The Best Basement Organizing Tips and Tricks

Metal shelving system with labeled storage boxes in basement

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Unless you're a total minimalist, you're probably always looking for easy ways to maximize your home's storage space—and if you have a basement (finished or unfinished), you're in luck.

Basements are often considered catch-alls for your family's ever-growing mountain of stuff. With the right organization and storage tricks, however, you can take your basement from disorganized catch-all, to a beautifully organized space that serves all of your family's storage and organizational needs. Here's how to get started.

Step One: Evaluate Your Stuff

A basement can be a treasure trove of junk you've long forgotten about. As you clean out your basement, put items into three categories: keep, donate, and throw away. If you don't find yourself using an item often, consider donating it; if it's in bad condition, it might be time for the dumpster. If you have a hard time letting go of your things, channel your inner-Marie Kondo by thanking each item for its service and letting it go. Alternatively, you might just find that tool or the board game you've been searching for forever during the decluttering process.

Basement items separated into categories with box and trash cans

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Step Two: Choose Your Shelving Solutions

Setting up shelving systems in your basement just doesn't maximize your vertical storage space—it can protect your gear from flooding and other types of damage, too. Measure your space to determine what size shelving it can accommodate, being sure to take the amount of gear your system needs to accommodate into account. There's nothing worse than buying and assembling a shelving system that ends up being too large for a space! If your basement isn't climate controlled, skip the wood shelving and opt for metal or sturdy plastic shelving systems. Wood can break down over time, but metal and plastic can withstand heat, humidity, and water damage if you live in an area that tends to flood.

If you have gear that needs to be hung up, like winter coats or other out-of-season clothing, consider adding a simple clothing rack to your storage solution. It'll save shelf space, maximize vertical space, and keep your clothes neat and wrinkle-free. Other items that need to be hung, like fire extinguishers, tools, aprons, or gloves can be stored on simple hooks or pegs.

Metal wire shelving system assembled in basement

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Step Three: Categorize Your Items

Yup, more categorization. Evaluate all items that need to be stored and assign them to specific categories. Then, choose a location on your shelves, clothing rack, or hooks and pegs to place each category. Consider adding labels on each shelf, so you can quickly assess what's stored there.

If you have smaller items that need to be stored—and they're not super easy to identify quickly—place them in large, zippered plastic bags and clearly label them with a label maker or painter's tape and a marker. This will come in handy for extra cords and cables, screws, bolts, nuts, or other small items.

Basement items categorized with labels on metal shelves

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Step Four: Store Items in Plastic Storage Containers

Even if your basement is climate controlled, cardboard boxes bend, warp, and break down over time. Opt for clear, plastic storage containers instead. They'll protect your gear from heat, humidity, moisture, and pests, make it easier to locate and identify exactly what you're looking for, and last much longer than a cardboard box. Be sure to put a label on the outside of each storage container, so you know their contents.

If you need to hang out-of-season clothing in your basement, look for sturdy, hanging clothing organizers with shelves. Have some particularly delicate clothing that needs storage? It's easy to find plastic, zippered garment bags online and at any home goods retailer.

Basement items placed in storage containers within shelving

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Step Five: Make Pantry Space

If your kitchen pantry is bursting at the seams, consider storing shelf-stable food items, cleaning products, and paper products in your basement.

Food items can attract pests—especially if your basement isn't finished or climate controlled—so be sure to put any edible products in air-tight plastic containers. Labeling the outside of each container will make it easier to identify without the original packaging. Other items, like coffee, unopened condiments, and sealed spices can be stored in the basement, as well.

Cleaning products and paper products should be categorized and assigned a certain location within your storage system. That way, you'll never have to search for a roll of paper towels or a new bottle of cleaner again.

Extra pantry dishware and food items placed in shelving

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

If you take the proper steps, you can transform your basement from a cluttered catch-call, to a super organized space that satisfies all of your family's organization needs. And who knows—your freshly organized basement just might inspire you to tackle the junk drawer in the kitchen.