How to Organize Plastic Storage Bins With Labels


Organizing can be a challenge. You can group large objects together and make a label for the outside of the bin that indicates the bin is full of that item. This becomes more difficult if the plastic container is time sensitive, or is organized by color or some other criteria. Identify the main contents and then use sub-categories to describe fewer or less-important items. If you select bins that are translucent, you can position the labels inside the bin facing outward. This prevents labels being scraped off. Label the top and two sides in case a container is stored backward; you may still be able to read the side.

Things You'll Need

  • Translucent containers
  • Label maker
  • Labels
  • Thick marker
  • Printer (optional)
  • Tape (wide and clear)
  • Scissors
  • Identify how many categories of bins you have. Separate bins into big categories such as clothing, housewares, Christmas or tools. Go around the house to locate all storage bins that are in use and bring them into your central sorting location.

  • Repack containers if you have different types of containers. Store and stack identical containers on top of each other. This will allow you to group them in your storage area and it will be easier to identify the right containers when you are looking for them. When packing a container, place your least-used items on the bottom and your most used items on the top.

  • Print the general category on your computer printer. Use a bold font with simple lines and make the word as big as possible. Keep your general category label to a single word like CLOTHING. Print out one of these for each clothing bin. If your plastic containers are translucent you can tape the category label inside the bin facing out. Position all of your labels in the same spot on each container. Place a category label visible through the side as well.

  • Divide your bins into sub-categories. For clothing, you may have winter and summer. Use an index card and large marker. Write WINTER at the top of the card. Underneath winter identify whose clothing is in the bin. Use the name of the person and the age of the clothing if the person is a child. You may also have sub-categories such as shoes, boots, sandals, purses, belts, scarves, hats. Use the same process to identify whose items are in the bin and the age of the person when applicable.

  • Tape your index cards inside the end and side facing out so they can be easily read. If your plastic bins are opaque and you can't see through them, tape your labels to the outside and use a 2-inch-wide clear tape to cover the entire label so the label cannot be easily torn off. Keep all your labels in the same positions on all of the bins. This shows you where to look for items. Use colored index cards for each person if you want to make locating by color one of your options.

  • Stack your bins so that bins opened frequently are at eye level and on top. Place seldom-opened bins at the back or top of your storage shelving or area. Make sure your labels are facing outward for easy reading and stack like items grouped in one area. Repeat this for each category and sub-category. When you reach small containers with lots of small items use the same basic process only use labels from a label maker appropriately sized to the container.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is important to recognize when items you are storing are no longer being used and to recycle and dispose of them promptly. When storage areas become full it is usually time to go through bins and reduce the quantity of what you have. It is also a good idea to stop purchasing items beyond your regular use. This will reduce storage demands and improve your budget.

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  • Photo Credit tackle box image by Brett Bouwer from
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