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How to Clean Out & Deep Clean Your Garage

From deciding what items to keep to removing oil stains, clean out your garage before you get it organized.

ByBretton Keenan| Last Updated:04/25/2023
A neat and organized garage after cleaning out clutter.

A Complete Guide to a Successful Garage Cleanout 

If your garage is a dumping ground for all the unwanted items in your home, chances are you’re up to your ears in junk. We know it’s a big undertaking, so we pulled together a comprehensive list of garage cleanup ideas to help you get started.

Start by setting aside some time for a clean-out-your-garage day. If you need to, you can even space it out over the weekend. Let’s get to work.

Garage Cleaning FAQs

Where do I start decluttering my garage?

How long does it take to clean a garage?

How do I clean my garage floor?

How to Clean and Declutter Your Garage in 8 Steps

1. Decide What to Keep and What Can Go

Aside from the daunting idea of cleaning out your garage, it can be difficult to let go of some of the things you’ve kept over the years. When all else fails, channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” Use these tips to declutter your garage and sort everything into one of the following piles: keep, donate, sell, misplaced items and trash.

A man deciding what to keep when cleaning out his garage.

Ask yourself the following questions when deciding if you should keep something:

  • Do I truly need this? Be honest. If you really do use it, leave it in the keep pile. Otherwise, say goodbye.
  • Can it be repurposed? If you can reuse the item, it may be worth keeping, but only if you’ll follow through with repurposing it.
  • Did I forget this even existed? If you’ve gone this long without it and never missed it, it can go.
  • Do I have more than one of this item? If you have multiple, you probably only need one or a few. Can you downsize?
  • Is this item worth the space it’s taking up? If you’re keeping old items because you plan on fixing them up but haven't, it’s not worth the space.
  • Am I keeping this for sentimental reasons? Are you keeping it just to have it? It might be time to let it go.
  • Have I used it at least once in the last year? If the answer is no, it’s probably safe to put this item in one of the other piles.
  • If I’m saving this “just in case,” do I see myself using it? If you're worried about tossing an item because you may need it — have you needed it so far?
  • Could others benefit from this more than I could, or could I make money by selling it? If the answer is yes, you should get rid of these items.

If you were able to part with it, what should you do with it? On to the things you no longer need.

A donation filled with items from a cluttered garage to be donated to a local charity.

2. Take Your Donate Pile to a Local Charity

From sports equipment to patio furniture, a variety of items can be donated. Someone else might be able to put it to good use and you can deduct the donation from your taxes. Places like Goodwill, The Salvation Army and other local thrift stores are great places to take your unwanted items. Make sure to check the store’s donation guidelines before dropping your boxes off.

If you’re getting rid of furniture or other large items, consider dropping them off at your nearest Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

3. Sell Items in Good Condition

If you’re getting rid of a specialty item or something with a higher value, you may want to consider selling it. Maybe you can make some money back on what you no longer need. We’ve rounded up a few different ways you can sell your unwanted items.

A family selling old items from their garage.

List it Online

There are several websites and apps that can be used to sell items online. All it takes is a picture and a description. You can try listing on:

  • E-Bay
  • Craigslist
  • OfferUp
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Poshmark

Host a Garage Sale

If the weather is nice and you have enough items from your garage cleanout to sell, you may want to consider planning a garage sale. Having a yard sale is a great way to give back to your immediate community and allows you to efficiently get rid of all your clutter.

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale:

  • Prepare signs and advertising.
  • Decide on pricing for all items.
  • Clean and present your items for sale.
  • Think about how you’ll set up the sale.
  • Consider safety and security measures.
  • Decide what to do with all the money you make.
Light bulb icon.

Pro Tip

Looking for ways to get rid of landscaping equipment and other materials? Check out our disposal guides to safely get rid of old items from your garage.

A wall of misplaced items rehomed in a neatly organized garage.

4. Rehome Misplaced Items

These are items that need to be moved out of the garage. Whether it’s something you borrowed and need to return, an item that needs to be repaired or an object that belongs somewhere else in your house, put them together in a pile. Make sure you actually follow through and return them, repair them or put them away. After all that hard work, don’t let them become clutter again and sit around collecting dust for another few years.

5. Responsibly Handle Hazardous Items

If you come across items, like paint thinners, gasoline, old batteries or other hazardous materials, make sure you find the safest way to get rid of these items. Materials, such as oils, batteries, wet paint and more need to be disposed of in specific ways for your safety. Typically, these items are not allowed in roll off dumpsters or picked up with curbside collection since they are highly flammable. You can find out how to safely dispose of these prohibited items on your city or county’s website.

A collection of prohibited hazardous paint cans.
A Dumpsters.com dumpster used to remove old items from a garage.

6. Clean Up Cluttered Garage

If it’s broken or unusable, it’s time to throw it away. If you’re doing a major garage cleanout, you might want to consider renting a dumpster. Whether you have boxes of moth-eaten clothes or larger items, like appliances and furniture, a dumpster rental is the most convenient option to get the job done.

Get a Dumpster for Garage Clutter

How to Deep Clean Your Garage

Now that you’ve cleaned out your garage, it’s time to scrub it down. Take advantage of the momentum you have from your garage clean-out and give it a good wash from top to bottom. Here are some garage cleaning tips to get help getting rid of dust and stains.

7. Sweep and Wash Your Floors

The first and easiest thing to do is sweep the floor to get rid of dust and dirt. If you don’t have any stains, go over the floor with a mop — or power wash the area — and you’re good to go. If you find grease, oil or paint spills that have left a mark on your floor, we have options for you to try that should leave your garage spotless.

A man sweeping his garage after organizing it.

Get Rid of Grease and Oil Stains

  • Absorb the stain by putting down a layer of kitty litter to absorb any excess liquid and vacuuming it up.
  • Scrub the stain with a detergent or cleaning agent and nylon brush. Work from the corner of the room first to make sure it won’t ruin the floor.
  • Mop the floor with water and floor cleaner.

Remove Dried Paint

Did you spill some paint during your last DIY project? Here’s how to get it off your floor:

  • Scrub the paint stain with trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water.
  • Rinse it with water and let it dry for a few hours.
  • Scrape off any peeling paint with a putty knife.
  • Apply paint thinner and leave it overnight.
  • If the stain is small, use a wire brush or scraper to remove the remaining paint. If it’s a large or outdoor area, use a pressure washer.
  • If the paint still isn’t completely gone, repeat the previous steps.
  • Mop the floor with water and floor cleaner.
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8. Wipe Down Your Garage Door and Walls

You’re less likely to have major stains on your garage door or the wall, so getting this clean should be a lot easier.

  • Brush off dirt with a stiff brush or broom and get rid of spiderwebs.
  • Get a bucket of warm water and mild household detergent. Wipe the door and walls down with a sponge or old rag.
  • If you need to remove stains from the walls, mix one to two cups of ammonia in a gallon of water or TSP and water, and scrub it over the mark.
A person in gloves cleaning dirt off their garage walls with a sponge.
Light bulb icon.

Pro Tip

While you’re cleaning the garage door, check for any hinges that need to be tightened or greased.

Time to Get Your Garage Organized

Now that you cleaned out and cleaned up your garage, you’re ready to organize everything that made it into the “keep” pile. For ideas on where to put what’s left and how to keep the space clean year-round, check out our post on how to organize your garage.

Other Sources

Smith, G. (2022, April 8). Best Garage Sale Tips: Make More Money & Have More Fun. Retrieved from Best Garage Sale Tips

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