7 storage mistakes you’re probably making right now

Storage boxes on shelf
Storage boxes on shelf (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re sticking to the best ways to declutter your home, or simply want a neat, presentable space, storage solutions are arguably the best organization tool out there.

Not only do they contain and conceal the clutter, but establish boundaries and make items easy to find. What’s more, clever storage can make even the smallest room look bigger and free up valuable space. 

But, while it might seem like a no-brainer, there are common storage mistakes that can actually do the opposite and create more clutter! These mistakes can prevent you from not utilizing the space properly, create an eyesore, or ruin your organized set-up.

Plus, there are so many types, shapes and sizes of container or bin on the market, it can be easy to fall into the trap of buying just anything — and realizing it looks all wrong!

So, if you want a clutter-free home, be sure to avoid these storage mistakes you’re probably making right now.

1. Buying the wrong-sized storage for your needs 

Storage crates and baskets

Storage crates and baskets (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Just because you’ve spotted some stylish baskets or storage caddies, doesn’t mean they’ll be suitable for your storage needs. 

There’s been many times where I’ve bought bathroom storage or under-the-sink caddies, only to find that they don’t fit snugly in the space. Always plan ahead before sourcing storage, and ensure it fits properly, and is easy to access. It's also worth measuring the space you want to add storage to and keeping the dimensions in a note on your phone to refer back to later.  

In addition, be strategic about the type of storage you need, and avoid using the same sized storage for everything. For instance, you don’t need deep storage boxes/baskets for smaller items, and similarly, avoid stuffing larger items into tiny storage. Plan accordingly, to prevent further clutter spilling out, and save yourself  time rummaging around in larger boxes.

2. Not storing the right things in a container 

Plastic storage boxes on white shelves

Plastic storage boxes on white shelves (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Not all containers are created equal — and there are some things you should never store in plastic containers. This is because plastic material is prone to trapping moisture and absorbing odors, from fluctuating temperatures in the home. These can all affect the condition of your items inside, and potentially ruin them. 

For instance, natural fabrics such as cashmere, wool, leather, and even lace are prone to capturing excess moisture, musty odors and damage if not properly stored. Instead, opt for breathable fabric storage bags, such as these 90L Large Storage Bags ($24, Amazon), which are also available in different sizes, and colors of your choice.   

3. Bulky storage solutions 

Woman opening up a large storage chair

Woman opening up a large storage chair (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Multi-functional storage is a popular option since these double up as extra seating, handy footstools or even a coffee table. Trouble is, these can often look too bulky or an eyesore in the wrong space. 

If you have a compact room, select slimline storage pieces that will do the job, without taking up too much space. For instance, this Sorbus Narrow Dresser with 4 Drawers ($51, Amazon), is a stylish, space-saver, with adjustable feet. Plus, the whole idea is to make your home feel less cluttered and spacious. 

4. Not creating ‘zones’ in each space 

A woman organizing shelves

A woman organizing shelves (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Even your storage organizers need to be organized! Shelves, closets and cabinets can quickly become chaotic without a proper storage system — leaving you rummaging through multiple boxes or baskets.

Before decluttering, it’s always best to sort and store similar items together. Then, label each box or container before storing them away. This type of curation will bring a sense of order to your storage, as well as help you find things quicker.

5. Not thinking about how to access things

Shoes in cubby storage

Shoes in cubby storage (Image credit: Shutterstock)

You might have found the ideal storage solutions, but it’s pointless if you or members of your family can't reach it with ease. Whether it's shoved towards the back of a cupboard, or too deep a container for children’s arms to search in, you want to make it easy to access for everybody.

Try to make different types of storage accessible for everyone in the household. So for young kids, consider placing boxes or books lower down on a shelf, or storing items at arms length. This way, they won’t have trouble finding what they need and store neatly away afterwards. 

6. Overstacking storage 

Plastic storage containers stacked

Plastic storage containers stacked (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Just because your handy storage containers are stackable, don’t be tempted to overstack. While such bins might seem like handy space-savers, stacking too many together makes it almost impossible to get what you need easily — especially if what you’re after is right at the bottom of the stack!

Experts advise to try and use shelves to separate storage bins instead of stacking them on top. Not only will this make life easier for you, but will avoid a potential accident too!

7. Not thinking about the aesthetics  

Items on display on shelf

Items on display on shelf (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, avoid overstuffing shelves or display units with multiple storage bins. Instead, try to arrange your containers in a more curated way, to avoid visual clutter and an eyesore.

In some cases, it might involve you removing a few, or adding an extra shelf. What’s more, you can relocate boxes inside a cupboard or cabinet to reduce visual clutter. You want to make your space look appealing as well as organized. 

More from Tom's Guide

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!