Purpose: House linens and extra toiletries
• Keep just two to three full sets of towels (bath, hand and washcloth) per family member and a few extra sets for guests. Use so stacks don't topple over.
• Recycle raggedy towels with stains or holes in them. "Store these with your cleaning supplies, or donate them to your local animal shelter," says Charlotte Steill, a certified professional organizer and owner of . Same goes for shabby sheets and blankets.
• Store good sheet sets and blankets under beds in a or in a pretty lidded box in the room where they're used.
• Corral extra health and beauty aids such as shampoo, cotton balls and cotton swabs in bins or stackable plastic shoeboxes. "Don't buy more than you can fit in these containers," says Steill. "That way you've got spares but aren't going overboard with stocking up."
Purpose: Store health and beauty products you use every day
• Toss old makeup you haven't used in six months or beauty products you don't like anymore.
• Hang a pocket shoe holder over the back of the bathroom door for small items such as brushes, combs and hair clips.
• Store products you use daily in a pretty countertop caddy so they don't sprawl out everywhere. Or stash handled totes with each family member's personal items under the sink, says Steill.
• Keep two rolls of toilet tissue in the bathroom; the rest should go into a bulk storage area somewhere else in the house, such as the laundry room.
• Relocate medications to a cool, dry place away from heat and light. In the bathroom medicine cabinet, humidity and temperature changes can damage them. A kitchen cabinet works, as long as it's not near the stove, sink or dishwasher.
• Place first-aid items you don't use daily, such as bandages and antibiotic cream, in a zippered plastic bag or plastic shoebox under the sink or in your linen closet. Don't forget to label it so you can find it in a hurry.
Purpose: Make laundry chores easier to do
• Stack plastic see-through shoeboxes or bins on a shelf with small laundry aids such as bleach pens, laundry markers and stain removers, says Steill.
• Use lazy Susans on shelves to make starch, suede cleaner and other seldom-used laundry items more convenient to grab.
• Place a small bowl or basket near the washing machine to catch stray buttons, coins and anything else you find in pockets.
• Utilize unused space by placing hooks on the wall to hold hangers or a bag for dry-clean-only items.
• Mount a retractable clothesline or on the wall, or use a tension rod set high in a door frame for hanging drip-dry items.
• Keep a trash can handy so you'll always remember to clean the dryer's lint screen.
• Store messy items such as detergent and bleach bottles in plastic bins or dish pans to catch drips and residue, says Hansen. If you buy extra-large containers at warehouse clubs, transfer to smaller jugs so they're more manageable. And keep extra laundry supplies in your bulk storage area.
• Keep hampers near where each family member undresses. If there's space, a sectioned hamper in the laundry room makes sorting easier.
• Hang an over a door or on the wall. If space is limited, consider a .
Photo: Anthony-Masterson/Getty Images
Purpose: Keep groceries handy for easy meal planning
• Line up similar canned goods, then label the corresponding shelf section "veggies," "soups" or whatever other categories are most used in your house.
• Repackage items in flimsy boxes or bags, such as spaghetti or rice, in airtight, stackable containers so they'll stay fresh and you can find them at a glance. Tip: Square containers stack better and take up less space than round.
• Stash packets of seasoning or soup mixes in plastic, wicker or metal bins.
• Designate a snack shelf or bin so everybody can help themselves to Mom-approved treats—and not rummage around upsetting your organization.
• Post a whiteboard or notepad inside the pantry door, and get into the habit of immediately writing down items when you're running low.
• Check the for the expiration dates of most foods. In general, acidic canned goods such as fruits and tomatoes last 18 months, while canned vegetables and meats can last several years. If in doubt or if the can is leaking, rusty, dented or buckled in any way, toss it. Print out the and post it inside your pantry for guidelines on how long items last. And, going forward, use a black marker to label the date of purchase on items, then rotate and discard accordingly.
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Hall or Entryway Closet
Purpose: Provide a landing pad for easy departures and srrivals
• Hang a pocket shoe holder inside the closet door for hats, scarves and gloves. Or stack and label plastic shoe boxes on the closet shelf to contain individual family members' items.
• Do a seasonal coat swap so you're not wading through down coats in the middle of summer or lightweight windbreakers in the middle of winter. Hide off-season outerwear in underbed storage containers.
• Add hooks somewhere inside the closet for hanging umbrellas, purses and backpacks.
Photo: Henrik Weis/Getty Images
Purpose: Give kids a space of their own for fun and learning
• Purchase shelving with baskets or sturdy square fabric cubbies for kids to store toys. Teach them to put similar items together, such as cars in one bin, stuffed animals in another. Post labels or pictures of items on the outside of the bins to encourage easy cleanups.
• Rotate toys and games every few months so kids aren't overwhelmed by having too many choices. Store extra toys in a plastic bin high on a shelf in the playroom closet.
• Weed through playthings with kids on a consistent basis—say, right before holidays and birthdays. "It's important to involve your kids so they feel empowered and learn decision-making skills," says Hansen.
Photo: Justin Bernhaut/Getty Images
Purpose: Store household items that don't get used frequently
• Move items that can be damaged by moisture and mildew, such as videos, DVDs, photographs, books or family keepsakes, to another storage space. Or add to storage containers to control moisture.
• Keep everything off the floor in case of flooding. Stack clear plastic bins on metal shelving to store holiday items, spare kitchen items and bulk storage of household supplies such as paper towels. Or elevate storage containers on wooden or that can be configured to whatever size you need. Label everything.
• Use hooks to hang items, such as luggage or bikes stored indoors for the winter, on exposed studs or from ceiling rafters.
• Group items by frequency of use. For example, don't keep seasonal decorations at the easy-to-reach base of the stairs when you only need to access them a couple times during the year.
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Garage or Shed
Purpose: House family vehicles and/or outdoor items
• Move out anything that doesn't belong. "The garage and shed shouldn't just serve as a catchall," says Hansen. "There should be three to five well-defined zones that are dedicated to specific tasks such as gardening, a workbench or sporting goods storage."
• Invest in heavy-duty metal shelving so you can stack plastic boxes full of seasonal decorations, camping equipment or small tools easily. Label everything.
• Get stuff off the floor so you aren't tripping over it. Hang tools on the walls, on a pegboard or from simple hooks. Overhead storage systems that suspend from the ceiling enable you to stack large items, such as snowboards or cross-country skis, out of the way.
• Toss balls and other unwieldy sporting goods such as bats or hockey sticks in tall garbage cans.
• Avoid storing any items that can be damaged by moisture or freezing temperatures, such as paint. If you're storing items that might attract pests, such as birdseed or pet food, keep in a sealed plastic container.
• Make sure outdoor fabric cushions and umbrellas are completely dry before putting them away for the winter so they won't be ruined by mildew. If there's no room for furniture itself inside, shield it from the elements with or tarps.
Photo: Fuse/Getty Images
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