9 garage consumables you should always have in stock

A computer has it's place in the shop, but using it properly is key to success. Kyle Smith

Sometimes working on our beloved project cars and motorcycles is a more regular occurrence than we wish. These impromptu fixes and repairs that just pop up can be dealt with quickly—provided you have the right supplies on hand.

The list of needed hard parts or spare pieces varies, depending on what you own and the level of DIY-ing you are comfortable engaging in. On the other hand, there are plenty of generic, consumable items that any garage needs. These items can make routine tasks easier, so ensuring they are readily available gives confidence when diving into any project or repair. Here are the nine must-have consumables we think you need in your garage.

Rags/box o’ towels

Terry cloth towels
Kyle Smith

Spills happen, and there is always some grimy part that needs a good cleaning. While you can use reusable rags, you’re likely to anger your significant other when you grease up the washing machine with them. So instead have a collection of disposable towels, but be sure to contain any oily rags in a metal can with a lid. Not doing so means you could set your garage on fire when you move on to the next project and accidentally throw a spark into the garbage can!

Microfiber cloths

Microfiber towels for garage
Kyle Smith

While there are rags for cleaning, let’s not forget the materials designed for delicate surfaces. Think of the times you need to clean glass or wipe down painted surfaces with quick detailer: microfibers are great for this. They even work great for cleaning tools as they are put away at the end of a job. These will also get dirty enough eventually that they need a trip to the washing machine, but be careful about the detergent you use, along with what gets washed with them. These fluffy towels pick up rocks or chips from other garments, so re-using them risks the addition of scratches to whatever finish they next encounter.

Oil and Grease

So many DIY projects involve assembly and disassembly, to the point you might lose some oil while taking something apart. The same happens with grease. Both will need replenishment after assembly, so keep a few bottles of your oil of choice and a tub/tube of grease handy in your garage. For extra points, zip-tie a scrap chunk of hose to the side of the canister: that way you can hold an acid brush to make applying that grease a no-mess affair.


Razorblades with knife
Kyle Smith

It’s counterintuitive at times, but being sharp is actually safe. If you need to cut something like a rubber hose, zip tie, or stiff plastic packaging, the safest way is with a blade that isn’t dull. A dull blade moves unpredictably and requires more force to do the job. That’s a recipe for injury, so instead keep a pack of razorblades so you always have a replacement for that dull blade in your knife. Razorblades also make great gasket scrapers (when used carefully) to prevent gouging soft surfaces.

Brake and/or carb cleaner

Brake and carb clean in aerosol cans
In a pinch either can do the job of both, but it’s best to use the proper chemical for the job. Kyle Smith

Once comfortable with a project or task—like a brake job—we tend to jump into the job instead of preparing the shop for the work ahead. So instead keep the needed chemicals on hand, ensuring you don’t put yourself in the frustrating situation of driving (or walking!) to the parts store to finish a project.

Roll-up earplugs

foam earplugs
Kyle Smith

Hearing damage is no joke. Even if you have a favorite pair of over-the-ear muffs to keep your eardrums safe, having disposable foam earplugs is easy. If you have a guest in the shop who needs to hammer that ball joint out for you, they will absolutely appreciate your wish to prevent tinnitus in their earholes. Cheap and safe rarely go together, but in this case, they do. It’s a no-brainer to pick up a case of these for a couple bucks.

Gasket maker

gasket maker on workbench
Kyle Smith

Silicone gasket makers have limits, but when used properly, the tubes of various colored schmoo can be life savers. Having some around never hurts if you are routinely getting into projects that involve sealing two surfaces that may not have aged gracefully. Damage from corrosion or just distortion from age might leave more separation than the gasket can handle. In these cases, having gasket maker on hand to give a quick wipe rather than having to leave the shop to get some is a real timesaver.

Zip ties

cable ties zip ties on workbench
Kyle Smith

I’m not going to wax poetic about how anything can be fixed with zip ties, but they do come in handy for a multitude of tasks. Black zip ties are often more durable to UV light exposure, so that’s the one to stock in your garage. There’s nothing like knowing you can pull a zip tie tight with no fear of it shattering into a sun-brittled mess.


Garage fridge Kyle Smith 2
Kyle Smith

This is the one you were here for, right? The literal consumables needed for your body?

Much of the country has reached “the porch is the fridge” levels of chill, so grab a six-pack of whatever you enjoy and set it by the door. Alcoholic drinks and wrenching is a bad combination, but having a cold one while admiring a job well done (or cleaning up the tools) is deserved. Well deserved, actually. So restock early and often in this case.

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    Eye & war protection, a must. I have been using blue medical nitrile gloves for years. They are thin allow easy manipulation of small parts parts-double them if you’re doing rough work. The RM blaster is good-If that fails try a 50-50 mix of acetone or MEK and ATF. It wicks in Easley and the ATF dissolves most rust( Do not apply heat). Got this from the model airplane community tearing down seized two stroke engines, works on seized up calipers and more

    I only disagree with the refrigerator. I live in Virginia and had to move the ‘frig’ to the basement. The contents would freeze hard during the winter. Difficult to drink a frozen soda.

    After 45+ years of tinkering and restoring and repairing I have EVERYTHING that has been listed above! I don’t know where….. but it’s in there somewhere.

    Lots of great ideas here. Careful about lidding those oily rags, or take out trash after each job, to avoid a spontaneous combustion nightmare. Extinguisher saved my butt recently when my race car caught fire in the shop. 😳

    Don’t forget oil filter to go with your motor oil. Also, I like to have felt tipped markers, pencils, pens and a writing pad on hand.

    Fluids fluids fluids! Oil,transmission,brake, power steering,, antifreeze, rear differential, grease, I’m probably forgetting some.

    How about Alexa ? “Alexa, how many ounces is 700ml ? “. I now use it often and I am 65. I think I have most all the other items listed. I also say “Alexa, play 70’s rock music “.

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