The garage might be an overlooked part of your home, but it’s one of the most versatile, acting as a storage space, entryway, and parking area. While the garage can be extremely useful, it often turns into a cluttered danger zone, making it less functional. Here are a few dos and don’ts to ensure your garage is safe, organized, and used to its full potential:
Optimize Wall & Ceiling Space
Many homeowners fail to take full advantage of the storage space offered within the garage, leaving items on the floor while walls and the ceiling go untouched. Wall-mounted pegboards can be great for hanging tools and gardening supplies. Ceiling hooks are ideal for hanging heavier items that are difficult to move on the ground, like bicycles and ladders. By maximizing every inch of your garage, you can declutter other parts of your house and clear your garage floor for its intended purpose—parking a car.
Use Plastic Bins
Even though they’re a go-to for storage, cardboard boxes wear down and can become a hotbed for rodents and bugs. Consider using plastic bins for a long-lasting alternative. (Pro tip: choose transparent plastic bins so you can see exactly what’s inside!)
Regularly Audit Contents
The garage should be used as a storage space, but moderation is key. You don’t want this to be an area that’s difficult or even dangerous to navigate—it doesn’t take long to form a collection of unnecessary items. Consider taking one day every six months to assess your garage and get rid of things you no longer need. Schedule this task during your spring cleaning and repeat it before winter. Garage sale, anyone?
Stay on Top of Maintenance
From water heaters and garage doors to flooring and weatherstripping, there are quite a few features that need regular repairs and tune-ups. Conduct an annual inspection of these essential assets and perform any maintenance to ensure the safety and longevity of your garage. Tasks to include in your tune-up include:
· Tightening loose hardware
· Lubricating moving parts
· Testing door balance
· Cleaning door interior and exterior
· Checking water heater safety valve
· Replacing deteriorating weatherstripping
· Servicing chains, belts, seals, and springs
Stacking items, bins, and boxes on top of each other is a garage storage default, but carelessly doing so makes it difficult to access your things and creates the risk for injury. Make sure any stacked items are given a solid and stable base. Stack by descending weight and confirm columns are even to prevent items from falling. Keep piles of heavier objects low and avoid stacking anything more than about four boxes high.
Crowd Doors or Stairs
It can be easy to drop items by a door or staircase when coming in and out of the home, but when these high-traffic areas become a dumping ground, it creates a tripping hazard and an unsightly mess. Break this bad habit by having a designated “drop zone” inside or near your garage for similar pieces, like athletic equipment or fishing supplies. Put these items against walls and away from doors and walking paths.
House Hazardous Materials
Household chemicals and gasoline should be kept outside, not in the garage. Many of these chemicals can create serious issues if stored improperly and inhaled. If outdoor storage isn’t possible, house these items in a dedicated, ventilated space or a cabinet for hazardous materials.
Store Prized Possessions
The garage may seem like the perfect place to stash important documents, photos, and keepsakes, but the area presents a significant risk. If stored inadequately, these items can be especially susceptible to wear and tear from temperature fluctuation, humidity, and water damage. Instead, keep these valuables indoors, where they’re properly protected.