Spring Cleaning and Your Garage
When cars are parked outside on the driveway or the street, you can’t help wondering, what’s behind the homeowners’ garage doors? Charlotte Rage fan gear from the 1990s? An entire life story told in tricycles, training wheels, racing bikes, and ATVs? Half-done DIY projects so old they’ve been forgotten?
Take a look at your own garage. If it’s serving as a combined pantry, recycling center, workshop, wine cellar, and survival bunker, it may be time for a little spring cleaning!
Blowing Hot and Cold
Some things should never be stored in a garage because the temperature and humidity of most garages is not constant. Move the following to climate-controlled storage:
- Wine: Wine needs to be kept at a fairly constant temperature between 50 and 60 degrees. Your garage doors in Tucson won’t maintain that temperature in the garage in the summer. Your wine will heat up, and actually begin to cook, which will change its taste. Moreover, as the wine warms up, the glass bottle expands, and the cork will no longer be airtight. This can also cause the wine to go bad or seep out of the bottle. Keep in mind that the older (and more expensive) the wine is, the more sensitive it is to temperature changes. Store your wine indoors where you can keep it cool.
- Canned foods: Yes, canned foods can be affected by high heat or freezing temperatures in your garage. Home economists tell us that the shelf life of canned goods is best maintained when temperatures remain around 70 degrees or less. If your garage is hotter than 90 degrees for prolonged periods of time, check for spoilage before you eat. If your canned goods freeze and then thaw out in the garage, you might find that the flavor of these foods is altered.
- Refrigerators: Actually, you can put a refrigerator in your garage. But don’t expect it to work efficiently. Your refrigerator will be drawing more energy to keep things cool in a hot garage.
- Paints and stains: Many people don’t realize that leftover paints, stains, and solvents used to strip paint can be damaged by exposure to extreme heat. Paints may separate into a layer of watery liquid on the top and a lumpy, coagulated layer below. No amount of mixing will bring the paint back into smooth, applicable condition. The cans that paints and stains come in also rust, leaving stains on your cement garage floor.
- Wood furniture: Wood does react to heat, cold, and changes in humidity, so storing furniture in the garage is not a good idea. It is better to store wood furniture indoors.
- Artwork: There’s a reason museums control the light and temperature in their galleries. Paint, canvas, and wood can all be damaged by high temperatures, humidity, and mold. Take care of your art by putting it on the walls where you can enjoy it or by storing it in a climate-controlled space.
- Vinyl records: Cool music doesn’t belong in a hot garage! Your vinyl records will warp and turn into artsy bowls or platters when exposed to heat.
- Musical instruments: Woodwinds, brass, and string instruments all react to heat. If your instruments aren’t being played, do yourself a favor and donate them to a school or charity where they will find loving owners.
Don’t Invite Pests into Your Garage
Some things should not be stored in a garage because they attract pests. If, for instance, you buy paper products in bulk at your local wholesale store, don’t store open packages in your garage as these will be seen as ideal nesting materials. If you also store pet food or the bird seed for your backyard bird feeder in your garage, you’ve pretty much created a heaven on earth for insects, rodents, and other pests. If you must store these in your garage, store them in tightly sealed plastic bins and keep them off the garage floor. Keep a broom and dustpan nearby to promptly sweep up any crumbs or seeds that fall on the garage floor. Check out our blog “6 Tips to Keep Your Garage Pest Free” for more great tips.
Are you a conscientious recycler with a sorting station in your garage? Make sure that your bins are sealed and emptied frequently. Keeping piles of paper bags or newspaper in your garage isn’t doing the Earth any good— and even the most eco-friendly recyclers don’t want to invite roaches or mice into their homes.
Avoid Explosive Situations
Hazardous materials, such as propane, should never be kept in the garage. Propane tanks can leak and this presents high risk of explosion and fire. Keep propane tanks well sealed, and, if possible, in a shed or space that is not attached to your home.
Create Extra Storage Space
If you are a handy man, get creative and make extra space in your garage. Think about installing wall shelves, using hooks and hangers, and upcycling old cabinets into shelving units to organize the items you need to keep in your garage.
Set a Date for a Neighborhood Garage Sale
It may be hard to get motivated to clear the clutter behind your garage doors. Raleigh homeowners and others across the country give themselves an incentive by staging neighborhood garage sales in the spring. If an organized, decluttered garage isn’t reason enough to do some spring cleaning, knowing that your friends are doing it too may help you get started. Then:
- Use the power of social media to advertise your neighborhood garage sale.
- Price to sell; knowing you can make money will help you let go of unused items.
- Donate whatever doesn’t sell to charity. Make it a win-win for the whole community.