As I said before (see part 1), while cleaning the entire garage is a job and a half as they say, I often find it easier to chunk big jobs like down into smaller projects to make it more palatable (and frankly so that it will fit into my schedule).  So, if you don’t have time for a full on, heavy-duty garage cleanup but want to get cracking, here are one of two garage makeovers you can do in 30 minutes or less!

From mildew to motor oil, gasoline to garbage, garages are breeding grounds for all kinds of … interesting … smells.  Try these quick odor-reducing tasks out and stop holding your breath every time you make a run for your car.

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Raid the cat supplies

Kitty litter works much like baking soda does to trap smells.  So, to help manage the aroma in your garage, place clean litter in a large, open container and let it do its thing. Replace once a month and keep your cat away … that won’t really help solve the smell problem, if you get my drift. Don’t have a cat and don’t want to buy litter? No worries! A box of baking soda in each corner will do.  Replace those boxes every month, too.

Garbage cans

Garbage juice smells.  Period.  And not only is it unappealing to us, it’s super appealing to critters.  So it is in your best interest to do away with garbage juice to keep your receptacles smelling better and to keep critters at bay.

Before you get going, head to the kitchen and pick up your trusty bottle of blue dish liquid, which is my garage cleaning secret weapon!  Start by hosing down your garbage cans and recycling bins and then mix up a gallon of hot water and a teaspoon of Dawn.  Glove up if you find the water is too hot for your hands and grab a soft sponge, then dip it in the soapy solution and scrub.  It melts garbage grime away quickly and honestly, it’s a darn good feeling.  Then, spray with a hose or sponge down with clean water and dry.  Once dry, line the bottom of your garbage cans and recycling bins with newspaper, which is able to catch that leaky juice and absorb it so that it doesn’t settle where it isn’t wanted.  Put in a new liner regularly, at least every other week. You can also sprinkle the bottom before you put a liner in with baking soda, and if you want extra points, rinse out the can or bin each time you empty it.

Cardboard and paper

Paper products in a garage attract mildew like nobody’s business. If you have any lying around, check what shape they’re in and throw out if it’s really bad (soggy, moldy, smelly).  If you use cardboard boxes to store stuff I would recommend you replace them with plastic containers with lids. They will not emit any smells, they can’t get moldy and they’ll protect your stuff.  I also love this idea because unlike flimsy cardboard, you can stack them up to make your garage cleaner and more organized.  The best part of all is creatures big and small can’t tear apart plastic containers for their nests like they do with cardboard and paper.  <Shudder>.


Place open plastic containers filled with undiluted white vinegar (awesome for trapping smells) in each corner of the garage. Replace the vinegar every few days until the smell goes away.  This is an old trick but it works like a charm!   Alternatively, you can fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spritz it around the garage a couple times a week. If you’re not a fan of the smell of pure vinegar (if it’s not over fries, I get why you might not like it) you can add a few drops of essential oil and shake it to combine.

How do you keep your garage smelling fresh? Tell us about your routine in the comments below and to learn more about some other cool, unexpected ways to use Dawn for cleaning around the garage, visit!

Disclosure: I’m working with Dawn on a very cool project to share some of the amazing alternative uses for Dawn around the home!

If you’re looking for more secrets, I’ve got way more than 10,000 hours of cleaning experience in both practice and theory, so I’m proud to introduce you to my secret 3 Wave Cleaning System—clean faster and more efficiently than you ever have before!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. I recently purchased a home where the previous occupants had an industrial fryer in the garage. Needless to say it smells horrible in there. Any suggestions?


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