Overstuffed trash cans sitting curbside and overloaded donation bins behind thrift stores indicate that spring cleaning is in full effect across Southwest Florida.  

The mission to tidy up our homes often focuses on closetscabinets and living spaces. After all, fashion, furniture and fabrics eventually go out of style or show signs of wear and tear. 

Your garage also needs a little TLC this time of year. However, the stuff inside your garage – hand and power tools, sporting goods, fasteners, extension cords, household chemicals and more – never goes out of style. It just needs to be organized. 

A key in creating the type of garage found in magazine photos is to think like an interior designer. Model homes, for instance, are designed to be aesthetically pleasing to visitors with floors free of clutter and rooms well-organized. Garages should be the same way. Homeowners should not be reluctant to leave their garage door open and have a neighbor stop by to chat. It’s just like your living room – it should always be “presentable” in case you have an unannounced visitor. 

Your first order of business in a garage spring cleaning project is throwing away items of no value – torn rags, broken tools and spare parts for equipment you no longer own. Many DIYers have multiple items that serve the same purpose. How many Phillips-head screwdrivers and Allen wrenches do you really need? Keep the tools and accessories that are in the best condition and donate the rest. 

Once your entire garage is filled with the “keep” pile, it’s time to get organized. Below are six storage solutions for your garage available at Sunshine Ace Hardware and AceHardware.com: 

Adjustable shelving units   

Many garages are a hodgepodge of mismatched shelving and cabinets. A uniform look, whether it’s a kitchen, family room or garage, creates a more cohesive feel. 

First, measure wall space and ceiling height. That will determine what size shelving units can be installed. Prepackaged, freestanding shelving units are safer and more durable than “floating” shelves that mount directly into walls. Choose a sturdy steel-framed shelving unit with adjustable shelves. 

Popular brands: Edsal, DeWalt, Honey Can Do 

Storage bins 

Once shelving units are installed, you don’t just want to haphazardly throw items into the shelves. To maintain the uniform look, consider purchasing stackable plastic containers with lids. Medium and large bins usually provide ample storage space, and lids create an air-tight seal to protect the contents. Label the outside to quickly identify the contents without having to open bins. 

Milk-crate style bins also work, but smaller objects can fall through holes and items can collect dust over time. 

Popular brands: Homz, Rubbermaid, Sterilite 

Mechanic-style cabinets 

Auto mechanics have steel tool chests to store thousands of nuts, bolts, screws, accessories and smaller tools. Drawers are sturdy and come in a variety of sizes. 

Many tool chest kits come with wheels, providing DIYers with easy access when repairing a vehicle, lawnmower or bicycle. 

Popular brand: Craftsman 

On-the-go tool storage 

DIYers who help neighbors, friends and family members need a toolbox they can transport. The traditional tacklebox toolkit is being reinvented. A new type of modular storage system is durable and versatile, designed with the ability to interchange and interlock. It functions as a sturdy toolbox in the garage, but can be unlocked within seconds and hand carried as a toolbox. 

Many contractors are now using modular storage systems so they can easily transport tools and gear to job sites, and then bring their valuable equipment inside their homes after work. 

Popular brands: Milwaukee, Stanley, Craftsman 

Tool towers 

Rakes, shovels, brooms, mops, sledgehammers and other hand tools with long handles take up space. Tool towers allow you to simply insert tools into pre-cut slots, maximizing available space between shelving units or in corners of the garage. 

Popular brand: Rubbermaid 

Bike hangers 

Bicycles occupy a lot of square footage in a garage. A bike hanger or bike rack can lift bicycles off the ground, hanging them from the wall or ceiling. When installing, it’s important to make sure a bike hanger is drilled into a stud or beam. 

Popular brands: Crawford, Craftsman, Racor 

Your garage may never be worthy of a magazine spread, but by focusing on the right storage solutions, perhaps someday you’ll keep the garage door open and not be embarrassed if your neighbors peek inside. 

– By Scott Hamblen, Chief Merchandising Officer