The garage is a much-loved room because it serves so many purposes. On top of keeping our cars protected from the elements, it can also serve as a storage space, a place to stow lawn and garden supplies, an auto or wood shop, and even an extended pantry.

Unfortunately, the garage is often left to fend for itself, without the regular cleaning and maintenance that we give the interior of our homes. That can lead to some serious built-up clutter, junk, and grime. If left for too long without a good cleaning, your garage can even become a safety hazard.

We’re here to help. With these easy steps, you can whip your garage into shape, and make it easy to keep organized and tidy all year long.

Step 1: Take stock

The garage usually has a mix of items you can’t fit inside the house, from hardware and gardening tools, to camping gear or sports equipment. The first step to tackling this hodgepodge mix of stuff is taking stock of what you have—and deciding what you can get rid of.

  • Start by pulling it all out of the garage, then taking inventory. Separate everything into a keep pile, a garbage pile, and a donation pile.
  • Depending on how many items you have in the donation pile, it may be time for a garage sale. If you have more than a few items, but not enough to warrant the effort of sitting out on the lawn all morning, post your items for sale on Craigslist or NextDoor. Or, consider asking your neighbors to join you in hosting a community yard sale.
  • Toss everything in the garbage pile into the trash. If necessary, make a run to your local waste management facility to get rid of large items or hazardous waste such as old paint and other chemicals.

Step 2: Scrub and shine

Items stored in the garage have a way of getting especially dusty and dirty. Now that you know which of them you actually want to keep around, give these items a thorough cleaning. If your garage could use some organization, now’s the perfect time to install some.

  • Pull out the hose (or, better yet, rent a pressure washer). Bring your lawn and garden tools, trash cans, recycle bins, and yard waste buckets out into the driveway, and hose off the outsides, insides and undersides. You can also rinse off garden tools, bicycles, rain boots and dirty sports equipment. Allow to air dry.
  • Check your lawn mower and edge trimmer for any regular maintenance needed. Also, if your garden tools weren’t cleaned and sharpened before you stored them away for winter, use this guide to get them ready for spring gardening.
  • If you’re planning to do any gardening this summer, consider some DIY organization to get your garage ready. Use hooks to hang large garden tools, bikes, or ladders, and bungee cords to help to secure the heavier items.

Step 3: Wash up

Now that the items stored in the garage are out of the way, it’s time to clean the garage itself. Make sure to get into every nook and cranny, as well as give the floors a thorough cleaning to prevent grime from getting ground in.

  • Use a broom to knock down spider webs and sweep dirt down the walls and onto the floor. Wipe down shelves and trim with a damp rag. Then, use a large push broom to sweep from the farthest corner of the garage and all the way out.
  • Got stubborn oil spots? Get them out for good by pouring saw dust or clay kitty litter over the spot to absorb the residual oil. Next, pre-treat the oil stains by pouring on degreaser and allowing to sit for fifteen minutes. Finally, use some elbow grease to scrub the spot with a brush or rag, alternately rinsing and drying until the spot is fully removed.
  • Fill a pressure washer with a degreaser cleaning solution such as Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner, wash floors and driveway, and rinse clean. If you don’t have a pressure washer, mix the degreaser solution in a bucket of water and pour over the floor. Use a stiff brush to scrub the floor, and then rinse clean with a hose.
  • Expert tip: Hire a professional to epoxy coat the garage floor. You’ll not only protect the life of the floor’s surface, you’ll get a new-feeling space that shines like a show room.

Step 4: Organize like a pro

  • Don’t just throw everything back in the garage the way you found it. Instead, organize your things to make it easier to stay tidy year round.  Clear plastic bins allow you to see your items without having to rummage, and can be purchased in a variety of sizes. Fill your bins (and label accordingly) with pet accessories, sports equipment, seasonal home decorations, camping gear, household tools, and memorabilia.
  • Head to the hardware store and get creative with new storage options. Overhead storage is perfect for stowing items that you only need to get to seasonally. Paint, automotive fluids, and other hazardous chemicals should be stored on high shelving or behind locked cabinets, safely away from children’s reach.
  • For tons of garage organization ideas, check out our past articles on organization.

Top Image Credit: Gelotte Hommas

Could your garage use some TLC before summer gets into swing?