Q: What do all of these storage areas have in common?
A: Okay, besides the fact that I have too much crap and should really get rid of it. The answer is: they’re all using the exact same storage bins!
Like me, you probably have loads of stuff that isn’t in use but isn’t useless. You want this stuff handy when you need it, and out of sight and easy to store when you don’t. If you’re even more like me, you have very little storage space in your home and need to make the most of closets.
My solution: put it ALL in bins.
I’ve used this system for over ten years and I’m convinced it’s the best:
- Easy stacking
- Bins are more durable and more waterproof than cardboard
- Bins are easy to label
- Transparent bins are easy to see inside of
- Stuff stays clean, dry, and good-smelling when it’s stored inside a closed bin
- Bins are interchangeable, so when you need fewer in one place and more in another you can take from your own stock
- Makes moving easier and faster when stuff is already packed
How to start your own clear storage bin empire:
1) Choose a major nationwide retailer.
It’s not that I think gigantic chains are particularly deserving of your business. You need these bins to be available on the market for a long time because you’ll come back for more later. You may move cross-country.
I acquired the first bins of my set in 1998 from WalMart and have continued to purchase more bins of the same set ever since. I don’t like shopping at WalMart, but I’ll be a customer for life because they carry the bins I use throughout my house.
2) Find a bin that meets these qualifications:
- Stackable: an absolute must
- Transparent: another absolute must. Solid color bins won’t do you any favors when you’re desperately searching for something months/years later.
- Multiple capacities with same size lid: a nice bonus
- Rugged: thick bottoms, thick lids, no broken ones on store shelves
- Handleless lid design: Avoid “locking” plastic lid handles, they’re just one more thing that can break. They’re also just not as rugged.
The bins I use are Sterilite brand, still sold in Walmart stores and at many retailers online. Sterilite’s offered this design for at least 15 years, and every time I stray I regret it. I’ve never broken one of these bins, but I’ve broken/bent plenty of lesser brands.
The white lid/clear plastic combo is my favorite, but if you shop during back to school season (July/August) and the winter holiday season (December), you can find them in rarer color combinations. I scored a collection of red/green/gold bins a couple Christmases ago.
2) Buy a TON of this bin. However many you think you need, buy more.
Yes, this is an investment, but it’s an investment that pays off whenever you’re looking for something, reorganizing, or moving.
3) Sort sort sort your stuff.
This may take you days/weeks worth of free time. Break it up. Do an hour a weekend. You’ll get through it.
I like to use a torn off bit of masking tape and a permanent marker. Easy to create, easy to remove if you re-purpose the bin later on.
*BONUS POINTS* Put a date on the label. This will help you in future reorganizing efforts. It’ll also make it easier to get rid of things you haven’t used in “a while” when you realize “a while” is four years.
5) Put away!
These bins fit nicely under beds, at the bottom of closets, on closet shelves, and on my favorite wire shelving from Room Essentials (sold at Target).