Do a basic cleaning and give the floor a good once over with a broom or shop vac. Also look out for:
- Nails and other small items on the floor;
- Oil or chemical stains;
- Cobwebs; and,
- Any evidence of furry or winged creatures that may have taken up residence in your home.
As you are cleaning, you can begin the decluttering process by tossing anything you know right off the bat (and yes, our organizers have found both live and dead bats in garages) in the trash. This way you don't have to deal with it during the decluttering/decision making phase of what to toss and keep. As with any organizing project, you need to declutter before you can organize, and that means dividing items into familiar categories:
Ideally, Jumper advises clients to pull everything out of the space. “Putting everything out on the driveway and sorting into zones helps homeowners actually see how many of one item they may have. How many items are broken, outgrown or not used,” she says, “people generally are amazed how many items were actually stuffed into the garage.”
Sometimes there is not enough space to pull everything out onto the driveway, and in these cases Lisa Mark works with clients to divide and conquer: “We often divide the garage into multiple organizing zones and organize each zone completely before moving on to the next.”
“You can organize a garage a bit at a time or even a wall at a time," says Hoff.
In other words: choose a corner of the garage to start with, or choose a type of item (beach, sports, small tools, etc.) and declutter slowly.
Not sure whether to keep, toss, trash or donate an item? Jumper asks her clients the old stand-by question: “When was the last time you actually used this?”