5 Overhyped Organizing Tools That Just Aren’t Worth It, According to a Professional Organizer

published Feb 21, 2021
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If you’ve ever felt the urge to reorganize your closet, kitchen, or an entire house, then you’ve probably also experienced the intense impulse to shop for organizational tools right after. Suddenly, the appeal of dozens of wicker baskets or acrylic containers or under-the-bed storage is nearly irresistible.

Everyone tells themselves that these tools will provide motivation to keep things tidy and always put everything away. In reality, though, shopping for organizers is often a way to avoid doing the actual work: getting rid of stuff and making what you keep accessible and functional. The other reality is that you probably aren’t buying exactly the right organizers when you shop.

In fact, there are quite a few popular organizational systems and containers that aren’t nearly as helpful as you think — especially if you’ve brought them home without coming up with a plan for how to use them.

Here are 5 overhyped organizers you should think twice before you bring home:

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Huge Storage Bins 

As Shannon Krause of Tidy Nest explains, gigantic storage bins are better in theory than they are in reality. Krause says she sees them often in clients’ homes who have had big hopes of getting organized themselves.

“The truth is, we really don’t like these bins. Firstly, they’re so big that everyone loads them up with so many items that they’re too heavy to maneuver,” Krause says. “Secondly, they require their own large area in which to store them. Lastly, because the insides are just big, empty spaces, they’re difficult to keep organized.”

What to use instead: Krause suggests looking for more manageably-sized totes. “We hardly ever go larger than the 74-quart size from The Container Store,” Krause says.

Credit: Minette Hand

Opaque Storage Containers

While opaque containers might do a good job of hiding the messy contents of the containers, they’re not actually the most effective storage solutions, according to Krause.

“Anything that goes into long-term storage should be contained in clear bins so the contents are visible. Opaque bins just hide the clutter or even worse, invite people to just throw items in bins and close the lid and pretend it never happened,” Krause says. “Plus, you’re at the mercy of a labeling system — if your opaque bins are not labeled clearly or the labels fall off, you’ll be lost and find yourself unstacking and opening up bins over and over to figure out what they actually contain.” 

An exception? If you’re using opaque storage containers for decor purposes. “For example, bookshelf storage boxes can be opaque if it ties in with your decor,” Krause says.

What to use instead: Clear storage containers mean you can spend less time labeling, less time trying to remember where you stored what, and more time focusing on basically anything else, so they’re a win-win.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Round Storage Containers 

If you’ve been decanting food goods and other items in round storage containers, you might be wasting precious counter space, says Krause. 

“We steer clear of round storage containers because they don’t sit flush and waste that coveted storage space,” Krause explains.

What to use instead: Squared or rectangular containers, specifically containers that don’t taper or nest inside each other. “We only use square or rectangular shaped containers so they can sit right next to each other without wasting space,”  says Krause.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Traditional Lazy Susans or Turntables

This one might surprise you, especially since lazy susans are so darn popular in the organizational world, but they might not be quite as convenient as they seem.

“They are used in pantries, kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms, but if you spin them with any kind of speed, you’ll notice that the products fall over or fly off the turntable nearly every time,” Krause says of the popular product.

What to use instead: Look for a lazy susan with a backstop or high-sided compartments. “We like to use lazy susans or turntables with sides or ‘walls’ like The Home Edit Divided Lazy Susan from The Container Store,” says Krause. “The items are nicely contained within the walls and can withstand turning speeds.”

Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk/Shutterstock

A Countertop Spice Rack

Spices can take up a lot of room in a kitchen, even if you don’t necessarily use a lot of them often. 

“Counter tops are prime real estate and to us… so taking up space for spices that are infrequently used is not ideal,” Krause says. “How often are you using that paprika powder? Maybe not enough to keep out on the counter.”

What to use instead: If you have the space, stashing your spices away will always provide a better kitchen workflow. “Tame the countertop clutter and store your spices in a kitchen drawer using a spiceliner roll or store in a cabinet using a spice rack or turntable,” says Krause.

Just make sure that turntable has sides, and you’ll be good to go.