5 Things You’re Storing in the Wrong Place, According to Pro Organizers

published Aug 16, 2023
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It all started with a classic parenting dilemma — we’re running late, rushing out the door with five kids including a newborn, and one can’t find their shoes. All progress and forward motion comes to a screeching halt. When I saw them, I was hit all at once with a life-changing epiphany. The shoes were thrown in the garage just outside the door to the house. That makes sense, right? They are a little muddy, and he did the right thing there. What wasn’t right is the fact that his shoe shelves, where I expect him to keep his shoes, are upstairs in his room. Really, it made no sense when I realized it all at once at that moment.

Then, I started to think about all the things that were just in the wrong place completely, like why their socks were in their rooms instead of with their new shoe bins (by the said garage door), or why, oh why, is the mail sorter not even really on my path into the house? 

Sometimes, homes aren’t built around our natural paths, but rather the preconceived notion of “where things belong” or look the best. This all changed with the shoe incident, and now I’m drastically rethinking my home’s setup. I reached out to professional organizers whose literal job is to streamline and make it all make sense in people’s homes. Here are five items they say people are putting in the wrong places, and what to try instead.

Your medicines are going bad in your “medicine cabinet.”

Medicine cabinets in your bathroom should not all be filled with medicine, according to Jane Stoller, author of “Decluttering for Dummies” and owner of organizedjane.com. “Even though they are labeled as ‘medicine cabinets’ we must rethink this. Bathrooms are often filled with moisture and fluctuating temperatures, which can degrade the quality of medications, vitamins, and supplements stored in medicine cabinets,” she says. “Instead, keep medications and supplements in a cool, dry, and dark area such as a bedroom drawer or a designated cabinet in the kitchen. This helps maintain their efficacy and shelf life.”

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You aren’t surfing in your garage…

Sure, the garage is a natural catch-all for larger, outdoor items. “However many of us store so much equipment that we can’t even park our cars in the garage,” Stoller says. “Instead of cluttering the garage with sports gear like surfboards, kayaks, or skiing equipment, invest in a storage shed to keep them safe and organized in your backyard.” By freeing up your garage to park a car, you won’t be dodging equipment on the way in.

If you still don’t have a key bowl, it’s time.

“Many people tend to leave their keys on countertops, tables, or even in random drawers. Instead, consider having a designated key rack or a bowl near the entrance of your home. “This way, you’ll always know where to find them, and it will save you time searching for your keys when you need to leave the house,” says Trish Lake, owner and CEO of TLC Cleaning with locations in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Rethink that laundry hamper.

Laundry baskets are often left in bedrooms or bathrooms, and dirty clothes may end up on the floor instead, Lake has noticed. “Keep a designated laundry area, such as a utility room or a corner in the bathroom, where everyone in the household knows to place their dirty clothes. This will help maintain cleanliness and ensure that laundry doesn’t pile up elsewhere.” For my family, this involved making sure each kid had one near their closet but also in the bathroom.

Move your spices.

Many kitchens have spice racks or shelves located above the stove, which can expose the spices to heat and humidity from cooking, potentially affecting their quality, Erin Zanelli, San Diego-based co-owner of Tranquil Home warns. “Instead, store spices in a cool, dark place away from heat sources, such as in a pantry, cupboard, or drawer. Consider using labeled containers or magnetic spice jars on the side of the refrigerator or a metal sheet inside a cabinet door for space-efficient storage.”

Spend some time planning your personalized changes.

While the above suggestions are almost universally helpful, you have to spend a bit of time determining which items are out of place for your own family and individual household. The benefits can be immense, in both time savings and mental peace, Zanelli adds. Items out of place or difficult to access in a home can contribute to stress in several ways, which will help get you motivated to rethink their spots, she says, including:

  • Disorganization and Clutter: When items are scattered around or stored haphazardly, it creates a sense of disorganization and clutter. A cluttered environment can be visually overwhelming and mentally distracting, leading to increased stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Difficulty in Finding Things: When essential items are not kept in their designated places, it becomes challenging to locate items when needed. The constant search for misplaced items can cause frustration and anxiety, especially when in a rush or during time-sensitive situations.
  • Time Wasted: Looking for misplaced items or struggling to access things that are stored in hard-to-reach places can result in wasted time and energy. This inefficiency can lead to added stress, as it disrupts daily routines and may even make individuals feel like they are constantly behind schedule.
  • Sense of Chaos: A disorganized and cluttered environment can evoke a sense of chaos and lack of control. This feeling of chaos can translate into heightened stress levels, as individuals may struggle to feel at ease or find a sense of calm in their living spaces.
  • Safety Concerns: Items placed in hazardous locations can pose risks to physical well-being. For example, leaving objects on the floor can lead to tripping hazards, or storing heavy items in unstable positions might increase the risk of accidents or injuries.
  • Aesthetics and Comfort: A home that is not well-organized and lacks a sense of order may not provide the visual and emotional comfort individuals seek in their living spaces. This can contribute to feelings of dissatisfaction and stress related to the home environment.
  • Decision Fatigue: When faced with disorganization and items out of place, individuals may experience decision fatigue as they try to determine where to put things or how to arrange their surroundings. This mental strain can lead to increased stress levels over time.

    If it’s too much, consider asking a professional organizer for some help streamlining your processes in your home, and asking just where that hamper should hang out.