17 Utility Closet Organizing Ideas You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

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It's time to sweep away the clutter and sort your collection of cleaning equipment and organize your household supplies: These must-know ideas ensure a well-organized utility closet.

If your utility closet has become the oversize vertical version of your home’s junk drawer—it’s time to do yourself a favor and schedule a full closet cleanout. Yes, it can be a challenge to create a place for all those cleaning products, random tools, etc. but you’ll save time in the long run once all the junk is cleared out of your broom closet, leaving space for all the remaining essentials to have their own home. With everything in its place, you’ll have easy access to the items you use so you won’t have to waste time hunting for that spray bottle or scrub brush. Read on to learn the best closet organizers and how to organize that closet, once and for all.

What to store in your utility closet

A utility closet is typically used to store cleaning supplies and may also have a spot for a small selection of tools for minor household repairs, like a screwdriver and a wrench, along with emergency supplies, like a flashlight, for a power outage.

You’ll want to clean anything out of it that doesn’t belong and should go back to its correct storage area, such as holiday decorations you never got around to putting back in the basement. Also, anything that doesn’t fit in the space, like a large number of paper goods that are better stored on a high shelf in a pantry. Lastly, it’s never a good idea to store food and cleaning products side by side.

Toss any cleaning tool that is beyond repair, any broken lightbulbs or frayed extension cords, cracked cleaning tools, dried up bottles of glue, and any out-of-date batteries.

Storage solutions

Reach in for storage

Reach-in bins are one of the best linen closet organization ideas for washcloths—and they work equally as well in your utility closet too for those microfiber towels, rags, disposable, and reusable pads. You’ll appreciate that you can reach in to grab what you need even with messy hands without having to open a lid. These bins are stackable and space-saving and come in four colors so you can color-code your categories. Our suggestion: Use the blue bin for microfiber towels, the green for rags, the pink for dusting cloths, and the khaki for disposable sweeper and mopping pads.

Hanger organizervia target.com

Give miscellaneous items a home

If you are looking for small closet ideas, hang this over-the-door utility closet organizer to instantly create more space. A hanging organizer with multiple pockets is the perfect place to stash less frequently used products, like flashlights, air freshener, and plumber’s tape. You’ll know what’s where with the easy view clear pockets.

Get on a roll

An expandable spring-loaded tension curtain rod not only holds rolls of paper towels or trash bags but can also be used to create dividers or sections for cleaning products, dog grooming supplies, etc.

Protect your floors

A flexible rubber, water-resistant tray or repurposed boot mat is the perfect spot to set jugs and bottles of bulk cleaning solutions or rest your wet mopping bucket or damp mop in the tray while it dries. With a lip to catch any run-off, the floor of the closet will remain clean and damage-free.

Group batteries

Put an end to searching drawers for a replacement battery for your remote control or kid’s toy; once you invest in a battery organizer, you’ll know right where to find them and be able to instantly see what size you have in stock. This organizer sits neatly on a shelf and has space for 180 batteries. Not only will it keep your battery collection organized but the batteries will last longer because battery power can be drained when two batteries are stored touching each other. Plus it has a built-in battery tester so you’ll never second guess if your battery is fresh or a dud.

Woman Standing On Step LadderTatiana Dyuvbanova/Getty Images

Store the step stool

Your broom closet doesn’t have to be large to use one of the best walk-in closet organization ideas: a step stool. The step stool is a staple for keeping your utility closet tidy as it can help you clean high shelves and store items up there in a neat and orderly way, too (i.e. no more tossing spare rolls of paper towels up to the top and hoping they don’t fall). Hang the stool from a hook on the wall to prevent it from falling over when you are grabbing other things. Choose a step stool in a bright color, the neutral color one’s blend in and can be difficult to notice in the closet.

Corral cords

Go through all those random charger cords in the closet and toss the ones that you can’t pair with a small appliance. Then, because cords have a way of knotting up when stored in a bunch, wrap a length of hook and loop tape around each one to keep them tidy and tangle-free. Oh-and label them, too. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Box up bulbs

For breakable things, like light bulbs, clear stacking boxes with secure latch lids are an ideal utility closet storage option. Stock light bulbs for all types of household lighting needs, different watts for different lamps, 3-way bulbs, outdoor spotlights, and decorator lamps. Don’t forget to keep appliance bulbs on hand for the refrigerator, microwave, and oven. With the bulbs organized in boxes, they won’t break, and you’ll be able to readily find just the one you need.

Organize cleaning supplies

Cleaning caddyvia target.com

Make a cleaning caddy

A grab-and-go caddy stocked with your multi-purpose cleaning essentials makes tackling everyday cleaning jobs a whole lot easier. This is the one caddy you’ll reach for day after day, so keep it in the most convenient spot in the cleaning closet. Consider including the basics, but don’t weigh it down with the specialty cleaning supplies you use far less often. Think about including a multi-purpose spray cleaner, a clean rag or microfiber cloth, and a duster. You might want to toss in an old toothbrush (for reaching tight spots) and a travel pack of Q-tips (perfect for cleaning between keys on the remote control). With all your supplies in one caddy, you can get straight to cleaning without spending precious minutes searching the utility closet for supplies.

Store by category

If you’re a thorough cleaner or have a large home, consider making several caddies for each cleaning task. Use a washable, plastic bin and fill with supplies for each of the following areas: bathroom (toilet bowl cleaner, soap scum remover, grout brush); dusting (can of dust-off compressed air spray and a lint roller for delicate surfaces like lampshades and a blind duster if needed); floors (polishing, spot carpet cleaner); polishing wood and wood touch up pens; windows (spray and paper towels); car care, and pet deodorizing. Remember, keep only the cleaners you like, if the smell is offensive or it doesn’t work for you, then toss or donate it. Many pet shelters would be glad to receive your unwanted cleaning supplies.

Label everything

Take inspiration from one of the best kids’ closet ideas: adding labels. Labeling is not just so you know where to find things, it also helps an item get returned to its correct location. Label bins and baskets, caddies, and even the edges of the shelves, that way, you can see what’s missing and needs to be restocked at a glance.

Corn whisk broom standing in empty roomSpiderstock/Getty Images

Hang long-handled tools

To keep long-handled tools from falling over one of the best utility closet organizers is a wall-mounted broom holder with spring-loaded grips. It gives you a spot for the mop, duster, broom, and six, fold-out hooks for hanging the dustpan, flyswatter, window squeegee, etc. Getting these items up off the floor is a big space saver, plus it keeps tools in good repair; broom bristles, for example, can be damaged when left sitting on the floor, or handles leaning against the wall can scratch the finish.

Gather vacuum accessories

Sort through the collection of vacuum cleaner attachments you’ve accumulated through the years from various vacuums—keep only the ones that belong to the vacuum cleaner you currently own and toss or donate the rest. Store the remaining accessories in a space-saving, hanging, pocketed holder. With slots for the extension wands, upholstery and crevice tools, and more, you’ll be able to find your attachments quickly and they won’t get damaged accidentally.

Clip rubber gloves

A clever coat closet organizing tool, a clip for hanging gloves is a smart organizing idea for your broom closet too. The next time you peel off rubber gloves, hang them from a spring-loaded clip. Clip them from the fingertip allowing the water to drain out the open cuff side so you’ll never put on a pair of still-wet-on-the-inside gloves again.

General organizing tips

woman looking for in the Folders and FileMiguel Sanz/Getty Images

File appliance manuals

Instead of a messy pile of manuals attach a cascading file to the wall of the broom closet for organized storage. With six pockets you can color code by categories like appliances, cameras, computers and software, electronics, kitchen, and phones. Next time you have a question or need to troubleshoot an issue, you’ll have the booklet at your fingertips. For any item with an extended warranty, staple the sales receipt to the manual, that way if you need service, you’ll have everything you need when you contact the company.

Keep track of trash day

Keep track of household tasks by sticking a dry-erase calendar in your utility closet—it’s the perfect place to note trash and recycling pick-up days along with routine and seasonal cleaning tasks (think chimney sweeping and septic tank cleaning). Plus, it even has space for keeping the names and numbers of maintenance and repair companies you use.

Consider a closet system

For a whole closet makeover, consider adding in a closet system to add extra shelving, rods, and racks in one fell swoop. We like the ClosetMaid Suite Symphony Tower Kit, a freestanding system that adds a ton of organization to your closet without putting a single hole in the wall. That makes it the perfect choice for renters or those with limited carpentry skills. It has five shelves and three, adjustable hanging bars that will fit most closets, no matter how awkward the layout.

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Jamie Novak
Jamie Novak is a globally recognized professional organizer who regularly contributes to RD.com. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the home-organizing industry. Novak wrote Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up, a top selling book for Reader's Digest. She’s been seen on HGTV, QVC, and national morning talk shows. Her work has appeared in magazines from Better Homes and Gardens to Real Simple. Connect with Novak at JamieNovak.com, @JamieNovak, or using the hashtag #KeepThisTossThat