Share on Facebook

18 Things Professional Organizers Never Buy

Don’t waste your money—or accidentally create more clutter. Here’s what you need to know to truly streamline your space.

1 / 19
Organized closetGetty Images

Tricks of the trade

No matter what your clutter challenge, you can be sure there’s an organizer somewhere out there designed to solve it. However, just because you can buy something, doesn’t mean you should. Some of those supposedly genius solutions don’t actually work all that well, while others end up wasting space or causing more clutter in the long run. If that’s the case, they’ll end up on this list of things in your house you should throw out. To make sure that doesn’t happen, find out which products professional organizers think you should skip—and which ones they think you should pick up instead.

2 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Filing cabinets

Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap confirms what we all suspected: “Papers go into filing cabinets, but they rarely come out.” As a result, file drawers get cluttered, making it difficult to find the paper you’re looking for. Instead of inefficient, space-hogging file cabinets, Delap prefers a more functional and decorative option. Buy single file boxes, label them by year and store important documents inside. She recommends dedicating another box to annual tax returns, along with their supporting documents.

Vital records are just one of the 30 things you can organize in under 30 minutes.

3 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Fancy gift-wrap organizers

You’ve probably seen them adorning the pages of magazines, and they sure look great. But looks can be deceiving. You’ll end up wrinkling or ripping wrapping-paper rolls by trying to stuff them into specialty containers, many of which don’t hold rolls of all sizes; they also generally don’t have enough room for all your bows and ribbons. Instead, stick the rolls in a tall, slim, open-top trash can, suggests Kathi Burns, founder of Organized & Energized. That way, the rolls stand up and are easy to see and grab.

Got some scraps leftover from the previous holiday season? Repurpose it with these five clever new uses for wrapping paper.

4 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Shoe organizers that sit on the floor

Sharon Lowenheim, aka the Organizing Goddess, makes a good point about those shoe organizers that take up the whole floor of the closet: It’s too dark to actually see the shoes! Plus, she notes, “some of your hanging clothes obscure the shoes.” Instead, she likes to keep shoes at eye level by putting them in a shoe organizer that hangs from the rod in the closet.

Learn how to organize a small closet to maximize space.

5 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Toy boxes

“Tossing a bunch of random toys into a box is a terrible way to organize them,” explains professional organizer Jodi Granok, owner of Organizing Magic. You often have to dig to the bottom and toss out half the contents of the box to locate the desired item, and this setup also leads to broken toys. Instead, she suggests using a toy-storage organizer with open bins and cubbies. For the solution that keeps on giving, go one step further and create labels with both words and pictures for each bin; that way, kids can easily understand what belongs where.

Check out these secrets personal organizers would never tell you for free.

6 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Countertop spice racks

Using up limited countertop space to store a turnstile filled with jars of rarely used spices like rosemary and thyme isn’t the best idea. Instead, store spices off the countertop in a nearby kitchen drawer; keep them organized with an expandable plastic spice rack. You’ll free up prep space, and the jars will be kept splatter-free, so there’s less to clean.

After you’ve decluttered the spices, try these 40 kitchen organizing ideas that will save your sanity.

7 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Suction-cup shower organizers

Real estate is limited in your shower, and if you’re a person who likes lots of potions and lotions, you’re likely looking for a solution. Suction-cup organizers seem like a good idea…until they start sliding down under the weight of a bottle of shampoo. Burns prefers a more secure option, like a 3M Command shower organizer that stays put with water-resistant adhesive strips. No more bottles or bars of soap sitting in the windowsill or on tub corners.

Discover how to organize your home in five easy steps.

8 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Mismatched food-storage containers

The perfect recipe for a cluttered kitchen cabinet? Buying food-storage containers in varying shapes and sizes. (Holding onto mismatched takeout ones doesn’t help either.) If they can’t be nested or stacked, “they clog up your plastic leftover container drawer and fall out onto the floor,” says Delap. Instead, store leftovers in space-saving, nesting, rectangular glass containers, like these from Pyrex. Delap suggests having small, medium, and large on hand to suit all your storage needs.

Did you know about these 11 organizational tricks that can save you tons of money?

9 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

A basic box for batteries

It’s always a good idea to have a variety of batteries on hand so you always have the type you need when you need it, according to Burns. But tossing your stash into a random box is not a good way to organize them. You’ll waste money rebuying ones you own but can’t find, and it’s easy to overlook what you’re running low on since everything’s jumbled together. Instead, keep them securely stored in a special slotted battery organizer; many even include a battery tester.

Take advantage of technology with these 11 ways to use your smartphone to get organized.

10 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Jewellery boxes

Hold on—isn’t storage what a jewellery box is for? Yes, but it’s still not the smartest storage solution because it makes it difficult to see what you own. And when you can’t see it, you might forget you have it. On the other hand, when you display your pieces, like on a wall organizer, it allows you to see all your options, and that makes you are more likely to wear them. Plus, hanging them helps to keep them tangle-free.

Read about how decluttering her home cured one woman’s insomnia.

11 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Paper trays

“Do not ever buy paper trays to hold your papers,” Burns warns. “They are merely piling devices, and you never know what is in them without looking through each piece of paper.” Instead, she suggests dividing papers into categories and using a desktop incline file. That way, you can see the papers you need to act on. This is also a good solution for mail.

Here are 10 Marie Kondo organization tips that will change your life in minutes.

12 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Tiered clothes hangers

Tiered hangers sound great since they save space—until you need to get the item that’s underneath five pieces of clothing and it comes out a wrinkled mess. Skip the hassle and streamline your closet using slim, non-slip hangers. Burns says they make it super easy to find what you want to wear—and they can save up to 30 percent of rod space.

Check out these 14 tips to stop closet clutter.

13 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Round storage containers

Round containers don’t sit flush, so they waste precious storage space. Burns prefers rectangular or square containers that can be aligned right next to one another, especially in the pantry and kitchen cabinets.

Here’s how to instantly declutter your kitchen by purging these six items.

14 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Baskets

Using baskets for storage isn’t ideal because they are rigid and not durable. According to Delap, you’ll be a lot better off with foldable or collapsible storage options made specifically for storage. As she points out, they can be tucked out of the way when not in use, and she especially likes ones with clear windows, so you can see what’s in there without opening it.

Don’t throw these out! Here are nine items you didn’t know you could recycle or upcycle.

15 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Compression bags

It’s tempting to try those storage bags where you use a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out. The big complaint is that over time, the seals fail and the bags start to inflate. A better alternative? Covered, wheeled, under-the-bed storage bins. The cover keeps the contents dust-free, and the wheels make it a breeze to slide the bin in and out.

These are the 20 things that professional organizers would never do in their own homes.

16 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

A standard turntable

Turntables can be a great addition to your organizing arsenal: They allow you to reach things that would otherwise be too far back to reach. And they’re great in a kitchen pantry, bathroom cabinet, and even a craft area. But when in motion, things tend to fly off the standard version. That’s why Delap prefers the newer turntables that are designed with sides to prevent items from toppling off. Many even have removable dividers so you can create sections for all of your stuff.

Did you know about these eight zones every organized pantry should have?

17 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Acrylic makeup organizers

When they’re sitting on a bathroom vanity, these organizers look beautiful, but unfortunately, they’re not nearly as practical as you might imagine. The small slots and divided drawers are rarely the right size to store products by multiple manufacturers. However, small, clear organizing bins do offer the versatility you need to store your various beauty supplies.

Straighten up the messiest spots with these nine organizing hacks for your home.

18 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Drawer organizers

Usually made of plastic, metal or bamboo, drawer organizers are shallow boxes with dividers that split up larger sections into smaller ones. They are great for every drawer in your house, but Delap points out that the box portion of the organizer takes up valuable drawer space. Her solution? Don’t buy the whole organizer—just go with the partition part. All you have to do is insert the spring-loaded, non-slip divider. “Truly, this saves space!” she raves.

Check out these 13 clever uses for resealable bags you’ll wish you knew sooner.

19 / 19
Poor organization idea contrasted with recommended organization ideavia amazon.com, Getty Images

Opaque storage containers

All four of the experts we spoke to for this piece agree on one thing: Clear plastic bins are the best for long-term storage. They offer protection from water and humidity, allow you to see what’s inside without unstacking and opening each one, and they also stack easily. One more note when you’re choosing between containers? “Avoid bins with recessed interiors,” Burns warns, because so much space is unusable.

Next, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to declutter every room in your home.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest