6 Secrets for Organizing a Catchall Closet, According to The Home Edit

In their special edition magazine, Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit share their top closet-tidying tips.

Real Simple Home Organizing ideas in utility closet
This custom closet by California Closets provides space for shoes, coats, and even cleaning supplies. . Photo: Christopher Testani

The catchall closet—you know, the one stashing umbrellas and craft supplies and wrapping paper and miscellaneous household must-haves—is like a junk drawer on a grand scale. And in classic junk drawer form, it's notoriously difficult to tidy up. Luckily, the ultimate organizing pros, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit, are spilling their closet organization secrets in a special edition magazine available now. Maybe you've seen the episode of their Netflix show where they make over Reese Witherspoon's costume collection? Or maybe you've admired their rainbow-arranged closets on Instagram? If anyone could help us tackle our disheveled catchall closets once and for all, it's Clea and Joanna. From their new special issue The Home Edit: Feel-Good Organizing, here are six proven tricks to wrangle the closet chaos.

The Home Edit Magazine Cover with Clea and Joanna
The Home Edit

Organize Your Costco Haul

If you tend to buy toilet paper and other essentials in bulk, you'll need a storage plan in place. Clea and Joanna call these items "backstock." Instead of storing dozens of rolls of TP in your bathroom vanity, leave just a few, then stack the rest inside a basket on a shelf in your catchall closet. Label each bin, so it's easy to find the item you're looking to replenish. Before your next run to Costco or BJ's, check the backstock area to make sure you're not buying more than you have room to store.

toilet paper in large storage basket


Price at time of publish: $100

Ditch the Donation Pile

When decluttering a closet, the Home Edit team suggests making three piles of items to: 1. donate, 2. sell, and 3. throw away. The common problem: The "to donate" pile sits at the bottom of your closet, taking up valuable space for weeks on end. "Don't leave piles where they are," advises the Home Edit team. "They need to go immediately to your car because, otherwise, they will creep back into the space you cleared." Once the bag is in your car, make yourself a promise: The next time you drive by the donation center, you'll stop.

Don't Forget the Back of the Door

In a catchall closet, the back of the door is an organization opportunity that's frequently missed. Turns out, it's actually the ideal spot to store all those wrapping paper rolls you don't know what to do with. This over-the-door rack installs in just five minutes, and has specialized compartments for everything from wrapping paper at the bottom, to hooks for gift bags at the top.

White Elfa Gift Wrap Back-of-the-Door Rack
Container Store

Price at time of publish: $145

Use a Turntable for Toiletries

In some homes, the catchall closet is cluttered with extra toiletries and all those mini shampoo bottles collected from hotel rooms over the years. Start by going through the stash, disposing of anything expired (and recycling the bottles if you can). Then, use a turntable on a shelf to corral bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Choose a turntable with dividers and a high lip to sort everything and prevent bottles from toppling over.

Toiletries Stores in Clear Turntable
Container Store

Price at time of publish: $30

Make Storage Age-Appropriate

If you have kids, keep them in mind when deciding on a layout for your catchall closet. Let baskets on the floor hold their toys, blankets, or other belongings, so everything they are allowed to get on their own is within reach. Medicine and cleaning supplies belong on a high shelf—and snap-top bins that young children will have difficulty opening add another layer of security. Items you use often, like toilet paper and tissues, should go on an eye-level shelf.

Label Everything

For all family members who are old enough to read, labeling each bin, basket, turntable, and container will keep everyone honest when they return items to the catchall closet. The Home Edit offers custom labels on its website, you can print your own using a label maker, or you can write directly on bins using a paint pen.

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