Cleaning Out a Hoarder’s Garage, What You Need to Know

September 10, 2021

It can be tricky to help a hoarder begin to let go of their items – especially when they keep the stuff that they don’t immediately need in a full-to-the-brim garage.

So how do you clean out a hoarder’s garage? Read on to get some tips on how to organize your garage.

Set Aside Some Time

Typically, much like a home or estate cleanout, a garage cleanout in New Jersey can be a pretty extensive project, and it can take 2-3 full days to complete on your own depending on the size. For example, most small garages can be cleaned and reorganized within two days, but larger jobs can take three or more.

Ideally, you want to schedule it for a 3-day weekend when the weather is nice. Why? So you don’t feel rushed, and you can place items outside as needed without worrying about them getting rained on.

Categorize and Organize

While you’re removing everything, try your best to put the items in categories. First you’ll want to sort things into five different categories:

  • Keep
  • Toss
  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Action Items

After that, you’ll want to organize things in the “Keep” category by their use. For example, you’ll want to place all your tools together, exercise equipment in another space, boxes of holiday decorations in another. Don’t worry about organizing them more than this. That will come later.

The very first thing you’ll do is get rid of all the obvious trash in your garage. That will get your juices flowing for the next steps in the process.

Put the things you use less frequently in closets and storage bins, and things you use regularly on shelves or hanging up for easy access. You can use a peg board to hang tools like hammers and saws.

What are action items? These are things that you’ve borrowed and need to return, equipment you’ll need to repair, and items that belong in another place in your home.


And we mean everything. You can’t really figure out how to reorganize a space until it’s completely empty.

Consider Painting It

Since everything is out of the garage, you might want to consider a fresh coat of paint. This brightens up the space that has probably gotten a little scraped up and discolored from years of use.

Gather Your Tools for the Job

Next, you’ll want to gather everything you’ll need. Some suggestions:

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Mop bucket
  • Garage floor cleaner
  • Shelving
  • Storage bins and boxes
  • A big marker
  • Clear tape
  • Hammer
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Nails and screws

Actually Clean It

Now that everything is completely out of the garage, it gives you the rare opportunity to sweep out the entire floor and thoroughly mop. Your hardware store will likely have a special cleaner for garage floors that is more “industrial” than the cleaning supplies you use in your home. They’re stronger and can take care of grease stains, spilled paint, and other things that can make a garage dirty.

Think about the Long-term

Now that you’ve cleaned your garage, it’s time to do some planning. While deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, think about the objects that you regularly use. Keep those. And also, keep the things that you use at least once a year. You wouldn’t toss your artificial Christmas tree or Halloween decorations, right? But that old treadmill that’s been in storage for 5 years probably isn’t going to see much action in the future.

Be realistic and allow yourself to let go of things that you have that are solely of sentimental value to you. These can be tough decisions, but they’ll make you breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over.

Start with the Things You’ve Never Actually Used

If you’ve had an extra leaf blower for years and never touched it, then you should more than likely get rid of it. Just because things have POTENTIAL value doesn’t mean that they will have value to you. But it could have value to someone else.

Make an Organization Plan

Now that you have decided what you’re going to keep, now you need to decide where you’re going to keep it. This is the perfect time to install shelving units and store things in boxes and bins which you can then label so that they can be found easily and quickly. You’ll thank yourself later when you need something and know exactly where it is. One great suggestion is to go onto Pinterest and look at some of the creative ways others have used to organize the clutter in their garages.

Have a Garage Sale

Now that everything’s out of the garage, it’s a great time to think about having a garage sale. You can make some extra cash while decluttering. It’s a win-win!

If you think ahead, you can put ads in the local newspaper and on social media about the garage sale to increase the visibility (and hopefully the profits) of your sale. The day before, put out signs around the neighborhood so that drivers know about it. Make sure that you can make change for your customers’ purchases!

Do a little bit of charity while also getting rid of clutter by donating things you don’t want or didn’t sell in the garage sale. As an added benefit, you can get a waiver from the thrift store that will give you a tax discount, as well.

When donating things to charities and thrift stores, it’s important to remember to never donate something if it is broken or badly damaged.

Keep It Clean and Organized

After your garage is clean, freshly painted, and thoroughly organized, you’ll want to keep it that way. That’s why you and everyone who uses the garage make a plan to always put things back in their place. To help everyone do this, it couldn’t hurt to put up small signs indicating where things go (Gardening Supplies, Christmas Decorations, Winter Clothes, etc.)

Rent a Dumpster

If you know that you’re going to be getting rid of a lot of large items, then they might be too big for the curb. If you’ve got more than a couple of truckloads of things you’re throwing away, it might be a smart idea to rent a dumpster. They’re not terribly expensive.

What size dumpster will you need? Most garage cleanouts can be completed with a 10-yard dumpster.

Wrap Up Loose Ends

Now that the job is done, it’s time to take care of the action items we mentioned earlier. Call up your neighbors or friends you borrowed things from and arrange a day and time to drop them off. Buy the materials you need to repair the broken items you’ve decided to keep or arrange for a professional repair service to take care of this for you.

This is also the time that you need to take all the items you’ve decided to donate to the place you’d like to donate them to.

The last thing you’ll need to do is to clean up and take pictures of the items you’d like to sell. You can post them on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, or both! Other options are posting in your local paper or trade magazine or on Craigslist.

Hire the Professionals

If the task looks too big for you, you might want to think of hiring a garage cleanout service in New Jersey. At Junk-A-Haulics, we’re proud to offer the full-service junk removal support you need. If you need help cleaning out your garage, we’d love to chat. Contact us today!

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