Okay, when it comes to de-cluttering, we can be pretty ruthless. Being in the garage organization business, we’ve seen too many people with way too much stuff.  After helping countless families with their garage organization plans, we’ve come up with a 5 step de-clutter plan. Now, this is not for the faint hearted, but it’s guaranteed to work. Follow these 5 steps and you’ll have a clean, neat, clutter free garage, closet, or whatever other area you’d like to de-clutter. These steps work for anything. Ready? Here we go:

Step #1 – Take it All Out

Whether you are cleaning out the back of a semi-tractor trailer, your bedroom closet, or your garage shelves, nothing can be accomplished properly until everything is unpacked. Trying to move things from one garage shelf to the next or to organize while things are in boxes just turns into a time consuming mess. If you’re going to do it, commit to your plan 100% by getting everything out in the open.

Step #2 – Trash or Treasure…The Two Second Rule

Once everything is out in the open, it’s time to get your garbage can, garbage bags, dumpster, or whatever you’ve decided to use for the items that won’t be staying. This is generally the part where most people fail. We like to use the two second rule. It’s pretty simple, and brutally ruthless. Pick up an item. If you can’t think of a reason why you need it or a recent time when you have actually used it in two seconds or less, it’s trash. That’s right, trash. Also, never keep anything that’s broken but “might be repaired” sometime in the near future. We both know it will never happen.

Step #3 – Categorize

Now it’s time for your storage bins. It’s best to store things together according to category. Of course, items such as Christmas decorations and tools are easy to categorize, but try to make sense out of the rest of your things as well. If you have a hobby, label a bin for it. Do you have a Coca-Cola collection? Great. Organize the items in bins and label them.

Step #4 – Your Organization Plan

It’s not enough to organize inside the bins. You need to have an organization plan as well. If this is a garage organization plan, your garage shelving should be divided into sections with items used less frequently toward the back and items used more often in the front. Bulky or awkward items can hang from hooks to make additional use of wall space.

No matter what you are organizing, use every inch of space possible.

Step # 5 – Keep it Up!

After you’ve turned your garage organization ideas into reality, many individuals forget the most important step…Upkeep!  Trust me, it only takes a couple of times saying, “Oh, I’ll just set this here for now,” and before you know it, your neat and organized garage becomes that same mess you started out with. It takes a bit of self- discipline but once you’ve organized and de-cluttered, do your best to keep it going. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.


  1. Any advice on how to get started? I am embarrassed by my garage, so much so that I don’t want to open the door for all the world to see. We live in a nice community, and our neighbors are tight. We inherited things from both sets of parents through the years after they passed. Our bays are so full, so messy now too because we have rifled through boxes, bags, looking for things over time. Now it is just chaos. It is overwhelming and I don’t know where to start, so I don’t.

  2. Val,

    You say that you haven’t started the organization process, but you actually have. You’re seeking assistance. If you feel that you can’t do it alone, contact your state’s local chapter of professional organizers, NAPO. They have people that can take you through the process.

    If you’re ready to get started, you need to look at each and every thing in the garage and put them into one of three categories: Keep, Donate or Toss. The toss and donate parts can be an on-going process, especially if you have a real mess on your hands. (Remember, you can’t eat an elephant all at once; you need to take a lot of small bites to get the job done.) Once the donate and toss parts are complete, you are only dealing with a much more manageable collection of “keepers”.

    Your next job is to make two piles: things that you rarely use and things that you use on a regular basis. The rarely used items should be placed in bins or totes that can be clearly labelled and placed up as high as possible in your storage system. If its a shelf, put the items that you use the least often way in the back. (seasonal decorations, the fondue set you got as a wedding present, schoolbooks, etc.) Other items for the front of the high shelf might be your coolers, sleeping bags, camping gear, etc.

    The stuff that you use on a regular basis should be stored within easy reach. (Why make it hard on yourself?) But before you go and start storing the everyday items, organize them into logical groups such as yard tools, sporting goods, hobby and craft supplies, automotive items, etc. When you actually do start arranging these items, place them in a logical spot in the garage, i.e., yard tools closest to one of the doors or hobby supplies near a good light source such as a window or near an overhead light.

    It’s actually fun when you get going on it and you will be so happy when you’ve taken back your garage.

    If you need ideas for storage and organization products, check out our website at http://www.azgarageconcepts.com

    Let us know how you make out.

  3. Just do it. You got to start somewhere. Pick away at it before you open the doors. No one is going to do it for you. Own it.

  4. Okay. Good advice. Thanks all. I will take a deep breath and try to keep it fun. I may need to bribe my husband to help with cold beer. Pizza for the kids. Small steps is what I am hearing. Will let you know how it goes.

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