Cleaning & Organizing
18 Organizing Ideas for Hard-to-Store Stuff
Musical instruments, sports ball, camping gear: Here’s how to neatly store your most inconvenient items.
How to store: Light-duty extension cords
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You’ll be able to find the right cord easily, plus you’ve made good use of the tubes. Get more genius garage storage ideas here.
How to store: Tangle-free jumper cables
Having jumper cables at the ready is serious business in cold climates. Store the cables coiled around the spare tire under the false floor of the trunk. You’ll always be able to find them and they’ll never be tangled.
How to store: Patio cushions and camping gear
Extra-large Ziploc bags (about $2 each at home centers and online) are great for storing camping gear, patio cushions, and out-of-season clothes. Here’s a slick trick for getting all the air out of the bag before you seal it. Put your items inside and push out all the air you can by hand. Then seal the bag but leave an opening large enough to fit a drinking straw. Use the straw to suck out the remaining air and then finish sealing the bag.
How to store: Magazines
Can you actually find what you’re looking for in your stack of saved magazines? Here’s a great way to archive magazines, a method that one of our editors has been using at work for years. All you need is a bunch of hanging folders and a drawer that’s set up for hanging them. Cut off the bottom of each folder about an inch below the rod. Drape your magazine over the rod and hang it in the drawer. The spines are easy to read, so you can find what you need quickly. Here’s how to organize pretty much anything with pegboard.
Garage Door Extension Cord Storage
Ever wish you had one more garage wall to hang stuff on? Well, you do. Your garage door is a perfect place to store lightweight items like extension cords. (Yes, they’ll stay put when the door opens and closes.) Install screw eyes diagonally about 8 in. apart and thread bungee cords (with the ends cut off) through them. Now you have a perfect bungee “corral” to hold your extra extension cords. Here’s how you can store stuff in your garage’s ceiling.
How to store: Extension ladder
An extension ladder is one of the most difficult things to store. When you need to use it, it has to be easy to get to. But there are long stretches when it just gets in the way of everything else in your garage. Here’s a good solution: Mount it on your garage ceiling on sturdy racks made of scrap 2x4s that are screwed into the ceiling joists. Use two 3-1/2-in. screws at each joint to make the rack secure. These racks make it easy to slide the ladder out when you need it. Just make sure to position the racks where they won’t interfere with your garage door. Check out these clever storage solutions for your workshop.
How to store: Belts and other hang-ups
Where do you store your belts? How about on this inexpensive and easy-to-make belt holder? All you need is a wooden hanger and some cup hooks. If some of your belts have unusually thick buckles, just widen the cup hook slightly with a needle-nose pliers. This is a great way to hang small handbags too.
How to store: Musical instruments
If you occasionally put your hammer down to strum a guitar or banjo, you know how tricky it can be to store them. Floor stands are pricey and they leave your instrument accessible to curious children, rambunctious pets, and people who can’t carry a tune. It’s a better idea to hang your instruments on the wall, but instrument wall hangers cost $20 a pop. Instead of hitting the music store, hit the home center. Plastic-coated utility hooks will hold most instruments at a fraction of the cost ($2 to $4), and they’re just as tough.
How to store: Screws, doodads, and other hardware
If you have lots of small hardware on hand, constantly opening drawers or containers to find what you need is a pain. Here’s one solution: Store hardware in small, sturdy zippered craft bags (thicker than sandwich bags and available at hobby stores). Punch a hole in the bag and hang it on pegboard. The clear bags make finding what you need a snap and keep dust, rust, and moisture at bay. If you need to find a matching piece of hardware, just hold it up for a side-by-side comparison.
How to store: More of your clothes in your closet
Very few people have too much closet space (and if you do, don’t brag). Here’s an easy way to add space for hanging clothes (or at least clothes that don’t require a tall space). Hang a second clothes rod from the upper rod with lightweight chain. Attach the chain to screw eyes directly or use S-hooks or carabiners. Carabiners make adjusting the height of the extra rod a snap. This system works well in kids’ closets since they grow quickly (and their clothes grow along with them). It also works well in an adult closet—you can hang pants on one rod and shirts on the other.
How to store: Balls
If you have kids, you have balls—basketballs, soccer balls, rubber balls, and other round objects that roll around underfoot. Here’s a perfect way to use that narrow gap between a pair of garage doors (if you’re blessed with such an awkward spot). Just install angled “ball ramps” made from scrap wood. The balls fit neatly in the gap, and because the ball ramp is right there at the edge of the garage, kids are more likely to use it. Here’s a brilliant trick to store your recycling bins in your garage.
How to store: Vacuum gear
It seems like the vacuum cleaner always ends up in one closet and the vacuum cleaner bags in another, and the attachments get shoved in a corner or spread all over the floor. Here’s a simple tip that will keep everything together and out from underfoot. Screw a hook to the door of your storage closet and hang a mesh or cloth bag on it. You can store all your vacuum cleaner bags and attachments in one place, and the bag lets you carry everything you need from room to room or up and down the stairs in one trip.
How to store: Gloves and other winter gear
If you don’t have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it’s no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won’t rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves.
How to store: More odds and ends in your garage
Who couldn’t use a few more shelves in the garage? You probably already have shelves in the obvious spots, but what about in the corners? This nifty corner shelf unit takes advantage of existing studs, and it’s fast, easy, and cheap. Use scrap plywood or oriented strand board to make shelves that fit snugly between the corner studs and support them with 1×1 cleats. These corner shelves are perfect for storing smaller items such as glues, oils, waxes, and polishes, which get lost on larger shelves.
How to store: Junk in your basement
OK, maybe junk is too harsh a word. We’re talking about luggage, camping gear, the ugly vase Aunt Martha gave you for your wedding—stuff you need to keep but don’t use all the time. If your house has a set of stairs with a sloped closet underneath, you have a huge amount of space that’s mostly wasted. Here’s how to get the most out of that black hole. Build a custom rolling cart that fits perfectly in the closet. This one is built like a shelf unit and rides on fixed casters so it slides straight out to keep things organized and accessible. When Aunt Martha comes to visit, just roll it out, grab the vase and you’re golden. Here’s how organizing with a label system can change everything.
Here’s how to store: Wet boots
What do you get when you mix boots and winter weather? A dirty, slippery floor (and wet socks). Make life neater and safer for everyone in your house by building this simple boot tray. All you need is a plastic tray or a large metal baking sheet with a lip. Put a layer of medium-size stones in the tray so the boots can drain. To keep the stones in place and give the tray a handsome finished look, build a 1×2 frame around the tray and paint it the same color as the trim in your entryway.
Here’s how to store: Fishing rods
This is for all you fishing addicts out there. When the season ends and the gear comes out of the truck, where do you store your rods? You can buy a fancy storage rack or make one of your own. But either way, you’re giving up precious wall space until spring. Here’s a quick solution: Screw short sections of wire shelving to your ceiling. If the handles don’t fit, just clip out some of the wire with bolt cutters. Your rods will be safely out of the way until your next fishing trip.
How to store: Spring clamps
This tray is a nifty way to store spring clamps. It’s a slotted piece of 3/4-in. plywood with 1/4-in. plywood fins glued in the slots. Store the tray on a peg and remove clamps when you need them. When you’re done, stick the clamps back on the fins and hang up the tray.