It’s that time again: the dreaded garage clean-up. If you’re someone who uses the garage more for storage than for sheltering your car or other vehicle, you may go a long time without properly cleaning out your garage. One of the major roadblocks to starting a garage clean-up session is that it seems like it takes so much time, and you’ve got plenty of other things you’d rather do. Luckily, the task doesn’t have to be as monumental as it may initially seem.
Get Your Donations Picked Up
There’s nothing more convenient than a charitable organization that arranges pickups for donations. Think about it: No time wasted loading a car and making a trip to a donation center. No searching for a way to get that clunker old car or boat off of your property when you don’t even have a hitch anymore — and have nowhere to get rid of it.
By relying on an organization that picks up what you no longer want, you’re free to simply point out the items when the representatives arrive and focus on getting your garage organized. Plus, if you opt for the donation route as opposed to simply junking items, you can take a deduction off of your taxes.
Enlist a Team
The more people you have helping you clean your garage, the less time it will take you. What would take you several days by yourself may take only one cleaning session with a group of 10 people. Enlist family members and friends, and promise them food or an I.O.U. to help them clean up at their properties in the future. You could also enlist neighborhood kids if you offer to pay them a small fee.
Once you have your team in place, assign everyone a task. One or more people should be:
- Dusters/cleaners (getting rid of dirt and dust on items)
- Movers (taking items out of the garage to the yard or driveway for sorting)
- Sorters (deciding what stays and what goes)
- Cleaners (vacuuming and sweeping the exposed garage floor)
- Organizers (putting items you’re keeping into a place in the garage where they’re out of the way)
Provide dust masks, goggles and thick work gloves to everyone for their safety, and recommend they wear old jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts.
Use a System
The people in charge of separating the items may have the task that takes the most time. If dusters and movers finish early, have them jump into the sorting team to help out. To work quickly, abide by these rules:
- Have three piles or tarps: Keep, trash and donate
- Keep only one item for every two items trashed or donated
- Donate whenever possible instead of throwing items away; organizations will pick up the items, but it’s also less wasteful
- Get rid of broken items — unless they’re large items that an organization may want for parts
Space the Sessions Out
If you don’t have enough people, it may not take just a day to clean your garage. However, if you break the task up into manageable cleaning sessions, such as one or two hours a day for a week, the overall task will feel like it takes less time. Return to the task on another day after resting and you’ll have more energy. Spreading out the task may also allow for more people to help; if they can’t help one day, they may show up for the next.
As the Department of Motor Vehicles explains, a car has a better chance of lasting longer if you store it indoors, not outdoors. Unless you want to throw a tarp over your vehicle every day to protect it from the sun and the elements, clear space in your garage foryour current car. That means parting with the car or boat you no longer use, and to reduce the other junk you’re storing in the garage. Work quickly, and the task will seem like less of a chore.
About the Author
Brett Lerner is a do-it-yourself blogger and professional organizer.