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Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist

Use this Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist to create functional, clutter-free storage for your tools and cars.

Boxes and other gear along a wall prior to garage spring cleaning

Do you park in your garage? Not every family does. In some homes, the garage serves as a huge walk-in storage closet for sports gear, tools, and holiday decorations. The garage serves as extra living space in other homes where it serves as a home gym, rec room, or den. But no matter what purpose your home’s garage serves, they all get cluttered and dirty. Spring Cleaning your garage is a chance to get it in shape and clutter-free.

How To Spring Clean Your Garage

The great thing about using a checklist is how clear it makes each step: do this and move onto that. If you’re working alone, you can divide the work over several days by doing one section at a time. Or, if you’d like your teens to do it, hand them a checklist, so they know exactly what needs to get done.

Equipment You’ll Need:

  • Work gloves – there are a lot of messy, toxic materials in a garage. Don’t let them come in contact with your skin.
  • Broom (I use this push broom* for cement)
  • Extension duster for ceilings and walls
  • Step stool
  • Microfiber cloths
  • An all-purpose cleaner
  • Boxes and trash bags

1. Empty It

It’s always a good idea to start a decluttering project with a plan for how you’ll handle the clutter you’re getting rid of. So, make sure you’ve got trash bags or bins ready for any recycling or trash you find. Keep hazardous waste like paint, lawn and garden chemicals, and paint thinner out of your trash. Those belong in a separate box, so you can take them to your nearest waste disposal facility. You’ll probably also want a box for things to donate or give away.

Start by hauling everything out to the driveway. Completely emptying the garage may sound like a lot of effort, but it makes cleaning and organizing the contents much more manageable since it gives you two chances to purge excess stuff. So, as you empty the garage, toss the trash and recyclables, or set aside items you plan to donate or give away. You’ll get another chance to evaluate everything before you put it back in your garage.

2. Work in This Order

The key to cleaning efficiently is working top to bottom, left to right, so you’re moving dirt down and then out of a space. Using an extension duster, clean the ceiling, corners, and walls. Close the garage door and clean the inside of it — it’s amazing how dirty the inside of a garage door can get! Inspect the garage door fasteners and handles while it’s closed and tighten any that are loose. Then open the door and clean the tracks.

If the floor of your garage is covered with oily spots or grime, scrub it with a little liquid dish detergent in a bucket of hot water. Treat stains on the garage’s cement floor while it’s empty. Then, while the floor dries, clean the rest of the garage fixtures: light switches, door trim, and knobs, plus the garage opener button. If you’ve been thinking about painting your garage, this is a great time to do it — and there’s no rule that says you’ve got to stick with flat white!

3. Make It Functional

Many of us use our garage for multiple purposes. The key to good garage organization is separating areas for the different ways we use it. Do you have a workbench in your garage? A pile of sports equipment? Do you store your holiday decorations in there? Visualize the different ways you use your garage and plan to keep similar items together so they’re easier to use.

Look for ways to use vertical space in your garage, rather than storing things on the floor where they’re susceptible to damage from insects, rodents, and water. Keeping your garage floor clear also makes it easier to keep it clean. You can make or install shelving, or consider adding pegboard to the walls to provide hanging storage for tools, sports equipment, and other items. Then use a black permanent marker or paint to trace around the things you’ve hung so family members know where to return things after use.

4. Purge More Clutter

Once your garage floor is dry, and you’ve determined where your storage zones will be, start moving things back into your garage. Keep heavy items on bottom shelves to avoid the risk of injury. Items that you don’t use very often — like Christmas decor or Easter baskets — should go on the highest shelves. Use easily reachable storage for things you need often, and keep similar things together. So, all of your camping gear goes in one zone, while sports equipment belongs in a different one.

Continue purging clutter as you put things away. If you haven’t used it in a few years, there’s no point in letting it take up storage space. Set aside those items you no longer use or want to keep and throw away anything that’s broken or worn out. If you’re not up to making a trip to the local charity, list your unwanted stuff as “free to pick up” on Freecycle or Craig’s List. You can also check Facebook for your local “Buy Nothing” group or list it on NextDoor to see if any neighbors want it.

Take a Drive

Don’t put off dealing with the items you’ve decided to donate or take for waste disposal. Put them in your car and get rid of them now, so they don’t sneak back onto your clean garage’s shelves. Sure, you’re probably tired and would prefer to take a rest, but think of what a nice-looking garage you’ll come home to once you’ve finished getting rid of the clutter.