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Garage Cleanouts

If your garage has become more of a storage unit than a parking spot for your vehicles, you’re not alone. Many Chicago homeowners struggle with cluttered, disorganized garages overflowing with unused items. As seasons change and another year passes, the mess only gets worse. You may even avoid parking in the garage altogether because the clutter is so overwhelming.

We know – the thought of tackling a garage cleanout seems daunting and stressful. All that junk must be sorted through, decisions must be made about what to keep or discard, and the discarded piles must be hauled away. But have no fear – with our tips and junk removal services, you can declutter your garage efficiently and painlessly.

We have been assisting Chicago residents with professional junk removal for over 19 years. Our team has seen garages in all states of disarray and helped many customers just like you reclaim their space. As we know a thing or two about simplifying garage cleanouts and minimizing stress, we’re here to provide tips to help you organize and purge your garage effectively.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be motivated and equipped with a game plan to get your garage back in order. To get started right away with a stress-free cleanout, contact us today to schedule a free on-site estimate. Our team is ready to help remove all unwanted items and leave you with a clean slate. Let’s get decluttering!

Tip 1: Declutter first

Before you can thoroughly clean and organize your garage, you need to go through all the items and decide what to keep, donate, recycle, or trash. This decluttering process may seem tedious, but it’s an essential first step that will make the overall cleanout much faster and more efficient.

Set aside a few hours to start sorting through the clutter. Be ruthless and honest with yourself – if you haven’t used an item in over a year, it’s unlikely you’ll need it in the future. Similarly, if something is broken beyond repair or missing essential pieces, don’t cling to it just because you feel bad throwing it away.

Create separate piles or areas to organize your keep, donate, recycle, and trash items. This will prevent items from getting mixed up again. If you’re finding it difficult to make decisions, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I use this item and need it?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Could someone else use this item?
  • Can any parts be reused or recycled?
  • Could it be sold to cover some of the costs of junk removal and garage upgrades?

Once you’ve sorted through everything, the trash and recycling can be disposed of, and donated items can be dropped off at local charities. Then you’ll have a clearer picture of what’s left to organize and store in your clean garage.

Tip 2: Have the Right Tools for Your Garage Cleanout

Decluttering your garage is step one, but having the proper tools and supplies will make the actual cleanout process much smoother. Here are some essentials to have on hand:

  • Sturdy trash bags: Invest in contractor-grade trash bags that won’t rip easily when loaded with heavy debris. You’ll go through a lot of bags when purging clutter, so make sure you have extras on hand. If you don’t want to bag it yourself or have the time, simply set the junk in a pile and our team can do this hard work for you!
  • Boxes and tape: Gather cardboard boxes of various sizes and keep plenty of clear packing tape. Use these to contain items you’re keeping or donating. Break down large items like furniture into manageable pieces.
  • Permanent marker: Keep a thick permanent marker like a Sharpie on hand. Use it to clearly label boxes with contents and destination (e.g. “Keep in Garage”, “Donate to Goodwill”). This keeps things organized.
  • Cleaning tools: Equip yourself with brooms, dustpans, mops, vacuum cleaners, buckets, scrub brushes, rags, all-purpose cleaning solutions, and protective gloves. Thoroughly sweep and mop the floors and wipe down walls, windows, doors, and any shelving or cabinets.
  • Organizing tools: Install shelves, cabinets, hooks, bins, baskets and other organizational items in your newly cleaned garage space. Properly storing items will prevent future clutter. Label storage bins clearly.
  • Hardware: Have an assortment of nuts, bolts, screws, nails, and tools like hammers and wrenches to take apart defunct furniture, shelves, etc.
  • Safety gear: Wear gloves, close-toed shoes, dust masks, and goggles to protect yourself from debris, chemicals, dust, and sharp objects.

Loading all these cleaning and organizing supplies onto a wheeled utility cart or wheelbarrow makes everything easily transportable. Having the right gear means your garage cleanout will be safe, smooth, and efficient.

Tip 3: Designate Areas

Once you’ve gone through the decluttering process and gathered all the necessary cleanout supplies, the next step is to designate specific areas for your keep, donate, recycle, and trash piles

Having dedicated spaces for each category will help you stay organized as you clean out the garage. Without defined areas, items can easily get scattered and mixed up again, leading to confusion and wasted time.

If your garage has enough open space, try to set up sectioned-off zones in each corner or along the walls. Use tarps, plastic sheeting, tape, or temporary partitions to delineate the spaces. Make signs with the category names to label each area clearly.

Assign one quadrant or section for:

  • Keep – Items in good shape that you are keeping and storing in the newly organized garage.
  • Donate – Any usable goods still in decent condition that can be donated to charity or passed on to friends.
  • Recycle – Designated for all items that can be recycled like bottles, cans, paper, some plastics, cardboard, etc.
  • Trash – Broken, hazardous, or unusable items and general debris that must be thrown away.

Then, place matching containers or piles in each area as you clean out the garage. Use sturdy boxes to contain smaller items, and be sure to mark each container or pile with its designated category. This will prevent any mix-ups.

If your garage is too cramped for sectioned-off areas, at minimum have separate bins or tidy piles for each grouping. The key is keeping the categories visible and distinct from each other throughout the process. 

Stick to this organized system while cleaning out the space. Once finished, the recycling and trash can be disposed of efficiently, while kept and donated items will already be packed up and ready to go.

Tip 4: Call In Help

Depending on the size of your garage and just how much stuff has accumulated, trying to tackle a cleanout solo can be extremely exhausting and time-consuming. You’ll likely feel overwhelmed before you even make a dent. Don’t feel defeated – calling in reinforcements is a game-changer when it comes to garage cleanouts.

Start by recruiting willing family members, roommates, or responsible teenagers to lend a hand. Having two or more people share the workload makes the process faster, more manageable, and even fun. 

Offer pizza and drinks as added motivation. Divvy up tasks like sweeping, hauling boxes, sorting items, cleaning cabinets, etc so each person has a defined role. You can all chat and catch up while getting your garage back in order.

If you don’t have extra helpers readily available, consider investing in a junk removal service like Junk Relief. Professional junk haulers have trucks and equipment specially designed to clear out heavy, bulky items with ease. We have previously written a blog post about how to choose a junk removal service, so make sure to read it here. Also, what may take you and your family several hours or even days of difficult work…we can have done in less than an afternoon in most cases!

They can lift and load cumbersome furniture, appliances, exercise equipment, construction debris, and more to dispose of it all efficiently. No need to struggle to get those overweight objects out yourself!

Junk removal specialists can also provide an extra set of hands if needed to help sort, clean, and organize the space. Leaving the disposal to the experts allows you to focus your energy on decluttering and thoroughly cleaning the garage.

No matter how you form your cleanout crew, having that extra muscle, company, and support makes an overwhelming garage cleanout much more smooth and stress-free. Don’t go it alone – call in help and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the space transforms.

Tip 5: Work In Sections

When facing a garage that’s filled wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with clutter and junk, trying to clean and organize the entire space all at once can feel totally overwhelming and impossible. Everything seems like a jumbled mess, you don’t know where to start, and progress feels hopeless. 

The key to making the garage cleanout feel less intimidating is to break the area down into smaller, more manageable sections. Then you can methodically tackle one section at a time. If it truly is 100% junk, just give us a call and we can have it cleared in no time – so you don’t waste your time and energy!

Start by defining workable areas of around 2-3 feet along the perimeter walls or dividing the central floor space into quadrants using masking tape, chalk lines, or other markings on the floor. Select one section to start with. Fully complete decluttering, cleaning, and organizing this first area before moving to the next.

This sectioned approach helps prevent you from feeling overloaded by the sheer volume of items and tasks. By systematically working in bite-sized segments, you can devote your full focus and energy to one portion of the garage until it’s 100% done. 

Celebrate visually seeing the transition of each decluttered segment before moving your efforts to the adjoining area. Don’t feel compelled to get your entire garage cleaned out in one marathon session.

If needed, schedule cleanout sessions over multiple days instead of pushing to get it all done at once. Taking breaks prevents mental and physical fatigue from setting in. Just be sure to clearly mark your stopping point with chalk, tape, or other visual cues so you know exactly where to resume working the next time.

With this structured section technique, your once-overwhelming garage cleanout will feel smooth, steady, and achievable. Before you know it, the space will be cleared of clutter and tidy from front to back!


If your cluttered, disorganized garage has become a source of stress, take heart – this guide provides a clear roadmap for tackling a garage cleanout without frustration. Implementing these five tips will help simplify and streamline the garage cleanouts process so you can reclaim your space.

To recap, starting with a thorough decluttering and having the proper tools and supplies on hand lays the groundwork for success. Designating specific areas for keep, donate, recycle and trash piles will prevent organizational confusion.

One of the biggest keys to reducing stress is to call in help – whether from family and friends or professional garage junk removal haulers. Tackling a garage cleanout alone can be exhausting and overwhelming, which is why having an extra set of hands makes all the heavy lifting and work lighter and more encouraging.

Finally, adopting a sectioned approach rather than trying to do everything at once prevents the space from feeling unmanageable. By methodically working in smaller segments, you’ll see visible results which motivate you to keep going.

With this advice, you can have a smooth, efficient garage cleanout that eliminates clutter and restores order. No more tripping over junk or abandoning your parking space! Remember, our friendly team is here for you every step of the way – from a free estimate to offering decluttering tips to hauling away the debris. Contact us today to get started giving your garage the refresh it deserves!


Joe Weidman

Joe is a Chicago native, born and raised in Elmhurst. He founded Junk Relief more than 10 years ago and has worked with more than 20,000 homeowners and businesses throughout Chicagoland. His passion for starting a business in junk removal stemmed from seeing the need to do things differently. He prides himself on his company's model to provide unexpectedly professional service.


If you’ve got junk in Chicago or the Chicagoland Suburbs, we can help. CALL US or TEXT US at (312) 800-1940.


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