This Garage Cleaning Checklist is my secret weapon for getting my son to do this chore that I hate so much. I’m not sure why I despise cleaning the garage, but I do. Maybe it has to do with the smell — our homeowner’s association does not allow residents to store garbage cans on the side of the house, so they stink up our garage instead. Maybe it’s the type of messes that garages accumulate, a hodgepodge of stuff too dirty or bulky to go in the house but which we don’t want to throw away. Or maybe it’s the spiders and other bugs. Okay, it’s definitely the spiders and bugs.
The first time I told my son to go clean the garage left us both nearly in tears. He walked out there, picked up a little trash, then said he was done. I explained that there was far more to the task, and then I spent the rest of the day trekking between my home office and the garage to check his work and point out what he had left to do. By the end of the day we were both exhausted, and he was so frustrated that he refused to ever do it again. Then I came up with this checklist.
The great thing about using a checklist is how clear it makes each step: do this then move onto that. I no longer had to climb a flight of stairs to find that he hadn’t pulled the cans of paint out from the corner and swept behind them, and he no longer had to wonder why his bicycle went in one area while the lawnmower went in another. We worked together the first time to find the best spot to store everything, and since then he’s been able to do this task on his own twice a year without fail.
I call that a win!
Garage Cleaning Checklist
You will need:
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- Work gloves – there are a lot of messy, toxic materials in a garage. Don’t let them come in contact with your skin.
- Step stool
- Microfiber cloths
- All-purpose cleaner (or make your own homemade mix)
- Boxes marked: Donate, Elsewhere, Recycle, Trash and Dispose (the latter is for things like old paint, used motor oil and other things that must be taken to your city’s waste disposal center.)
- Black permanent marker
1. Empty The Garage
If your garage is a disaster area it’s a good idea to start by moving everything onto the driveway. This gives you a head start on organizing your garage since you can group similar items together. As you do, put items that you’ll be donating or that don’t belong in the garage into the appropriate boxes. Separate recycling cycled from the trash, keeping hazardous materials apart. Of course, you’ll want to plan this project for a sunny day so your stuff doesn’t get soaked before you’re done cleaning.
2. Clean from top to bottom
Using your broom, sweep the ceiling, the corners, and the walls. Close the garage door and sweep the inside of it — it’s amazing how dirty the inside of a garage door can get! If the floor of your garage is covered with oily spots or grime you’ll want to scrub them with a little liquid dish detergent in a bucket of hot water. A stiff-bristled brush makes short work of most spots. If you’ve got a hose that can reach your garage, use it. You want that floor nice and clean before you start putting things back in place.
While the floor dries, clean the rest of the garage fixtures. Spray and wipe off the light switches, door jamb, door knobs and garage opener button. Using a damp cloth, clean the lights on the garage door opener and other light bulbs. (Just make sure they’re cool first.)
3. Determine The Zones
Many of us use our garage for multiple purposes. The key to good garage organization is keeping the equipment for those purposes separate. Do you have a workbench in your garage? A pile of sports equipment? Do you store your holiday decorations in there? Visualize the different ways you use your garage and plan to store similar items together so they’re easier to use.
If possible, install vertical storage shelves rather than storing things on the floor — you’ll maximize space and reduce the risk of a flood ruining your stuff. Keeping your floors clear also makes it easier to sweep your garage throughout the year. If you don’t currently have shelves in your garage, make or install some. Then be sure to label boxes with the marker so you won’t have to dig around to find the Christmas lights or your flag for the 4th of July.
4. Dump or Donate
Set aside items you no longer use or want to keep, along with anything that’s broken or worn out. If you’re not up to making a trip to the local charity, list your unwanted stuff as “free to pick up” on Freecycle or Craig’s List. Go ahead and list the broken or worn out stuff — there’s always someone who’ll know how to fix or repair it. Consider whatever’s left at the end of the day as garbage and bag it up to go out with your weekly pickup.
Want a printable garage cleaning checklist?
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