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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Closet Organization for Ten Bucks or Less

I'm a slob.  A complete, disgusting, utter slob.  I'm also the most organized person you will ever meet.  It just depends on what part of my house you get to see, what day it is, and my level of motivation. In particular, my closets are categorized and planned to an almost obsessive degree.  Take under my kitchen sink:

From left to right:   Top left is spray paint. Under that, I have two stacked shelves.  The top one for cleaning rags and the bottom for my reusable mop refills.  The bin to the right of that is for floor cleaning products.  The middle blue bin is for all-purpose household cleaning products, and the right bin is for dishwasher detergent and dish cleaning products.  The row behind the bins is for large bottles of bulk cleaning products, like vinegar and glass cleaner.  I also have a cool organizer on the door for rubber gloves, wood and electronics cleaners (basically the expensive stuff I don't want to spill or lose).

The beauty of this method of organization is that it's almost impossible to screw up.  once something has a place, it just goes there and that's where it lives forever.  That's the only way I am able to remain a modicum of order in my life, everything just needs a home, or else it is complete and utter chaos.  I'd show you an example of that chaos in my clothes closet, but it's too embarrassing.  Perhaps that will be a future blog entry, organizing the bottomless pit of clothes!  For now, however, I want to show you how to organize a closet for ten bucks or less.

You don't need fancy tubs and things from Pottery Barn or The Container Store (although, someday I hope to!) to organize things.  Everything I have used under my kitchen sink was from the dollar store.  So is everything I used for this closet:

Here's how I did it:

These plastic bins were in the automotive section of Dollar Tree, I bought seven, and I love them.  I will probably buy thirty more for various other household uses.  I only wish they came in white, but I'm not going to be that picky--after all, this blog is about doing things with a limited budget, and I use what I find.  They are also the perfect size for a foot soak, so buy an extra one for when you're done organizing.

Contact paper for the shelves, optional.  This closet is cedar, but the shelves have seen better days.  I didn't want to paint them, so this was the obvious solution.  Dollar Tree carries 50" rolls of various contact paper for a buck a roll.  I bought four, these shelves are large.

Double sided tape is for adhering labels.

Note cards are for making the labels, although I used scrapbook paper cut into squares because it was prettier, but I have used these in the past.  They're already the perfect size and they have lines so you can write straight:  Fool proof!

The first step to organizing a closet is to categorize your items in a way that works for you.  This is where you make an even bigger mess of your closet, by removing everything from it and putting it all on the floor at once!  Set out your bins, and start putting "like" things together.  Or, at least, that's how I did it.  Categories tend to emerge on their own that way.  I suggest first aid (bandaids, peroxide, etc.), dental (toothbrushes, mouthguard cleaners), bath/shampoo, and a bin for each person in the household as well.  This way, someone always has a place for their particular type of deodorant, their own tweezers, and whatever they want to keep in their spot.  The point being, it has a place to live.  Here are the categories I used and what I put in each categorized bin:

The obvious; tooth brushes, bite splint cleaner, mouth wash, whitening products.

Bandages, antibiotic ointment, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, witch hazel, gauze.  Again, the obvious stuff for a first aid category.

Hair spray, leave-in conditioners, lotions, room spray.  Basically anything else that didn't fit into the other bins or categories.

My husband's bin, includes razors and refills, unused electric toothbrush, hair gel, travel bag.

My bin:  Razors, my SPF 45 sunscreen for my pale skin, neti pot, and various other things I don't want to share.

Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.  Pretty self-explanatory.

After you have a "home" for everything, you need to start planning out where each bin will go on the shelf.  Think about putting the most-often accessed bins in the middle, toward eye level.  Lesser-used items on the sides and bottom.  Items that are less sanitary go towards the floor and items that stay cleaner (towels) go towards the top.

I dedicated my top two shelves for towels and bedding.  The third shelf down is the most-often used, so I put my and my husband's bins there, as well as stuff used for the shower.

Another thing to consider is putting nails up on the sides of the shelves for things that have hooks built-in.  I did this for my hair dryer, as well as my Mr. Clean shower/bathroom cleaning tools.  These items don't really "fit" anywhere, so hanging was the best option, as it keeps them out of the way and gives them a home:

I really wanted to find a place to fit my iron and spray starch, but there wasn't a great spot besides just right on the leftover shelf space.  i did, however, come up with a creative method for containing the power cord:

I also wanted to have a "home" for the cleaning supplies and the toilet stuff, and I wanted it organized in the most sanitary way possible  (i.e., the plunger does not touch other things!).  I used mostly stuff I already had on hand, the only addition was the one black bin.

From left to right:  The black bag with red handles is a handheld steam cleaner.  The green bin is for toilet paper.  I wish it weren't round, but I got it for a buck-fifty at the time, and it was the largest thing I could find (usually I buy T.P. in bulk).  To the right I have a small bin labeled "cleaning," which has cleaning products, as well as a smaller container that contains plumbing items such as toilet seat bolts and pipe dope.    The middle has a few refills for a bathroom cleaning tool my mom got me, and a bottle of bleach.  The back right bin has the "gross stuff," including a plastic drain snake, the toilet brush, and the plunger.  They should be ashamed of themselves, and that's why they live in the back corner.  

Here is the finished product:

While it may not be the prettiest closet, I'm confident that it will stay organized.   With some thoughtful planning and about ten bucks, your closet can be this organized, too!  If only I could make the rest of my house look like this.

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