How to organize a garage without spending anything
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How to organize a garage without spending anything

Jun 29, 2023

Organizing can be expensive, especially in a space as large as a garage – here's how to do it for free

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We are all feeling the squeeze of current world events, but that doesn't mean our homes stop needing cleaning, tidying, and organizing. But how do we organize a garage without spending anything?

Organizing a garage can be tough enough as it is, with most of our bulky home appliances, out-of-season items, and household tools stowed away in this out-of-sight spot.

Luckily, home organizers have some smart decluttering tips and home organization methods that help you to get the most out of what you already have, without it looking like a bomb has gone off afterward.

Of course, as with any organizing task, you should start with decluttering, reminds Olivia Parks, professional home organizer and owner of Professional Organizer New Orleans: ‘Decluttering is one of the essential and most overlooked steps in organizing a garage. It's common for a garage to be a "catch-all" space, and it's easy for it to get overwhelmed with clutter.'

'Decluttering is a free and relieving process that can drastically improve the organizing process and give a clear direction on how to do so.'

‘Start by dividing items into 'keep', 'donate', and 'trash' categories. If an item has not been used in a year, consider donating or discarding it. This will make organizing the rest with what you already have ten times easier!’

After decluttering, it is time to think of some smart storage ideas.

Based in New Orleans, Oliva is a home organizing enthusiast and founder of Professional Organizer, home organizers and blog.

Creating zones is a system that almost all home organizing systems, from organizing your living room to organizing small spaces. It is also a great solution if you are looking to avoid spending on shelving dividers and large storage crates, says Noelle Bruccoleri, productivity and organizing specialist at Little Bit o' Help.

‘The best way to organize a space such as this, without spending anything, is to create zones. Let the shape of the space dictate the location of these zones. Corners for umbrellas, standing garden tools, golf bags, etc. Use walls to stack boxes that house infrequently used items like decorations or party supplies.

‘The trick is really to keep like items with like items. Store holidays on the same wall as the party, but maybe sports equipment and beach supplies on another wall. The third wall should house tools, garden equipment, pool supplies, etc. Just creating these zones, even without new shelving or storage, can help bring order to your space and your life. And there should still be room to pull the car in!’

‘Shopping your home’ may be a term you have heard before if you are big into decluttering and organizing – especially if you have ever tried to organize your home without spending any money already. The idea is to walk around your home with a basket and collect any underutilized or forgotten storage containers that you can repose in the area you are currently working on, says Olivia Parks, professional organizer.

This might be some acrylic bins you only have a few items that could be stored elsewhere, for instance, or it could be as simple as some old shoe or parcel boxes that could be handy in your garage for tools and toys. ‘ This creates an organized, functional garage where every item has its place,’ she says.

‘The goal isn't just to reduce clutter but to create a usable space without any unnecessary items.’

Not all of the storage products professionals can’t live without have to cost you money. More often than not, friends and family may be looking to get rid of excess organizers they don't need after decluttering, and online marketplaces and neighborhood groups may have spare containers and dividers that are no longer in use. This is a great way to be sustainable at home, reusing storage, especially plastic storage, in new ways.

As someone who spends a lot of time hunting for bargains on marketplaces, my best tips are to set the price filter to free, or $5, see what you can negotiate, and set up notifications to be alerted when someone uploads an item that fits what you need.

If you do not feel comfortable picking the items up at someone's home, or them coming to yours, you can also arrange to meet up in a public place.

Just because you are trying to save money at home when organizing, doesn't mean you should leave items exposed to the elements to be damaged by adverse weather or pests. Although it can be hard to see how to protect items when you don't have sealable boxes, a common household item can come to your rescue – trash bags.

Erica Fecundo, home organizer and a tiny home specialist at Hauslein recommends that ‘to protect items from weather or temperature changes, consider grouping them together and covering them with tarps or heavy-duty garbage bags. This will provide a layer of protection against moisture or extreme temperatures.

‘In terms of pests, ensure that all items are properly sealed in containers that pests cannot access. Using airtight plastic containers or vacuum-sealed bags can help prevent pests from getting in and damaging your belongings.’

Heavy Duty Trash Bags | $14.47 at WalmartTrash bags are not just for trash. Although we don't recommend using them for general storage to keep items together neatly and attractively, they can be great for covering items and offering a little extra protection for those items we can't get into sealable boxes.

If you are left with some odd bits in your garage that do not quite fit into your existing organizing categories, then it is perfectly fine to store those bits together in a miscellaneous section. Try to keep them on display so that they are easy to locate, or alternatively make a note on the storage box with exactly what is inside.

When your garage is super messy, it can help to start at the door and work inwards. pulling out things you know need to go in the trash, or need to be gotten rid of while setting things you want to keep and need to organize to one side. This way, you can begin to clear a path through the clutter and visualize your progress.

If you find that you need to spend some money to help organize your garage but are reluctant, consider selling some of the things you declutter from your garage to raise some funds for its reorganization. This way, you are repurposing items that no longer serve you without spending money already in your bank account. It almost feels ‘free’ when you work in this way.

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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.

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Heavy Duty Trash Bags | $14.47 at Walmart