We did it! Mr. Twist and I finished what seemed like the never-ending Great American Garage Cleanout. I promised I wouldn’t work on projects during my holiday break, but I couldn’t help myself. We hadn’t done a good garage organizing or purge in probably ten years. It wasn’t that the garage was too full, we could easily park our cars inside with lots of room to get around. What bothered me were the overstuffed bins and the lack of a system for organizing what we did have. The space needed a good cleaning, and purging of old paints, and things we don’t use or need anymore.
Everything I learned about organizing my home is credited to Elizabeth Jones of Nest & Transformation (find her here on Instagram). Elizabeth is the #BossBabe extraordinaire and operates a very successful residential and commercial organization business. I’ve known Elizabeth for over 20 years and first enlisted her help in organizing my attic. I learned so much about the proper way to clear out a space and start from scratch. I applied what she taught me to this garage project.
Our Top Tips:
Set Aside Enough Time To Touch Every Single Item in your Space
A big project like a garage is not going to take just a day or two. This project easily took 10 days – five more days than I had anticipated or planned. Why? Because to effectively organize any space you have to touch every single object in order to know if it stays or leaves. If you don’t do this most important step you are really just moving stuff around and wasting your time. How will you know what you have unless you go through all the bins, boxes, and bags? Below is a photo of all the things I pulled off shelves. We have a three-car garage and two-thirds of the space has most of the shelving and storage cabinets. The third bay is Mr. Twist’s side with his car stuff and vintage Wylis Jeep. I enlisted his help once I finished my side. The scope of the work on this project is also exhausting, so some days I only worked a few hours to take a break. I needed the stamina to finish. Be sure to pace yourself with plenty of time to reach the finish line – because it will be well worth it.
Designate Spaces for Keep, Donate, and Trash
I set up a long table in the garage with a good supply of trash bags, grocery bags for donation, paper towels, and spray cleaner. I also purchased these labels for labeling bins. This was my workspace for sorting and labeling. I backed up our pickup truck and my van at the garage door opening. I then created zones of keep, donate, and trash. Once the donate and trash pile were full, trash went into the back of the truck and donations went into my van. This process helps to empty your space a little at a time. At the end of each day, I made a trip to Goodwill and returned with an empty van. We waited until the end of the project to make one trip to the dump. Everything we threw away could no be re-used – things like expired or old paint cans, cardboard boxes we emptied (that were recycled at the dump), etc. I also posted free stuff like reusable grocery bags, spray paint, and shop towels on my neighborhood Facebook page. People were so happy to get free stuff they wanted!
Do not buy storage containers in advance of your project.
This was a big takeaway I learned from Elizabeth. You have to wait to see what you have left in order to best determine how you will organize. I learned during this process, for example, I am more likely to stay organized if I use bins that are clear because I can see the contents. If I don’t know what I have, I buy more which leads to waste. I like these clear, plastic men’s shoe boxes for organizing my cleaning products and other supplies like trash bags. Leave the lid off so you can easily remove and return what you need. Some people prefer to not see their stuff and want solid bins. Go with what works best for you. I also used these shelf labels perfect for metal rolling shelving.
Here are some examples of how I used a variety of supplies to organize:
SmartStore bins have clip-on lids and are easily stackable. I use these bins for items I don’t need access to on a daily basis – things like lightbulbs, twine, hooks, etc. They also come with inserts that fit perfectly inside to sort smaller items.
Create zones so you can find what you need. I put all my pet food and supplies on the bottom two shelves. I love these pet food bins with removable casters because they keep the food fresh and the profile doesn’t take up too much space. When you have zones everyone knows where to put the water, sodas, cat litter, and paper products after a shopping trip. I made sure Mr. Twist & Co. got the full tour!
My most recent find is Pop-it adjustable sliding cabinet organizers. Pull out the tray so you can see what you have, that way you don’t have that black hole at the back of the cabinet! We had these built-ins made several years ago and they are a terrific way to store food supplies and other things you don’t want to get dusty. I designated the top shelf for our instapot and bread maker, the middle shelf for backstock food like flour, sugar, and spices, and the third shelf for paper products.
We buy our paper products at Costco. The bottom drawers are deep and perfect for bulk paper towels, toilet paper, kleenex, and storage bags.
One last tip that is a creative way to organize your spray cans – shoe hangers! The shelf above houses all our paint supplies, drop cloths, and paint cans.
I’ve rounded up all the supplies below. Just click on the photo and it will take you to my Like To Know it where you can shop directly from the links.
We are so happy with the finished space. It’s clean, free of clutter and perfectly organized. While it wasn’t Mr. Twist’s favorite thing to do, he leaned into the project and was a big help. I helped him organize his “workshop” and now he has zones for the car, home, and projects.
Be sure to check out my Instagram Reel and highlights for more content. A happy home is an organized home, right?
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