How To Organize Your Garage


Whenever they show garages on TV shows or movies, they are always neatly organized with everything in it’s proper place. However, those of us who actually own a garage know that it almost never looks like this (the almost part being no more than 2-3 days after our annual cleaning and organizing spree), and that in reality our garage is stuffed with all kinds of junk, most of which we never use, laying amidst piles of boxes, storage bins, toolboxes and oil spills from the last time we tried to work on the car.

Every time we begin looking for something that we just know is in the garage, we ask ourselves why we don’t organize better. Well, I’m going to show you how to do just that, with the help of a few special racks and organizers that are designed to make the garage an easy to navigate and fun to work in space.

My dad tells a story about organizing his garage. He moved everything out into the driveway, and begin to sweep up the floor. Pretty soon a car stopped and one of his neighbors got out, and began walking around the driveway, picking up stuff and looking at it. My dad wondered if maybe his neighbor suspected him of stealing tools, and was looking to see if there was anything of his in the pile. Pretty soon another car stopped – this time with a total stranger inside – and proceeded to look around the stuff that my dad had removed from the garage. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and walked out and asked what in the world they were doing. In response, the neighbor picked up my dad’s favorite toolbox and said, “I’ll give you $20 bucks for this”. They thought he was having a yard sale.

You too may have to chase your neighbors off with a big stick if you want to organize your garage, because the first thing I’m going to recommend is moving everything out. This is for a couple of reason. First you can separate items that need to be in the garage, from those that should really be in storage. Also, you can find the tools that you thought were gone forever, that had dropped behind the benches or water heater. Third, this will give you a chance to do some cleaning up in the garage, with a broom, or hose or possibly some insect repellant or traps if you have problems there.

Okay, so the first thing that I recommend doing is some pegboards for your walls. These are some of the most useful devices ever invented, allowing you to place pretty much any tool on them, taking up zero floor space and putting all of the tools you use often in plain view so that you can find something within seconds. Pegboards come with a variety of hooks, shelves, bins and pegs so that you can arrange exactly how you want, with whichever tools you prefer to put up there. The beauty of pegboards is that you can have all of your crescent wrenches from smallest to largest, next to all of your screwdrivers, socket wrenches and extensions and never have to examine the tiny little writing each time you need a certain size, because you will be able to select from the row of tools which one you need correct almost every time.

Have you got bikes? Do the kid’s bikes lay out in the yard and collect rust, while the adult bikes are stowed in a back corner with a thick layer of dust on them? If you ever wanted to go for a family bike ride would you be able to get your bikes out and go, or would you spend an hour or more trying to move stuff around to get to your bikes? Well, hanging bikes racks are a common solution and one again that requires absolutely no floor space. You can hang all of you bikes up on the ceiling of the garage and get them down whenever you want them with no trouble. Also, your kids will have a place to put their bikes when they are finished with them, even though it may take you or an older child to fit them on the racks. Bike racks are also great for getting camping gear off of the ground and hanging from the ceiling, leaving more floor space.

If you have a lot of tools such as shovels, garden tools or post hole diggers you may want to consider a tool rack. Most people keep their tools in one or more corners, and generally have to tumble the tangled stack of them to get a specific tool out. With a tool rack, the tools hang between the rubber holders, or on hooks to make them easy to remove and place on the wall. One tool rack will generally hold a couple of shovels, a post hole digger, a weed eater, a push broom, pitchfork, regular broom and even a leaf blower.

The last thing I’ll recommend is a series of storage cabinets for things like WD-40, zip ties, oil cans, hazardous materials or tools that just don’t fit in the toolbox. Toolboxes are great for storing tools, but they don’t do so well when storing liquids or aerosol cans. More than once I’ve opened a toolbox to find that WD-40 has slimed up my favorite wrenches.

So, once you have the pegboards in place, and the storage cabinets laid out where you want them, empty your toolboxes and determine what will go on the wall, what will go in a storage cabinet, and what will actually go back to the toolboxes. Then you can move your toolboxes in. Next, install some bike racks and mount what you can on the ceiling, especially stuff like camping gear that you only use once or twice per year. Finally, place your tools on the pegboards and arrange them however works best for you.

Finally, make a rule that everything should go back to its place. There is no reason to throw a wrench on the toolbench when the peg it hangs on is just a few more feet away. If you hang your tools up in their proper place you’ll always be able to find them. Good luck with your organizing!

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