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Organizing With What You Have

You’ve probably seen organized spaces with rows of perfectly matched boxes and bins. Each one is labeled and packed with the corresponding items. Well, guess what? You don’t have to get fancy to get organized! There are plenty of household items that work just as well when it comes to categorizing and containing your clutter. So, let’s look at what you might already have that can be used on your organizing mission!

Utensil Drawer Tray

Do you have an old utensil drawer tray you are no longer using? Maybe you keep your silverware in a countertop caddy now but never got rid of the old one. Or perhaps you don’t even know how you ended up with more than one. Either way, these can be great to repurpose. Use them to separate pens, pencils, art or project supplies, tools, small toiletries, jewelry, beads, or even nail polish.

Shoe Boxes

Does everybody keep shoe boxes, or what? Go ahead and pull them out of the closet because they can be really useful for separating items on shelves or in deep drawers. Shoe boxes are a fantastic way to contain collections of letters, photos, business cards, CDs, face masks, cables, gloves, sewing supplies, and whatever else needs a small out-of-the-way home. They are also just the right size for separating different types of socks, undergarments, and baby clothes. Wish they were a little prettier and didn’t say “Nike” or “Adidas” on the side? You can give them a uniform appearance that reduces any visual clutter by wrapping them in craft or other decorative paper. Oh, and you can use the lids, too!

Masking Tape and Paper Clips

Labels are everything! Even if you get everything sorted, edited, and contained, you want to be able to find your items again. So, if you’ve got boxes or bins you can’t see into, masking tape can be used to label them. For wires and cables, try attaching a paper clip to the end. You can use a color-coded system or attach labels to the paper clips for easy identification. You’ll thank yourself for taking the time to label.

Baskets and Bowls

Don’t get me started on baskets and bowls! Whether they are wooden, glass, ceramic, plastic, or woven from natural fibers, baskets and bowls are incredibly versatile. Use larger ones to creatively store towels, potholders, makeup, sunglasses, pet toys, or whatever regularly used items you have multiples of that would otherwise end up in a different location every day. On the kitchen countertop, you can use them to neatly store fruit, handy snacks, coffee or tea supplies, and supplements. Want to create a Montessori-style play area? Use baskets or bowls to separate smaller categories of kids’ toys, activities, or play sets. Smaller bowls are great for keeping fingernail clippers, keys, jewelry, and hair scrunchies so you always know where they are.


Did you know that hangers can be used for so much more than clothes? They are a great way to get things off the floor and out of sight. Hang purses, scarves, tote bags, hats, your kid’s art projects, etc. Add a few shower rings to hang even more accessories. If you hang a reusable bag, you can fill it with whatever you want…more bags, Halloween costumes, wrapping paper…the list goes on!

Carabiner Clips

Whoever invented the carabiner clip was a genius! Not just for rock climbing, carabiner clips are a convenient way to organize and keep track of things like hair ties, scrunchies, reusable bags, keys, etc. If you need a belt organizer, you can just attach a few to a clothing hanger. If you don’t want your kid to lose something at the bottom of their backpack or have it tossed from their stroller, use a carabiner to attach toys, keys, or even notes for the teacher. Need to wrangle flashcards? Punch a hole in the corner of each card and use a carabiner to hold them together.

Zip Ties and Binder Clips

Who doesn’t have a problem with cable management? Thankfully, the tangled mess of wires, cords, and cables is easily tamed with zip ties. Bundle stored cables this way and you’ll save yourself some sorting headaches. For active cables, you can attach binder clips to the desk or table, and thread your cables through the loops to keep them securely in place.

Glass Jars and Ceramic Mugs

I love jars, and the best ones make great drinking glasses! But they can also be used as a caddy for sink tools, paint brushes, rubber bands, markers, etc. And a mug can also double as a toothpaste, brush, or pencil holder. By the way, both work equally well in the office as they do at home.

Canisters and Caddies

Have you ever considered using a countertop canister or caddy outside the kitchen? In the bathroom, you could contain your combs and brushes in one and your lotions in another. If you have a baby changing table, you could set up diapering and baby hygiene supplies for quick access. Or you could use canisters to organize your breastfeeding and breastmilk pumping equipment. But going back to the kitchen for a moment, have you considered using one as napkin storage? It works great!

Here’s another fun idea… You could create a kiddo hairstyling or hygiene station. Give your kid(s) all the things they need to be independent like a comb or brush, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a washcloth or wipes, lotion, ChapStick, and a handheld mirror. For very little kids, I suggest you only give them access to travel-sized liquids, so they don’t make too big of a mess. A kid-sized prep area is a “yes” space that will foster independence but with boundaries.

Plastic Containers

We all know that person who has a collection of “good for something someday” plastic containers stashed away. They could be from meat, cheese, soup, play dough, or just something you picked up from the thrift store just because it looked useful! Well, if you’re going to keep them, let’s talk about how to use them. Small plastic containers are perfect for organizing the odds and ends in your junk drawer…or any drawer, really. Separate items by category, and you’ll never have to rummage through the drawer looking for a twist tie again. If the containers are slightly larger, you can use them to separate items on a shelf, whether it’s food, makeup, wires, hardware, or anything else. For items like oil or honey, a plastic container can not only contain them but also spare you the mess in the pantry or on the countertop.

If you’ve got kids, plastic containers are a simple way to keep pacifiers and baby teething toys clean until you’re ready to give them to your little one. You can also use them to store small Lego sets, figurines, and characters so they don’t get scattered, lost, or underfoot.

Cardboard or Bulk Item Boxes

You know the boxes that hold items like frozen burritos or a case of energy drinks at the grocery store? Don’t throw those away! Eventually, you’ll have enough to organize your pantry, your utility shelf, and anything else where categorized containment would help. You could finally have separate spots for sponges, glue, light bulbs, first aid supplies, soup, mac-n-cheese, and more. Plus, they can be easily pulled off the shelf to find what you need.


Are you out of counter space and shelves but still need somewhere to put spices, onions, potatoes, garlic, etc.? No rule says produce has to be on the counter, so putting items that need a cool dark place in a low drawer is perfectly fine. And if you’re short a spice rack (or just prefer your counters to be clear), you can simply lay spice containers down in an easily accessible drawer close to the stove.


The list of useful items you either have already or might otherwise discard is immense. I am not suggesting that you start to stockpile anything potentially useful. That would certainly be counterproductive! I just want to encourage you to consider the possibilities. Most importantly, don’t let a lack of special organizing tools or supplies stall your organizing momentum. There’s always a way to make it happen!

Need more ideas? Give us a call!

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