University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County Home and Community Resources


Your Home and Community
updated August 1, 2002


submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

What to do with the things one wants to save is a challenge that faces many households. Many older homes have little storage space and small closets. Newer homes are including more storage space, which is great. But the next step is organizing and making the best use of space that is available.

The first step is to analyze how and what storage is being used and ask some questions about the items you need to store.

Has the item been worn or used in the last year?

Does the item have monetary or personal value?

Will it be used again?

If the answer is no to part of these questions then do not use prime storage space for these items. If you answered no to all of the questions - get rid of the item. Recycle it, sell it.

Secondly, think about unusual storage areas. Consider using trunks, under staircases or even under the bed. High shelves in closets work well for the once in while items.

Third, organize items close to their use. Store similar items together. If you have several levels in your home, store cleaning supplies on each level to save carrying and time with getting the job done.

Paper clutter can be found around most homes. Newspapers, magazines, school papers, miscellaneous and junk mail. Baskets or decorated boxes work well to organize magazines and books that need to be read. Clip coupons and articles as you go. Have a file system and put items away immediately. If you would like to cut down on unwanted mail, send your name and address to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008, and have your name removed. Mixed office paper, which includes, magazines, junk mail, envelopes, etc. can be recycled at Lincolnís drop off sites that collect mixed paper. Magazines can be reused by sharing them with nursing homes, schools, day cares, doctorsí or dentistsí offices or family and friends. Have a desk with office supplies handy for paying bills and dealing with day to day household papers.

Some suggestions for closets include:

  • Clean twice a year.
  • Put clothes that need mending together and set a certain time to sew on buttons and repair seams.
  • Hooks inside the closet or on the back of a door works well for robes, sleepwear, etc. that are used daily.
  • Store shoes in clear boxes, on a rack or shelf or in marked shoes boxes.
  • Store seasonal clothes in another closet or in the back of the closet, be sure items are laundered or dry cleaned before storing.

Some other tips for organizing items around the home include using mug racks for storing hanging items, large garbage cans for sports equipment and store blankets, quilts or seasonal clothing in luggage that is seldom used.

In order for this to work one must make a plan, start in one area of the home and work through the whole house. Remember to ask yourself. Is this an item I really need? Will I use this item in the next year? Finally, one of the best ways to keep items organized is to put it away when you are finished with it.


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