Today, I’ll show you how to organize a family supply closet. Supply closets get messy and chaotic quickly, because they usually have multiple genres of items, and multiple users. Kids are running in for Band-aids (and not just any Band-aid, but a very specific character Band-aid that they must open many others to find); my husband is rifling through looking for Ibuprophen, nail clippers, etc., everyone is dumping in dirty laundry; I’m searching for carpet cleaner to get the slime off the brand new basement carpet. Sound familiar?
Without a system this type of closet is a DISASTER. It’s also incredibly necessary. Isn’t that always the way? A well organized family supply closet can save precious minutes every day. And, you won’t end up over-buying toilet paper or duplicate cleaning supplies at Costco, which also saves money!
Here are the goals with a family supply closet:
- It houses the supplies your family uses on a daily basis.
- Everything has a place.
- Things are easy to see.
- Things are easy to put away.
- There’s a system in place to keep it organized and functional: such as a half-yearly check for expired or unwanted products, and a check before shopping for more supplies.
Here are the problems I faced in my own supply closet:
See all those cleaning supplies? There are cleaning supplies behind those cleaning supplies. No good. When my kids were babies, I needed to store my cleaning supplies on the highest shelf, but they often got lost when pushed to the back. Out of habit I kept them there. But I realized that when I can’t see and grab what I need easily, I often buy duplicates, and forget to dump the nearly empties. I love the idea of a cleaning caddy, but on a high-shelf it was heavy and awkward to take down. The broom also didn’t have a good place, so it would fall out and hit me every time I opened the door. It’s also the smallest closet in my home, and it needed to hold toilet paper, paper towels, medications, a hamper, cleaning supplies, towels, and linens. Oh my!
Here’s how I re-organized my small family supply closet:
I took an over the door shoe organizer that I was no longer using, cut it in half, and mounted it on the back of the door. Each shoe slot now holds one bottle of cleaner. My kids are now old enough that I don’t worry about them getting into the cleaners, but if that is a concern, you could store those in the higher slots, and rags and sponges in the lower slots.This keeps the cleaners visible, and neatly organized. It’s easy to grab what I need in a pinch, and to put it away when I’m done. It’s also easy to know when I’m running low, so I can buy more.
I used a shoe rack I already had to see if it would work, but I may go out and buy a clear one so it looks a little prettier now that I know that it works well for me. I also hung my broom next to it, which prevents it from falling out and smacking me every time I open the closet. Win-win!
Because I used the previously unused space on the inside of my closet door, I freed up an entire shelf! Now that shelf houses a pared down selection of linens.
Going through all the medications and overflow toiletries, many of which were expired or things I would never use again, allowed me to free up another entire shelf, which now holds my toilet paper, and paper towels. Before, I had to run down to the basement every time I ran out of paper towels and toilet paper. So annoying!
Here are the problems one of my clients faced with her family supply closet:
The closet space was almost too large, which resulted in over purchasing of bulk items, and no boundaries for the items that were stored in the closet. She also had difficulty deciding what exactly to store in the closet, because there are so many closet options in her home.
Here’s how I re-organized her closet:
She decided what she most wanted to keep in this closet, and we purged and consolidated items from lots of other closets in the house, such as batteries, cleaning supplies, household repair items, and garbage bags. Now these are all together in one space.
We zoned the closet so that all like items are together. For example, all the kids’ swim gear, sunscreens, etc. are together, and all the household repair items, and cleaning supplies are together.
We labeled the shelves, so that every user knows where things go, and can find and put things away easily. TIP: If you don’t want to add new baskets or bins to hold items, then labeling a shelf works to contain the item.
We added a hamper so she would have a place upstairs to put dirty towels, rather than having to run back and forth to the basement, or the laundry upstairs near the bedrooms.
We also used only bins and storage my client already had. Later, she may purchase bins that all match.
She loves the result! Here it is:
To tackle your own supply closet, I suggest using my HEART process. I created it just for my clients and it works every time!
Get out a recycle bin, donate bin, trash bin, and belongs elsewhere bin.
Take everything out of the supply closet.
Then apply HEART:
-Hone your things by sorting them like with like.
-Eliminate unwanted items by placing them in the designated bins.
-Assign every item a place, and every genre of items a place.
-Repurpose containers if at all possible.
-Transition—come up with a plan to make sure it stays organized.
What do you like to keep in your family supply closet? Do you have questions or tips on how to organize it? Reply to this email and let me know. I’d love to hear from you! If you liked this post, please share it. If you’d like more tips on how to organize closets check out my posts on closet organization.