50 Genius Ways to Clean Up Your Garage
Cleaning up your garage doesn't have to be a huge chore.
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Totally transform your storage space
Maybe you’re finding yourself with a sudden abundance of spare time on your hands as summer approaches. Maybe you’re longing to play that old trombone that you’re sure you packed in there somewhere. Or maybe you’re just sick of looking at the mess in your garage each day and you’ve decided now is the time to get things back in order.
Whatever the reason, we’re proud of you, especially since while you’re revamping your space, you can eliminate these garage mistakes that might be putting you in danger. Check out these ideas collected by the Family Handyman team to get your garage in order and keep it looking neat.
Wire shelving in the garage
Fishing rod organizer
We got sick and tired of our fishing rods getting tangled, so we came up with this easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-inch-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle for this DIY garage storage system.
Drill 1-in. holes spaced every 4 inches in the PVC pipe. Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them 4 inches apart. Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with 2-inch screws. Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods. Look Ma, no more tangles! Here are more easy home projects you’ll wish you’d done sooner.
Stack bins the easy way
Plastic storage bins are one of the great garage storage systems to separate and organize your equipment by sport or season. Unfortunately, they usually get stacked against a wall somewhere, which makes getting to the bottom bins difficult, especially for your household’s littlest teammates. Luckily, a permanent DIY garage solution is only a weekend away with these easy-to-build storage towers that are an attractive and ingenious way to provide easy access to your bins. Consider different color bins for each sport to make finding what you need a breeze, and utilize the sides of the wooden frame for wall-mounted accessory items such as fishing rod holders or utility hooks for lightweight equipment.
If you have your hands full with the kids and don’t have time for a DIY project right now, you can buy something similar. This shelving set from Bin Warehouse Storage Systems has room for a dozen 18- to 22-gallon bins, and the whole thing can hold up to a whopping 600 pounds. You might also want to pick up a few of these other great home organization tools under $30.
Car care products cabinet
If you need to fill out this handy cabinet, try this well-rated Complete Car Care Kit by Meguiar’s. It’s packed with a dozen products that clean your car’s interior and exterior, as well as liquid wax, tire gel, and a scratch remover to add luster and life to your ride. Did you know that people who always have clean cars have these 15 things in common?
Store more on walls
If you mount hooks, brackets, and other hardware only on studs, you’re wasting lots of opportunities for garage wall ideas. The best strategy is to add a layer of three-quarter-inch plywood over the drywall or bare studs. That gives you a continuous fastening surface so you can mount storage hardware easily, arrange items in a space-efficient way, and cram more stuff onto the wall. An all-purpose drill—like the Black + Decker 20V Cordless Drill, which comes with 30 accessories—is a necessary tool for this project and many others. Here are another 50 organizing tips you’ll wish you knew all along.
Canvas storage bags protect decorations
Protect bulky seasonal decorations like artificial trees and wreaths from garage dust and dirt by storing them in canvas storage bags. Tuck a dryer sheet in before zipping to deter insects and critters. Check out these other clever ways to store Christmas decorations, according to professional organizers.
Garage ceiling track storage
Get those big plastic storage bins up off the garage floor and onto the ceiling! Screw 2x2s to the ceiling framing with 3-1/2-in. screws spaced every 2 feet. Use the bins as a guide for spacing the 2x2s. The lips on the bins should just brush against the 2x2s when you’re sliding the bins into place. Then center and screw 1x4s to the 2x2s with 2-inch screws. The garage ceiling is a perfect place to store light- and medium-weight seasonal items like holiday decorations and camping gear.
Need some new bins? These heavy-duty, 27-gallon tote boxes from Homz will do the trick. Plus, they’re stackable, if you have other storage plans for them. Now that you’re in a groove, don’t stop with the garage—learn these other genius bathroom storage tips.
Flexible garage storage wall
This storage system solves two challenges: First, how to design storage space for the narrow alley between the garage side wall and your car; and second, how to create a solid mounting surface to hold shelves and hooks that are capable of carrying hundreds of pounds of stuff.
The solution is to create a framework of horizontal wood strips and inexpensive shelf standards. It can hold almost any arrangement of shelving and hooks, at any point on the wall, and it’s easy to rearrange. FYI, these are the 15 things a professional organizer would get rid of before winter—including a few items in the garage.
Add garage cabinets
The garage is so frequently used as a catch-all for home improvement projects and off-season gear, these easy cabinets will be well worth your time and dollar. Family Handyman came up with plans for an easy storage system that can be modified to suit any garage. The best part? An 8-foot-tall unit clocks in at only about $27 per linear foot—less than what pre-assembled shelving at the home center would run you. The materials include melamine, selected for its reasonable cost and the fact that it needs no finish, plus pine 1x4s. Plan out your configuration with masking tape on the wall and floors, ensuring that each cabinet has at least one stud behind it so it can be securely fastened. Your basement is another spot where things tend to accumulate. Here 25 things in your basement that you should throw out without a second thought.
Garage corner shelves
Who couldn’t use a few more shelves in the garage? You probably already have shelves in the obvious spots, but what about in the corners? This nifty corner shelf unit takes advantage of existing studs, and it’s fast, easy, and cheap. And it’s great for can storage ideas. Use scrap plywood or oriented strand board to make shelves that fit snugly between the corner studs and support them with 1×1 cleats. These corner shelves are perfect for storing smaller items such as glues, oils, waxes, and polishes, which get lost on larger shelves. This is definitely one of the home improvement projects you can do yourself instead of hiring a professional.
Overhead storage in the garage
Garage storage tubes
Cardboard concrete-forming tubes are inexpensive and provide a great place to store baseball bats, long-handled tools, and rolls of just about anything. Rest the tubes on a piece of 2×4 to keep them high and dry. Secure each tube to a garage stud with a plumbing strap.
Garage-wall tool holder
If you have lots of rakes, shovels, brooms, and garden tools cluttering your garage, but not a lot of wall to hang them on, try this. Cut two 16 x 16-in. pieces from 1/2-in. plywood and screw them to a wall stud at a slight upward angle. Then slide in your tools. Alternatively, consider this StoreYourBoard Omni Tool Storage Rack, especially if you have a lot of tools. It’s made of heavy-duty steel and can hold up to 200 pounds of equipment. This is a good time to take inventory of what you own. These are 9 tools many men secretly want but don’t have, according to real handymen.
Monkey bars wall unit
When you need storage above your wall unit, Gorgeous Garage has the solution. Engineered of steel for durability, the system offers custom solutions to get tools and materials off the garage floor and out of your way—but still within reach. You can modify the hook-and-bar system to fit changing storage needs in the future. For a DIY version, buy a mountable tool rack, then install a sturdy shelf over it.
Long-handled tool rack
This compact rack is strong and simple to build. You can store shovels, rakes, a sledgehammer—any long-handled tools—conveniently up and out of the way. The unit holds up to 14 items, giving you more flexibility and storage capacity than nails pounded in the wall. See how to build it. To cut the plywood to the exact specifications, you’ll need a circular saw, and to complete the project, make sure you have a drill and a jigsaw on hand. Don’t miss these 18 organizing tools with practically perfect reviews on Amazon.
Storing large, awkward items such as wheelbarrows can be challenging. Gladiator’s GearWall makes it simple to peg a wheelbarrow safely and securely to the wall. On the other hand, these are 12 home improvement projects you should never DIY.
Gladiator Heavy-Duty Rack
Talk about heavy-duty, this Gladiator shelving unit is made of welded steel and holds up to 2,000 lbs. per shelf. It’s available in various widths: 48-inch, 60-inch, and 77-inch (shown).
Build a customizable system
Visit any sporting goods store and you will likely see walls of vertical slats with various hooks and bins that can be rearranged easily based on the display needs. Why not incorporate this easy-to-manage system in your own home with our DIY customizable garage storage? Incorporating many of the same features that make the retail systems so useful, this system is a great weekend project that can grow and change as your needs evolve—and is a cinch to install. Here are more clever home improvement ideas under $200.
Corral sports gear
This sturdy ball corral holds a herd of balls and lets kids easily grab the balls at the bottom without unloading all the ones on top. It’s built from 3/4-in. plywood and 2x2s. We made our ball corral 24 in. wide x 33 in. high x 12 in. deep.
The hooks on Bungee cords can be a safety hazard for kids and adults alike, so cut the hooks off the cords (or use elastic cord available at camping, sporting goods, and hardware stores). Thread the cord through predrilled holes and secure with knots. Drill the holes slightly larger than the cords to make threading them easier.
We added plumbing hooks and short gutter troughs on the outside of the corral to make it easy for kids to stash smaller balls, helmets, and mitts.
Throw and go
Shelves and cabinets are great, but when you’re in a hurry (and kids always are), it’s nice to just throw and go. Find complete instructions, including diagrams for cutting the wood, here. While you’ll need a number of materials and tools for this project, many of which you likely already have, don’t forget to put on the final touch with a coat of bright red paint! These storage hacks will make you feel instantly more organized.
Recycling bin rack
Recycling bins tend to take up way too much floor space. Here’s an easy project that will get them up off the floor and out of the way, and it costs almost nothing. Find simple DIY instructions to build this project for your garage. Just make sure you have a level to keep your racks, well, level.
Customizable wall of storage in one weekend
This DIY garage storage system has the versatility of expensive store-bought systems, but you can make it yourself for a few hundred dollars in a single weekend. You’ll find everything you need to know to create this system here.
When you’re working on this project or any other, remember to take the necessary safety precautions. Remove distractions from your space, know how to use your power tools, work in a well-ventilated area, and don proper safety gear. These super affordable Milwaukee safety glasses are a must. They have anti-fog and anti-scratch lenses, and the flexible nose bridge makes them as comfy as can be.
Space-saving sliding shelves
Rollout shelves and sliding bypass units can make more efficient use of the sidewalls of your garage. The bypass unit adds 50 percent more storage for long-handled tools and all sorts of items that take up too much wall space. You simply slide the shelves to either side to access the stuff behind. Check out more features of this system and get complete how-to-build instructions here. To bring order to the inside of your home as well, make sure to avoid these 15 things professional organizers would never do to their closets.
Double-duty shelf brackets
Shelf brackets designed to support clothes hanger rods aren’t just for closets. The rod-holding hook on these brackets comes in handy in the garage and workshop, too. You can bend the hook to suit long tools or cords. Closet brackets are available at home centers, hardware stores, and, of course, online.
Store lawn chairs
Here’s how to store your lawn and folding chairs so they’re out of your way. Take two pieces of 1×4 lumber (any scrap lumber will do) and create some simple, cheap, and useful brackets on the wall. Cut each board 7-3/4 inches long with a 30-degree angle on both ends. Fasten pairs of these brackets with three 2-inch screws to the side of the exposed wall studs, directly across from each other, and you’ve got a perfect place to hang your chairs. Give your outdoor space a major upgrade with these items that will transform your backyard into an oasis.
Don’t waste the high space
If all the stuff in your garage is within easy reach, you’re probably wasting lots of storage space. The high spaces may not be prime real estate for often-used tools, but they’re perfect for long-term storage. Deep shelving or cabinets near the ceiling can hold a ton of seasonal stuff like holiday decorations or camping gear. If you don’t have any built-ins, install heavy-duty shelves, like these from Wall to Wall Storage, to get the space you need.
If your garage does double duty as a parking space and a workspace, a rolling workbench is essential. It lets you convert your garage into a workshop quickly and rolls up against the wall to restore parking space. The version shown here began as a standard rolling bench made from 2x4s and plywood. Then we added a slick feature: Heavy-duty shelf brackets that make it the Swiss Army knife of workbenches. If you don’t want to make the entire thing from scratch, start out with a store-bought model and customize it from there. Now that you have a great place to work, what should you put on your to-do list? These 31 home improvement projects will double the value of your home.
Build big cabinets in place
You don’t have to be a cabinetmaker to build big, sturdy cabinets, especially if you build them in place. All you have to do is screw 2x2s to the wall and ceiling and then screw plywood panels to the 2x2s to form the top, bottom, and sides of cabinet boxes. This approach is simple, fast, and economical; the materials cost about $250. This cabinet would also be a great place for garage TV ideas, don’t you think?
Add outdoor storage
Sometimes the best cure for garage chaos is to add storage space elsewhere. A small locker that holds garden gear, for example, provides big relief to a crowded garage. Find step-by-step directions for building an outdoor storage cabinet. Or you can buy a pre-made unit, like this weather-resistant model by Rubbermaid, which Amazon can deliver right to your doorstep. If you plan to store garden tools in your new shed, use these tips to get the most out of them.
Here’s a slick use for that old wooden tennis racquet that’s gathering dust in the garage. Drill a hole in the handle and screw it to the underside of a workbench. Position the racquet so it can swing in and out from under the table. Use it to hold tools, parts, or other small items. Don’t have an old racquet lying around? A basic wire basket will work, too.
Pretty and practical box shelves
These simple box shelves work equally well in a formal setting and a utilitarian room, like the laundry or garage. They offer an unlimited number of uses and arrangements. Hang some above the washer and dryer to store detergent, dryer sheets, and other laundry room necessities without taking up any valuable floor space. You can make a bunch of these for less than $100. Aside from a circular saw, clamps, and a cordless drill, you’ll need a brad nail gun to get the job done. Here’s how to organize the other messy spots in your house.
Nothing is more versatile and cost-effective as basic coated garage hooks for garage ideas. Screw in hooks to rafters or ceiling beams to hang anything from bikes to tools—just make sure to install properly and not exceed load recommendations.
Use spring action to grab your bike by mounting a claw-style bike hook on your garage ceiling or rafters. This hook, made by Gladiator, is available at Home Depot. While you’re at your favorite home improvement store, check out these 20 things you’re not buying at Home Depot—but should.
Mix and match heights
No two garages are the same, so choose a ceiling storage rack with adjustable heights to fit your needs or garage space. Hang a shallow rack above the open garage door and deeper shelf where your garage door track stops to maximize your vertical space. This adjustable, rust-resistant option by VersaRac can be installed at a minimum of 18 inches or a maximum of 42 inches in height, and it can hold up to 600 pounds.
Try attic-decking panels
To maximize the overhead garage storage space above garage rafters, install attic decking panels to create a usable and accessible surface for storage. Before you start this project, though, consult a knowledgeable building professional to make sure your rafters are rated for the extra loads. While we’re on the subject (sort of), never store these 10 things in your attic.
PHOTO: NEW PRODUCT.
Pull power, light, and compressed air from your ceiling
When auto mechanics need a trouble light, receptacle, or compressed air, they just reach for the ceiling and pull down whatever hose or cord they need. Now you can, too. The Chamberlain Garage Power Station mounts on your ceiling and has a 25-ft. multifunction pull-down/retractable “hose” to provide light, power, and compressed air.
The base unit plugs into a nearby receptacle and houses an air compressor capable of putting out 100 psi (great for bike tires). Pop two MR16 halogen bulbs into the ceiling unit to get 100 watts of area lighting in addition to the LED work light on the retractable hose.
Efficient bike storage
Hanging bicycles from the rafters is a great way to save garage space. But even hanging bikes can take up a bunch of room. Here’s a cool space-saving product that puts a new twist on the humble bike hook. The Saris Cycle Glide is a system of hooks mounted on glides. Once the bikes are on the hooks, they can be slid closer to the wall on the glides that mount perpendicular to the wall. And because the hooks slide back and forth on the lower set of glides, the bikes can be nestled neatly together, taking up a lot less space.
This system also makes it easier to take down the bikes when they’re hanging over a parked car, a boat, or a big mess like in my garage. That’s because you can pull or push the bikes clear of the obstruction before you lower it. I’ve been using mine for almost a year now, and I love it. You can buy a Saris Cycle Glide for around $245 at bike stores or online. We know cleaning feels and looks good, but there are also unexpected health benefits worth noting.
For the cyclist: Hoist your bike out of the way
When it comes to garages, there’s no such thing as enough space. One product we find useful to free up some floor space is a bicycle hoist. It’s easy to install and very easy to use. When shopping for a hoist, beware of models that have undersized ropes. They can slip off the pulley wheels and jam. Look for one with a good, hefty rope.
Storage bin index
“Like a lot of other people, my wife and I love large plastic bins. But remembering what’s inside each bin is tough, and reading a small label is nearly impossible when your bins are stored high on garage shelves. We solved both problems by labeling our bins with large numbers. Each number corresponds to a page in a binder that lists the contents of each bin. It’s simple to change the list, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to find what you need by checking the binder than by rummaging through each bin.” —Reader Gerald Naumann
Editor’s Note: When it comes to bin ID tags, we like adhesive storage pouches that let you slip index cards in and out easily. This project can be done quickly, just like these 30 things you can organize in under 30 minutes.
Most home centers carry only hardboard pegboard, but you’ll find other materials by searching online for “metal pegboard” or “plastic pegboard.”
- Metal pegboard has 1/4-inch holes and L-shape edge flanges that create built-in standoffs. The panel sizes are normally in 16-inch and 24-inch increments. Metal pegboard has a cool industrial look and is darn near indestructible.
- Metal pegboard strips are ideal for situations where you need a single, sturdy strip of pegboard—like in the garage for hanging long-handled tools. The strips have 1/4-inch holes and built-in edge flanges for standoffs, and they’re outrageously sturdy.
- Plastic pegboard has 1/4-inch holes, folded edges to create standoffs, and center ribs for rigidity. Many systems come with slide-in connectors for joining panels. It’s at least as sturdy as hardboard pegboard.
How to mount pegboard walls
Create pegboard walls by running 1×3 strips horizontally at the top and bottom of the panel and every 16 inches or 24 inches between. Use 1/4-inch pegboard and attach it to the strips with washer-head screws. The strips will also allow you to mount screw-on hooks to the wall for heavy items like bikes and wheelbarrows.
Joist space storage
Don’t waste all that space between joists in a basement or garage. Screw wire shelving to the underside of the joists. An 8-ft. x 16-inch length of wire shelving and a pack of plastic clips (sold separately) costs about 20 bucks. Don’t forget that wire shelving also shines on walls. Learn the best practices for installing wire shelving here. Read up on the home improvement hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Extension ladder storage
An extension ladder is one of the most difficult things to store. When you need to use it, it has to be easy to get to. But there are long stretches when it just gets in the way of everything else in your garage. Here’s a good solution: Mount it on your garage ceiling on sturdy racks made of scrap 2x4s that are screwed into the ceiling joists. Use two 3-1/2-inch screws at each joint to make the rack secure. These racks make it easy to slide the ladder out when you need it. Just make sure to position the racks where they won’t interfere with your garage door.
If you have kids, you have balls—basketballs, soccer balls, rubber balls, and other round objects that roll around underfoot. Here’s a perfect way to use that narrow gap between a pair of garage doors (if you’re blessed with such an awkward spot). Just install angled “ball ramps” made from scrap wood. The balls fit neatly in the gap, and because the ball ramp is right there at the edge of the garage, kids are more likely to use it. Another option if you want a more stylized look: Line the wall with a few black steel ball holders by Wallniture, so every ball has its place.
Here’s a tool storage technique for all those slender tools and shop accessories. Cut short lengths of PVC pipe (1-1/2- and 2-in.-diameter pipes work well for most items) and slide them over pegboard hooks. Then load them up with files, hacksaw blades, zip ties, pencils, stir sticks…you get the skinny. Build this compact pegboard storage container in an afternoon. Make sure you’re avoiding these things professional organizers would never do in their own homes.
Here’s a slick way to store a whole cluster of tools on pegboard with only two pegs. Cut some 2-1/2-inch wide mini shelves; drill holes or slots for router bits, screwdrivers, chisels, and files; then drill a couple of 1/8-in. holes in the edges for the 1/8-in. diameter pegs. With a vise and pliers, bend the pegs to about 85 degrees and hammer them into the holes. Be sure the pegs fit tightly in the wood so the shelves can’t fall off. Build this simple pegboard storage area in your workshop or garage. Or you can buy your own—this $20 option from Amazon, which holds more than 61 tools, is rust-proof and super sturdy, and all you have to do is mount it on your pegboard!
Now that you’ve organized and decluttered your garage, we bet you found a bunch of junk. Here’s how to donate practically anything.
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