When you’ve got kids, clean-ups can feel like a Sisyphean task: You (or, maybe, your kids) pick up everything — but then all too quickly, the shoes, toys and books are right back where you asked them not to be. Your home is full of stuff for a reason — so you can enjoy and use it. But it’s also reasonable to want it to be off the floors, counters and tables when not in use. If you’ve struggled to keep certain areas clean in the past, consider using a few well-placed storage bins. Rather than needing a perfect place for everything on shelves or in closets, bins can quickly hide myriad things, from beauty products to Legos, before you tuck them away. Things in the bins don’t even necessarily have to be neat, though they can be harder to find later if it’s just an undistinguished clutter. Some organization, like separating out types of toys in specific bins for kids, can help. But you don’t want to get too precious with it: after all, if the bin system becomes hard to use, it’s going to become an impediment to cleaning, not a way to make it easier.
Storage bins are also great for putting things where you always need them, which sounds obvious but can be more revolutionary than it sounds. If you’re constantly running around looking for everyone’s mittens and hats before rushing out the front door, for example, consider placing a bin by the entryway for winter gear. If the living room is a place where favorite toys migrate, create a home for a few things there so kids can play and clean up there rather than having to haul things back to their room. It’s a small thing, having a box to toss all your things in, but it can make all the difference in the world. Here are five tried-and-true organizational methods you can try.
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1. SimpleHouseware Foldable Cube Storage Bins
Soft, collapsible storage bins are particularly good for closets and clothes. The opaque sides hide less-than-neatly folded items from view, and can generously store plenty of things but aren’t so big that stuff gets lost, either. The dimensions mean they also fit perfectly in Closetmaid and other modular storage shelves. But even if you don’t have a cube-type shelf or storage bench, these can go on closet shelves, in playrooms and more. Because the bins are fabric, however, they’re not great for use in the kitchen, with toiletries or anywhere spills are likely.
2. TheWarmHome Grey Linen Storage Basket
For bins you don’t mind leaving out, TheWarmHome makes a number of rope-handle fabric options in a variety of sizes. The smallest can be used for organizing tech and school supplies, while the largest can be brought out for laundry day or closet organization. The larger sizes even have a draw-string closure on the top to hide the bin contents if you want. All sizes are great for places where you want just one bin as a storage solution since they won’t look out of place under a coffee table or by an entryway.
3. mDesign Kitchen Cabinet and Pantry Storage Organizer Bins
For things that may leak, you’ll want hard plastic — not fabric — storage bins. These plastic organizers from mDesign are perfect for that. Designed for the kitchen, they can go into the fridge or pantry to make smaller things like teas and yogurts easy to grab. Beyond that, they can be used in desks, junk drawers and in bathrooms for beauty supplies. The bins also stack to save counter space .
4. Sorbus Foldable Storage Bag Organizers
For under-bed storage, you can go with hard plastic or soft fabrics. Clear plastic gives you the advantage of being able to see the contents easily but can be rigid and take up more space than it needs to when empty. Fabric bins, on the other hand, can be better stored when not in use and take up less space when they’re only half full. These fabric bins with a clear plastic panel bring you the best of both worlds: it’s easy to store and use, and easy to find what you need. Use these to store off-season clothes as well as linens and blankets.
5. Rubbermaid Brute Tote Storage Container With Lid
For things that need to be pulled out once a year or less, like holiday decorations, consider investing in a heavy-duty bin like this one fro Rubbermaid. The thick plastic construction and tight lid make it great for basement and garage storing conditions and protect the contents from spills and vermin. While the bin brings to mind bulky items like gardening tools and sports equipment, it can also be good for tucking away family heirlooms safely in the attic as well.