The Myth about Storage Bins


storage bin coverStorage bins, baskets and containers are everywhere after the holidays.

They are alluring.

They are on sale.

They come in great colors.

They are offered in a dizzying amount of sizes and styles.

They illicit thoughts of neatly organized spaces.

Don’t buy a single bin until you read this.

Our homes are over-run with storage, yet we are not more organized as a result. You may ask yourself, “why”?

It actually isn’t your fault.

We are all fed a nefarious lie every January. Retailers would love you to believe that your home will be organized by simply purchasing their products. They seduce you by the neatly stacked displays. They remind you of your resolution to become more organized. (Becoming more organized has been consistently in the top 5 most popular New Year’s resolutions for the past ten years.) If you pay close attention, you will see organizing products in nearly every cart as you leave Target and Costco in early January. It happens every year.

holiday storage #1


Buying more bins alone won’t make you more organized.

In every home or business I have organized, there have already been storage bins and boxes present. In fact, those individuals who often need the most organizational support have MORE bins than they could every use. It often looks like a “container graveyard” in their space. Clearly, valiant attempts have been made to use the organizing items my clients have purchased. A lot of money has often been invested. However, the retailers have left out some crucial information to make you successful when you purchased your bins.

What you need to know before you buy another bin, box or basket this year:

1. Edit

You won’t know what needs to be stored until this vital step is completed. Before you put away your holiday gifts or pack up the Christmas decor, consider if those items truly fit your lifestyle and taste. Local charities could be blessed by your duplicates or excess.

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Are the items in poor repair? Don’t hesitate to toss them. Space is a valuable commodity. Choose what stays in your home carefully.

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2. Consider the storage location

Will the items be stored in the rafters? Heavy-duty bins that withstand heat/cold temperatures will be essential with visible labels. Will the bins be stored in closets? Measure the space you have so that they stack neatly and work with your space. Are pests a factor? Make sure the bin you choose closes securely for dark, deep sheds and garages.

3. Be honest with yourself about your needs.

We only access 20% of the papers we file. We wear less than 20% of our wardrobes. Children play with only a small percentage of the toys they own. Before you purchase bins or storage systems, truly consider WHAT you are storing. Perhaps that nifty, new file box isn’t the best answer and buying a scanner would fit your paper needs better. You may surprise yourself and enjoy the found space removing ill-fitting clothes/shoes provides rather than the newest closet system. Maybe rotating toys into your child’s space would benefit your family more than purchasing bins for every new Christmas toy. In short, careful and creative consideration is much more valuable when organizing than a bin ever could be.

Bins are not “the answer”, just a tool.

Consider editing, the storage location and being honest with yourself about your storage needs before purchasing any more bins. You will save yourself valuable money, time, aggravation and space by carefully considering your personal needs. “Bin” there, done that!

Vacaville Organizer would love to partner with you on your holiday storage project through, directly at (530)902-5960 or by using the contact form below. Local consultation are always free.

Happy Organizing!

Lorinda with Vacaville Organizer


Does you garage have a case of “summer fun clutter?”

Garage #2

If your garage is suffering from a case of “summer clutter”, take solace that in a few hours it can be put back in functional order.  Here’s a few practical tips to get your garage back in order after a full summer schedule.Garage#6

#1:  Tackle the garage project in the cool morning or evening hours.

Clients often unnecessarily suffer in the heat of mid-day when trying to tackle the garage.  In fact, I don’t even schedule heavy garage cleaning mid-day because it is so miserable for everyone involved at this time of year.

#2:  Inlist the help of the family members who helped create the clutter.

Garages are often family zones.  Enlisting the help of all members of the family to help clear out the clutter helps in a variety of ways.  Firstly, the manpower can’t be beat for clearing out the bulk of the items.  You will accomplish so much more with more hands on deck.  Secondly, valuable teaching can happen about taking care of one’s belongings.  If all family members feel ownership for the items, gear and boxes that they had previously cast aside, they will be ess likely add to the mess next time if they know they will be responsible for cleaning it up.  Make piles for each family member’s garage items and indicate that they will be responsible for sorting, purging and finding appropriate homes for those items.  Making younger family members part of the storage solution also encourages creativity and a knowledge of where things belong.

#3:  Remove items that do not belong in the space.

This item seems simple enough, but I can’t tell you how many garages I’ve seen that have heirlooms/ photograph albums deteriorating, mangled paper boxes filled with important tax paperwork and items that were long overdue to return to others.  (If you must use your garage for long-term/important item storage, consider storing items properly and in a way that you can access them.)Garage pic #1

#3:  Store items based on use.  Use clear bins whenever possible.Garage #2

As you return items to the garage, consider how frequently you will need to access the item.  Make these garage contents easy to reach and access.  Also, whenever possible, purchase clear bins.  Even without labels, it is easy to scan a shelf of bins and differentiate the contents of each in a see-through bin.  If you must use a heavy-duty bin, label the outside of the bin or use a colored bin to indicate the contents (i.e. orange for Halloween, red for Christmas, etc.).


#4:  Put a shoe rack/basket as you enter the house from the garage.

In a 2008 news piece by Good Morning America entitled, “How Dirty Are Your Shoes?”, their studies indicated that bacteria live longer on our shoes than in other place and that 90% of this shoe bacteria was transferred to the floor of the home.  GMA’s test results indicated that shoes were “dirtier than a toilet seat” by measurement of bacteria.  Ewww.  Further, cleaning expert Don Aslett claims that the majority of dirt enters the home through our shoes.  Designate a place for shoes to live-whether in a basket, a shoe rack or just a laundry basket from the dollar store and be consistent about asking family members to take them off before entering the house through the garage.  This has the added benefit of allowing you to find shoes as your are running out the door as well.  Win-win!

Garage #3

Garage #4

#5:  Cover luggage.

I love our garage as much as the next person, but it isn’t always the cleanest place to store items.   The last things I want is to pull down a piece of luggage with dust, cobwebs and debris on it before a trip.  An economical and easy solution is to cover each piece of luggage in good, black trash bags and tie the top.  This slip cover really protects the luggage from dirt/little pests while in storage.  Label the spine of the stored luggage so you won’t have to pull them all out of the black bags to find the piece of luggage your are looking for. (Been there, done that.)

Garage #5

#6:  Make a grab a go center.

Designate a place in your garage to function as storage for the items you frequently grab on the way out of the garage.  If your are a sports family, perhaps packed bags with the gear for practices, water bottles and coolers would be perfect.  For families who visit the pool and beach during the summer, extra towels, goggles and sunscreen.  Other great ideas to include in a grab and go center are:  re-usable grocery bags,  recycling, returns to stores, library book basket, backpacks, dance practice bags and foldable chairs.

Garage #6

#7:  Make is shine.

Take the time to use a blower or broom and really give your garage a good clean-out.  By taking the time to rid yourself of the dust of summer, you will be cutting down on the dirt coming into your home as well.

garage #7

Give yourself the gift this summer of a clean launching pad-your garage-as your head out the door for your next fun activity or adventure.

Happy Organizing!-Lorinda, with Vacaville Organizer




Man Land Organized

Shop OrganizedThe garage or shop can be an overwhelming space to organize.  They are often filled to the rim with all of our house cast-offs.  They are dirty.  They are dark.  They require storage solutions.

This beautiful shop (can I say that if it is a man cave?) is a great example of utilizing a space to its potential.

The key to a successful garage organization project is to fully empty, purge and sort the contents.  I know, it is A LOT to ask.  Enlist the help of friends and family or break it into several work days. I guarantee you that there are items in the dark crevasse of the garage/shop that you haven’t ventured into for years.  Good questions to ask yourself through the purging process are:

  1. How long has it been since I used this item? How long has it sat untouched?
  2. Am I safely storing this item?  Do I need to dispose of chemicals/paint responsibly? Are pictures/family heirlooms being preserved in such an environment to withstand the test of time?
  3. Is this a duplicate?
  4. How often do I need to access this item?
  5. Is there any evidence of pests?  If so, how will I rectify?
  6. Does this item even belong to me?
  7. Would this item be of more value/use to someone else?

Be ruthless.

The less you have to store, the more room you will have to make your space functional. Tarps are a great tool for sorting large quantities of things into categories.  Keep in mind what your “dream” is for this space and what items need to be purged in order to achieve your goal.

After the sort is done, immediately get rid of the items that need to be taken to the dump/garbage, donated or returned.  Your neighbors will thank you for not storing these things on the side of the house!

Get a pen and paper or your laptop and assess what your storage needs will be.  How many cans of USABLE, LABELED paint will you be storing?  Do you need to separate items into smaller bins for ease of use?  Will shelves need to be implemented?  Will you need to fashion an area to work in your shop/garage or is it just for storage?  Will a vehicle need to be accommodated? Does this area also function as a mudroom?  These types of question will enable your space to take #1

Personalize the space

Finally, make the space your own.  I love that the owner of this shop painted his favorite hockey team’s colors on the wall.  Claiming your space by putting your “style stamp” on it is a key to maintenance (more on this in an upcoming post).

shop #3shop #5shop #2The weekend is coming and spring is in the air.  Your garage or shop is just waiting to be organized!

Happy Organizing-Lorinda at Vacaville Organizer



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