The garage is a strange place where you keep everything from bikes to screws to that box of stuff you swore you were going to donate last year. (You may even have a second fridge out there.) It can be easy to put off cleaning it since it’s all kind of industrial junk that doesn’t really need to look nice, but you really should organize the space. Think of how much easier your next project will be if you can actually, well, find your screwdriver.

First: Declutter the garage

You should treat the garage like any room in your house, decluttering it and getting rid of things you really don’t need. You can use any one of a number of decluttering methods, but I’m going to recommend Andrew Mellen’s Organizational Triangle as a starting point for this task. It relies on just three important tenets: Every item needs a home; keep like with like; and use a “something in, something out” approach. You’ll need a lot of storage boxes for this, too.

Move in small sections around the space; don’t try to do the entire garage all at once. Start with a work bench, shelving unit, or pile of stuff, then pull it all out on the floor. Sort like with likeā€”put everything similar together. Screws go together. Bike tools go together. Outdoor equipment like leaf blowers and mowers go together. Make piles of all the similar items, then go through each pile and get rid of everything you don’t need or use. This is tricky no matter what you’re decluttering, but the garage is a real danger zone because it’s so easy to say, “I haven’t needed this size of screw in years, but what if I do?” Fall back on the trusty 20/20 rule here, asking yourself these two questions: “Could I replace this item for less than $20?” and “Could I replace it in less than 20 minutes?” If you answer yes, get rid of it. The space you save is more valuable than the $20 you may spend three years from now if you actually find yourself in need of that thing.

If something is useful and still works, feel free to donate it, but make sure you do that right away so it’s not continuing to take up space. From there, once you’ve purged everything, put the things you’re keeping into containers. Every item needs a home and should be stored with similar items.

Best tools for organizing a garage

First, get some peg boards. Big shelving units are fine, but they can get pretty cluttered over time, and a peg board will help you make great use of vertical space.

The beauty of using a peg board is that you can buy all kinds of accessories for it: Hooks, hangers, slots for certain tools, and containers can all snap in and out of the holes on the board, giving you the chance to designate storage spaces for every kind of garage implement. Grab a set like this.

Shelving units are also important, but you might want to upgrade to the kind with doors, so you can store infrequently used items out of sight. It doesn’t have to be pricy or massive.

Within that, you should still use some small containers to organize less-bulky items. Remember everything should be stored with similar things and everything needs its own designated home. Try simple baskets for this.

Finally, I said you should maximize vertical space and I meant it. Any items that aren’t secured somewhere run the risk of hitting your car or making you trip, which is especially dangerous in a garage, so they should be stored up and out of the way. Try an overhead storage rack for big bins, bikes, and other large things, like shovels. Store off-season items in the overhead rack, swapping them every six months.