Here's the secret to finding even more storage space in your closet.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated May 09, 2019
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In a cramped closet, every shelf counts—yes, even that tippy-top one you can't reach without a step ladder. To maximize valuable shelf storage and make it as efficient as possible, you're going to want to start with a full closet clean-out (don't worry, here's how to tackle it in just 30 minutes). Then, order some closet shelf organizers that will double the closet's storage potential and make it easy to grab what you need. Whether you use the top shelf of your closet for stashing off-season clothing or part of your extensive shoe collection, here are some tricks for making this often-overlooked area work harder.

RELATED: Genius Closet Organizing Tips to Maximize Every Single Inch of Space

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Closet Shelf Organizer, gray fabric open bin
Credit: Amazon

1 Open Storage Box for Shirts & Sweaters

If you want to keep sweaters and shirts from turning into a jumbled mess, order a set of open fabric bins that keep each stack neatly separated, while still making it easy to grab the item you're looking for. This option is best for a small closet where even the top shelf holds in-rotation (rather than off-season) garments. 

To buy: Internet's Best Open Cloth Storage Bin, $31 for 4,

Closet Shelf Organizer, clear shoe box
Credit: Container Store

2 Clear, Drop-Front Shoe Storage Boxes

When deciding how to utilize the top shelf of your closet, keep in mind your biggest storage needs. If it's your shoe collection that takes priority, store off-season pairs in clear shoe boxes that will keep them pristine and dust-free. Bonus points for storage boxes that are see-through and have drop fronts so you can quickly grab a pair of heels in a hurry. 

To buy: Drop-Front Shoe Box, $8,

Closet shelf organizer, clear storage bag
Credit: Container Store

3 Clear Storage Bags for Off-Season Essentials

In my own closet makeover, these clear plastic storage cubes were a game-changer. They're ideal for stashing bulky items like extra duvets and heavy sweaters. The clear design lets you see what's stashed inside, while the rope handles make it easy to grab that spare duvet when you need it. 

To buy: Clear PEVA Storage Chests, from $8,

white metal dividers for shelves
Credit: Container Store

4 Shelf Dividers for Bags or Sweaters

To keep your purses, clutches, and satchels organized, grab a set of metal dividers that will help categorize your collection. These dividers also work well for separating stacks of jeans or sweaters. 

To buy: Shelf Dividers, $8 for 2,

copper under shelf basket organizer
Credit: Wayfair

5 An Under-Shelf Basket

Take a peek inside your closet. Is there a lot of empty vertical space between the top shelf and the shelf below it, or between the shelf and the closet rod? If there is, you're in luck: You have room to install an under-shelf basket for storing belts, scarves, and other accessories. This copper option slides right onto the shelf, instantly doubling your storage space. 

To buy: Lincoln Under-Shelf Metal Basket, $25,

Wire metal riser for closet shelf
Credit: Bed Bath and Beyond

6 A Shelf Riser to Maximize Vertical Space

Now take another careful look at your closet—is there a lot of open space between the top shelf and the ceiling? Is so, a shelf riser can help. While this shelf organizer is more often used in kitchen cabinets than closets, if you're dealing with a teeny-tiny closet where every shelf counts, a riser can help double the number of stacked shirts or sweaters each shelf can hold. Before you order, just be sure to measure your shelf and take note of the riser's dimensions to make sure it's the right size for your space. 

To buy: Grayline Large Helper Shelf, $6,

Closet shelf organizer, folding ladder in teal
Credit: Bed Bath and Beyond

7 A Slim Folding Step Ladder

No matter how many brilliant closet shelf organizers you order, it won't matter if you can't reach the top shelf. Invest in a stylish step ladder (this one comes in five colors) that folds up and can tuck into the side of your closet. 

To buy: Ascent Designer Series Step Ladder, $50,