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Organizing your home can be tricky at times. While you might want to start with a bigger area like your living room, bedroom or bathroom, it might be more encouraging to ease into it by starting with a smaller space — like underneath your kitchen sink.
The space under your sink tends to be home to more clutter than we realize, but don’t fret! Shop TODAY enlisted the expertise of three professional organizers for their tips on tackling this often-neglected section of your kitchen.
Tips for organizing under the kitchen sink
Start by cleaning everything out
In order to properly organize a space, you should start by cleaning out everything you don’t need and keeping only the essentials, according to professional organizers Ashley Gude, owner of Ashley Organizes in Louisville, Kentucky; Emily Evans, owner of Kentucky-based Eliminate: Professional Organizing; and Amber Taggard, founder and owner of The Organizer Chicks in Arkansas.
When you first remove everything from underneath your sink, take time to categorize your products and make note of the things you actually use. Throw away any products that are expired or, if you have any products you don’t use, Evans recommends donating them to a nonprofit so they don’t go to waste.
It’s easy for the space under the sink to become a catch-all for the things you don’t have space for anywhere else but, in order to properly organize it, you’ll want to re-home anything that won’t be used in the kitchen. “There’s basic categories that you need for under [the] sink and you don’t need much more, so just kinda keep it specific,” said Gude.
If you can, Taggard advises storing overstock items or things like flashlights, trash bags and lightbulbs in another area, as well, limiting the items under the sink to just what you use on a regular basis. “Being able to reach out and easily grab whatever you’re really using every day can definitely be helped along by only keeping in that space the things that you’re really using every day,” she said.
Take advantage of every nook and cranny
One of the keys to organizing underneath the kitchen sink is making sure you take advantage of all the space you have available. This includes vertical space and even behind the cabinet door, Gude told us. Instead of using several bins and laying them ground level, she recommends stacking them up to take advantage of the vertical space. She also mentioned using things like Command hooks and Lazy Susans to keep things easily accessible.
“I feel like if you just edit all of your spaces, it’s really easy to get organized,” she mused.
Keep things contained
Once you’ve gotten rid of unnecessary and unused products, Taggard’s next tip is to keep things contained in bins and other storage items. “It’s a place where form can take a back seat to function,” she said.
Since it’s an area of the house that’s not necessarily on display and you don’t really have to worry about aesthetics (if you don’t want to), she encourages the use of simple clear plastic bins to group your items together.
Make sure the space remains functional
It can be really exciting to get new organizational bins and storage units, but keep in mind that the point is to make the space less cluttered, so only get what you need to keep the space functional. “Too many organizing gadgets can make the space look cluttered all over again, so you really want to make sure you purchase the [organizational] products after you’ve purged and categorized so you know exactly what you need,” Evans advised.
“The right tools in the right space can make a big difference,” added Taggard.
Don’t forget about lighting
Once you’ve got all your bins set up and products neatly organized, there’s one more thing to take care of: lighting!
It’s not something you would usually think of when it comes to under sink organization, but it may prove to be helpful in the long run. Taggard recommends putting a little tap light on the inside of this typically dark space so you can easily see everything you have available.
You might see this tip from Taggard and think, “Huh?” But there’s a good reason behind it. What’s the good reason, you ask? Humans are lazy!
“If we create a three-step putaway process — if I’m supposed to open the cabinet, and then open the drawer and then pull out the box lid to put away the thing that I’m gonna use — one of two things is gonna happen: I’m going to stop going through that three-step process and I’m just going to plop this on the counter, or I’m going to stop using the thing,” she explained.
By “thinking lazy,” she means creating an organizational system under the sink that’s easiest for you to maintain. When shopping for storage bins and systems, opt for things that are not just pretty to look at, but also practical for your needs. This way, you’re more likely to keep up with it and keep things from reverting back to a messy/cluttered state.
“The world is crazy and complex; organizing should help you to make it simpler,” Taggard said.
Best products for organizing under the kitchen sink, according to experts
"This 20-quart clear plastic bin from Walmart is a great way to create basic containment, making sure that items can’t get shoved back into the far reaches of the space, never to be seen again," Taggard told us. "Some spaces may need to stick to a smaller 12- or 15-quart size, but this works well for most sinks with plumbing on one side."
Evans recommends this paper towel and multipurpose shelf combo for the back of the cabinet door. While the roll at the bottom can be used for paper towels, she also suggests using it for garbage bags.
Gude likes these clear stackable drawers from STORi. Available in two different heights and widths, you can stack two or three on top of each other to take advantage of the vertical space available, she notes.
"Over-the-cabinet baskets to hang on the inside of your cabinet doors help make the most of the space that is easiest to access, and therefore easiest on cleanup (think lazy, right!?) and we like these from Lowe's," said Taggard.
If you want an over-the-cabinet rack that has a little more storage capability, Taggard recommends this two-tiered option from iDesign. At less than $20, she describes it as giving a "good bang for the buck."
Once you've cleared everything out from underneath the sink, Evans recommends using this Gorilla Grip liner to add a bit of functional decor for an added personal touch. She likes it because it is waterproof and has a good grip. Using a liner can make it easier to clean up messes in case of any product leakage and help avoid staining the base.
Both Gude and Taggard mentioned the benefits of using a Lazy Susan to organize cleaning products under your kitchen sink. "Not all Lazy Susans are created alike," Gude said before specifically calling out this option from Squared Away. She likes that it has taller walls that keeps products from falling out when you spin it around.
Taggard likes to opt for a larger Lazy Susan when organizing under the sink and is a fan of this one by OXO because of its deeper rim, which she says is less likely to make items fall as you spin it to get to what you need.
Each organizer stressed the importance of keeping things that you're going to use most in a reachable place, which is why Taggard recommends this pull-out cabinet organizer. "We like this one because, unlike some others that can be prone to tipping when pulled out, this one is made to be mounted to the bottom of your cabinet," she said.
An alternative to the pull-out cabinet organizer is this expandable cabinet shelf that comes recommended by Evans. "I prefer an expandable shelf that is made specifically for under the kitchen sink and it fits around the pipe. It’s modular so you can move [it] based on if you have extra pipes that stick down or a garbage disposal," she explained.
Gude likes these affordable multipurpose bins for a multitude of reasons, including their handles and height which keeps products from shifting around unnecessarily. She calls them a go-to product because "it fits every space and they’re inexpensive [plus] you can see through it."
When it comes to choosing storage bins, Evans recommends opting for plastic or acrylic instead of cloth or any other fabric material because they are easier to clean. "My favorite to use is all white baskets for a nice crisp, clean look," she added.
If you're following Taggard's suggestion of adding a little light to your under sink cabinet, she recommends these tap lights from Energizer for its long-lasting LED light and its simplicity.
It will only take one of these heavy-duty velcro strips to easily secure your tap light on the inside of your under sink cabinet, Taggard told us. "When it’s time to change the batteries or if you need to remove it from the wall to shine into the far back corner of your under-sink space, you have that option," she said.
Gude also recommends Command strips for hanging things like shelves or caddies on the inside of the cabinet door so that you can maximize the available space.
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