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Sonoma County Gazette
Garage Transformation

True Confessions from
Garage Cleanup Professionals

Jan 5, 2018


By Sunny Seabrook and Michael Evje

Skydiving? Public speaking? Spiders? Do you know what is the North Bay’s greatest fear?

None of these. It’s the fear of having a clean, well-organized garage where it’s possible to quickly find things that are meaningful to you. To prove it, a very un-scientific study was performed counting cars that were parked in neighborhood driveways overnight. The premise of the study was that if the car was outside the garage, it couldn’t be parked inside because other stuff was in there instead. Study result: almost 75% park outside. Yep – a pure case of ‘cleangaragaphobia.’

One 3-car garage we transformed was totally packed with absolutely random stuff 4-feet high – and we mean random. For example: one box contained a worn left tennis shoe, a child’s toy truck, a fake leather black belt, a half- container of window cleaner, four pocket books and a brick. The owners told us it had been like that for eight years.

Most people think their things are valuable. “This is a collectable,” we hear all the time from retired people. Rarely. The single most valuable thing in garages are family pictures. Also, if people don’t deal with their garage stuff, it becomes a chore to their children. What about not wanting to ‘burden’ them?

We hear frequently that many of these saved things are part of a ‘someday’ project. Dusty garages tell the opposite story. Generally, very few items are truly treasurable and every unused and unattended item needs to go away for people to feel better, lighter and free.

There was one lady who, as we looked at a 5-foot high wall of stacked stuff and furniture, defiantly told us, “I’m not purging anything.” By the end of the day she could walk through there with ease AND find what she wanted because that’s what we do – not just toss people’s stuff (although we do all the time) – heck, anybody can do that. We help people do what they’ve put off for years – separate the necessary from the clutter. It’s like an instant diet for the mind. Nothing quite like a finished project, is there?

Fear not – ‘cleangaragaphobia’ is curable.

Here’s a three-step process to transform your garage:

Empty it – best in sections or halves. As you do so, touch everything once and place it into one of three places: a) a pile to come back in; b) a pile to give away; c) a truck going to the dumps.

Clean the area you just cleared as you go. You’ll need: a) rags and cleaners; b) a broom; c) a vacuum cleaner with all the attachment to reach the cob webs, cracks and corners.

Return the items from the ‘come back in’ pile to specific areas which are labeled and easy to access based upon weight and your height and strength. Heavy bins and boxes should be at waste level. Christmas ornaments up high.

Recently, a neat-freak friend asked us, “What do people save in their garages?” Emotions. Sound familiar? And speaking of things emotional, our final confession is that we feel really good helping our neighbors feel really good that they now can find their truly meaningful possessions easily in a clean space. . . . and many can now park their cars inside, too!


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