A Garage Cleaning Checklist is my secret weapon for getting my son to do this chore that I hate so much.
See, 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 called it quits.
I explained that there was far more to the task and 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 do it ever again.
So, I came up with this checklist.
The great thing about using a checklist is how clear it makes each step: do this and move onto that. 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:
- 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. Everything must go
If your garage is a disaster area, it’s a good idea to start by moving everything onto the driveway. Completely emptying the garage may sound like a lot of effort but it will make both cleaning and organizing the contents much easier.
As you empty, 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. (Those go into the “Dispose” box.)
Of course, you’ll want to plan this project for a sunny day, so your stuff doesn’t get soaked before you’re through cleaning.
2. Work in order
The key to cleaning efficiently is working top to bottom, left to right. Using your broom, sweep the ceiling, the corners, and the walls. Close the garage door and clean 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. Get 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.
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. Sort it
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.