The $1 Storage Solution You Won’t Know How You Lived Without

published Nov 21, 2017
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

I’ve picked up the odd Dollar Tree clear plastic bin here and there for, well, I can’t remember what for now that I use them for everything. Seriously, since discovering and drooling over The Home Edit‘s Instagram feed (I even rainbowtized my apps, but that’s a story for another day), I’m clear-binning all the things. Here’s why I wish I’d started organizing with them years ago.

They enable modular storage

One inefficient thing about using various containers or keeping your things in the containers they came in is that they’re all different sizes and shapes. The mishmash isn’t exactly eye-pleasing, and you have to keep containers in just-so spots so every piece fits into the puzzle.

With clear plastic bins, on the other hand, you can stack and re-order many times as you take something out and put it away — and it will continue to look tidy. This means no more re-doing the closets (or under the sinks, or what-have-you). Modular storage means shuffling and re-arranging doesn’t break your organizational system, but rather is built into it.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

I’ll never have to search for matching containers again

When you find the basket in just the right shade that has just the right dimensions to fit between the out-of-season clothes box and the suitcase in your closet, what happens when the dog crushes the basket or you get new shelves? With clear plastic bins, you can easily find a replacement and one that will match all your other storage containers. You can say goodbye to that holding pattern of empty baskets, bins, and boxes that have outlived their original purpose and are waiting to be useful again.

They can be used everywhere

Take the guesswork out of how to organize and store things. Extra bottles of shampoo under the bathroom sink, batteries, cupcake liners — they all find happy homes in shoebox-size clear plastic bins. Again, because they can be used so easily all over the house, you won’t have to shuffle baskets, etc. that don’t quite work in other parts of your home.

They help compartmentalize things in bigger storage containers

We like to rotate our children’s toys so that they have items that feel new (and get played with enthusiastically) without our having to buy new ones. Since switching to clear plastic bins, rotating toys is just a matter of swapping them out. We keep the ones that aren’t in our playroom in bigger plastic bins in the garage.

Another way I use clear plastic bins to compartmentalize is when we use the cooler for camping. No more digging through ice to find the yogurt containers! I put small items in the bins and stack them in the cooler before we fill it with ice. Game changer.

Everyone can can see what’s in them

Being able to see what’s in the bins is helpful both when you want to take something out to use it and when you go to put it away. This is especially useful when kids are involved: Non-readers still know where to find what they are looking for and no one can sneak the Ninja Turtles in with the blocks without mom seeing it.

You can write on them with white Sharpie

Writing on my storage bins with white Sharpie is the treat I give myself when I’ve decanted yet another hodge-podge of stuff from a breaking box or fraying basket into a perky little plastic box. The best part: You can wipe it off with a Magic Eraser. Labeling and re-labeling have never been easier or more fun.

P.S. Oil-based paint markers are the best—they dry quickly and work on any surface in your home.

They’re cheap

Six quart plastic storage bins run about a dollar apiece at dollar stores, Target, Walmart and the like — especially because in-store prices on these staples tend to be better than online prices. Also consider ordering in bulk if you’re inspired to do an overhaul.