How to Organize Toys and Eliminate Playroom Clutter

A cluttered playroom
Getty Images/Frank Rothe

In many homes, the words "clutter" and "playroom" go hand in hand. Your playroom is often so cluttered with games and toys that there's no room to play or safely walk without tripping over something. If you've comforted your child one too many times over a favorite toy that's been crushed in the clutter, it's time to clean up and organize the playroom. It takes time, discipline, and grit to sort through the maze of toys.

Play the Sorting Game

Start organizing the playroom in baby steps. The best first step is to sort the items in the room. Get your kids involved in sorting items into the following categories, and don't be surprised if they become reacquainted with some toys and games they forgot they have:

  • Games and puzzles
  • Cars, trucks, and trains
  • Dolls and doll accessories
  • Books
  • Arts-and-crafts supplies
  • Make-believe centers and costumes
  • Stuffed animals
  • Miscellaneous

Purge and Store Away

Now that you have a clear picture of everything in your playroom, reduce it by half. There's a method to the madness:

  • Have ready storage bins that are labeled with each of the above categories.
  • Have a large box or bin ready that's labeled for toy donation.
  • Review all of the items in each category and select at least half of them to be put in storage.
  • Select a good handful from each category to earmark for donation. (If you have brand new, never-used games in packaging, consider donating to Toys for Tots for the holidays.)
  • Store those bins away from the playroom, such as in the garage, basement, or a closet.
  • Have a donation plan in place. Put the donation box far away from the playroom so you can get it to where you want it donated without your kids rifling through the container.

The goal is to periodically rotate stored toys and games with the ones in the playroom. Choose a rainy day when you have no plans to do this rotation. The goal is to always fill up the bins with items to put back in storage.

Organize the Room in Zones

Now that the coast is clear, you can better evaluate the layout of your playroom. The best strategy to organize the playroom is to divide it into three or four zones:

  • Book, game, and puzzle zone
  • Dolls and stuffed animals zone
  • Planes, trains, and automobile zone
  • Arts-and-crafts zone

Outfit each zone with a shelving unit to store the toys remaining in the playroom. Gather bins and baskets that fit onto the shelves and place like items with like in each zone. Cut out a picture of the type of toy or game that goes into each bin to help your child know which item goes in which container. The pictures will help young kids who can't read yet.

Where to Put Make-Believe Centers

Make-believe centers can fit into any zone your child prefers. You can even have a make-believe center in multiple zones.

Clean Up in Five Minutes a Day

Stay on top of playroom clutter on a daily basis by making it into a five-minute game. At the end of each day, set a timer for five minutes. Help your children put everything they've been playing with back in the appropriate place. As they get older, have them do this chore themselves while you supervise.

Establishing Good Habits

Once your children no longer need a playroom, the habits you've helped them establish keeping the playroom uncluttered and organized will carry over to their bedrooms and other areas of their lives.