How to de-clutter your garage: 3 rules of thumb

Amy on

Whether you’re clearing out an old garage in preparation for a move and getting ready to arrange all your stuff in a new one as you settle into your next home, it’s often the last part of the house anyone wants to think about or spend time on, yet it’s probably one of the most important. As furniture and electronics get rearranged and reassembled and pictures are hung on those bare walls all around the new house, tools are in order. After that interstate drive to bring the car to the new place in a long-distance move, a little maintenance is probably in order, too. And hey, since it’s the first and last room of the house we see when we come and go by car, it may as well not be awful to look at, right?

The team at Moveline is well-versed in helping folks move from one home to another, and we’ve seen every mistake in the book, as well as quite a few clever tricks when it comes to getting organized and making life easier in a new home. Where the garage is concerned, we can offer three primary rules of thumb to help you ease into your spot and park peacefully in your new place: make room, compartmentalize, and when necessary, go vertical.

Make room.

Rule #1 of organizing a garage is this: You have to get real with yourself about what you need and what you don’t. At the very least, it’s imperative to decide what needs to be kept accessible vs. what’s being hung onto for nostalgia’s sake. For the latter -- say, family heirlooms that never get used and other artifacts from decades gone by -- attics and storage closets are often the perfect place for them to be housed. The more unnecessary stuff you keep in the garage, the less room you have to move around, park your car, and access things you actually need, like automotive accessories, tools, recycling bins and sporting equipment, and over time, it can adversely affect your sanity as you, say, ding the driver’s side door against that shelf or trip over that old box of yearbooks for the eight thousandth time.

It’s a universal truth that a garage always seems perfectly large until you actually pull your car into it and realize just how little room you have to work with. So plan ahead, pare down before the moving truck picks up your belongings, and prepare to get creative when it comes to deciding where everything will go in the new place.


Setting up shop can be a little overwhelming, so literally divide the garage into three (or more) segments while you’re still in boxes, and then divvy up the boxes into their respective segments to help yourself tackle everything in portions. Maybe you’ve got lots of tools, plenty of sporting equipment and a small amount of storage materials. Great -- separate those boxes into related clusters so you can get a handle on just what kind of shelving, if any, you’ll need, as well as where things should be oriented so you can move easily between your car and the entrance to your home without obstruction.

When in doubt, whip out that measuring tape and make copious notes, taking into account the berth you’ll need to open doors, pull your car and bike in and out of the space with ease, and other matters of daily use that are worth a bit of advance planning. In short: don’t put the cart before the horse or you might end up with a completely dysfunctional space. Take a day or two to plan what needs to go where, and then make that requisite trip to the hardware store to find the proper solution if you need one.

Go vertical.

In a space as tight as a garage, vertical space is key. That extensive tool collection can either stay locked in a shed when you’re not using them, or they can hang conveniently within arm’s reach, in perfect order, on a bulletin board with hooks bought for cents on the dollar. Likewise, a bike can take up all sorts of space crumpled up in a corner and be a pain in the you-know-what to pedal free, or it can hang unobtrusively on a well-placed rack, facing in the direction of the garage’s opening so all you have to do is unfasten and go. A little consideration goes a long way when it comes to utilizing your wall space and planning ahead in terms of functionality.

Get moving.

Whether you’re a few weeks out from your move or a few months, it’s never a bad time to start planning. Moveline can help you get fair, accurate quotes from reputable moving companies, and a Move Captain will have your back every step of the way, from the moment you start searching for a mover to the moment you’ve unpacked your last box in the new place and made sure everything’s as it should be. The best part: our services are free. Learn more about the Moveline experience and let us help you move better. It’s what we do best.