Organization and downsizing shows are very popular and as we look on with envy at their well managed belongings…

Screws, bolts, picture hooks, plant hangers, curtain hooks, nails, small parts and hardware can quickly become a huge mess if they are not organized. Have you ever tried to find anything in that “junk drawer” or the bottom of the toolbox, where these items are typically thrown? Then in frustration, we take the extra time to head down to the hardware store to buy something we already had.

The best way to store these items is in clear plastic, screw top containers – found for free simply by washing out those empty peanut butter or mayonnaise containers. We prefer the extra large containers with the wide lid, but smaller ones come in quite handy too. Because they are clear, we can see at a glance what they contain. Being plastic, they will not break or crack like glass would, and their contents do not make as much noise when the container is moved around.

Where to start:

Empty “junk” drawers and boxes, one at a time, on a large tray – and sort, making piles of various items… certain types of screws piled together, clothes pins in another pile, etc. Put each pile in a container and set aside. Do the same thing for every single junk drawer and toolbox, from cupboard to desk and closet from the home to the office and garage, and then out to the garden shed. Don’t look at this as one big project like you see on those television shows; simply start one drawer, one desk, one box at a time. After a while you’ll notice those containers of specific items are beginning to fill and you’ll be glad you have some larger containers. The benefit comes in when you go to your craft closet and can literally see all your bits and pieces and supplies. You know what you have to work with, when you go to the workshop you can see the exact amount of every screw, hinge, hook, hanger, parts for bicycles, random vehicle parts and different types of nails that you have in stock. Things are visually very tidy, they are easy to reach and convenient to use. When you have some part to put away, it is easy to find the right storage container.

You’ll find these containers are also handy in the kitchen for bulk dry goods like icing sugar or flour. They are perfect for holding dog treats, cotton balls, pet food, garden amendments and bulk seed storage. Once we started doing this in 1996, and currently in our kitchen and pantry cupboards we have 35 of those containers… easily twice that in the garage, workshop and garden shed areas. That’s more than 100 containers being reused indefinitely. The bonus here is that if they warp or crack, they can still be recycled.