Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Keep Your Garage Clean(er)

Since my garage will never be clean, I had to say cleaner instead of clean. But your garage may not double as a workshop like mine, and that would make it much easier to keep clean. I would love to have a garage that has nothing in it but cars. But that's not my reality. My garage has to be able to convert from car space to work space quickly and easily.

This post came about because our garage/shop had gotten so cluttered and covered with sawdust that it was actually dangerous. So in total disgust Saturday, I pulled everything out of one bay of the garage and started cleaning and culling. As I cleaned, some areas were easier than others and I made notes on what worked and what didn't.

This is what worked.

1. Keep as much as possible off the floor.

I built a ledge above the floor to put folding tables and my step stool. It makes sweeping the floor a breeze - as long as no one leans more stuff against it.

Originally, I just cut some wedges out of 2x4's and screwed them into studs, set a 2x4 on top and screwed it into the wedges, and then put a strip of 1x2 on front to keep doors from sliding off. The tables are also held in by bungee cords attached to hooks in the wall. When I bought another table, I had to rebuild it to make it deeper.

2. Put rollers on cabinets or attach to wall above the floor.

With rollers on cabinets, especially if they hold tools, you can roll them away from the wall to sweep. The cabinet that doubles as kitty steps has wheels on the back and blocks on the front for stability. I found that even with wheel locks, a twenty pound cat hurtling through the air can move a small cabinet, and make an acrobat out of a cat.

I attached shelf brackets to the walls to hold our hardwood scraps. It keeps them off the floor, and keeps them flat. It also helps me sort them by size and type.

3. Hang things on walls. (Antlers and horse shoe optional.)

Each thing hung on the wall is one less thing that has to be picked up and moved to clean behind it. Or, if you are like me, if there is a bunch of stuff on the floor in the corner, it never gets moved.

4. Have a place for everything.

That old adage, a place for everything, and everything in its place, is so true.  I've had small paint supplies in the red chest from the beginning, but the cat steps were just stuffed with, well, stuff.  So I rebuilt the top cabinet to fit (it used to hang over), and put long pegboard hooks in it for paint brushes and can openers.  I just happened to have an extra cabinet door for it too.  Cool.

Today I built the cabinet on the right out of leftover v-groove board from the ceiling project.  It still needs a shelf, but it will hold all the caulking, caulking guns, paint rollers, spackling.  I'd like to have doors for everything so it's out of sight, but that may never happen either.

5. Have the right cleanup tools and keep them handy.

(See the photo with #3.)

A wide shop broom works better on a garage floor than a kitchen broom, though a kitchen broom is better for corners and crevices.  With the amount of sawdust we produce, an oversized dust pan works best too.  We also have a garbage can for take out trash and one for wood scraps so the pieces don't end up underfoot.


Got paint?

Once everything was out of the garage and sorted, I found that we had an inordinate amount of wood scraps, odd size screws, and paint.  Waaay too much paint.  I tossed a lot of wood scraps that had been in buckets on the floor for over a year and only kept what would fit on the shelves.  What started as two buckets for small scraps had turned into a pile of wood on the floor, making it hard to get to the wood in the shelves and impossible to find anything in the pile.

Then I called the neighbors and told them that the next time they wanted to try out a paint color or in need of a piece of wood, to browse my garage first and I'm going to call them before buying another can of trial paint.  That shelf of paint is two and three deep, and there is still a stack in the I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-this pile. 


In case you are wondering what I found that didn't work, it's stuff for future projects.  There are a couple of tables in pieces, chairs, a headboard, and an old counter top.  These things are not only in the way, there isn't a place for them.  As much as it pains me, I'm not going to buy another project piece unless I am ready to begin working on it.


Linking to The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday


Lena said...

Our garage is an absolute disaster right now. We "cleaned" it last year but like you said every thing needs a spot and we didn't figure out that. We just kind of created nicer looking piles everywhere. I'm waiting for some warmer weather to tackle it again.

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

I really like your garage organization. Everything off the floor definitely does make cleaning easier. Your stained floor looks amazing too!

Marti said...

LOL, I definitely understand about the nicer looking piles. I still have some of those. Notice I didn't show the other half of the garage? hehehe

Marti said...

Thank you! I guess I should have said that the floor helps too - at least it doesn't show dirt as much as a solid color, even solid colored concrete.

Mindi Carwin said...

Great tips Marti! I especially like your ledge that holds the table what a great idea! My garage has a few spots that could use your awesomeness!

Marti said...

Thank you! I'm far from awesome, but it's nice to hear. I really like the ledge too. It keeps a lot of webs and icky stuff off the tables too which is nice when I have to pick them up.

Kate said...

A good garage cleaning is on our calender for spring, so is the attic. I'll have to remember your tips for those.

Nancy said...

Wow, your garage is definitely organized - nice job! Thanks for the tips.

Grandma K said...

Once again, I am amazed! You are truly clever. Loved seeing the cat in the picture.

Our vehicles really don't fit in the garage. The Highlander would probably, but it is the DAILY driver. So that means the truck would be behind it, and every time we went someplace, it would have to be moved into the street. really worth it. Now - we do have a '65 MGB in one side. It needed more work, had no gas and G was sure the battery was dead. It, being an English car,, isn't like American, so he shorted out the entire system trying to jump start it. We are at logger heads- I would like to have it restored, but don't want to spend the money. He wants to sell it for parts!

Marti said...

I've got the attic to do too. But I had to clear the garage to get to the attic door.

Marti said...

Thanks but that's only half true. The part you SEE is organized. There's still the other side, but I'm working on it. There is still a big pile of stuff I just don't know where to put, mainly because I don't know what it is.

Abraham Yates said...

These tips are very helpful. But I think #5 is the best thing to remember -- one must have all the right cleanup tools for a proper cleaning job. Particularly when it comes to cleaning the garage, as it is the part of the house that is difficult to clean up, what with all the grease and oil stains. So having those cleaner products on stock will certainly save you time. Thanks for sharing!

Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company

Giovanni said...

Mine does not double as a work space, though it can get messy as well. Keeping it all off the floor is a good idea cause it also allows you easy access with a vacuum cleaner when things get dusty and dirty. I've already started hanging my bicycle and other tools on the walls, and I'm surely gonna follow some of these tips!

Giovanni @ Coastal Contract Hardware