ISSUE 40  |  The DIY Bath

5 Tips for Under-the-Sink Organization

October 08, 2014 1:00 PM

BY Dalilah Arja

The space under my bathroom sink was a chaotic mess and a source of longstanding guilt for me. But every time I set out to conquer it, I felt overwhelmed and would quit before any progress was made. Finally, to streamline the process, I mapped out five ways to tackle the beast. My method worked–and I can now report, it’s a simple and affordable way to maximize hidden space. Here’s my five-step plan.

Cabinet photographs by Dalilah Arja

Above: A place for everything: My newly tamed under-the-sink cabinet has more storage, and I can put my finger on whatever I’m looking for.

1. Pare down.

Every organization project begins with clutter removal: Part with the stuff you don’t use anymore and products that have expired. I was amazed to discover that after doing some editing, the amount of things I had to organize was actually quite manageable. 

2. Eliminate packaging.

Remove cotton balls, toilet paper, Q-tips, etc., from their plastic and cardboard and give them dedicated jars and baskets. 

Above: My cotton balls are compactly stowed in a Glass Canning Jar, $3.95-$11.95 at Sur la Table. See Gardenista’s Favorite Canning Jars and our Canning Jar Object Lesson for more options.

Above: The days of strewn bobby pins are over: Instead of keeping pins in their packaging (or where ever they happen to land), they’re always on hand in a small polypropylene container from Muji.

3. Utilize the vertical space.

Invest in a shelf or pair of stackable bins to maximize the air space in your cabinet. And install hooks on an inside door or wall to hang things, such as a blow dryer and washcloth. Searching for the perfect hook? Peruse the Hooks in our Shop section.

Above: Since I’m a renter, I’m hesitant to install permanent shelving. A good temporary solution is a freestanding design, such as this Wire Stacking Shelf; $12.74 from the Container Store. 

4. Bring back the lazy Susan.

We’re not big fans of 1970s-style rotating circles on dinner tables, but for cabinets, they’re invaluable. They make it possible to access items that would otherwise be stuck in the far back. 

Above: In my search for a Lazy Susan, I discovered that the majority are made of either wood or plastic. I wanted to keep plastic to a minimum in my bath, and I worried that wood would be impractical (think leaking pipes), so I turned to Etsy and found some good alternatives. I have my eye on this handmade Large Concrete Lazy Susan; $85 from The Makerage. 

5. Consider hierarchy.

Organize under-the-sink products by how often you use them: Place high traffic items near the front in arm’s reach, and less frequently needed goods in the back. 

Above: Products that I reach for daily are corralled at the front of a Linen Storage Box ($15.25 at Muji). 


Above: A look at my sink cabinet before editing and organizing it. 

Looking for more bathroom storage ideas? See Design Sleuth: Net Market Bag as Bath Storage and DIY: Bathroom Storage as Art Installation. And for the kitchen, consider 14 Storage Tricks to Steal from the Bathroom.