Whether you’re trying to tame your junk drawer or straighten out your bedroom closet, having good organizational tools is key.
You want your belongings to look nice and orderly. You want to know where everything is so you stop buying extra packs of batteries or Band-aids when you actually have them … somewhere. But a trip to the Container Store or Crate and Barrel for home organization supplies could end up getting pricy.
Instead, there are free and low-cost ways to get organized at home without spending a bunch of money. Here are 30 cheap organization ideas that’ll give you some inspiration to you tame your chaotic mess at home.
Before Tackling a Home Organization Project
An important thing to know before starting a home organization project: You don’t want to organize junk.
Before worrying about the perfect bins, jars or storage systems, go through your stuff and determine what you really want to keep. If there are things in good condition that you no longer want, consider donating them or selling them for extra cash. Toss or recycle the stuff that’s truly junk.
As you make your toss, sell and keep piles, you’ll get a better idea of what organization tools you’ll actually need. For example, if you’re giving away half of your books, you’ll need less shelving space then you may have originally thought.
If you’re doing a whole home organization, break the work down into individual rooms so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to tackle everything at once. You may even want to focus on one individual problem area at a time — such as the kitchen pantry or the hallway closet.
Keeping a master list of the items you’re keeping is helpful in two ways: You’ll know what items you’ll need organizers for and you’ll clearly see which things you have duplicates of.
After you’ve done all this prep work, it’s time to find the best ways to store and display your stuff — without going over budget.
30 Cheap Organization Ideas
As you look through your master list of items to organize, take note of how you’d like to store certain items. What needs to be out in the open for regular access and what can be stored out of reach for most of the year?
The following two lists will highlight store-bought home organization solutions plus other ideas that you can DIY. If your DIY attempts don’t turn out Instagram-worthy, don’t worry. You can always use them for items tucked away on a back shelf.
Organization Solutions That Are Budget-Friendly Buys
For cheap home organization products, shop at your local dollar store or other discount chains like Walmart, Target, Ikea, HomeGoods or Big Lots. Thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales are other good options. Online neighborhood buy-nothing groups could be a source to score items for free.
1. Plastic Bins or Crates
Use these to separate and store items by category. In a linen closet, you can use multiple bins for bathroom supplies, washcloths, hand towels and extra rolls of toilet paper. In a kids’ room, you can use colorful plastic crates to store toys and books.
2. Canvas Storage Bins
These are good options for lightweight items, such as extra throw blankets in the living room or the dog’s various chew toys. You can use them in a bedroom closet to keep items like scarves or belts together.
3. Pill Organizers
Separate and store small items like jewelry or ponytail holders.
4. Adhesive Magnetic Strips
Attach peel-and-stick magnet strips to the wall over your kitchen counter to display knives or inside your bathroom cabinet to hold manicure tools or stray bobby pins. You can also attach small pieces of magnet to the back of important papers or photos to display on your fridge or on a magnetic dry-erase board in your home office.
5. Ice Cube Trays
Purchase extra ice cube trays to organize office supplies and small knick-knacks in your desk, such as paper clips or rubber bands.
6. Lazy Susan
Stick one of these rotating turntables in any cabinet as a way to group like items together and make sure you don’t neglect what’s stored in the back. They come in various sizes and styles. Consider one in the kitchen cabinet or pantry for food items and another under the bathroom sink for cleaning supplies.
7. File Box
A file box is the perfect place to store important paperwork. If you have kids, you can use these boxes to collect artwork, essays, report cards and other mementos.
8. Pop-up Hampers
For all the parents tired of stuffed animals taking over everywhere: Buy a couple of cheap, wire-and-mesh pop-up hampers to use as designated homes for all your little ones’ stuffies.
9. Three-Ring Binders
This common, inexpensive, school-supply item is a great tool for organizing bills, mail and other paperwork cluttering your countertops.
10. Shower Caddies
Portable shower caddies may be reminiscent of college dorm life, but they’re also a fitting storage solution for arts and craft supplies or office supplies. They can easily be carried around for household members to use in multiple rooms.
11. Drawer Organizer
Tame a junk drawer with a low-cost drawer organizer that will separate items into their own compartments.
Display items you frequently use or want to easily access. Attach a pencil holder, scissors and tape to a pegboard in your office, or use one to hold tools in the garage.
13. “S” Hooks or Shower Curtain Rings
Use these hooks in your closets to hang items like belts, scarves or purses.
14. Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer
These multi-pocketed organizational tools are great for many items, not just shoes. Use them to store toys, art supplies, toiletries or cleaning supplies.
15. Carabiner Clip
Wrangle rubber bands in a junk drawer or ponytail holders in a bathroom drawer by grouping them together using a carabiner.
16. Travel Soap Containers
These small storage solutions are the perfect size for crayons, business cards or clipped coupons.
17. Tension Rods
Use a tension rod in your under-sink cabinets to hang spray bottles of various household cleaners. Or you could add an extra rod along the inner wall of your shower to hang little baskets with body wash, shampoo or tub toys.
18. Magazine Racks
Place a cheap magazine rack on the kitchen counter to store your aluminum foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper. Or use it in the living room for its intended use — organizing magazines or coffee table books.
DIY Home Organization Solutions
Don’t empty out your recycling bin just yet. There are tons of ways you can reuse items you already have lying around at home. A few coats of paint, some colorful washi tape, scrapbook paper or wrapping paper can help you turn drab boxes or containers into attractive storage solutions.
19. Plastic Takeout Containers
Reuse sturdy takeout containers to store similar items together. Use one as a makeshift first-aid kit and another for crafting supplies.
20. Cardboard Boxes
Cardboard boxes are very versatile DIY storage solutions. You can use larger boxes to store extra throw pillows in the living room or to round up toys in a kids’ room, while smaller boxes can be used to organize mail, important papers or magazines. Be sure to decorate the outside so they look more appealing.
21. Old Backpacks or Suitcases
If you have old book bags or luggage lying around, use them to store out-of-season clothing so your closet and drawers are less crowded. You could also use them to store hand-me-down clothing that your younger child is waiting to grow into.
22. Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Rolls
Cut these rolls to size to hold various power cords for all your electronics that aren’t in use.
23. Recycled Cans
Tear the labels off tin cans and use them to hold pencils, pens or paint brushes. A repurposed can could also store beauty supplies like mascara, eyeliner, lipgloss or foundation brushes.
Attach a ribbon to your wall using nails or push pins. Hung horizontally, use it to hold sunglasses, bracelets, necklaces, scarves or belts. Hung vertically, use clothespins to display hats or photos.
25. Comforter Bags
Comforters and bedding sets often come in sturdy plastic packaging with a zippered enclosure. You can reuse these to store out-of-season clothes or bulky winter jackets.
26. Plastic Cups
Bundle up power cords and store them in plastic cups to keep them organized. Cups also work well to hold crayons, markers or paint supplies in a kids’ room. Smaller plastic cups — like former yogurt or pudding cups — can contain batteries or other knick knacks in a junk drawer.
27. Glass Beer or Soda Bottles
Spray paint these recyclables and then use them to organize bracelets or ponytail holders.
28. Glass Jars
Glass jars can be used for multiple purposes, depending on their size. Old pasta sauce or jelly jars can be turned into a piggy bank. Empty baby food jars can hold paper clips or push pins.
29. Tea Boxes
Tea boxes divided into multiple sections are good options to organize jewelry or small knick knacks.
30. Old Egg Cartons
Use the bottom half of an egg carton as a drawer organizer for small items like paper clips, rubber bands or twist-ties.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.