Stay on top of household inventory and keep your space more organized with this easy storage guide.
Shopping at wholesale retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club comes with a number of advantages. One downside to bulk buying, however, is that it can be difficult to keep those large packs of paper towels or an entire flight of soup cans organized. And if you find yourself stuffing oversized packs of toilet paper into any available space you have, it's easy to lose track of what you have in the house—and you won't be able to find it when you need it.
To cut clutter and stay on top of your bulk purchases, set up a dedicated storage system for your backstock reserve. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think to organize these items so that you don't find yourself shopping in excess or creating eyesores throughout the house. Follow these simple steps to regain control of your backstock supply and make life easier in the long run.
1. Take Inventory
The first step is to figure out the average volume of backstock you have at any given time. With pandemic shortages in our not too distant memory, it’s not uncommon to stock up on more “just in case”. But it’s also important to remember that a lot of household items—specifically pantry and cleaning products—do have a shelf life. To prevent waste (and curb unnecessary clutter), keep on hand only what you'll use in the next six months.
Conversely, if you have the storage space, you might benefit from buying in bulk more often. From a financial and accessibility perspective, it can save significant money and time. And if you create an organized system for these items, you'll be able to stock up on non-perishables like toilet paper and paper towels without worrying about space.
As you’re taking inventory, be sure to include the following categories. Assess how much room you’ll need to store these items before moving onto the next task.
Household or utility items
Health and beauty products
2. Designate a Backstock Storage Space
Ideally, all backstock should be kept in one place so things are easy to find when it’s time to replenish. Whether it be hand soap for the half bath or your kid’s favorite snack, it’s convenient to have a one-stop-shop. But, depending on the space you have, you may need to break it up. Taking inventory of your current supplies should give you an idea of how much space you'll need, so you'll know whether you can store everything together, or whether you'll need to break things down by category
If you’re able to, use one of the following areas of the house to keep all of the backstock items together:
The laundry room
The garage (only if it’s temperature controlled)
A spare room or closet
A freestanding cabinet or shelving unit in any part of the house
Under the staircase
If you do need to break it down into a few different storage areas, it's important to keep like items together. Paper towels and toilet paper can go in the laundry room cupboards, while extra cleaning supplies can all be stored in the linen closet, for example. Consider these storage suggestions:
Non-perishables and paper goods in the pantry
Toiletries in a bathroom or linen closet
Cleaning or household supplies in the laundry room, garage, or utility closet
3. Sort and Organize Backstock Items
Now that you have your categories storage locations narrowed down, it’s time to create an organized storage system. Take advantage of existing shelves, install an adjustable track system, or invest in a quality shelving unit or freestanding cabinet that will hold your supply.
Follow the basic rules of organizing rules of storing similar items together and assign each shelf a purpose. For example, if you’re using a single shelving unit for all backstock items, allocate one shelf for pantry goods, one for cleaning supplies, and so on. Within each category, corral smaller items into containers.
If possible, opt for matching open bins so it looks neat and keeps things accessible. Add labels so it’s clear what is inside each but avoid being too specific. Rather than labeling the exact item or brand, keep it simple by using terms such as “laundry products” and “bath and body.” This leaves a little leeway should your needs or shopping habits change over time.
If a category is small, like batteries or furniture pads, choose more compact organizers to contain them and consider adding those to a larger bin labeled “utility supplies.”
4. Remove Excess Packaging
Remove the packaging of larger items such as a pack of paper towels, a case of sparkling water, and an oversized box of garbage bags. The towel rolls and drink cans will be easier to store if you're not constricted to the bulky packaging they come in. Trash bags can stand vertically or lay horizontally in an open bin. By decanting backstock items like these, you’ll free up space to store more. Plus, it’ll be easier to see when you’re running low.
5. Maintain Your Storage System
The beauty of organizing your backstock items is that you’ll have a much better handle on your home’s inventory. Rather than searching in every corner or crevice for that extra roll of tin foil or box of light bulbs, you’ll know exactly where they’re located and where to store the new ones you buy. A quick scan of your shelves and bins will tell you what needs to be restocked soon.
Remember, organizing systems work so long as you do, therefore maintenance is key. Ensure that every member of the household is aware of the new system and is committed to keeping it up. It might be helpful to create a digital inventory list that you can share with the family and update it every few months. Alternatively, try placing a memo board near the storage location, especially if it’s all in one place, and keep a running shopping checklist.
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