Garage cleaning tips for changing seasons

Don't wait until the snow is falling to clean your garage. Photo: Alans Factory Outlet on Flickr.

Before it gets too chilly, tackle the garage. A neat garage will make it easier to spring back into spring, though it seems a long time off. Broken down into discreet tasks, garage organizing and cleanup is manageable.

¨     Make a Plan. At least a week before G-Day, study the garage and think about solutions for organization. Need to build shelves, buy storage containers, a toolbox or a pegboard? Have plenty of large heavy-duty trash bags and permanent markers for labeling containers. Make a list and shop before cleaning day.

¨     Move out Transportation. Pull out car(s), bike(s), motorcycle(s), and every other item with wheels – lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, etc. – to create plenty of space to work.

¨     Make a Work Space. Place tarps or plastic drop cloths on the garage floor in four clear areas. This protects items from dirt and oil on the garage floor. Designate an area for trash, items to be kept, items that need fixing and items for donation to charities.

¨     Sort Everything. Move through the garage, starting at the right of the garage door. Sort items into the four piles, placing them on the plastic drop cloths.

¨     Identify Trash. Put all the items for the trash in large trash bags, making sure to separate hazardous materials and not overload the bags. Many cities have fee-free amnesty days for hazardous waste drop-off at a designated site. Never mix hazardous waste with regular trash to be buried at the landfill. Hazardous waste includes paint, oil, gasoline, unknown chemicals, cleaning chemicals, etc. Contact the local trash collection service for a special trash pick-up for items that are hazardous.

¨     Give it Away. Put items for charity in boxes. Many organizations will pick up donations, so call to make an appointment.

¨     Call for Repair. Deal with items that need repair right away and find a shop or person who does the work. If something has been broken and unused for years, get rid of it.

¨     Give it a Home. Organize like items for storage. Put all the tools together, garden equipment together, car wash supplies together, etc. Arrange them in labeled storage containers or on shelves.

¨     Get it Off the Ground. Hang bikes from ceiling hooks, hang shovels, brooms and other handled equipment on the wall. Small nails, screws, bolts, etc. can be organized using baby food jars or – even better, empty plastic peanut butter or similar containers. With small glass jars, nail the lids on to wood, then mount the wood to the garage wall. Fill the jars with the small parts and screw the jars into the lids. Avoid a new mess and don’t fill them all the way – unscrewing the jars and keeping the contents from spilling can be tricky!

¨     Finishing Touches. Use oven cleaner on oil spots, scour with an all-purpose scrub brush and rinse with a hose then sweep the floor.

Depending on climate, keep the snow shovels, winter recreation gear and snow blowers within easy reach. Next spring, they can go to the back of the garage as the bicycles, garden tools, lawn chairs, rakes, lawn mower, beach buckets and other warm-weather gear take their rightful places.

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