My garage had yet to see a car in it, until now. Yes I know, embarrassing, but true. Since we moved into this house over 5 years ago, our garage has become a catch all that was in need of a major overhaul. Boxes and old packages, sports equipment, winter tires, tools, things we wanted to donate or sell at a garage sale, and some things we completely forgot about. Yes, it needed an intervention. So we decided that along with our kitchen reno, we would work at getting our garage well, ready for a car to go in it, for the first time since we took on the mortgage.

We have a more detailed garage cleaning blog post which you can certainly check out later, but here is a great way to get started with this project and trust me, you’ll want bite-sized chunks because cleaning a garage is quite the sizeable project to take on.

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Garbage Container & Recycling Bin

Garages can be offensive to the senses – they can look dingy, old, dirty and smell gross. And a crusty garbage can or recycling bin isn’t helping your garage’s game. It’s no surprise that garbage and recycling bins end up smelling bad after awhile. I mean, it’s where we leave the smelly stuff we don’t want sitting in our home and it just seems to become even more uh, scented, while it waits to be whisked away. So, if you are like me, you schlep your garbage out to the garage and leave it there until garbage day – well – every so often, even your garbage and recycling bins need a little cleaning TLC.

For this simple fix, grab a pair of dish gloves since we’re going to be using hot water here, a not-so-special sponge (because you won’t want to use it again) and a bucket filled with a gallon of hot water and a teaspoon of Dawn, a garage grease and grime-fighting secret weapon. I should mention, opt to do this right after garbage day so that you don’t have to extract anything! Get your sponge int he mixture and make sure it’s nice and sudsy, then wring out half way. Apply to the base of the container as best you can (you may need to use a sponge on a wand to do this) and then apply to the sides of the container. Leave this to soak for a few moments. Then, rinse with a clean bucket of water and cleaned sponge and leave on your lawn or driveway to dry out. Alternatively, you can hose it down once it’s been soaked in the soapy mixture and then left to dry. Whatever suits you!

Once this treatment is complete, your garbage and recycling receptacles will look better and won’t smell – lovely, right?


Yes, this one had to come up. Many of us love organizing closets and bedrooms, desks and bathrooms – but how many of us think to organize the garage? Once we started sorting through the odds and sods in ours (and of course made donate/toss/organize piles), we got to the business of actually organizing things and giving important items a home. It sounds obvious (and I really should have known better, tsk tsk), but it is surprising how much more functional this space can be when you keep all the contents neatly organized – this has been a real journey of self-discovery!

A great way to start is by grouping similar items in baskets or storage bins. Go for plastic over cardboard, since plastic can’t go mouldy and will protect your items from dust, dirt and pests. We recently invested in a label maker (it kind of fell under the ‘kitchen reno’ budget), but you can also use a simple permanent marker to label the bins, which makes finding anything in there now a breeze!

If you’re having trouble figuring out what bin categories to create (which I know can make actually doing the organizing a challenge), think about activities or common uses pertinent to your household and build from there. For example, ‘beach toys’, ‘golf’, ‘gardening’, and ‘car cleaning’ are a few ideas to get you started!

We also invested in snow tire racks (we have 8 extra tires at any given time…) and have a pegboard with hooks, that’s been a great help too.

Clean Greasy Tools!

I am not the handiest of human beings out there. I’ve played around with tools and certainly enjoyed shop class in elementary school, but I can’t see myself installing a kitchen sink any time soon. That said, there are times where even I need a ‘plus sign’ screwdriver (I know, I know, it’s a Philips), a wrench or a hammer for something. And I can’t explain how this happened, but when I got down to tackling this part of the garage, my tools weren’t exactly in gorgeous shape.

So what I did to beautify the greasiest, dirtiest of tools in my garage was gave my tools a little spa treatment! I mixed up a tool bath in a clean bucket filled with a gallon of hot water and a teaspoon of plain blue Dawn, yet again. It’s amazing for jobs like this because it is designed to cut grease and get rid of dirt fast. I am ever-impressed by what a drop of Dawn can do. Alright, throw on your trusty rubber gloves and get an old rag or sponge ready. Dip each tool in the bath (one at a time to avoid soaking, which avoids rust and discolouration) and scrub while in the bucket to remove dirt, grease and grime. You’ll see the stuff drip right off and your tools will start to polish up nicely. Have a second bucket at hand filled with clean, lukewarm water and dip the cleaned tool in there as a final rinse. Then, take a dry rag and wipe the tool entirely, any excess moisture could lead to rust. Do this for each tool and I’m telling you, they’ll look amazing and last you longer. My mom still has tools in her garage that I remember seeing when I was a little kid – maintenance is key!

And to get cracking on garage cleaning at large, visit this post to learn the full-blown plan of action and put yours into motion.

If you want to find even more great, unexpected ways to use Dawn around the house, visit

This is part of a project I’ve been working on with Dawn to share some cool and unexpected uses for it with all of you. Enjoy!

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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 saw the video and I like the tips you have given. Honestly I never thought about organizing things in my garage but would like to do it now because my garage is a complete mess right now. 🙂


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