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From cluttered to clean: 8 garage organization tips, whether you're staying or leaving

The (very big, very important) room that often gets forgotten during spring cleaning? The garage. 

While keeping a tidy garage is essential for any homeowner, it’s even more crucial when you’re prepping your home for sale. According to a realtor.com survey, 32 percent of homebuyers rate the garage as one of the most important rooms in a house. A messy, cluttered garage can be off-putting to potential buyers, as they may see it as a reflection of the entire house — even if the rest of your home is in tip-top shape. Whether you’re simply wanting to expand your spring cleaning to-do list or you’re preparing to stage and sell your home, here are eight organization tips to get your garage gleaming.

1. Start by sorting
Sort all your garage contents into three piles — donate, toss and keep — and try to be ruthless! Once you’ve moved the 'donate' and 'toss' piles out of the garage, you can get to work on organizing the 'keep' pile. And as you’re organizing, aim to move everything off the floor. Most buyers will understand that a little bit of clutter belongs in the garage, but keeping piles off the floor and with some sense of order will help give the impression that the rest of your home is also clean and organized.

2. Tidy up your tools 
Wall-mounted pegboards and open shelves are a great way to organize your tools in plain sight, as well as store large-scale or unruly items like extension cords and gardening equipment.

3. Get a label maker
If you don’t already have one, a battery-powered label maker will be your best friend when it comes to organization. This tool will come in handy when it’s time to identify what’s in every container and cabinet. You can even alphabetize containers if you want to go the extra mile.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of storage tubs
Plastic tubs are an easy, affordable option for storing memories and secondhand goods. Look for stackable versions that can be stored one on top of the other. You can also buy racks that attach to the ceiling, which can get storage bins off the floor and out of the way.

5. Add a fresh coat of paint
If you want to do a little something extra, plan to paint your garage: A crisp, clean white is perfect. You can take it one step further and add an epoxy floor coating — if your real estate agent thinks it’s a good idea and worth the investment.

6. Don’t forget about overhead storage
Potential homebuyers may not have surfboards, bikes or skis, but if you do, overhead storage is a great way to get them out of the way during open houses and showings.

7. Invest in storage cabinets
Available in a variety of materials, including metal and hard plastic, garage storage cabinets make organization much easier — especially if you have room for multiple shelves — and keep items out of sight. Most of these cabinets are lockable, too, so if you need to store hazardous materials or valuables out of reach, this is your best bet. 

8. Don’t ignore the floor
Give the garage a good sweep (and even a mop) before hosting an open house. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a clean garage floor means a lot. Most importantly, seeing built-up dirt and cobwebs can give potential buyers the wrong impression. You want them to see how clean the garage is and then trust that the rest of the house has been equally well-maintained.

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