If you’re like most people, you’ve spent a pretty penny over the years trying to find the very best containers to organize everything in your home. From bins to baskets to totes, there are a million different choices of containers out there.
But they’re not all created equal. Not by a long shot!
This post will go through exactly what features you should be looking for when considering new containers to keep your stuff together and your entire space organized.
Warning, I’m going to throw a little shade in this post because I have pretty strong feelings about topic, formed from years of working in dozens of homes as a Professional Organizer.
Avoid Dollar Store Containers
First up, the shade…
Because I’ve been able to work with so many different clients, I’ve come across the full breadth of organizing containers- both quality and total crap options.
Pretty much without exception, the options you’ll find available at the dollar stores fall under the total crap category.
A quick peek on Pinterest reveals a ton of posts about how to organize your home on cheap, with just a quick trip to the dollar store to load up on inexpensive (read cheap) containers.
But those posts are written by non-professional organizers, who don’t know any better.
Because professional organizers know that those containers only work in the short term.
We’ve seen, in home after home, how those plastic bins become ridiculously brittle over time. Then they easily break, don’t hold what they should, and are a colossal waste of space because they’re almost always wrong shape.
The truth is that in the long run, buying the dollar store containers will end up costing more in the long run versus investing in a quality container to begin with!
So why waste money on an organizing solution that only temporarily solves a problem and causes a bigger headache shortly down the road?
Don’t try to save a few bucks in the short term by buying containers from the dollar store.
You’ll be better off in the long run buying bins and baskets that are higher quality.
Look for Quality Containers
What makes for a quality container?
One made of quality materials, of course.
Plastic containers greatly vary in quality.
The thinner the plastic, the more apt to break.
And since plastic degrades and breaks down over time, thin plastic will become brittle pretty quick.
One slight bump and you’ll end up with a hole in the side.
Then items will be more likely to catch on the broken plastic and the jagged plastic could cut your hand to boot.
Since there’s no way to repair the damage, the container will need to be replaced.
You’re best off purchasing a container made from thicker plastic, ideally with solid sides.
If there’s a lot of flex in the bin sides, avoid it.
It’s cheap and undeserving of being in your home and even if it doesn’t become brittle, it’ll warp.
The Better Alternative
But you don’t have to pay a fortune for quality containers!
Ikea and Target both have pretty nice containers for not too much at all.
A good brand to look for is Iris. Their containers are pretty well made and they’re available at a whole host of places, including The Container Store and Amazon.
For plastic free containers, such as woven baskets, look for a smooth, tight weave so whatever you’re storing doesn’t get snagged or caught in the basket itself.
Look for Containers with Straight Sides
Quite often the shape of the containers available at the dollar store aren’t good either!
Dollar store containers are almost always angled, with a wider opening at the top and narrower bottom.
Not only will your items fit better without angled sides, but you’ll be able to fit more items in a container with straight sides.
And there won’t be wasted space between containers on the shelves, meaning you’ll be able to fit more stuff on the shelf.
My Go To Containers
There are certain containers that I recommend to clients over and over because they’re quality and hold up over time and fit a variety of uses.
Ready to see what they are?
Here’s one of my favorite closed-lid Iris storage boxes:
I love how securely the lid attaches to the base. The clear plastic makes it easy to spy what’s inside without having to open it up. The straight sides provide a lot of room for items too.
Weather tight file box is sturdy and snag free, with a lid that stays securely on, even when being moved from room to room. The integrated gasket in the lid helps to keep moisture out of the box, which helps to keep the container contents must-free.
This simple File box is another fantastic choice if you don’t need a lid to seal out moisture. I like to use these for Kid Memory Boxes.
These Narrow pantry containers are a great choice for both pantry and bathroom areas. The molded handle makes the bins easy to grab and unlike a handle, there’s nothing to snap off or get in the way.
These small bins are the perfect size for so many different things… from batteries to Lego minifies, keys and accessories too!
I really love this style of open top, handled bins. They’re really adaptable and can be used in many different areas of the home.
I have them in my bathroom, laundry room and craft room!
These Multipurpose Bins are so useful in the pantry and laundry room! They come in different widths, but are all uniform in height, giving a really nice streamlined look. They’re even fantastic for keeping under sink areas organized since they hold cleaning supplies nicely. They’re available in a clear or smoke-grey style, but the clear is my go to container.
The bin’s handle makes it easy to treat it as a mini-pull out drawer. Pull, grab out what you need and push back in for a hardware-free pull out.
Over to you!
Have I made a strong enough case to ditch the cheap dollar store baskets and bins? I hope so because it’ll save you a ton in the end and you’ll be happier with the results in the meantime too.
For best results, remember to choose containers with:
- Strong plastic
- Straight sides
- Solid and smooth sides and bottom
- Latching or well-fitting lids
Happy container shopping!
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates, the Container Store and Etsy Affiliate Programs, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, ContainerStore.com, and Etsy.com. This means that when you click and make a purchase at a site via a link I have provided, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and genuinely recommend.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave