What to Store in Plastic Storage Containers

Organized plastic storage containers

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Plastic storage containers are fantastic for storing and organizing out-of-season or specialty clothing items such as Halloween costumes or your fluffy winter sweaters. These containers are square and uniformly sized. You can stack them in corners or on high shelves utilizing every inch of your storage space. The plastic shields clothing from the elements, such as a damp basement or a dusty attic. Many types are clear, so you can easily retrieve items from the correct container without rummaging around.

Here are many ways to make the best use of plastic storage containers and bins in your home.

  • 01 of 12

    General Clothing Storage

    Woman placing folded clothes into storage containers.

    Ruth Jenkinson / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Clear containers with locking lids are ideal for storing clothes. You can store clothes in the attic, basement, or garage until it's time to switch out your wardrobe when the seasons change. Ensure you don't keep plastic near anything too hot such as a furnace or stove.

  • 02 of 12

    Accessories and Other Small Items

    plastic organizer used to hold ties

    The Spruce / Candace Madonna

    There are several storage options for these items. You can use accessory boxes to store scarves, gloves, hats, chunky jewelry, and hosiery, but these boxes can also hold other small items. Some ideas include small tools, cables and wires, desk accessories, toys, and travel toiletries.

    You can also use a plastic rolling cart to hold small items, such as hats, socks, jewelry, or makeup. A three-drawer rolling cart is mobile because it's on wheels and can be quickly used in different spaces.

  • 03 of 12

    Tools, Sports Equipment, and Cleaning Supplies

    Garage organized with plastic boxes on wooden shelves and rakes held on the wall

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    Since these items tend to be heavy, use heavy-duty plastic containers to store tools, sporting equipment, or cleaning supplies. These storage bins will protect these items from the elements if kept in a cold garage or shed and can keep them close to where you need them.

  • 04 of 12

    Organizing Files

    Plastic containers to organize files

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    An extra-large file tote box should be large enough to fit files for a household of up to two people. Once you begin adding ​new people, you probably need to graduate to an actual file cabinet.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Holiday Decor, Outdoor Entertaining, and Large Kitchen Items

    plastic bins holding decor

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    A great, multi-use storage option for these items is a 22-gallon plastic storage container. They are roomy enough to fit more than a hat and small enough to carry easily.

    The size also guarantees you won't be weighing the container down to where it's unsafe to ease it off a high shelf.

    Tip

    Buy in bulk to ensure you'll be able to stack containers neatly. They are designed to fit together.

  • 06 of 12

    Crafts and Scrapbooking

    Organized crafts

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Perfect for storing scrapbooking papers and other crafting materials, flat, shorter boxes will fit in any closet or storage space. Use them for gift-wrapping materials, craft materials, and school supplies.

    Another option for storing craft supplies is open-top boxes (with attached lids that appear to overlap). These boxes are handy for items you need to put in storage but also need to access often.

  • 07 of 12

    Sweaters and Bulky Clothing

    Woman holding a stack of folded sweaters.

    Tetra Images / Getty Images

    Sweater storage is a delicate art. Sweaters, typically made of cotton, wool, or cashmere, aren't content to sit around in any old box during the hot summer months. They need to breathe and be protected from the elements. Deep, plastic storage boxes ensure you won't cram sweaters or coats on top of each other to fit them all in, and the plastic construction will protect​ the fabric from dust and humidity.

    Tip

    Since sweater boxes are on the larger size, do not store them higher than your torso. Pulling them down off of a high shelf could be dangerous.

  • 08 of 12

    Food in the Pantry

    organizing a pantry

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Tupperware and its ilk revolutionized food storage in the 1950s. Plastic storage containers were reusable, snap-tight, and sturdy. Being airtight, they helped prevent food spoilage in the fridge. They also help keep bugs and other pests from eating dry pantry goods. Although they're made of plastic, they're still environmentally friendly by reducing the use of single-use plastics.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Computer Supplies

    Computer cords stored in a plastic storage bin

    LeventKonuk / Getty Images

    Computers are not new, but the gadgets or peripherals that come with them and other mobile devices and tablets are constantly growing. Some like to hold on to spare parts or have backups like when a mouse dies, a cord fails, or an extra charger is needed. Plastic storage bins are perfect for holding onto these items in an organized way.

  • 10 of 12

    Archiving Important Papers

    desk organizers

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Some people prefer file cabinets, and others prefer plastic storage containers. These bins are an easy way to store old tax records, business papers, or old correspondence. Date the outside of these containers, and you may even be able to toss bin contents over time.

  • 11 of 12

    Gardening Supplies

    Plastic storage bin for gardening supplies

    Yackers1 / Getty Images

    If you maintain a garden, plastic storage containers have many uses. First, you need a trusty, sealed container to file and store unused seeds. Next, if you have fertilizer, bone meal, or other soil supplements, store them in a bin to keep critters out of them. Since gardening is seasonal, you likely need a spot for your hand tools, gloves, timers, gauges, hose attachments, and more.

  • 12 of 12

    Children's Toys

    Clear bins for storage

    Joanna Organize

    Families with children rely on plastic bins—especially apartment dwellers–for keeping toys sorted. Toy cars, Legos, playing cards, crayons, dolls—the list is limitless for organizing children's things, from infant through the teenage years and beyond.

    Tip

    Plastic containers are also great for labeling and teaching children how to put their toys away. For younger children, like pre-readers, use pictures as labels to help them learn organization at an early age.