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9 Things Professional Organizers Swear by for Tidy Garages

Just in time for spring cleaning.

By Christie Calucchia

March 15, 2021
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A garage is not a storage unit, but using it as such is one common pitfall experts see all the time. “The biggest mistake people make with garage space is using it as a dumping ground for items that aren’t easily tidied,” home organizer Pia Thompson of Sweet Digs tells Real Simple. Adds Cindy Huzenman, the professional organizer behind Cindyology, “Most of the items inside my clients’ garages are leftovers…they’re simply dropped in the first available spot.”

If you’re guilty of falling into this garage organization trap, don’t sweat it. While it may be tempting to use your garage as a catchall for the things that don’t fit neatly inside your home, Thompson, Huzenman, and Holly Blakey, the owner of Breathing Room Organization, have other ideas in mind. Spring cleaning season has arrived, and we tapped these three professionals to learn more about how to get your spare space in shape using a few key garage organization products.

Thompson suggests being “both intentional and mindful about what is stored in your garage.” Ask yourself how you need the space to work for you, whether it’s making room to park a car, storing specific equipment and supplies, or both. Huzenman also encourages people to have patience. “Make sure what’s inside the garage actually belongs there; don’t keep outdated and damaged items,” she says.

Once you’ve focused on your needs and decluttered your space, it’s time to get organized. All of the experts we talked to recommend using labeled boxes and bins to store items and then easily find them when you need them. They’re also keen on getting things off the ground by utilizing shelving units and wall-mounted racks.

Ahead, discover nine organizer-approved products to help you turn your messy garage into a neat and tidy space. “Yes, a garage can be beautiful!” according to Thompson, and we think so, too.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


“All stacked together, these bins can actually make a garage look tidy,” Blakey says. “Even though I love clear canisters in my pantry, I love not seeing what’s inside the boxes in my garage.” Order one bin at a time, or invest in a pack of six for cohesive storage.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


Thompson suggests using a ceiling-mounted storage rack to store things you don’t use frequently, like a ladder or off-season sports gear, especially if you’re working with a small space. “It keeps them out of the way and makes use of space that would otherwise go unused,” she explains.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


“I love using these to take advantage of the wall space,” Huzenman says. The hooks can hold everything from tools to ladders to bikes.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


Blakey recommends writing or printing out labels to place in these index card pockets to keep your garage bins in order. “You can swap out the labels as often as you need to,” she adds.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


“I love this product,” Thompson says. “Not only does it serve as fantastic storage for your rake, outdoor broom, and fertilizer, but you can roll it right out into the garden, get to work, and then not have to do anything but roll it right back into the garage.”

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com

$105 (WAS $136), AMAZON.COM

Huzenman says these weather-resistant bins offer “great storage for special items that can damage easily… and even natural disaster items and first aid kits.” Use them to stash photo albums, memory boxes, sentimental decor, and emergency supplies.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


When you get things off the floor, it “instantly transforms the look of your garage,” according to Blakey. “I’ve used these shelf kits in many garages—they’re easy to install, and the white and wood look updates any garage.”

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


Thompson likes pegboards because they’re incredibly versatile. “This one is extra perfect because not only does it have hooks for your tools, but it also has shelves.” She suggests using the shelves to store bins of loose items and things you don’t use often. Stick a label on them to really stay organized.

garage storage organization
Credit: amazon.com


You can use this six-tier metal shelving unit to store things you reach for daily, according to Huzenman. “It’s easy to install and customizable to fit in different spaces

Safety Tips to Get Your Garage Ready for Spring


(Family Features) When you throw open the windows to welcome spring breezes, you’ll likely be spending more time with the garage door open, too. Make access to your outdoor equipment safer with these tips to get your garage ready for spring.

Organizing clutter accumulated during months of lesser use is part of the process. Spring is also an ideal time to ensure your garage equipment and features are secure and functioning properly.

  • During the winter months, your garage floor tends to capture grime and grit from the outdoors, especially where your car sits. Take time to thoroughly sweep and mop, but also take stock of the floor’s condition for any chips or other damage that may grow worse over time and pose a risk for tripping or other safety issues.
  • Check your garage door performance. Ensure doors are rolling smoothly with no hitches. If you do happen to notice any abnormalities, it’s a good time to investigate. In some cases, a little grease or a minor adjustment is all you need to get things back on track.
  • Don’t forget to check your garage door sensors, too. Warmer weather means animals and children (and their toys) are more likely to find themselves in an automated door’s path when it begins to lower. Ensure sensors are operating properly to prevent injury or property damage.
  • Verify all outlets, lights and other electrical features are in proper operating condition and all wires are intact and free of damage or fraying.
  • Ensure any poisonous materials, such as paint, garden pesticides, cleaners and automotive fluids, are safely stored out of reach of pets and children that may have increased access to the garage during warmer months. Also check for spills or leaks of any potentially hazardous or flammable materials.

Taking time to safety-proof your garage can provide your family months of stress-free use all spring and summer long. Find more tips for getting your garage in order at eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

15 Things You Should Never Store in Your Garage

To keep your home safe and pest-free and your belongings in good shape, don’t ever store these items in your garage.

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seal pet foodFAMILY HANDYMAN

Pet Food

Storing pet food in your garage is basically inviting pests into your home for a delicious snack. If you must keep pet food in the garage (or even when it’s inside your house), be sure that it’s inside a tightly sealed plastic or metal container. Rodents can easily chew through paper or cardboard packaging. Check out these 28 additional tips for controlling pests in and around your home.

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dirty paint rags

Oily Rags


Never store oil-soaked rags in your garage. Spontaneous combustion (and a devastating fire) can occur when oily rags are stored where the internal heat that is generated isn’t allowed to escape. Find out how to dispose of oily rags here.

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gardening books _117426448_23GFDUNT/SHUTTERSTOCK



You want to save your favorite books from childhood to give to your kids or grandkids someday, but storing them in the garage isn’t the best solution. Silverfish are insects that thrive in dark, damp environments such as garages, basements and crawl spaces, and these bugs love to feast on starchy substances, such as the glue that binds books. These simple bookcase plans will give you more storage space for your books.

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While firewood may be an important year-round staple in your home or backyard, it’s also a magnet for pests that will happily make the jump into your house. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house — that includes the garage — and only bring in as much as is necessary.

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Sleeping Bags


Fluctuating temperatures and humidity are not ideal conditions for storing fabric. It can get moldy, and rodents love to chew it. It’s tempting to stash sleeping bags with other non-fabric camping supplies in the garage, but don’t do it! Store sleeping bags, clothes and other fabric items inside your house. Plus: These 16 camping hacks will improve your stay in the great outdoors.

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Frozen paint chunksFAMILY HANDYMAN



Extreme heat and extreme cold can alter paint formulas. So if the temperature in your garage is a rollercoaster throughout the year, it’s not an ideal place for storing your leftover paint. Check the paint can label for recommended storage temperatures. But if your paint happens to freeze during the winter, it’s not necessarily ruined. Here’s how to tell if paint that’s been frozen is still good.

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Your child’s favorite toys — especially stuffed animals and other plush toys — should be stored in an area other than the garage. Dust mites, other insects and even mice may have their way with the toys if given the chance. If you must store toys in the garage, make sure they are in airtight containers. Check out these 12 awesome ideas for storing toys.


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propane tank

Propane Tanks


A propane tank is usually safe, but if it happens to leak in an enclosed space such as your garage, any small spark — even starting your car — can cause a fire. Keep them outside, in an area that won’t be subject to extremely high temperatures.


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shutterstock_605370098 old computer laptopARI N/SHUTTERSTOCK

Old Computers


Humidity and temperature fluctuations can cause computers and other electronics to short out. Always store electronics inside your home. And if it’s time to get rid of old computers, follow this advice instead of cluttering up your garage.

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restore old print photos photographs polaroids memoriesSUSAN LEGGETT/SHUTTERSTOCK

Printed Photographs


Printed photos (especially those that don’t have digital copies) should never be stored in the garage. Heat, cold and humidity will quickly ruin those cherished memories. Instead, here are the best ways to store old print photos.

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Important Papers and Files


Don’t risk keeping those important papers such as medical records, passports and birth certificates in your garage. The same goes for photos as they could be damaged by water and excess moisture in the air. If you need to keep some paper items in the garage, store them in an airtight plastic container. These 15 home office storage ideas will make your life easier.

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cabinet wine rack



Fluctuating temperatures and humidity can actually alter the taste of wine. Luckily, we’ve got this great indoor storage idea that you can build yourself.

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Old Clothing


Consider storing your old clothing — whether your favorite dresses, winter coats or sweaters — someplace other than the garage. Clothes attract moths, and fur and leather don’t hold up well when stored in damp areas. Keep clothing in sealed plastic bags and store in another area of the home. These 11 clothes storage ideas will transform your closet.

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Canned Food


Contrary to what you may think, canned foods are not spoil-proof and should be stored at temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees. Humidity in a garage can also cause cans and metal lids on glass jars to rust, potentially causing a chemical reaction with the food inside.

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Rugs and Carpeting


Rolled up rugs and carpeting make great homes for insects and mice, so consider storing them in a spot other than your garage. The rug and carpet fibers will also absorb moisture and odor, which may ruin them if left for long periods. Learn how to clean area rugs yourself.

Rachel Brougham

Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.