I recently picked up the famous book-turned-iPhone app “Eat This Not That,” which seeks to cut unnecessary calories by showing people how to alter their food choices without sacrificing taste. I realized that this could apply to home storage solutions too. Instead of buying expensive clips made just for keeping our headphones from tangling or clear boxes made for keeping shoes in place and visible, we can make our own simple solutions. As much as we’d all love to stock up on Container Store merchandise, it can get pretty expensive. So here’s a list of ways to organize without spending a cent and without sacrificing quality or appearances.
Use soda tabs, not brand new hangers.
When closet space is in high demand and low supply, nothing comes to the rescue like cascading hangers. But replacing all of the traditional hangers you already have with brand new specialty hangers is more expensive than you’d expect. So instead of spending twenty or thirty dollars, make your own cascading hangers for no money at all using soda tabs. If half the reason you want the hangers that hook together is that your shirts keep slipping onto the floor and you need that gripping texture, try wrapping a piece of pipe cleaner or a rubber band around each end of your plastic hangers (or using a glue gun to draw a zigzag grip on each end).
Use original cardboard shoeboxes, not plastic ones.
Here’s another solution for closet organization. Cover or spray paint original shoeboxes and label instead of buying expensive plastic ones. If you cover all the boxes in the same color paper or paint and use pictures or written labels on them, you get the streamlined look of the plastic ones plus the “visibility”—you’ll know what’s inside based on the label!
Use empty glass jars, not expensive plastic canisters.
I love the amazing OXO canisters in the picture below. But I don’t love that a set of ten can cost about $100. The glass jars that you buy full of food at the grocery store work just as well once they’re empty. It’s easy to remove the labels by peeling as much of the sticker off as you can and then using either olive oil or polish remover to scrub off the residue left behind. They’re just as clean looking as the expensive canisters, but they’re cheaper—and greener, too; it’s always good to reuse and repurpose.
Use scrap wood, not new containers.
If you don’t have scrap plywood in your garage, then someone you know probably does. And if you’re really struggling to obtain some wood, then cardboard works just as well! Making your own drawer organizer can be as simple as measuring the drawer and gluing the wood together. The best part is that it’s totally customized by and for you, so that you can make your organizer’s compartments exactly the right size for what’s going to belong in them. Perfectly sized compartments also mean that you’ll be encouraged to put everything back in its place because it all fits so nicely!
Use hair clips and empty toilet paper rolls, not store-bought cord organizers.
There are products designed to control the mess of cords behind your computer desk or TV stand, but there are also products that do the exact same things without costing you the extra money. Use a hair clip to corral the chaos behind your desk and smaller clips to keep your headphones and chargers tangle-free. If you don’t have a hair clip, try a binder clip—they come in varying sizes, too. Keep all the chargers and cables you don’t use regularly in a box separated by empty toilet paper rolls so that they don’t turn into a mass of indistinguishable cords. Tempted to buy a “charging station”? I don’t blame you, but there are lots of ways to make your own instead.
Just as it’s easy to choose an ice cream with less fat and sugar than an ice cream packed with calories, it’s easy to choose cheap alternatives to store-bought specialty storage solutions—like cord organizers and cascading hangers. And saving money on small things like these can free up some cash for you to use on bigger things that are more important to you!
Feature photo via Flickr/Ken Teegardin