Friday, October 26, 2007

Conquering A Cluttered Garage

By Leona Laurie, Professional Organizer

It’s a great time of year to tackle your garage! The holidays are coming, which means an influx of guests will probably inspire you to hide your current clutter in the garage during their visits, and add the gifts they came with once they’re gone. Cleaning out the garage before December’s consumerism hits its peak will allow you more post-holiday storage, and may give you some terrific gift ideas.

A thorough garage cleaning is a one-weekend job: One day for purging and sorting, and one day for cleaning and putting everything back together. (Garage sale lovers can add a second weekend for a big blow-out.) The trick to getting it done in two days is having laid a good foundation. Before the big weekend, you may want to order a dumpster to be delivered by the morning of the purge. You can also call St. Vincent de Paul, or another charity which makes pick-ups, and arrange ahead of time for them to come the following week to collect any useable items you’re willing to part with. It would also be wise to check with OC Landfills to see where your nearest hazardous materials dumping site is.

You should also have your shelving and storage solutions figured out beforehand. Cabinets are not the only way to go, and they may not necessarily be best for you. Visual people often fare better with a combination of open shelving and clear containers. You can also use the “dead” space in your garage near the ceiling for seasonal or other infrequent-use items. Several companies make overhead storage bins for garages which can handle a lot of weight. The Uncluttered Garage ( sells Tuffrax overhead storage bins, which are made from 14 gauge industrial grade steel and hold up to 500 lbs.

As you’re packing things up to go back into the garage for long-term storage, resist the temptation to store things in cardboard! Storing things in cardboard is like throwing them away in slow motion- especially in the garage. Cardboard is vulnerable to moisture, mildew, mold, bugs, and rodents. Store your belongings off the floor in clear plastic or fire-safe containers to ensure that they’ll be worth reclaiming later. I recommend the clear plastic storage boxes with flat- not interlocking- lids available at Target or Wal-Mart.

The order of operations for the big project should follow this basic outline:

1. Empty garage onto driveway for sorting. Create an area under an overhang (or in a spot which can be tarped overnight) for items you’re definitely keeping, and have trash receptacles and bags or boxes for charity items available.

2. Sort contents of garage into available containers and designated “keep” area.

3. Clean interior of garage with natural cleaning products to avoid getting a headache from the fumes of chemical cleaners.

4. Assemble and install any new shelving needed.

5. Pack up the items you’re keeping, and put them back in the garage with the most frequently used items in the most accessible spots. (Keep like things together!)

6. Distribute the trash, hazardous wastes, and charity items you have left over, and give yourself a pat on the back!

If your car has never seen the inside of the garage because of the mountain of miscellany piled inside, make this the year you take control of the chaos. A weekend of sweat this fall will create a dry haven for your car during the winter, and if you need help you can always call a professional organizer!

Leona Laurie is the president of Working Space Unlimited, Inc. (, a professional organizing firm based in Newport Beach. She can be reached at (714) 343-2587, or by e-mail at

This report brought to you by the Louison Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Services. All information is deemed reliable, however not guaranteed. Each RE/MAX Office is independently owned and operated. For more information on our services call Raymond at 714-925-5361. or visit our website at

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