Declutter A Messy Garage No Matter How Packed It Is

how to declutter your garage


There are fewer things more frustrating than not having enough space in a messy garage to park your car. These garage decluttering tips will keep you from running into that issue!

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Hi, I’m Ryan

The garage is a pretty common place for junk to pile up quickly. In fact, only 25% of Americans can even park in their garage. Here’s some advice on how to tackle this problematic clutter zone.

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Five Expert Steps To Declutter Your Messy Garage

Expert Steps To Declutter Your Messy Garage

When I let the clutter in my own garage pile up, I get stressed out even looking at it! If you don’t have a ton of other storage spaces in your home, it’s easy to use the space in your garage as a dumping ground for every knick-knack and miscellaneous box that you have. There are several decluttering tips I use to keep from ending up in this situation.

I also get garage decluttering advice from my good friend, professional organizer, and owner of Organized For Good, Erin Mursch. She has a lot to say about the best ways to keep your garage decluttered and mess free. Erin gave some valuable insights into the garage decluttering process.

small garage organization

1Start With The Trash In Your Messy Garage

When decluttering your messy garage, start with the simplest category: trash. Take a walk through your entire garage and throw out anything you know with certainty can be tossed out. Whenever I do this, I am always surprised at how much just dealing with the trash actually improves the space.

As you start to declutter your garage little by little, you’ll see improvements that help keep you motivated to continue. Trash is one of the easiest categories to tackle first because there’s not much decision-making involved — you can just toss it!

trash in a messy garage

2Take Everything Out Of Your Messy Garage

To start decluttering your messy garage, pull everything out so you can see all that needs organized. Clear off floor space as a designated holding area.

decluttering your garageIf you genuinely have no room in your garage, raise the garage door and use the alleyway, driveway, or yard as a temporary holding space. Take everything out and off of your shelves, workbench drawers, or cabinets and lay it all out to be decluttered.

If you’re not ready to go through packed boxes of trinkets and files, just move the boxes as-is with the rest of your stuff. If you do want to go through every box, take all the contents out and sort those things inside the boxes, too.

erin mursch

“When it comes time to declutter the garage, open up the garage door and pull everything out. It sounds overwhelming, and it can be, but I think you really have to do that to declutter effectively.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

3Declutter Your Messy Garage In Specific Categories

Now, sort everything into specific categories. If you cut through the clutter in smaller sections, it will be easier to visibly see your progress and put your mind at ease. Divide your garage up into smaller categories of items so you can declutter section by section.

If your garage is packed to the gills, the decluttering process may take days, weeks, or even months. But by dividing your garage into more manageable groups of things, you can set smaller goals for yourself to tackle each, making the entire garage decluttering process feel more conquerable.

Categories To Use When Decluttering A Messy Garage

  • Sports and workout equipment
  • Camping and outdoor recreational gear
  • Garden supplies, shovels, hose, garden tools
  • Automotive and car supplies
  • Bike gear, pump, helmet, and supplies
  • Pool supplies and gear
  • Tools and construction gear
  • Luggage and travel equipment
  • Memorabilia and stored sentimental items
Organize your sports and workout equipment

4Get Rid Of What You Don’t Need In A Messy Garage

Next, it’s time to decide which items to get rid of in your messy garage. When I’m decluttering a packed space, I always use the four-box decluttering method to get through the process quickly. This method has you sort decluttered items into four categories: throw-away, give-away, keep, and store.

Work through all of the categories you’ve compiled in your messy garage and sort each item into one of the four groups. Take care of the items to donate and throw away first.

With the remaining items, make the intentional decision of whether or not you plan to keep each item in the garage or relocate it somewhere else. If you plan to store the items elsewhere, set them aside so you can focus on the items going back into your decluttered garage space.

where to donate decluttered items
erin mursch

“Ask yourself which items are practical to keep. For example, I live in Austin, Texas. I used to store skis in my garage. I rarely go skiing, so I sold them. Now I just rent.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

5Find An Organizational System For Your Decluttered Garage

At this point in your garage-decluttering venture, every item left should be an item that you plan to keep in your garage. There are a million and one different ideas and methods out there to help organize a cluttered garage in a way that fits your needs. Invest in shelving, bins, boxes and more to organize your garage.

erin mursch

“Once you’ve decluttered most of your garage, create functional storage. If you don’t, clutter will build back up over time.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

Ideas To Organize Garage Clutter

Ideas To Organize Garage Clutter

There are tons of different ways to create functional storage in a decluttered garage — many of which I use myself to keep my garage decluttered for the long haul. Think through all the ways you plan to store your items after the decluttering process is finished.

how to organize a small garage

Make A Place For Everything, Keep Everything In Place

The most important methodology to keep your garage decluttered and your items organized is to designate a specific place for every single item. Designate spots for your car gear, lawn tools, pool supplies, and other storage items. Specificity is key! Assign each category to a corner, wall, shelf, or bin, and stick to that plan.

I also try to have a “one in, one out” rule with myself when decluttering my garage. What I mean by this is that if I have all my pool supplies in one specific bin, and that bin is full, I don’t make more room. Instead, I start decluttering that bin.

Organize Your Garage With Labels

Use labels to identify what you plan to store in each section of your garage so you don’t compromise or forget. If you have a label maker, start there. You can also go the simple route with sharpies and basic painter’s tape. Write down what category or item is stored in each spot and stick to it.

Work Smarter Not Harder With Garage Storage

At the end of the day, you’ll want to leave your decluttered garage with lots of functional, smart storage systems that allow you to keep your garage decluttered for longer. This might look like vertical storage, hooks on your wall, ceiling racks, and more.

Create storage spaces that allow you to store your items easily as you buy them. You’ll also want to ensure that the storage you use is out of the way of the garage floor so clutter doesn’t start to pile up again.

erin mursch

“Don’t hoard boxes or other disposables! Break down all boxes and discard of trash as you get them to keep clutter out of your garage.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

Tips To Prevent Future Garage Clutter

Tips To Prevent Future Garage Clutter

The last thing you want to happen after decluttering your garage is for it to quickly become cluttered and messy immediately after it’s been decluttered. There are several preventative measures that I regularly turn to that can help make sure the garage doesn’t get messy again after it’s tidy and clean!

Garage Decluttering Tips

  Don’t Let Trash Pile Up In A Garage

One important tip is to never let trash pile up in your garage. Don’t use your garage to store things like empty boxes, loose papers, or crates and bins. If you receive something that you don’t think you’ll use down the line, get rid of it immediately.

It’s so easy for your garage to become messy and cluttered again if you use it as a dumping ground. Make an intentional decision about every item that comes in and out. I also like to ensure that my trash can is in an easily accessible location in my garage so I can throw things away quickly and avoid the temptation of leaving trash around.

  Create A Decluttering Schedule For Your Messy Garage

Another way to keep your garage cleaned out is to follow a decluttering schedule. It’s easy to get in the habit of putting off regular decluttering until your garage is a complete mess again. I like to put my house decluttering system into my monthly calendar. This is the best way to hold yourself accountable to decluttering your garage regularly.

  Organize Your Garage Seasonally

This may sound like more work on the front-end than necessary, but I can assure you that organizing your garage in a new way each season of the year will actually save you more work down the line. I like to rotate the way that I store things. In the summer I might have my water gear hanging on the wall, then I’ll swap that out with my snow equipment in the winter.

  Mark Off Space For Your Car

To keep your garage clear enough to park your cars, you might want to consider marking your garage floor with where the car should be parked. You could do this with paint, painter’s tape, duct tape, or masking tape. After marking off any parking spaces, so to speak, you’ll be able to physically see where your cars go and make it a habit to keep clutter clear of these lines.

  Hang Items On The Wall

Another great way to keep a garage decluttered is to get as many items off the ground as possible. Whenever you bring something new into your garage, hang it up right away so you aren’t tempted to sit it on the floor, lean it against the wall, or stack it on top of something already on the ground.

Your Turn!

  • What organization strategies will you use for stuff in your garage?
  • How can you create systems to keep your garage clutter-free?
1 Comment
  1. I don’t have a garage but I have a dry cabin and “tool” shed which might as well be a garage. The tool shed doesn’t have a door but is fairly devoid of things. The cabin is a work in progress. I forget about it thanks for reminding me.

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