Organization 101 ~ Totes

by Merissa on August 2, 2011

in Organization 101

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I kind of have this obsession with totes. I'm not sure if it comes from my hubby that loves them as well, or if it comes from my neat-freak-ness. Either way, I have alot of totes in my house. It could also stem from the fact that when we were living in the camper for almost a year and our things were in storage, they were all in cardboard boxes...and I had to clean of so much mouse mess from the inside of my things it wasn't funny. Anyways, you understand...I love totes...

Our house is tiny. When I call it the "Little House" it's no exaggeration.. it's small in here! I have to be creative with my use of space and how we store things. And even though we try not to keep alot around I still stockpile when I find a good deal so I don't every have to pay full price. So I need somewhere to put all that.

This is where the totes come in, and not just totes, a variety of containers. They help keep things neat, clean, and organized. Even in my tiny house. So here's some things I use my totes for:

I keep some of my stockpile in larger totes. I don't like to keep things like shampoo and body wash on the shelf because I don't have the room to stack it.  I make sure the tops of liquid things are closed by sticking a piece of tape on it before I stick it in the tote so it doesn't leak. Then I stacked all the totes in a spare closet in the house.

This isn't the prettiest drawer tote but it works! (I need to find some Goo-Gone...) I have this drawer in the baby's room. Right now I'm storing bottles and other feeding things in it that I don't have room for in the kitchen. I also have some extra unopened bibs and washcloths in the top drawer.

I have a nice big wall of shelves in my bathroom and that's where I keep most of my stockpile items. I like everything sorted out and these shelves and totes are kind of like my mini "store".  I have each of the totes labeled with what's in it so no matter what I need, I can easily find it!

In my office I have lots and lots of office supplies. I like to stock up during the back to school sales. So I have more of the tote drawers in the office and I fill them with all kinds of office supplies.

I also have a couple more tote drawers stacked in my office closet. These hold all my crafty supplies, oil colors, paints, glue sticks, ect. These are really handy because sometimes with crafty things you only have a little of this and that.

So those are just some of the many totes in my house! I also use totes to store canning jars out in the shed when I'm not using them. Hubby uses totes out in his shop to store things. I store a few things that I don't need right now and that I've already packed away until we move, I keep extra shoes for a different season...all kinds of things!

Do you use totes? Do they help you organize?

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12:58 pm

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 marci357 August 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I have them – but I have not gotten good at using them efficiently yet. Except for Christmas – the two Christmas totes work well… and I condensed down a couple years ago from 4 to 2, and now that I am moved to my final home, I think I need to get down to one Christmas tote – as this is a tiny tiny house and there won’t be room for everything this winter… will tackle that project then!

My biggest feat is writing on them… how do you label them that makes them changeable for other purposes? As I am still unpacking and sorting out things, this is a good time for me to use the totes I have. Totally agree with you on the mouse stuff… and out here, the dampness is also a major factor.


2 Merissa August 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Marci, I have a label maker that my mom gave me and that’s what I use to mark the drawers and totes. I’ve seen them for cheap at rummage sales and even at Office Depot too.


3 Anne Harrison February 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

I am a retired teacher and love using tubs. I use a permanent “Sharpie” to label. When I want to change the label, I scribble over the writing and then it easily comes off with an alcohol wipe.


4 nicole March 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

I use black sharpie and then scribble over it and aerosol hair spray makes it come off pretty easily. I heart totes.


5 Lyn August 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Post-its has labels that are removable. They work well. I have them on banker’s boxes that I have items stored in. Easy to peel off and change if needed.

I keep a large tote with canned goods in it. We have a small galley kitchen that is narrow and there is little cupboard space. Having food there stretches my pantry a bit further.

I love storage bins and totes too. 🙂


6 Pounds4Pennies August 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I ran across your site. Very cute name. I am trying to go back to my roots. We live in the city so it is hard to grow things here. I started a little garden, but with it being 110 degrees most of it is burning up. I have four tomatoes I am hoping I can harvest one day.

I am now a follower.


7 Merissa August 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Welcome! So glad you found this site! I’m having troubles with my garden this year too, pretty much everything got flooded out. 🙁


8 marty rollo October 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I have found that by using the notebook paper sleeves and taping to the tote, it is easy to write inventory on notepaper and just slip it into the sleeve. easy to update inventory too. you can cut the sleeves down to more manageable size for smll totes.


9 Linda February 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I noticed that you use lots of labels. Do you use a labelmaker, or just generate them on the computer?


10 Merissa February 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Labelmaker! I just have a small simple one that I love 🙂


11 jen January 16, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I use duct tape and write what’s in the container with a sharpee. I have also usedthe packing labels (free from the post office) you can just change the label or the whole thing comes off fairly easy. Or they sell magnetic and sticky back label holders so you can juat change the paper as you rearrange things. Love your site 🙂


12 Sylvia Marie January 17, 2014 at 5:07 am

I loved the tips about totes, I’ve used them for years but not as effeciently as you are doing.Thank you for sharing great ideas. I’m on my way to buy some more! BTW: I use peanut butter to loosen glue, I keep a cheap jar under the sink, it works well in mouse traps too! 🙂 :)…… Have a blessed day!


13 Trish March 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

Try using olive oil and salt to get the labels off. Then wash in regular dish water to remove the oil.


14 MelodyC March 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

I love totes! I use them to travel with, I know sounds silly but living in Alaska is sometimes tough. My husband and I have drilled holes in the tops of our totes so we can zip tie them shut. I use then like a suitcase when we travel, hard to move around but sturdy for Bush plane travel. We also use them at home, we store dog food in one, off season clothing in another, upside down and covered with a tablecloth for end tables, and open side out, stacked for clothing storage. We keep a couple in the back of our truck for storing groceries on the ride back home. Thighs are kept neat and tidy with totes!


15 kat January 27, 2017 at 11:26 am

how bout using those “chalkboard” labels? then you could just erase and re-write!


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