Direct Line magazine

How to clear out and organise your garage

Updated on: 12 November 2021

A garage full of things.

Whether it’s to transform the space into a multi-functional gym, a home office, or an escape pod for uncommunicative teenagers, rearranging your garage can be a great solution if you want to ‘improve rather than move.’

But, typically, the garage is often left to fend for itself. It doesn’t usually have heating, has little in the way of mod cons and frequently contains a mountain of accumulated rubbish that threatens to overwhelm the local tip.

So if you want your garage to be more in order, all you need to do is set aside a day, roll up your sleeves and prepare for some hard graft.

Here’s how to declutter the dumping ground.

Consider staging a garage sale

If there’s anything that’s practical or suitable for repair, then consider holding a garage sale. You don’t have to charge for this if you don’t want to. Instead, think of how much aggravation you could save by having other people cart away your unwanted odds and ends.

Hold it over a weekend, and use a combination of social media and good old-fashioned hand-painted signs to drum up interest during the preceding week.

Sell off the valuables

If there’s anything of value, then eBay, Craigslist, Gumtree or Facebook are doorways to the millions of Brits browsing for a bargain.

Clear up and clean out

Unless you want to pay someone to clear out your garage, there’s no easy way to do it. You’ll want to set aside a day and ‐ if you’re a parent ‐ try to arrange for the children to be elsewhere. Attempt to bribe a friend or family member to lend a hand. And if you know anyone with a van, sweet-talk them into helping.

If you can barely get into your garage due to all the junk piled up, consider hiring a skip. It will cost from around £200, but saves the aggravation of loading up the car and making countless trips to the local waste recycling centre.

Wear gloves, stout shoes and consider getting a pack of disposable dust masks if things are really bad in there.

Plan your garage layout

Once the garage is cleared, plan the layout according to what you want to use it for.

If it will remain just a garage, think about whether it needs to store bikes or cars, mowers or other gardening equipment. For convenience, position these in areas according to how frequently you’ll need to access them. For example, put the recycling boxes for household waste as close as possible to any door as you’ll probably need access to them on a daily basis.

Ideally, it’s sensible to set aside a clear area around the car, so you don’t end up dropping half-full paint pots on it and the kids don’t scratch the bodywork with their bikes. Then organise things so all your car-associated clobber, such as buckets, sponges and polish, is stored nearby.

Buy or blag garage storage solutions

If you don’t have built-in storage inside your garage, consider investing in freestanding shelving units. These can cost less than £20 and are widely available. Alternatively, ask friends or family if they’ve any old wardrobes they’re planning to scrap, or check online auction sites. These can provide great storage for gardening and DIY tools.

Shelving is another helpful feature in a garage. If you’ve any old bits of wood in the shape of scaffold planks or discarded doors, consider recycling them. Just cut them down to size and mount them on simple brackets available from most hardware stores.

Other storage solutions include wall-mounted racks or tracks with adjustable hooks, so you can hang tools or sports equipment, freeing up even more floor space. If there are floor or roof beams within reach (or accessible via a stepladder) some well-placed nails make for cheap and instant hanging rails. Most bike shops also sell hooks that can be mounted on the wall or in ceiling joists, so you can hang bikes up too.

Invest in a smoke alarm

Considering that many garages will have cars, motorbikes, mowers and fuel stored in them, it’s important that a smoke alarm is fitted to the garage.

Also remember ventilation: you don’t want your personal possessions being spoiled by damp. In fact, it’s well worth checking to see if your home insurance covers personal possessions in any of the buildings belonging to your home.

Lock your bike properly

If you keep your bicycle in the garage, deter would-be thieves by making sure it’s locked properly – through the frame and any quick-release wheels to an immovable object using an approved lock. If you haven’t already, it might be worth looking at the benefits of cycling insurance to cover you, should the worst happen. 

But whether you choose to insure your bike through your home insurance or take out specific cycling insurance, pay close attention to the policy terms. Any claims you make could become invalid if your bike hasn’t been stored securely.

Looking for other ways to improve rather than move? Check out these handy articles…

Guide to building an extension

Home improvements that add value

Affordable ways to transform your home

Make the most of a small garden

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