From bleach to bathtub cleaner, you've got a (labeled!) basket for that
If you’ve found yourself tearing apart closets to find that special cleaner you use on your favorite mid-century credenza or you’ve just binged on “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” it might be time to organize your cleaning supplies. Save time and precious counter space with these simple tips to store, consolidate, and neatly arrange everything you need to keep your home spic and span.
Store and Downsize
Different cleaning products may need to be stored in different ways, depending on their toxicity, frequency of use, and who else lives with you, including pets. In addition, before you organize everything you should take stock of what you have and get rid of what you don’t need.
1. Use Your Garage for the Tough Stuff
Consider storing any cleaning products with harsher chemicals (bleach and drain cleaner, for example) in the garbage to prevent them from leaking harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home’s air.
2. Rethink the Sink
Most people keep cleaning products under the sink, but if you’ve got little ones and/or furry ones, consider stowing your items elsewhere. But the sink is OK if you’re only using natural products like vinegar and baking soda, or homemade cleaning supplies.
3. Keep It Cool
Many of the chemicals in cleaning products could be prone to reacting to high heat or humidity. So store everything in a cool, dry spot—and definitely far away from any areas with fire, like the stove or the fireplace.
4. Take Inventory of Your Tools
Chances are you have more cleaning supplies than you actually need. Go through what you have and get rid of anything you don’t reach for often or have duplicates of (we promise you don’t need four brooms!) to save on space.
5. Consolidate Products
As you go through what you’ve already got on hand, consolidate any cleaning products you have more than one of. For instance, if you’ve got a bottle of window cleaning spray that’s almost empty and another that’s half empty, pour the nearly empty bottle into the half empty one to save space.
In addition, consider only buying multi-purpose products to reduce the number of items you need to stash away. Make sure you have the essential items to clean your home, while getting rid of any you know you won’t use again.
6. Throw Out Expired Items
Like most things, cleaning products have a shelf life and lose their effectiveness after a certain amount of time. If any of your products are very old and already opened, it’s best to buy new ones and start over.
From here on out, when you buy new cleaners, label them with the month and year of purchase.
Multi-purpose cleaners have a shelf life of approximately two years
Dishwashing liquid lasts around 12–18 months
Laundry detergent is effective for six months to one year
Bleach has a shelf life of about six months
Now that you’ve downsized and determined where in your home cleaning products should be safely stowed away, here’s some tips for ways to organize them for easy access.
1. Group Frequently Used Items Together
If you know you use a sponge and all-purpose cleaner to wipe kitchen counters down every day, keep them grouped together. You should also find a way to get the most used items up at the front of the pack; consider purchasing a small basket to hang over the cabinet door for sponges, all-purpose cleaner, or gloves.
2. Use a Cart
A small utility cart is a terrific way to stow all your cleaning products together, and if it has wheels, it’ll be easy to roll around the house when you’re ready to do that springtime deep clean. Keep the cart in a closet, away from food, pets, and kids when you’re not using it.
3. Whip Out the Label Maker
Don’t have a lot of extra room for a cart? Buy air-tight bins to group products by task (ex. dusting) or by room, and find that old label maker to mark which bin has what in it. You can then store the bins in any available closet or on a shelf. If you wish to divide the items by room, you can also buy small caddies to fill with products for easy grab-and-go.
4. Store Behind the Door
Buy a behind-the-door shoe organizer and place it on your pantry, basement, or utility door to house all your products and smaller tools. The clear pouches will allow you to see everything easily, and you’ll save on shelf and floor space. Consider investing in a wall mount to hang tall tools like brooms and mops.
5. Double Your Cabinet Space
A simple tension rod purchased at any hardware store can be placed in your cabinet. Use it to hang spray bottles, cleaning gloves, rags, and more, freeing up the cabinet’s floor.
6. Find an Excuse to Be Lazy
Lazy susans are wonderful, simple devices that can help store cleaning products. The rotating bed will help you group frequently used items, see and grab everything quickly, and save you on cabinet space. And if you’re exhausted after all this organizing, consider hiring a local cleaning service to take care of the dirt and grime this time.