A TIDY SUM
A quick walk through the home aisles of your local big-box store may convince you that just a few more key purchases are all you need to declutter your space once and for all. And while there are tons of legitimately helpful organization products out there, some of them are dubious at best. Here are 22 things you probably don't need to whip your home into shape.
INDOOR LOG HOLDERS
What you'll save: $25-$100
Sure, it can look lovely and rustic to pile a big stack of logs into one of these holders next to your fireplace. But really, firewood should be kept one place only: outside. That's because it can hide a lot of unwelcome guests, including carpenter ants, beetles, termites, and other bugs. Experts tell Country Living that firewood should be kept at least 5 feet away from your house. Bring it in only when you're going to use it.
What you'll save: $3-$25
Between tablets, phones, fitness trackers, smart-home devices, and other tech, it seems like we have more cords to wrangle than ever before. But cord keepers are super simple to make yourself, no matter what kind you need. Try one of One Crazy House's cheap solutions. Our favorite? Using binder clips or clothespins to keep a handle on headphones and charging cords in purses, backpacks, and drawers.
What you'll save: $10-$25
Shirt folders make sense for helping produce tidy retail displays -- and not a whole lot else. Those of us who don't live at the Gap are capable of neatly folding shirts, pants, towels, and anything else destined for a dresser or closet. (As for fitted sheets, well, everyone gets a pass on those. But if you're feeling ambitious, check out this tutorial from Real Simple.)
What you'll save: $50-$300
In your home office, tons of filing cabinets are just an invitation for more paper clutter. The amount of paperwork you should keep indefinitely is surprisingly small: think tax returns, real-estate records, and important contracts, according to consumer advocate and radio host Clark Howard. Moreover, many of the documents that may otherwise take over our homes are available in electronic form, including bank statements, utility bills, and insurance documents.
STUFFED ANIMAL ORGANIZERS
What you'll save: $10-$20
Any parent will tell you that stuffed animals can be the No. 1 source of toy clutter. Organizers can keep them in one spot, but do nothing to stem the tide of furry friends; even worse, common storage solutions like wall-mounted nets make them hard to access when it's playtime. We suggest thinning the herd with Apartment Therapy's tips. Then keep the rest in an easy-to-reach bin so they can get some love again.
OPEN KITCHEN SHELVES
What you'll save: Varies
The latest trend in kitchen organization has homeowners ripping out their cabinets in favor of open shelving, often with a rustic feel inspired by HGTV's "Fixer Upper." But count us among the naysayers who think open shelves are simply too impractical for most people. Unless your dishes match and you're a pro at meticulously stacking those plates and bowls, save the money on this needless kitchen re-do.
SPACE-SAVING VACUUM BAGS
What you'll save: $20-$40
In theory, bags that help you compress bulky clothing and bedding for long-term storage are genius. In practice, they just don't work half the time. Frustrated buyers have a litany of complaints, including bags that come out of the boxes with holes in them, hard-to-use zipper closures, and bags that start to slowly take on air after being sealed up. Even if the bags stay compressed, anything inside is likely to become a wrinkled, smelly mess. Unless space is really tight, we'd stick with traditional storage bags and bins, including the ones that can slide under the bed -- perfect for stuff you won't need for a while.
What you'll save: $20-$100
We get it: Label makers are kind of fun to use, and now you can even sync them with your phone. But they don't do anything that can't be accomplished with a piece of masking tape and a permanent marker. Also, there's the small matter of how pricey it is to keep buying all that label tape -- a two-pack of basic tape for a popular Brother label maker runs $25 on Amazon. Ouch.
COUNTERTOP SPICE RACKS
What you'll save: $20-$70
There are a few reasons to skip those shiny countertop racks of spices. First, they hog valuable real estate. Second, half of the containers are usually filled with spices you don't use. Third, and perhaps most importantly, spices degrade when they're exposed to light and heat. Keep them in a dark, dry pantry or drawer to maintain quality – and since they're out of sight, it's no biggie to keep them in their original containers.
SOCK AND UNDERWEAR DRAWER DIVIDERS
What you'll save: $10-$20
We understand the appeal of an organized drawer, but spending big on dividers for your undergarments seems like a step all but the most hard-core organizers can skip. If you must keep each pair of socks or undies from mingling with its neighbors, consider following this Instructables tutorial. All you'll need are index cards and tape.
PLASTIC FOOD STORAGE CONTAINER SETS
What you'll save: $15-$30
Why do plastic food storage containers seem to multiply, eventually taking over entire cabinets? Not to mention the fact that after a while, they start to get stained, or worse, smelly. Consider ditching them for a smaller, sturdier set of glass containers like this one from Glasslock. Bonus: It's easier to see your leftovers if they're in glass, so no more "losing" last night's casserole at the back of the fridge.
What you'll save: $20-$50
Canisters suffer from some of the same issues as those shiny spice racks: Though they may be a cute kitchen accent, they aren't worth all the countertop space they eat up. One professional organizer even says some of his clients never even bother to fill them. Unless you're dipping into the sugar, rice, beans, or other canister staples multiple times a day, these items are probably better off in the pantry or cabinet.
PLASTIC STORAGE TOTES
What you'll save: $6-$25 each for larger totes
Hold off on your trip to the store for those ubiquitous plastic storage totes and bins. Why? Chances are you'll get the wrong size, the wrong kind, or far more than you need, especially if you buy before actually going through your things. "Rectangular storage bins don't always work best in a particular space or room. Often times, other types of containers will work better. I like to use decorative baskets, cubes, or even pieces of furniture that include built-in storage," notes professional organizer Lauren Mang. Mang's other pet peeve: Flimsy bins without locking lids.
PLASTIC GARMENT BAGS
What you'll save: $10-$20
Those plastic garment bags might make you think you're keeping important clothes organized and protected until you next need them, but professional organizers Molly Graves and Ashley Murphy say they're a waste. That's because the plastic keeps air from getting to the clothes and, if your closet gets humid enough, promotes mold and mildew growth. Eww. Instead, skip the garment bags or pick one made with a breathable fabric like cotton or linen.
FANCY GIFT WRAP ORGANIZERS
What you'll save: $75-$200
Unless you're a professional gift wrapper, we're not sure why wrapping paper and gift bags demand their own fancy cart -- especially when there are so many cheap DIY solutions here. One Good Thing by Jillee suggests repurposing common household items like tension rods, shopping bag holders, or even a suitcase when you need a dedicated spot for gift supplies.
What you'll save: $75-$400
Your jewelry collection should be pretty substantial -- and expensive -- if you're justifying one of these cash and space hogs. DIY options are endless here: A simple egg carton or ceramic egg holder can easily corral a collection on the top of your dresser, or an old frame and some chicken wire can become a hanging holder. If you're not feeling crafty, an inexpensive hanging closet organizer can wrangle a ton of jewelry without costing an arm and a leg, and leave your bedroom a lot less cluttered, too.
WOVEN HAMPERS AND LAUNDRY BASKETS
What you'll save: $25-$150
Rattan and wicker are lovely to look at, which accounts for these products' enduring popularity. But when it comes to function, there are better solutions out there. It's all too easy for these materials to snag clothing, and overloaded baskets may become misshapen -- if they don't start to break entirely (we're looking at you, flimsy wicker handles). We'll stick to heavy-duty plastic laundry baskets that can put up with abuse, and sturdy canvas hampers that can be collapsed when they're not in use.
CD/DVD BINDERS OR STORAGE TOWERS
What you'll save: $10-$200
Buying any more of these things is kind of like loading up on typewriter ribbon. Don't do it – and if you already have a bunch of them collecting dust, digitize your collection already and get rid of them. A service like Vudu can help digitize any DVDs you can't part with. Sony offers a guide to different kinds of high-quality music formats and conversion software to consider for digitizing the CDs you want to save.
MOTORIZED TIE RACKS
What you'll save: $20-$50
C'mon now: Nothing in your closet needs to have any kind of motor, let alone built-in LEDs. Even if you're a true tie connoisseur, a regular old tie hanger like this one can keep you organized without the need for batteries. Feeling fancy? Follow this Craftaholics Anonymous tutorial to make a rustic-chic tie rack that's nice enough to hang out in the open.
SUCTION-CUP SHOWER ORGANIZERS
What you'll save: $5-$40
Containers that stick to your shower wall with suction cups seem like a good idea. But if you've ever tried to re-stick them (and then re-stick them again) after they fall, you might be ready for another solution. Part of the problem? The suction cups need a clean surface, free of soap scum. For our money, a shower caddy that hangs from the shower head is a better, less-frustrating way to organize your supplies.
What you'll save: $10-$30
Who knew there were special slotted organizers just for batteries? We certainly didn't. Unless you're blowing through AAs like candy, it's hard to see why these boxes are worth your hard-earned dollars. Keeping batteries in their original package in a freezer bag or two works just fine, or if you're really ambitious, any plastic bin with adjustable compartments would work well, too.
What you'll save: $15-$60
There are so many unnecessary baby products out there, and diaper stackers are among them. These often-flimsy hanging pouches are supposedly a convenient spot to keep diapers, but every parent we know tosses diapers in an easy-to-reach drawer or basket, or just keeps them in the box they came in. After all, keeping them loaded up is just one more step -- something no parent of an infant wants to deal with.