Messy Garage

Dear Kathi,

We have a two car garage and cannot fit one car into it. This is the year that we have vowed to turn our storage area back into a garage. I know that there has to be other ways to store my stuff and still have a garage that is useful. How do you handle a garage full of everything but the car?



Don’t despair, there are plenty of people in Southern California with the same dilemna who have solved their problem. Begin by emptying everything out of your garage. As you pick up each item to move it out, determine if it is to keep, donate, recycle or toss into the trash.

If you feel that an item is a keeper, this means only one of three things: you will move it into your home and out of the garage, it lives in the garage and is regularly used (ie lawnmower, holiday decorations, Costco overstock etc), 0r it will be re-purposed or passed on to someone who needs it. An item should only be kept because you know that it has a purpose or you want to see it on a daily basis.

For the other items that don’t really seem to belong in your life any longer, do yourself a favor. Get rid of them and do not put them back into your garage for the next time you clean out. Do not save anything that you have not used in the past two years ( and that is being liberal) and especially if you haven’t yet used it but have it saved a for a rainy day.

We live in Southern California, which is a desert after all! If you have a load of momentos, do yourself a favor and put them all in one pile. Go through them one by one and try to downsize to only one plastic bin per family member. Your children will not want most of their keepsakes and certainly will not want to sort through yours at a later date. Do it now during this process. Set these items aside and do not let them back into your garage until they have been downsized and refitted into plastic tubs. If they are worth keeping, you do not want to store them in cardboard boxes.

A note about cardboard: Boxes are not a great medium to store anything in. The gum in the adhesive attracts bugs and they will move in over time to feast on the glue. Use plastic bins for long term storage. These bins also keep water damage at bay. As you move items back into your garage, think about creating zones for different categories of items. One wall could be sports equipment like golf clubs, bicycles etc. Another wall could be the tool zone.

Keep your once a year decor along with your memento bins up and out of the way. They do not need to take up valuable floor space and are the perfect candidates for high in the rafters or on the top shelf.

By the time you are done with this exercise, you will probably have all of your trash cans filled plus a few more bags. Plan your garage project the day before the trash pickup. Also, be sure to call your favorite charity to schedule a pick up of your donation items at the end of the day you are working on the garage and you will have the satisfaction of being clean and clear of all of your discards.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer