Whether you have a small or a large garage, get it cleaned and organized on a budget with these tips.
If you have a full garage where the clutter gets worse every day, it is time to declutter, clean, and organize it before it overflows with junk and cobwebs.
For a project of this scale, you need to set aside a few days. So pick any weekend to have only one thing planned: get your garage under control.
In the past, we’ve discussed how to declutter a garage but now we’re going to organize that messy garage! And, if you’re looking to save money, we also cover tips on how to organize a garage on a budget. So for easy and affordable garage organization ideas, keep reading to make space for what it was made for — your car.
How to Organize a Messy Garage (on a Budget):
**Click to auto scroll by section
- Declutter the Junk in Your Garage
- Clean the Garage
- Plan How to Organize Your Garage
- Determine a Garage Layout
- Put Garage Organization Ideas into Place
- Consider Garage Storage Systems
- Use Storage on Garage Ceiling and Walls
- Gather Storage Bins and Storage Supplies
- How to Budget for Garage Organization
Step 1. Declutter the Junk in Your Garage
Just like an artist wouldn’t start with a dirty canvas, you should re-organize with a clean garage! Also, garage organization is an art form, and we think Marie Kondo would agree.
Depending on how bad your garage clutter is, we suggest you set aside a whole day to pull everything out of the garage and make piles out on the driveway. You’re going to need to decide what you want to keep, donate, sell, recycle, and throw out. You could even host a garage sale if the items are still in decent shape.
To save time, don’t get caught up on organizing the “keep” pile yet just because we still need to plan out the categories when we get into actually organizing the garage.
For more detail on how to declutter the garage and more garage cleaning tips, check out this blog post.
Note: Don’t purchase containers yet! You’ll either over-purchase or won’t get the correct sizes or sturdiness. For now, use old shoe boxes, cardboard boxes, or any container you have.
If you have an absurd amount of items to recycle and throw out – especially bulkier items – think about hiring a junk removal service to provide a garage cleanout. When you hire a high-quality junk removal company, like LoadUp, the loaders come to you with a large empty truck ready to fill and haul away your junk in a safe, secure and eco-friendly way.
We’ll just tell you now that our prices are often 20-30% less than others, but in order to clean out your garage on a budget, you should shop around. We’re confident you’ll end up circling back to us anyway. 😎
Step 2. Clean the Garage
Once your garage is clutter-free and empty, it’s time to do a deep clean before you put things back. Who knows when the last time was or the next time will be that you clean the garage. Just keeping it real here.
Our best garage cleaning tips:
- 🧽 Start cleaning top to bottom — always.
- 🧽 Dust first with one dry rag, then wipe everything down with a different wet one.
- 🧽 Keep a soapy bucket of hot water and dish soap or vinegar close by to rinse out your wet rags as you go.
- 🧽 Wipe away any mold using warm water with either bleach or vinegar.
- 🧽 Clean garage walls with a sponge mop, again, top to bottom.
- 🧽 Dry garage walls with a microfiber cloth.
- 🧹 Mop the floor and remove motor oil stains by laying out clay cat litter to absorb the oil, dish soap to cut the grease, and a wire scrub brush to well… brush.
- 💨 Optional: Dry the floor with a floor fan to speed up the process.
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Step 3. Plan How to Organize Your Garage
Now that it’s clean, we need to develop a plan to save both time and money. Going into garage organization without a plan is like diving blindfolded into a pit of legos, expecting to come out with a 1:1 scale of the White House. It’s hopeless, exhausting, and you just come out with a bigger disorganized mess. (That wasn’t a joke about politics.)
Start by categorizing the items in that “keep” pile you made in the decluttering process. These may include sporting equipment, camping gear, garden tools, holiday decorations, and tools. Every household is different, so don’t forget your other hobbies like painting, biking, musical instruments, materials to upcycle furniture, etc.
Group those items into their category, and make smaller piles within that category by size or function so you can plan what sort of box you’re going to use. Do not plan to buy a giant container and just throw the entire category in there.
For example, if you throw all your tools in a container, you’re going to waste a lot of time rummaging through nuts and bolts to find a screwdriver. Save future-you time by planning on giving your nuts and bolts one small box, and your tools another box.
Also, we’re just planning and grouping out on the driveway right now. Don’t buy any bins yet.
At this point, there may be a few more items that don’t fit into these categories or need to be donated, sold, or recycled. Decide to keep items in your garage that you are going to use again or have used within the past year.
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Step 4. Determine a Garage Layout
Before we buy anything, we need to draft up a floor plan. Write down your garage’s dimensions and take note of the size and location of windows, doors, switches, outlets, and how much room your car will need to safely get in and out.
Draw the dimensions of the garage from both a bird’s eye view and each wall from the head-on angle. This helps you make a list of the size and number of shelves you need and how tall you can build them, the size and number of containers you need, and where you can slide in carts with drawers and how wide they can be.
Since you’ve already grouped items together, you should have a pretty good idea of how much space each category needs.
When calculating where to place your items in your garage, plan on maintaining easy access to frequently used items. The easiest access point is typically right by the door that serves as an entrance to the home. Plan to put seasonal items and holiday decorations in the spots that are hardest to reach like at the top of shelves or at the back of a bottom drawer.
Keep bulky garden equipment, such as lawnmowers, either in an outdoor storage unit or in a spot where they won’t get hit by the car we’re trying to fit back into the garage.
Step 5. Put Garage Organization Ideas into Place
The following are some of the most popular and effective ideas to get your garage organized.
Idea #1: Garage Storage Systems
When creating your floor plan, think about how easy to install storage systems would work for your garage. They’re are great for those that have a little more room in their budget, or if you want to prioritize this style of storage equipment. These are often tailored for your garage and some retail places will even help you determine your best garage layout.
Lockable cabinets are beneficial to store hazardous things that you wouldn’t want your kids or pets getting into, but that’s all we really recommend them for. They tend to make your garage a “secret” mess because you can shut the doors to hide any disarray in the making.
Shelves tend to be less expensive and take up less space since you don’t have to swing any doors open or pull out any drawers. Plus you can just look up and scan for the item you need without needing to open everything.
As you decide what sort of organization system you want to go with, go out and measure the sizes of boxes you’re thinking about getting. This will help you make sure your blueprint includes the number of shelves and containers you’re going to use and also helps with the decision making of what sort of system is most practical for your needs.
Idea #2: Use Storage on Garage Ceiling and Walls
It’s important to keep items off the garage floor as much as possible. It frees up room for parking your car and prevents you from having messy piles taking up your walking room.
You can do this by installing hooks on the ceiling and shelving on the walls. However, when storing things like ladders on the ceiling, make sure they don’t interfere with your garage door opening or scrape the top of your vehicle.
Vertical storage organization systems like pegboards are a great way to take advantage of wall space and are super easy to install as they can be cut down to the size you need. They can even be painted to fit your style and the interior design of your home, so that’s cool. You can put things like hammers, hacksaws, and other hand tools on these.
Track-based systems are more flexible with shelving, hooks, and organizers, are heavy-duty and are just overall a cooler vertical organization system, but they come at a luxury price.
When deciding on which one to go for, consider the weight of the items you have to store. If you have many heavy items, go with this option. If not, save money and go with a pegboard.
Idea #3: Gather Storage Bins and Storage Supplies
Okay, the next section is about budgeting so maybe wait for that to buy bins, but we feel like you guys are ready. Now that you have a plan, it’s finally time to buy the containers!
Stackable clear-plastic bins with lids are the best for obvious reasons… they’re clear and stackable. They’re also pretty affordable and go on sale often! The only drawback to stacking them is that the bottom bins are hard to get to since you have to take the other bins off first.
A solution to this is DIYing storage towers. These are basically bookshelves but are measured to shelve five or six bins. These keep the weight off the lids so that even your kids can slide out the bottom bin! You can also do this with shelving if you have space.
Also – this goes without saying, but just in case: Even if the bins are clear, label them!
How to Budget for Garage Organization
As we’ve said, some storage organization systems are very pricey. You can either save up for them by budgeting or get creative and save money. If you need a little more incentive to invest in your garage, think about the increase in value you’re implementing for your home.
Organization is king when buyers look at storage spaces. Just keep that in mind when you’re at the edge of giving up on your garage. Here are a few tips on how to save money while creating an organized space that doesn’t embarrass you.
⛈️Stuck indoors? The following tips are great for times when you can’t go out to shop like when social distancing is recommended, need to save the money or it just won’t stop raining. Using what you already have is a great way to clean out the clutter and minimize it when organizing a garage!
Use literally every box in your home that you can find. We’re talking old shoe boxes, boxes you get from packages, moving boxes, or random containers in your home. Also, you can find some pretty good plastic containers at thrift stores for next to nothing! Don’t limit yourself just to your local Goodwill, browse around and go on the hunt for other thrift stores.
Save empty food jars or the more durable take-out containers for sorting hardware and other small items. Just make sure you clean them thoroughly to avoid getting bugs and pests.
You can create a garage that looks like a track-based storage garage by installing wire shelving. They’re easy and quick to install, plus it just looks pretty darn clean.
Check out garage sales on the weekends or online places like Facebook Marketplace. Look at old dressers and shelves that you could repurpose for storage in your garage! A lot of the time you can find things for free! Yup. Free. One of the other things that make garage organizing so fun is that since it is just the garage, things don’t have to be a million bucks!
Organizing a Messy Garage on a Budget is Easy
If you read all of our garage organization tips, you should be ready to get your garage on its way to becoming an organized space you’re proud of. Organizing a garage isn’t the same for everyone, so make sure you try different things until you find the best system that makes your garage work for your family — not the other way around!
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