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Does your garage floor have unsightly stains? Is it cluttered to the point where you can’t park your car or find your toolbox? Spring’s mild weather and cool breezes make it a great time of year to air out your garage and do some deep cleaning. Cleaning your garage can be a daunting task at first, especially if you’ve been putting it off for years while using it as a primary storage unit. Luckily, we are here to help with tips for how to clean out your garage.
Materials Needed for Garage Cleaning
Before you start cleaning, prepare all the tools and materials you will need. That way, you won’t need to make an unexpected trip to the store or scour your house for supplies when you’re halfway through cleaning your garage. You will need:
- Face masks
- Trash bags
- A shop vacuum
- Baking soda
- Liquid soap
- A scrub brush
- A nonabrasive sponge and clean towels
- A bucket
- A step ladder
- Storage supplies
- A cleaning checklist
A hose or power washer could make things easier but is not required. If you do use a power washer, make sure not to use it on your garage door. Even in low settings, the pressure of a power washer can harm the door.
If you have a lot of clutter to reorganize, you may want to look into garage storage ideas. Shelves, cabinets or pegboards are great storage options but are easiest to install when the garage is already empty. Plastic bins or storage boxes are another option and could be particularly useful if you plan on donating unwanted items when you’re finished.
Making a spring cleaning list for your garage before you start will help you stay organized, too. An itemized list will keep you from accidentally skipping a step and make it easier to pick up where you left off if you take a break. And remember to take breaks as needed. Cleaning your garage can take a lot of time and physical exertion, but a clean garage will be worth the hard work. Crossing items off your checklist as you work is a great way to stay motivated!
How to Clean Your Garage
With your supplies and checklist, you’re ready to start spring cleaning your garage. Break the garage cleaning and organizing process down into different steps to make it more manageable. Follow these garage cleanout tips and steps to help:
Even if your garage is already well organized, it is a hassle to periodically stop to move things around when cleaning the walls and floor. We recommend setting your stuff outside of the garage, either in your yard or the driveway. If you have belongings you don’t feel comfortable putting on the ground, consider setting up a tarp or preparing empty boxes first. Starting with everything outside the garage will make it easier to reorganize your belongings after you finish cleaning.
You may have some items in your garage that are not suited to be stored there. The conditions inside a garage can ruin some materials and create actively dangerous situations with others. The heat and humidity in garages can damage electronics and cause canned food to spoil. Firewood and paper products can attract pests like insects and rodents. Propane and gasoline, if not stored correctly, can create a fire hazard. You will want to either dispose of or relocate these items to a more suitable storage area.
2. Dust and Vacuum
Removing dust is the next step in garage cleaning. Dusting makes your garage look and seem cleaner, and it can also help reduce dust-related allergies. To dust your garage, start at the top and work your way down. That way, you won’t have to clean dust from the concrete floor multiple times as you continue to knock the dust down from above. You’ll also avoid dusting an area of the wall only to knock dust from up high back onto it.
With the dust down, it’s time to vacuum. It’s better to use a shop vacuum than to sweep a garage floor. The dust found in garages is often too fine to be picked up effectively by a broom and dustpan, resulting in you pushing the debris around rather than removing it. You don’t need to limit yourself to vacuuming the floor, either. You can use a shop vac to clean the ceiling and walls, too. After vacuuming, use a damp microfiber cloth to remove any remaining dust.
This step can kick a lot of dust up into the air while you work. Wear a mask to keep the dust out of your mouth and lungs for a more pleasant cleaning experience.
There are additional steps you can take to dustproof your garage moving forward. Applying a concrete sealer to the floor will help preserve your garage floor, which will reduce the creation of internal dust.
There are numerous ways you can prevent external dust from finding its way into your garage, too. To help keep your garage floor clean, clean any lawn equipment and garden tools before storing them in your garage. Using sealed storage containers for things like fertilizer and grass seed can keep it from getting loose in your garage.
The most important tip for keeping dust out of your garage is checking the seals for your garage door. No matter how careful you are not to track dust in with you, loose, cracked or torn seals on your garage door will let outside dust in.
3. Clean the Garage Floor
After cleaning the dust from the walls and floor, you can remove the stains that have accumulated on the floor. Garage floors are susceptible to a variety of stains — oil and rust are two common ones. Cleaning the stains on your garage floor will give it a fresh look and even slow your floor’s wear. A nylon bristle brush is a good tool for cleaning a garage floor that won’t scratch the concrete.
Different cleaning solutions work better for different types of stains. For oil stains, use dish soap or laundry detergent. For the best results, let it sit for 45 minutes before adding water and scrubbing for the first time. Oil stains are stubborn and will likely require several rounds of scrubbing. Let the soap sit for 10 to 15 minutes between cleanings.
You can use white vinegar to remove rust stains. Let the stain soak for about ten minutes before scrubbing. You may need to repeat this process multiple times, too. Alternatively, you could use a mixture of water and a baking soda-based laundry detergent. This solution needs to sit on the stain for at least an hour, and you need to keep the mixture wet, or it will be ineffective.
For general cleaning purposes, mixing half a cup of baking soda with a gallon of warm water makes an effective cleaner. You can add a few drops of liquid soap to the mix for a bit of added cleaning power to remove light stains. For a more concentrated solution to spot clean with, make a paste of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap, then scrub it into the problem areas.
Once you’ve finished scrubbing your garage floor, the easiest way to remove the extra cleaning solution is to spray the surface with a hose or power washer. Alternatively, you can finish cleaning the concrete floor by going over it with a mop.
4. Clean the Garage Door and Garage Door Windows
Knowing how to clean your garage door prevents rust and extends the life of your garage door’s finish. When cleaning your garage door, you need to be cautious — you don’t want to scratch your paint or windows! Take these steps to preserve your door as you clean:
- Avoid ammoniated, abrasive or solvent-based cleaners.
- Use a nonabrasive sponge and a clean cloth.
- Don’t scrape your door or windows with squeegees, razor blades or other sharp tools that can scratch the windows or paint.
- Avoid using a power washer on your garage door and windows.
Mild dishwashing soap and a soft cloth is a simple but effective way to clean most garage door windows. Some garage doors, such as the Clopay® CLASSIC™ steel door, have decorative inserts you can remove for easy cleaning.
You will want to use either dishwashing soap or car wash soap on your door. Apply the soapy water with a nonabrasive cloth or sponge and dry it with a clean, dry towel. Clean your door from top to bottom. You will likely need a step stool to help with this. Make sure you clean both the interior and exterior sides of the door.
If you have a steel door, you will want to apply wax, as well. The same liquid wax you would use on a car works well for this. The resin can be applied to your garage door windows as well. Annually applying wax to your garage door can protect against fading paint, hairline scratches and minor abrasions.
Now that your garage door is clean, you should inspect it for any damage or wear and tear. Checking your door can let you spot potential problems early before they grow worse. If you see something that concerns you, seek professional garage door maintenance and repair services.
5. Organize the Garage
Now that your garage is clean, it’s time to move your belongings back inside. Take this opportunity to evaluate what you really need and how to best organize it instead of tossing everything in haphazardly. Cutting back on what you store can help keep your garage clean over time.
First, you need to determine what you want to keep and what you intend to do with your unwanted items. If your belongings are old or broken, you’ll likely want to throw them away. Other things might be worth donating or reselling. If you plan on donating or selling unwanted items, it’s best to prepare empty storage containers beforehand. Create three to four separate groups for what you plan to keep, toss, donate or sell.
Once you have set aside what you plan on getting rid of one way or another, you will need to determine how to store what you will keep. Remember, you should not store some items including firewood, canned food, propane, wooden furniture, photos and paint in your garage. If you had these in your garage before, now is an excellent time to relocate them somewhere else.
For the things you wish to keep, there are many garage storage solutions to consider. Shelves, overhead storage racks and wall hooks are all viable options. The garage organization ideas you choose will depend on what you have to store and how much space your garage has. Drafting a floor plan of your garage can help you visualize where things will go and how much space you have to work with.
When planning your layout, try to keep things off the floor to the greatest extent possible and consider keeping items you will use the most often towards the front for easy access. Try storing large bulky equipment such as lawnmowers in corners to avoid accidentally bumping them with your car.
For garage shelving ideas, consider open options instead of cabinets. Cabinets take up more room as you need to leave enough space to open the doors. Open shelves also incentivize you to keep the area clean by not allowing you to hide clutter behind closed doors. But, if you have pets or children, you should consider a locked cabinet for chemicals or tools you don’t want them reaching.
After setting up your storage space with a mix of shelves and racks that suit your needs, consider what types of storage containers will work best for you. Different storage containers work best for different items. Sealable plastic containers are suitable for larger objects you need to protect in storage. A tight seal prevents dust and insects from getting in. These containers can also be stacked easily and are more durable than cardboard boxes. Clear jars are great for storing smaller items like nails and screws.
Resolve Garage Door Concerns With Cornwell Door Service
While cleaning your garage, you’ll be taking a closer look at your garage door system than you likely do at any other point of the year. You may notice issues with your garage door, tracks or garage door opener during this time. If you do, Cornwell Door is here to help.
Cornwell Door has served residents in Camp Hill, Lebanon, Harrisburg and the rest of South Central Pennsylvania for over 40 years. We pride ourselves on our reputation for quality work and excellent customer service. We offer preventative and emergency garage door maintenance and keep our warehouse stocked with everything needed to keep your garage door in top condition. We also sell and install new garage doors when it’s time to replace your old one. Contact us online to learn more.