Gather heavy-duty 33-gallon plastic garbage bags;
six to 10 large cardboard boxes or plastic containers; a marking pen to label boxes (or a label maker); a roll of packing tape to seal boxes; a box cutter to cut down any old boxes you empty as you organize; and a ball of twine to tie up newspapers, magazines, and collapsed boxes.
Label boxes by category according to what you have in your garage.
Typical categories may include GARDENING, TOOLS, SPORTS, HOLIDAY, TOYS, CLOTHES, ARTS & CRAFTS, and MEMORABILIA. Also label one GIVEAWAY, one REPAIR, and one NOT SURE. Take out a trash bag for the things you’re going to throw away.
Put the boxes or containers in the driveway or on the front lawn.
As you pull items out of your garage, place them into the corresponding container, sorting and purging as you go.
Install inexpensive shelving.
Metal is better than wood, which can warp when it gets wet. Place on the shelves the items you use regularly, like oversize pots and pans, bulk groceries, and craft supplies. Keep like items together, creating zones to make it easy to find what you need.
Bring in some closed-door lockable storage
(metal, if possible), best for hazardous items such as cleaning supplies and solvents, particularly if you have children. Other items to place here: gasoline and anything flammable (a kerosene space heater, a camping lantern, turpentine or other solvents).
Install racks or mount wall hooks
and hang tools, garden equipment, and sports equipment such as Boogie boards and skis. Use a ceiling-mounted bicycle lift or wall rack for bikes. Not only are things easy to see when they’re hung high but you’ll also free up floor space for parking.
Relegate items you use once a year or less frequently
—Christmas decorations, old yearbooks—to overhead rafters or the uppermost reaches of shelves.
Dispose of the throwaway items.
Make special arrangements for large items, like furniture, as well as for hazardous waste, like motor oil, paint, paint thinner, pesticides, and car batteries. Call your local sanitation department or your local office of solid waste and recycling for information. The Steel Recycling Institute will take household appliances such as air conditioners, washing machines, and dryers.
Donate the giveaway pile to charity.
The Salvation Army and Goodwill accept many types of goods and will pick up donations in many areas.