The Bins: Organizing and Storing Clothes

clothesThe moving van was loaded. The guys had packed every inch to the ceiling. We relaxed that evening and made plans for the departure the next morning. Until I sat up in a cold sweat.

“The bins!” I cried. “We forgot to pack the bins.”

Horror was on my husband’s face, but everyone else looked confused. A friend said, “If you can’t fit something, I can just mail it.”

I shook my head. The bins could not be mailed. In our attic sat 13 large plastic tubs with ALL of the girls’ clothes, sizes newborn to 6. I have three girls, so we keep everything and pass it down. With this many clothes, I have to stay organized or else finding things is a nightmare. I know I’m going to use things again, so they have to be easily accessible.

Long story short, the bins made it to Kansas with us via a trailer attached to the moving van. And I couldn’t believe I’d almost forgotten 90% of my children’s wardrobes.

Now there are more bins, sizes newborn to 10. And with the fall temperatures taking over, I’ll be pulling them out for the bi-annual clothes swap.

If you need a storage solution for out-of-season or off-sized clothes, here are a few tips to keep things organized and accessible.

This sounds obvious, but this is the key step to easy accessibility. If you don’t know what’s in a box, you’re going to spend a lot of time digging.

Clear tubs
Sometimes you may not remember what size a particular item is. If you can glance inside without digging through everything, it makes locating items much easier.

Put away clean and folded
If the weather takes a chilly turn and you need a sweatshirt ASAP for your growing 3-year-old to throw on for preschool, you don’t want to open the bin to find it rumpled with shriveled Rice Krispies on it. Or they could be boogers. Anything is possible. So do a little extra work on the front end and make sure everything is washed and folded nicely when you put them in, so your life is easier when you need to get them out.

Organize by size and season
For the early sizes, you can combine seasons because the clothes are so small. But as their clothes get bigger, you may need to divide sizes into seasons because winter clothes take up a lot of space! This may allow you to combine some sizes for summer clothes, e.g. 4T/5T Summer.

Purge regularly
Every time I make a season change, I make a point of looking through the clothes going into a bin as well as the next bin’s contents. Sometimes an item is too worn to save for the next child, so it hits the trash or donate pile. When I look through the upcoming bin, sometimes I spot clothes that are outdated or that I just don’t love. If there are too many clothes in a size to fit in the bin, I get brutal. I’ve found more clothes equals more trouble and more laundry. Kids don’t need a million wardrobe choices. So I pare down until everything fits in one bin.

Why go to all this trouble? It’s convenient to have things on hand when you discover the pants are too short or they need a cardigan over a dress – go shopping in your own bins! It also saves money when you have children of the same gender. It’s fun to buy new clothes for each kid, but that adds up if you’re getting each one an entirely new wardrobe. They love new things, but they also feel big and special to fit into the hand-me-downs.

So, I’m sorry, Bins, for almost leaving you in Texas. I need you.

Wife of 12 years to Brett, and a laid-back SAHM with a crew of three girls (7, 4, 2) and a boy (newborn) through birth and adoption. A Kansas girl from the start, she grew up in Lawrence, went to SBU, then taught everything from pre-K to high school. After nine years in Austin, she's back in the KC area balancing introvert tendencies and active children. Her happy place is in the kitchen, trying new recipes and experimenting with old favorites. When not hugging her minivan or slow cooker, she's pursuing eating well and dressing well – on a budget! She talks food, family, and fun on her blog Life on Olive Street.


  1. Love this! We are a family with an only child, so I pass on to my friends regularly (which they love as I have a SERIOUS shopping problem)
    BUT, I do want to say, please don’t throw away your clothes. DONATE THEM ALL. Even stained or torn, because there are textile recycling programs that are safer for our environment. Goodwill, planet aid, etc. will make sure your clothes are safely recycled if they can’t be used. Thank you! 🙂

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