For almost 20 years, Real Simple has shared tips, tricks, and secrets to creating a more orderly home; these are some of our best tips for keeping shoes corralled and well-organized.

By Tamara Kraus and Lauren Phillips
Updated July 26, 2019
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How to organize shoes - tips, tricks, advice, and more
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Love them or hate them, you have to have shoes. More than likely, you have several pairs, as does everyone else in your household. All these pairs of shoes, large or small, add up to one giant organizing problem, especially if you live in close quarters or have to add things like snow boots or specialized exercise shoes to the mix.

Keeping all this footwear corralled can feel like an uphill battle, but there are plenty of tricks and secrets to making it a bit easier. Over the years, Real Simple has written up plenty that go beyond over-the-door organizers and shoe racks (though, if you have the space, those are tried-and-true solutions). Here are some of the best tips for how to organize shoes, for everything from controlling closet chaos to safely storing them away for the season.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

Increase Visibility

Keep shoes that you wear most often on open shelving (To buy: $138; Ashley Murphy and Lisa Ruff of Neat Method, a home-organizing company with locations nationwide, suggest designating a row or section for each family member so everyone in the house knows exactly where to find their favorite footwear. Make the functional piece of furniture part of your mudroom decor (and prevent it from becoming a cluttered catchall) by creating an inviting display with flowers and framed artwork.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

Make Use of Vertical Space

Take advantage of an empty slot in a closet and incorporate a tall hanging shoe organizer (To buy: $15;, says Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers in New York City. Install a shared organizer in the coat closet or place one in each family member’s storage space. No matter which approach you use, says Zaslow, once all the slots have been filled, invoke the one-in, one-out rule: Before you purchase a new pair, donate an old one.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

Prevent Dirty Floors

Stop dirt in its tracks by placing in-season shoes on a rubberized boot tray (To buy: $40; in the entryway, recommends Erin Doland, author of Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter (To buy: $10; Top it with a bench (To buy: $139; to prevent tripping and to provide a perch while putting on or taking off shoes.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

Level Up

If you have open floor space in a closet, opt for stackable shoe racks (To buy: $15;, says Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life! (To buy: $14; Edit your collection each season to keep unused shoes from taking up valuable real estate. Because space is limited, pick your favorite of each style (snow boots, heels) and store the others elsewhere.

Make the Best of Awkward Spaces

Awkward spaces can be turned into assets; try turning a tall, narrow alcove into genius storage with a seven-foot-tall shelving unit that is made to store shoes and look good doing it, too. (To buy: $600;

Bonus tip: Small canvas bags (To buy: $16 for 12; protect special shoes and keep off-season pairs hidden in open shelving storage.

RELATED: 17 Ways to Tame a Chaotic Closet

Use a Tray

In smaller homes or apartments, a full-sized cubby or storage shelf in the entryway may not be feasible. Instead, suggests Doland, leave a rectangular plastic tray next to the front door to line shoes in. Look for one with a raised room, to keep wet or muddy shoes from dirtying the floor (To buy: $27; The lid of a large plastic storage tub will do in a pinch.

Look for Unexpected Storage Spots

This one is for those suffering from small closet syndrome. Zaslow advises that shoes be kept in an under-bed storage box (To buy: $20; or a cubby in the corner of the room, so closets can be reserved for clothing (which often can’t be stored outside a closet or dresser).

Keep Drop Zones Clear

In often-narrow entryways, Murphy and Ruff suggest placing a sturdy bench, hamper, or cubby shelf (To buy: $200; to corral shoes and eliminate tripping hazards.

RELATED: 10 Cheap Organizing Hacks for a Clutter-Free Home

Put on a Display

Keeping shoes visible lets you show off your impressive collection, sure, but it also helps curb impulse buys: If you can see clearly that you have no space for a new pair, you may be less likely to stop by the shoe store on your next shopping trip. Do this on a budget with stackable, affordable cubbies (To buy: $40;

Store Smart

Ventilated under-bed storage bags or boxes (To buy: $20; are perfect for storing shoes, clutter coach Chip Cordelli suggests. The ventilation lets leather shoes breathe; windows into the container allow you to find the right pair in a flash. Place shoes toe to heel to maximize space. If you plan to store shoes for a while—such as for a whole season—consider cleaning them before putting them away and stuffing them with acid-free white tissue paper, so they maintain their shapes.

RELATED: Clothing Closet Organizing Checklist