more in your garage organization budget, the most important part of creating an organized garage is knowing what features are most important for your needs.

Instead of trying to install an entire system, decide which aspects are most important to your storage needs. Then, you can install the parts that are going to get the most use.

  • For sports families: If you have a family of athletes, consider investing in storage carts or bins made specifically for sporting goods. If you’re feeling handy with power tools, try making this rolling sports equipment storage unit.
  • For the gardener: If you’re an avid gardener, you need several airtight containers that can latch. This will help keep your potting soil, lawn fertilizer, grass seed, and other perishable lawn equipment safe from moisture. If you have large equipment like a lawn mower, store these items near the exit to the lawn. Dragging the lawn mower out is much easier if you only have to navigate two feet to the door rather than squeezing between cars, sports gear, and boxes of decorations. The last thing you want is a cracked windshield because you were trying to wiggle a shovel out of a tight corner.
  • For outdoor enthusiasts: For families that enjoying camping or boating, you can quickly end up with a lot of outdoor gear that is bulky and takes up a lot of space. Make your next trip to the lake for camping easier by storing all of your camping supplies in one bin, your boating supplies in another, and outdoor cooking supplies in its own container. For outdoor gear, investing in heavy-duty metal shelving may be the best bet for holding heavy bins full of gear.
  • For the handyman: Garages are a common place to work on DIY projects, but it requires great organization and use of space. A tool bench can make your next project much easier. Decide how much you want to spend on a workbench and if there are any features you have to have, such as storage for hand tools or electrical outlets.

Top products for garage storage systems

These garage organization products are great options if you have some room in the budget. Consider choosing one or two products like these as the centerpiece of your garage storage system.

Lynk Sports Storage Rack

Price: $30.99

Customer rating: 3.6/5 stars

Best uses:

  • Storing sports balls
  • Hanging bats, hockey sticks, and rackets
Lynk Rack Equipment Organizer

Silver Vein Steel Storage Rack

Price: $42.87

Customer rating: 4.3/5 stars

Best uses: Storing bins full of equipment

Seville Classics Lighted Workcenter

Price: $206.04

Customer rating: 4.8/5 stars

Best uses:

  • Working on DIY projects
  • Tool storage and organization

How to keep hazards away from children and pets

A garage can be home to many hazards for children and pets and needs to be childproofed. Proper storage of garden tools, power tools, and chemicals will make sure your family stays safe in the garage.

  • Storing garden tools: If you choose to use a hanging system for garden tools like rakes or shovels, consider installing child-proof cabinet locks on the end of the pegs. This way they are less likely to fall is nudged.
  • Keeping lawn chemicals out of reach: Chemicals like windshield wiper fluid, motor oil, and lawn fertilizer should ideally be stored in a lockable cabinet and off the ground. This keeps them out of the reach of children or pets. Even a simple plastic garden cabinet can have a padlock attached for safety purposes.

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