I’m a Professional Organizer and These are the 3 Organizing Products I Avoid (and 3 Alternatives I Prefer)

updated Jun 5, 2023
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Five years ago, I started an organizing business and it’s been a journey, to say the least. I sometimes compare the before-and-after photos I took from early projects with more recent ones and can see how far I’ve come, in both my organizational skills and my photography skills. Not only have I learned how to do things more effectively and efficiently, but I’ve also discovered which tools are worth investing in and which might be a waste of time and money.

Now I want to pass this wisdom on to you, especially if you’re serious about getting and keeping key parts of your home (like the kitchen, mudroom, or closet) organized. Here are three types of organizing products I avoid at all costs — and three preferred alternatives.

Least favorite organizer No. 1: Plastic drawer organizers

I most definitely had these in my dorm rooms and most likely my first few adult apartments. I get it — they’re cheap and can be used for anything from clothing to craft supplies. The issue with them, however, is that they’re cheap. The frames easily crack and the drawers bow, making them hard to open when they get too heavy. If you need a short-term solution, like while you’re waiting for dressers to be delivered, they’re a great idea. After that, feel free to donate them to a kid heading off to college.

A better alternative: Metal drawer organizers

While they will cost you a bit more, they’re worth it in my opinion; the sturdy metal material is made to last a lifetime. My personal preference is the Elfa line at The Container Store but for a more budget-friendly option, the Brightroom line at Target has come out with similar small and large organizers for $35 and $60 respectively.

Least favorite organizer No. 2: Fabric cube bins 

A go-to for smaller homes, fabric cube bins conceal a ton of clutter and, like plastic drawers, are typically inexpensive. The real flimsy ones, however, will quickly start to lose their shape and begin to warp. Storing liquids in them is also a no-go since they can easily stain after a leak. Using them for kids’ stuff, like socks or stuffed animals, is fine and probably safer since they’re soft.

A better alternative: Cube bins in any other material

You can find cubes in a range of earth-friendly materials such as wood, water hyacinth, seagrass, rattan, and jute. They aren’t collapsible, so you know they’ll withstand whatever you’re storing. For what it’s worth, they also look a lot more elevated. If you’re a fan of the clear container look, you can opt for acrylic, like this set of four from Amazon for under $50.

Least favorite organizer No. 3: Tubular and swing arm pant hangers

Thick plastic hangers take up unnecessary space in your closet — if yours is small to begin with, you want to avoid these at all costs. When it comes to swing arm pant hangers, they’re just, well, a pain in the butt (pun intended). They make it hard to get pants on and off, which results in them not ever being put back and creating clutter piles on the floor.

A better alternative: Slimline and open-ended pant hangers

You don’t have to go the velvet hanger route to maximize space if it’s not your first choice. You can find slim hangers in rubber, wood, acrylic, and even plastic, such as this 10-pack from Target for $3. Instead of swinging arms, try open-ended arm hangers for your pants, like this 20-pack on Amazon for under $28, to make sliding pants on and off a breeze.