Yesterday, I spent 3.5 hours cleaning out my garage. Guess I didn’t get enough of cleaning and decluttering when I was on “vacation” (see Tips For Dealing With Other People’s Clutter) for the past couple of weeks! There were a few major issues going on in the garage that really needed my attention, so I put on my work clothes, a long sleeve shirt, heavy duty gloves and even a face mask (you will see why later) and got to work, only to emerge disgustingly dirty 3.5 hours later – but looking at a spotless, perfectly organized garage. I was in heaven!
First of all, the garage had been overtaken with tools and boxes since I got back from vacation. There were boxes on the floor, on the trash cans, on the workbench, leaning against walls – everywhere. Add in the multiple toolboxes I brought back with me, and the place was a crazy disorganized mess. So one of my main goals of cleaning the garage was to put everything “in it’s place” so I could find what I needed whenever I needed it. Secondly, the garage had become a home for a certain mouse (or mice, more than likely), who had been eating and pooping on everything it could find - my Jeep top and doors, my tools, our storage bins, the bird feed, and even inside my Jeep itself. Now, you may not know this, but rodents can carry the hantavirus, which is a deadly pulmonary disease, and infected rodents can spread it through urine, droppings, or saliva. Good times! Well, I had more than my fair share of mouse poop all over the garage, and it needed cleaning…thus the face mask. In fact, I wore two of them, just to try to reduce the chance of exposure to the disease. But I digress, as I wanted to offer a few tips for how to effectively clean out your garage after all my hard work yesterday!
1. Commit to one side at a time. Take the cars out of both side of the garage, and start moving everything from one side to the other, including stuff you may be getting rid of eventually.
2. Once everything is moved to one side or the other, start cleaning. I used a broom for the walls, the corners of the ceiling, the floor, the top of the workbench, and even the panes of the windows. I broomed everything right out onto the driveway, leaving me with an empty and clean single side of the garage.
3. Thoughtfully move items into the clean side. Now is the time to start organizing, as you take all the items that will go on the “clean” side of the garage and put them in their final place. This includes items you originally moved from that side, and anything extra that was in the wrong place to begin with.
4. Now that one side is done, take a look at what is left on the dirty side of the garage. You should have stuff you are getting rid of, along with the remainder of the “keepers” that eventually will be organized on this side. I took all the throwaways and moved them to the driveway, and then moved all the keepers to the clean side of the garage. I then cleaned out the dirty side and proceeded to organize it.
5. If you have a workbench, organize it. After cleaning the garage, I was still left with a workbench full of tools and equipment that needed putting away. So I did my best to group like with like, while putting nails/screws/smaller items into empty salsa jars I had been saving.
6. Take a look at what you did. No more trash, no more dirt, no more animal droppings, and no more clutter. Your tools are in the right places and your “stuff” is organized in easy to find places – and you can now park your car in the garage without worrying about a hammer falling on the hood!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there next weekend and clean out the garage – it can give you an amazing sense of accomplishment in just a few short hours!