My Super Fast Bathroom Cleaning Technique

Get ready to punch your bathroom IN THE FACE. 

This is my <30 minutes, 4 bathrooms, scrub-fest circuit.  Your toilets and faucets won’t know what hit them when you’re through this super fast bathroom cleaning circuit.

fast bathroom cleaning technique make your bathroom sparkle

You wouldn’t guess that my house has 4 bathrooms – 2.5 bathrooms, maybe, but not four.  The builder loved bathrooms, but I hate cleaning and I especially hate cleaning bathrooms.  I also work full time, have lots of hobbies, and I want this chore done. Like, yesterday.  I got very good at cleaning bathrooms very quickly.  If you’ve ever wondered how to clean your bathroom(s)(s)(s) as fast as possible, read on!

The Setup

Bathroom-Specific Supplies
I have a dedicated set of toilet-cleaning supplies in each of the bathrooms.  Toilet brush, toilet brush holder-cup thing, and toilet cleaning gel.  This saves me having to carry any dirty toilet brushes or blue liquids over the carpeted rooms and hallways these bathrooms are attached to.
Traveling Bathroom Supplies
I have a bottle of Lysol spray, scrub brush, and paper towel roll that I carry with me to each bathroom.  I store these portable supplies in the first bathroom of the sequence.

The Circuit

Round 1: Toilets, Wastebaskets, Towels

I start in Bathroom A and repeat this sequence in Bathrooms B, C, and D.  

  1. Lift the toilet seat and lid and squirt toilet bowl cleaner around the bowl
  2. Take out any used towels and toss on floor outside bathroom
  3. Stack / sort any reading materials that made their way into the bathrooms
Bathroom B has our only functioning shower.  For this special case room, I add this step:
  1. Spray the walls and tub with shower cleaner
As I move from one bathroom to the next, I drop towels into the laundry and collect their wastebaskets at the top of the stairs. When the first round is complete, I start round 2.
Round 2: Scrubbing Countertops
  1. Spray the countertop and scrub it clean
  2. Spray the sink and faucet, scrub them clean
  3. Scrub the toothbrush holder (if applicable)
  4. Rinse everything and wipe dry with paper towel

Round 3: Toilet Cleaning

  1. Spray toilet with Lysol, use toilet paper wipe all surfaces including seat top and bottom
  2. Grab toilet brush and scrub the bowl itself
  3. Wipe toilet seat and surfaces dry with toilet paper, toss into bowl
  4. Flush toilet to send blue water and used TP on its way
  5. Clamp toilet brush between seat and bowl so it can drip dry into the bowl

Round 4: Finishing Up

  1. Wash my hands now that I’m done with toilets
  2. In Bathroom B, I turn on the shower head and spray the shower walls clean. Grime and mildew (if any) usually washes away, but if not, I scrub it away.  I give the tub a quick once-over with the scrub brush.
  3. From Bathroom C, I get the bag of toilet paper rolls and refresh every bathroom’s stock of TP and then return the bag to Bathroom C if any rolls remain
  4. I collect and empty all wastebaskets into the garbage and recycling bins in the kitchen and put the bins back into their respective bathrooms
  5. Turn off lights as I leave each bathroom for the last time

I can usually run this entire circuit in under 30 minutes.  Headphones and some motivational (get this shit done!) music go a long way.  :)

More Fast Bathroom Cleaning Tips


I typically clean the floors in a separate pass because 1) ours don’t seem to get that dirty and 2) they’re not “critical path” the way faucets or toilet paper are (I don’t eat off the floor in the bathroom).  When I do clean floors, I just vacuum.  I wash the floors just once or twice a year. We’re pretty tidy (no shoes in this house) and our floors are covered in bath mats, which get washed more frequently.


Just spray and wipe, and repeat times however many mirrors you have.  I usually do these in a windows & monitors pass.  Again, since mirrors aren’t critical path (nor are they very dirty in our house), they don’t get included in the scrubbing circuit described above.

Don’t Make a Mess in the First Place

Prevention goes a long way in bathrooms.

  • Don’t spit toothpaste all over the sink
  • Don’t flick toothpaste onto the mirror
  • Be a product minimalist and reduce how much clutter is kept on the counter tops
  • Remove used hand towels before they pile halfway to the ceiling

Just Do It

…before it gets any grosser.


End the Chore Wars: How to Keep a Clean House (and your sanity)

I hate chores, but I like the results.  My husband hates chores and is 100% blind to mess.  We are both too cheap to hire a cleaning service.

chore wars = man vs vacuum

So, after seven years of experimentation, we’ve met somewhere in the middle (because fighting over chores is stupid and annoying).  Getting here was not easy.  I imagine a lot of 20-somethings go through this as they merge two established households, so today I am sharing 9 things that worked for us.

1. You MUST have less stuff than storage

Here it is, the secret to a clean house.  If you don’t have somewhere to put everything, you will never win the chore war. You’re fighting with an army that’s already dead.

I grew up in a cluttered house.  It was cluttered because there are more things in the house than there are places to put those things, so the things just sat out all the time.  Cleaning a few rooms meant moving things to other rooms.

  • If you don’t physically have space for all your dishes, your kitchen will always require some dishes to be on the counter.
  • If your laundry basket can’t hold all of your laundry, your laundry will always be on the floor in between laundry days.
  • If your closet cannot hold all of your clothes, your clothes will always be draped over chairs and piled on the floor.
  • If you have more toys than you have space to store them, your toys will always sit on every surface available.

No one – not you, your husband, your wife, your children, or your hired help can win at this rigged game.  If your partner isn’t helping out around the house, it might be because he knows he can’t “win”.

This is really friggin’ hard, especially since most of us live in too-small homes (our first was about 1100 sq. feet!) with too-big hobbies (bikes, games, books, PCs… not to mention cookware, clothing and extra TP).

The only solution I know of to this problem is to get rid of things.  Everything you own has to do double or triple duty AND it has to be small enough to fit into one of your already-full closets when you aren’t using it.  Good luck.

2. Don’t “take turns” on chores

…lest you just argue over whose turn it is while work piles up.  The first shots in the chore wars are fired over who didn’t do what.

No, what you should do is split your chores up so that you can do yours and your partner can do theirs seperately.

My jobs: toilets, bathrooms, vacuuming, cars (inside and out), fridge, mail, dusting, monitors/mirrors, lawn mowing, organization, decorating, project planning/management

Jim’s jobs: taking out garbage, dishwasher (loading and unloading), laundry (washing and folding), sweeping, bill paying, watering, weeding

Jim can do his jobs even if I haven’t done mine, and vice versa.  Of course, we’re both competent in each other’s jobs for those times when someone’s sick or just needs an assist.

3. Work your strengths

My chores are like “management and organization” and Jim’s chores are like “ongoing maintenance”.

I’m the one figuring out how to organize our tools and determining what project to start next; Jim’s the reason we aren’t up to our eyeballs in dishes and laundry.  This split works well for us, and plays to our strengths.  I need interesting work; Jim likes to daydream while doing a simple task.

The key here is to find a split that works for you and keep adjusting until both of you are happy with the arrangement.

If you both hate something, grow up – no household chore is that bad!  If it is bad, it’s probably because you’re doing it too infrequently and letting it build up to disgusting levels.

4. You both have to want to help

It’s critical that you and your partner be in this together.  All the tips and tricks in the world can’t make someone who doesn’t want to help out actually start helping.

If you or your partner doesn’t want to contribute, figure out why.  If after months/years of asking/begging/planning/bribing, your partner still won’t pull their weight, then take that at face value.  Your partner might be lazy, overwhelmed with other responsibilities, or just an ass.

Your step now is to decide whether you accept this arrangement, or whether you leave and look elsewhere for partnership.

This sounds extreme. But chores are a daily thing, forever and ever, and your partner has to contribute.

5. Make chores fun-er

  • Tell stories as you work on stuff together.  Bonus points if they’re completely made up.
  • Make fun of the work – seriously, most of this stuff is ridiculous.
  • Play music (earphones or otherwise).  Our Sunday morning yard work warsong: Imperative Reaction’s remix of Caustic’s White Knuckle Head F**k (we like to replace “head” with “yard”…yup.)
  • Race each other to completion on two separate projects

6. Simple > Complex

Never ask your partner to “clean the kitchen”.  Break it up into smaller, manageable pieces.  “Empty the dishwasher” and “empty the sink” are much more doable and less intimidating.

Furthermore, don’t bog your chore routine down with apps and programs designed to “gameify” chores.  In the time you spend setting these up and maintaining them, you could finish a chore or five.  Besides, even “quickly” using your phone or computer is just another distraction from completing the task.

7. Micro-clean for the win

When both partners work 45+ hours a week, cleaning seems to happen in short bursts or horrible weekend marathons. I personally hate chore marathons, and doing little things all week long seems to help us avoid them. Chances are, your day is filled with opportunities to do “micro chores”.

For example, I need more time to get ready to leave in the morning (we leave at the same time) so my husband uses the wait time to sweep the floors and put the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher.

More ways we micr0-clean:

  • I sort mail at the mailbox rather than letting it pileup inside
  • When heading downstairs, I bring down dishes or a full wastebasket
  • When going upstairs, I bring folded laundry or filing papers up with me
  • Improve one thing in a room before leaving it
  • Wash cookware right after using it

8. Say thank you!

Appreciation is always appreciated.

Pay attention to what your partner accomplishes around the house and compliment the outcome.  Your partner gave up some of their free time to help keep the household running, and that’s worth recognizing.

It’s this easy:

“The kitchen countertop looks great, thank you for cleaning it.”

“Thanks for taking out the garbage.”

9. Lighten up! You won’t die :)

The chore wars were over once Jim and I accepted each other’s ways of doing things as “good enough”.

Small Pantry Organization: 25 Free and Cheap Ideas to Tame Your Tiny Pantry

Updated for 2014! Added even more organizational ideas and some links to helpful products! Let’s get organized!

As a Small Pantry Owner™, I am somewhat of an expert on stuffing a ton of food into a too-small space:

Small pantry organization - cramming way too much into too little space since forever!

This pantry is little!  

Having lived in two places without a pantry, though, I must say I am glad to have a pantry in the first place.  My pantry hails from an era of, well, less.  Food came in smaller packages in 1977 (as probably did people, too).   Maybe people had less of it on hand, too.  New construction homes have pantries that are practically walk-in closets, large enough in size to rival some bathrooms.

When we first toured this house in 2010, I could tell that the previous owner was struggling with food storage.  Not only was this pantry overstuffed with food, but so were three shelves in the garage.

My Small Pantry Organizational Challenges

  • Two-person household with almost no food overlap between us (he eats peanut butter, pasta, cereal, I don’t; I eat popcorn and hoard bake mixes, he doesn’t)
  • My kitchen sucks for storage in general with just two tiny drawers and a U-shaped countertop with just a couple cabinets underneath
  • I love to cook
  • My husband loves to cook even more
  • I hate running out of things

This used to be me, but I’ve reformed my ways!

small pantry organization tip 1 less packaged food

Life without a pantry was brutal and messy.

From my 7+ years of experience, here are my 25 free or cheap ways to get more out of your tiny pantry.

Cheap Pantry Organization: Coming Soon to a Small Pantry Near YOU

1) Short racks increase vertical space

If your pantry’s short but tall, use that height to your advantage! Stackable racks are great for adding “layers” to the vertical space.

I have a few of these humble wire stands. They’re super cheap and basically double the amount of vertical space available for use:


Put plates under it and on it!

small pantry organization double deck rack

Got a lot of vertical space? Get a double deck rack!


An under-shelf wire basket makes use of that often-underutilized space right below a shelf.

2) Keep fewer snack foods on hand

Reducing how much stuff I kept on hand made a huge difference in how overstuffed the pantry was. It also meant fewer things were going stale before I could eat them, which in turn saved me a lot of money.

I used to keep oatmeal, cereal, pasta, chips, Cheez-It, cookies, fruit snacks, candies, canned fruit, jellies, etc, all jammed into my pantry.  A dozen or so boxes of all of my favorite snacks so that no matter what I wanted, it was on hand.

But having “one of everything” was bad for a few reasons:

  1. All those snacks took a lot of space
  2. It was easy to eat a lot more than I should have since so much was available
  3. The snacks weren’t that good for me, anyway

The experiment: I picked 2-3 of my favorite “pantry snacks” to keep on hand.

I thought this would be hard and I was sure I’d be sad about it, but it was great.  Two or three packages of cookies and chips takes up way less space than twelve; and when I have less on hand I eat less of it. If I buy three bags of popcorn, I eat the first one right away because it’s like an extra “bonus bag”.  But if I just buy one bag, I ration it more carefully.

3) Stop buying cake and cookie decorations

Ugh, I had a serious cake decoration addiction.  I’m in recovery now.

I wanted to have the cutest cookies and cakes at every party, and that required food dyes and sprinkles in every color. My collection got huge, and my collection was growing faster than I was using it up because every holiday meant a new set of decorations! 

Then I had a realization: drunk partiers don’t give a damn about cookie decorations.   I used up what I had and downsized my collection to a few versatile color gels, a couple sets of sprinkles, and that’s it.


Sad but true: drunk people don’t give a crap about your adorbs cupcakes.

4) Don’t keep bakeware for things you don’t make

For me, this was cupcake tins and cupcake papers, of which I had many. By admitting the truth about my feelings about cupcakes (do not like), I was able to get rid of three cupcake tins and numerous packages of cupcake papers and reclaim the space in my pantry.

But what about muffins?! you say. Eh, muffin recipes can be made as a loaf of bread.

Maybe for you its pie tins, or cookie cutters (I had a giant box full!) or four different sizes of cake pans.  Take a serious look at your bakeware and toss anything you don’t absolutely love to use.

5) Downsize your spice collection

You probably have a handful of go-to spices and the rest you wouldn’t miss if it disappeared.  Go ahead and toss the weird stuff you only use once a year.  Your small pantry will thank you.

These are my essential spices – your preferences may differ:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • Red Robin spice
  • cinnamon & sugar blend
  • nutmeg
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • basil
  • oregano

6) Label the tops of your spices

I use a black Sharpie marker to write the names of my spices on their caps.  This way, I can store them in a drawer (like I did in my apartment) or in a flat organizer. Next time you’re searching for a spice, you can read the tops instead of shuffling them around.

small pantry organization tip 6 label spices

Small pantry organization tip: label your spice caps. 

7) Throw out old food

Tossing old food is a no-brainer, but it’s easy to miss as older things get pushed to the back and forgotten about.  If it’s old, let it go. How’s that for cheap pantry organization? You don’t even have to buy anything!

8) Find supplemental storage areas

I use some of the garage shelving to small kitchen appliances, canned goods, unopened bottles of marinades and sauces, and seldom-used kitchen tools like my rolling pin.

I don’t recommend storing foods that might attract pests in your garage.

small pantry organization tip extra storage in garage

Supplement your pantry with other storage areas. 

9) Use it all the time? Just leave it out.

B- for looks, A+ for functionality!  I use these spices, this cooking spray, and this skillet every morning, so they get to live on the countertop.  Not having to dig through the pantry for them = win.

small pantry organization tip keep commonly used items out

I use these things every day, so I just leave them out.  

10) Install door organizers

This back-of-the-door spice rack came with the house, and it’s super useful for storing small items like spices and jellies.  The only thing I don’t like about it?  It had to be attached to the door with screws, permanently damaging the door.

small pantry organization rack on door

Small pantry organization secret: door racks!

Are you looking for a sweet organizer that won’t damage the door?  This deluxe-size over-the-door pantry organizer on is inexpensive, adjustable, and won’t damage your door. I don’t own this, but I like it better than what I have.  If I was organizing an apartment pantry or didn’t want to drill holes in my pantry door, I’d buy this in a heartbeat.

small pantry organization deluxe over the door pantry organizer

To be honest, I’m jealous.

11) Combine food into one box

If you have more than one box of something, putting everything into one container can save you a bit of space. Cheap pantry organization at its finest!

12) Hang things from the pantry walls

This two-pronged bathrobe hook is great for storing oven mitts and pot holders. Bonus: It looks like a lopsided octopus. Another bonus: It’s dirt cheap but doesn’t look it.

small pantry organization hang items on walls

Small pantry organization tip: hang things on hooks!  On the opposite side is our fly-swatter. :) 

13) Buy the small version


Buy the economy size and save big – on SPACE!

A gigantic tub of cooking oil might cost less per ounce, but there’s a hidden cost at work here: the space requirements are expensive.  This is why we don’t shop at Costco or other bulk retailers: I just don’t have the space. And if your house is like mine, you probably don’t either.

Added bonus: Having less of something on hand seems to encourage us to be less wasteful.  I won’t cook the whole bag if it’s the only bag in the house, but I will if it’s one of six.  I’ll stretch less cooking oil further, use less butter, and eat less overall simply by having less available.

14) Keep only the best supplies


One mitt to rule them all: I tossed my crappy oven mitts and replaced them with one awesome Oxo mitt.

I used to have 1 good oven mitt and at least a half dozen inferior ones.  No surprise here: I never reached for the inferior mitts.  They just sat in a big pile taking up space.  So I donated the inferior ones and bought one more really awesome oven mitt, an OXO Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt. Now I have 2 great mitts instead of 6+ okay ones.

Same goes for knives: do you favor a particular one?  I love my OXO Santoku.  Once I realized I’d go out of my way to wash the Santoku instead of using one of the inferior but already clean knives, I rounded up all the inferior ones and donated them.

What about coffee mugs?  Do some of yours suck? Toss ’em.

Got a favorite cutting mat? Dinner tray? Scrub brush? Toss the rest and reclaim a ton of space.

15) Get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year+

Sort of related to #14, when I realized I hadn’t used my griddle in nearly 3 years I decided to give it to the local charity drop-off. The griddle was large, but it never got hot enough to compete with cooking in a smaller skillet on the stovetop.  Donating this unused appliance freed up half a shelf(!) worth of pantry space.

What’s frustrating though, are items I do actually use a couple times a year.  For me, that’s the toaster, the blender, the coffee maker, and electric hand-mixer. The best solution I’ve found for these items are to keep them in their original boxes (so they stay clean and so they can stack with other storage items) and store them somewhere outside the pantry.  Since the pantry is so small, it has to be for commonly-used items, not once-in-a-blue-moon items.

16) Stop storing so much food in the first place

Even in this age of 24-hour grocery stores, I find this one super challenging.  I include it in this list as a goal to strive for, but I fail at it all the time myself.

I apparently have a lot of hoarding baggage to get over, and it extends to a fear of running out of food.  No, I’m not really going to run out of food but this problem is exacerbated by stores like our local Safeway that seem to have inconsistent stock of certain items. I suppose we’re at the end of the shipping lines here in the PNW, but it just drives me nuts to run out of something.

Limited edition/seasonal foods: ugh, limited edition foods are my bane.  Those mint M&M that only come out at Christmas? I buy 20 as soon as they hit shelves in November because they aren’t available after mid-December! (And they really are the best mint chocolate candy.)

christmas mint m&ms are to die for

Every Christmas I buy a year’s supply of mint M&Ms.  No, the year-round mint variety is not nearly as good. 

Also not helping: those items you can only get at stores you don’t go to all the time.  For me, that’s DeLallo pizza sauce from Fred Meyer and Quinoa chips from Trader Joe’s.  I don’t want to go to these stores every single week, so when I am at one of these stores, I often leave with like 3 or 4 of the item I can only find at this store.

Realistically, the best I can do here is to not stock up on things I know are plentiful or interchangeable with another store’s version. This leaves room for the harder to find items that I buy lots of.

17) Resist bargains

Somewhat related to #16, I find “stock up and save!” and post-holiday deals borderline irresistible.

For example, Halloween Funfetti cake mix gets deeply discounted on November 1st.   This is my favorite Funfetti mix because I’m easily entertained and enjoy the novelty of black sprinkles.

How much does this really save me, though?  A couple bucks a box?  And it comes at the high cost of having to store a stack of cake mixes for months and months.

18) It’s okay to throw perfectly good food away

I definitely struggle with throwing away food that’s technically still good but I don’t like eating.  If you don’t like eating it, take it to the office.  Or just throw it away.  No one will know and the planet won’t suffer.

19) Don’t try new foods all the time

When I first moved out on my own, I wanted to try everything in the grocery store.  This resulted in having way more food in the house than I had room for, since I wasn’t eating it fast enough to keep pace with new and exciting stuff coming in.  Don’t buy something new until the old one is eaten up / thrown out.  You’ve got your whole life to eat your way through the cookie aisle, there’s no rush. :)

21) Don’t buy gimmicky organizers that are larger than you need

You know what I mean – giant knife-holders that take up a square foot of countertop space and giant spice racks that would make the East India Trading Company jealous. I started life on my own with these oversized organizers, but all they did was make me think I was supposed to have 8 specialized knives (when all I ever used was my favorite OXO Santoku) and twenty spices (when I kept reaching for the same three again and again). They also took a lot of space.  Ditching the organizers also let me downsize my collections of things, which in turn ended up using way less space.

Note: If you do actually use this much variety in knives and spices – like, you cook all the time and you’ve touched everything in the organizer in the last few months, by all means, keep these things.  But don’t keep them around because you feel you have to.  I don’t care how you organize it, one good knife always takes up less space than eight.

22) Organizing pots, pans, and skillet lids


This heavy duty Rubbermaid pan organizer lets you stack pans without touching bottoms to cook surfaces.

If you’re like I used to be, you probably have more pots, pans, and skillets than you actually use.

The first step to decluttering your pot/pan collection is to figure out which ones you actually use.  You probably have a few favorites, and the rest are just there “in case”.  Identify the favorites, and donate the rest to a charity.

Now that your pan collection is more reasonably sized, you might find you already have enough room to store them without stacking them.  I don’t like stacking skillets because their cook surfaces are usually some magical non-stick surface that shouldn’t come into contact with metal, such as the bottoms of other pans. If you have to stack your pans to get them to fit in your limited storage space, the Rubbermaid Kitchen pan/lid organizer is a good choice.  Heavy enough for cast iron and big enough for two 14″ pans, this thing holds more skillets than most cooks should need.

What to do with lids?  I like to put lids on the pans they go with.  I’ve futzed around with “lid organizers”, but I don’t like how they separate lids from the pots/pans they belong with. Getting out cookware turns into a lame matching guessing game, usually done at shin-height in a dark cabinet. Boo on that.

Remember, only keep what you actually use. Don’t feel bad about breaking up a set – whoever gets that skillet or too-big-pot you donated because you never use it will be thrilled. :)  I have two small skillets, two medium skillets, a cast iron skillet (it’s huge), and two pots (one small, one large-ish).  I used to have a gigantic pot, the kind you’d see in an Italian kitchen with an avalanche of pasta spilling out, but I realized pretty quickly that 1) I never cook that much pasta at once and 2) I don’t even like pasta. Ditching what you don’t need is essential for getting everything organized.

23) Pick one food storage system

I’ve known people with, like, four decades worth of Tupperware bowls.  The styles change so nothing stacks with anything, and it all takes up a lot of space.  When I started out on my own, I bought everything from the same system.  I was poor when I was starting out, though, so I bought these cheap Gladware containers.  Turns out, I love ’em.  They stay on the market for years without changing, and the same-size containers all stack with each other.

Whatever you do, don’t buy a dozen different sizes.  This is my chief complaint with most storage systems: you get 2 of this size, 2 of that size, 2 of this other size, and on and on.   You don’t need that much variety. I store all my fridge food with just three sizes.  Check out the variety at your local store and build your collection slowly.  Don’t add a new container type until you’re absolutely sure you need it.

24) Hang your brooms and mops


Rolling balls adjust to the handle size and each clamp holds 7.5 lbs of weight.

I used to jam my brooms, mops, dusters, Swiffers (that thing was a waste of money), etc, into whatever corner would hold them.  Then I got a broom organizer for my garage and now they’re neat and tidy.  (I immediately bought another for my rakes and shovels, they’re seriously awesome.)

Oh, and as long as we’re on the subject of brooms and mops – consider whether you have too many.  I did – three brooms was excessive, so we tossed the worst one and kept the nicest broom for inside the house and the second-best for the garage.  I hate mopping, so I donated my mop while I was at it. I’d rather crawl around with a bucket and a rag.

I had a wet Swiffer but that thing was an exercise in futility. Maybe our home is dirtier than most, but those wet pads just didn’t do anything.  My floors have to be scrubbed with elbow grease to make any difference.

25) Eat it!

If you don’t have room for it, you gotta eat it, right?

At least, that’s the logic we use when we discover the last four cookies on the sheet won’t fit in the container we’re using to store them.

small pantry organization eat what doesn't fit :)

Made more than you can store? Well, you know what you gotta do…

Note to readers: Some of the links in this article are Amazon Affiliate links. They are provided to help you go straight to the recommended product.  If you shop through an affiliate link, a tiny % of your purchase (if you make one) helps support this site with a tiny kickback at no cost to you.  As always, I encourage you to shop around and price compare to be sure you get the best deal!

Home Organization: Clear Plastic Bins for the Win

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.

4) Label!

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).


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