Just like the most commonly used kitchen supplies, there are staple garage supplies that should be in every garage or shop no matter what kind of work you do, whether you are a professional mechanic, hobbyist, or a typical DIYer that prefers to work on their own vehicle. Most of the time you don’t even realize you need to have these things on hand until you reach for them only to find out you used the last one.
Not every garage is the same, and neither are your personal needs, but the following ten garage supplies are universal, and every garage cabinet should be fully stocked at all times.
There are a million uses for shop towels and most of them involve cleaning, but the type of towels you have makes a difference. Reusable towels such as the classic red cloth hanging out of the back pocket of the mechanic in every TV show or movie that you have ever seen is fine for wiping grease off of your hands, but that is really about it. You don’t want to use that same towel to clean a window or wipe down your workbench after a job. In reality, those red shop towels are not good for much at all. Instead, you should keep a pack of white terry cloth towels on hand at all times. These leave less lint, are much more absorbent and when you wash them, they don’t shred or turn your washing machine pink.
Don’t forget about the softer stuff either, a pack of good microfiber towels are perfect for wiping down screens and painted surfaces on your car. Just keep them separate from the other washable towels.
It is also a good idea to keep some disposable towels on hand, such as Scott Rags In A Box. These white paper towels are very absorbent and work great for cleaning up spills, cleaning your hands, and are good for glass and interior parts as well.
Nobody likes greasy hands, and when you work in the garage, chances are you will end up dirty. Keep a jug of waterless hand cleaner on hand in the shop so you can clean up before tracking all that grease and grime into the house. Some hand cleaners are better than others, but that choice is up to you. A gritty cleaner like GoJo helps strip the grease from your hands without irritating your skin.
Right along side hand cleaner, you should keep a box of rubber/latex gloves. While you may feel like a surgeon prepping for surgery, in reality, you are just protecting your skin from contamination from chemicals that can leach into your skin causing serious health problems if you are exposed enough. When the weather is cold, these effects are even worse, as cleaners and fuel can dry out your skin, setting the stage for cracked hands. Disposable gloves are also great if part of the job is quite messy, but you need to clean up fast.
You can find quite a few articles on how to use JB Weld products here at NAPA Know How, and that is because the stuff just plain works. You may not need a package of each product on hand, but it is a good idea to keep at least one package of JB Weld Original or JB Kwik on hand at all times. The uses for this stuff are nearly endless, and when you need to fix a broken tab at 11pm so you can get to work in the morning, you will be glad you had it on the shelf.
One of the most forgotten garage supplies is threadlocker. Unless you use it often, you may not even realize you need it, but you do. Most fasteners should have some type of threadlocker on them, depending on the application. From mild to high-strength, every garage bench should have three bottles of threadlocker- Green/purple for light duty, blue for medium duty, and red for the fasteners that you never want to come apart (red is serious stuff).
So you had to remove a piece of plastic trim in your car in order to get to the parts that need repaired, but the plastic broke. Great, that’s just one more thing to replace right? Not necessarily. With a some CA glue (Cyanoacrylate), that broken plastic can be back in service with just a few minutes of effort. If done well, that crack will disappear and only you will know it was ever broken.The little tubes of CA glue are good for one or two uses, mainly because they clog up pretty fast, but the bottles are much better and last longer, and are available in different thicknesses.
While the first few items deal with cleaning up grease, this one deals with applying grease, or more to the point IS grease. While some projects require specialty grease, it is a good idea to have a tube or can of multi-purpose grease on hand at all times. Whether you need to pre-lube a bushing or pack the bearings in a u-joint, multi-purpose grease is the perfect solution.
For those fasteners that are stuck in place or that squeaky hinge that drives you nuts every time you open the door, a good quality penetrating oil is an absolute necessity in any garage. Like most of the products listed here, the uses are nearly endless, and you should have at least one can on hand at all times, if not several cans located within an arm’s reach of everywhere in the garage- by the door, by the roll-up door, and on the bench. Personally, I keep a can located near every piece of equipment so I can maintain the bearings and moving parts every time I use the machinery.
This one is not a single item, but it is a really good idea to have a suitable assortment of fasteners for the vehicles/projects you work on the most. If you work on older vehicles, you need SAE fasteners, imports and newer vehicles use metric fasteners. You don’t have to spend a fortune on fasteners, but having the most common six or so sizes in various lengths on hand at all times can save you a trip to NAPA when you are in the middle of a job. Keep the same sizes in both grade 3 and grade 8 (or the metric equivalent) so you have the right fastener for the job. Don’t forget a few boxes of screws in various sizes as well. You can find both in bulk and in easy-to-store assortments.
The last must-have garage supply item is wiring supplies. Most of us hate wiring repairs, but they happen and you need to have the parts on hand to take care of it. An assortment of wire terminals, assortment wire rolls, and plenty of electrical tape are the basics that every garage should have on hand. To be more specific- barrel (butt splice) connectors, male and female spades, ring terminals, and crimp caps are the most commonly needed terminals. Wiring should be 16 to 12 gauge, a spool of each will get your through most wiring issues that you face without getting into specialty cables.
Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on garage supplies, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.