How to Declutter a Messy Garage

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If you need to declutter your garage, your messy garage, you are not alone. This is a common decluttering challenge for families. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task when you use the free printable checklist below and follow these 10 tips. Let’s jump in and get started.

top image - cluttered garage, bottom image - neatly organized gardening tools on wall rack

How to Declutter a Messy Garage

A messy garage didn’t develop overnight, so it will take time and effort to declutter your garage. But don’t be discouraged, when you know how to walk through the decluttering steps, you can create a neat, clean, organized garage.

Assess Your Goals & Your Space

Garage Goals

Determine your goals for your garage. You have unique goals based on your life and your needs. Do you want to be able to park two cars in the garage? Do you want to be able to have a clear play space for your children over the winter? What are your unique goals?

You need to first establish your goals for the space so you know how much you need to declutter and later organize to make those goals a reality.

Your Garage Space

You also need to assess your unique garage space. Is there realistically enough space in your garage for you to do everything you want to in the space? Assessing your space allows you to realistically declutter and organize your garage.

The Declutter Your Garage Checklist below contains a worksheet to help you asses your goals and space before you get started.

Tackle It All at Once

If possible, declutter your garage all at once. It’s a big task, but it really is easier to make decisions if you pull everything out at one time.

Because you have to pull everything out of your garage, you can’t secure or protect your items from the weather if you don’t complete the task in one day.

Get help because when decluttering your garage it is a very physical and dirty job. Plus, the more help you have, the more likely you are to be able to complete the job in one day.

If there is absolutely no way to complete the job in one day, then work on one half or one corner of the garage at a time. If you declutter your garage this way, you’ll have to be diligent about grouping like items together from different sections of the garage as you come to them when you get to the sorting step below.

Pull Everything Out

Yes, pull absolutely everything out of your garage. You need to do this so that you can more easily sort items into categories and assess them.

You also need to pull everything out because you’ll be surprised at items that are hidden or have fallen behind shelves and other items. You’ll only find those lost items when you pull everything out.

This also allows you to fully clean the garage before you put things back. It also allows you to assess your garage and whether there are pest infestations, leaks or other issues you need to address.

Use the Declutter Your Garage Checklist

Get your free copy of the17-page Declutter Your Garage Checklist now when you sign up for our free newsletter. Use it to guide your garage assessment and decluttering process.

The checklist contains:

  • 17 pages
  • 3 Checklists
    • Assess
    • Group Items
    • Declutter
  • 4 Worksheets
    • Daily Use Items
    • Weekly Use Items
    • Seasonal Use Items
    • Seldom Use Items
  • 10 Signs
    • 9 Sorting Signs
    • 1 Sign Template for you create signs for you own unique needs
overhead view of purple and blue checklists and signs.

Sort Items Into Categories

Use the signs in the Declutter Your Garage Checklist to help you sort your items. The signs are particularly useful when you have helpers so that sorted items are placed in the correct areas.

garage items sorted into categories

Two Sorting Options

You can sort into general categories that make sense for you. For example, yard care, tools, bikes, sporting equipment, etc.

You can also sort items by how frequently items are used. For example, with the yard care category, you may have items that you use:

  • Daily – Garden Hose
  • Weekly – Lawn Mower
  • Seasonally – Pruning Shears
  • Seldom – Chainsaw

I prefer to sort by how often the items are used because this helps you decide how to organize and where to place items when you put them back into your garage after you’ve decluttered. You’ll put the daily use items in the front where they are easy to access and the seldom use items in a less convenient location.

You choose which sorting option works best for you.

4 Images of signs to help declutter the garage

Declutter Ruthlessly

Be ruthless in your decluttering. Most of us keep too many items in our garage not because we’ve made a conscious decision to keep the items, but simply because we’ve delayed the decision about what should be done.

Make the tough decisions this time in decluttering your garage.


  • Cardboard boxes – they attract bugs and pests
  • Paint – the changes in temperatures cause paint to separate and dry out quickly. Check each can of paint and properly dispose of paint that cannot be used.
  • Chemical and Yard Care Products – These products break down when stored in extreme temperatures. The changes in temps can also cause the bottle or container to degrade and breakdown causing spills and leaks. Keep only the products that you use frequently and dispose of older and not needed products properly.
  • Broken Items – Toys, tools, etc. If it’s broken, it needs to go.
  • Rusted Items – Tools and metal items can easily rust due to the humidity in the garage.
  • Excessive Multiples of Items – How many rakes do you really need? How many baseballs? How many medium-sized flat head screwdrivers? Only keep the number of items you really need. You want to make more space in your garage and the only way to do that is to declutter and get rid of items.
  • Outgrown Toys and Items – If the kids have outgrown the item, pass them along to another child that will thoroughly enjoy the item rather than just warehouse it in your garage.
  • Equipment from Bygone Sports and Activities – If you haven’t used it in a year, it needs to be passed on to someone who will put it to use. Life changes. Interests change. You don’t need to hold onto equipment and items for activities that don’t fit in your current lifestyle.
  • Items that You Can Borrow – Do you have a friend or neighbor that you could share equipment with? Why not each keep half of the shared items and gain extra space in the garage?
  • Items that Should Not Be Stored in the Garage – Move items in the list below to a safer or climate controlled area.

What Should Not Be Stored in a Garage

  1. Keepsakes – extremes in temperatures and humidity can damage these items
    1. Photos –
    2. Film
    3. Wedding Dress and Baptism Gowns – not only are these damaged by the temps and humidity, they attract pests.
  2. Temperature Sensitive Items
    1. Canned Food
    2. Paint
    3. Holiday Decorations
    4. Vinyl Records
    5. Candles
    6. Electronics
  3. Items that Attract Pests
    1. Books
    2. Clothing
    3. Cardboard
    4. Backstock of Paper Goods
    5. Dog Food
    6. Fire Wood
    7. Sleeping Bags & Bedding
  4. Flammable Items
    1. Propane Tanks
    2. Gas
    3. Oily Rags
    4. Chemicals
  5. Furniture – the humidity and changes in temperatures can damage furniture

After you ruthlessly declutter your garage, and only then, you can organize your garage so that it’s neat and works well for your busy life.

Pin for later so you can find all these tips when you begin to declutter your garage.

Find all my decluttering tips, printables and challenges in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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  1. We’re trying to help my parents out with cleaning out their home of 52 years. You would not believe how big of a train wreck their garage is, I don’t think they’ve been able to park a car in there since the 90’s at least. I scheduled them a dumpster rental and I’m going to make my mom read through these tips to see how she wants it to be organized. Thank you so much for these tips!

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