Under-the-Bed Storage Options to Help Banish Clutter
Experts share their tips and go-to tools for tackling common storage space problems
Ask any small home or apartment dweller about the amount of storage space they’re working with and chances are they’ll tell you they could use more. Finding creative and efficient ways to carve out room for everything could practically be considered an Olympic sport, especially for those living with limited square footage. That’s why Consumer Reports turned to professional organizers for some do’s and don’ts, specifically for under-the-bed storage, to help apply a bit of method to the madness.
Off-season attire, shoes, luggage, and spare bedding are just some of the items that can’t always fit into a closet filled with clothes, but space under the bed is a zone primed to help conceal that clutter.
Before you start filling that area though, experts recommend careful planning instead of acting out of desperation. “It’s best to store things there that you don’t need to access every day, since it’s somewhat inconvenient,” says Sharon Lowenheim, a certified professional organizer and founder of Organizing Goddess.
Before You Buy
Lay out the items you need storage space for to get a visual sense of what you’ll be working with. Group like pieces together and use this exercise as an opportunity for a purge. You can toss out, recycle, or donate items you no longer need.
How to Store the Basics
Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for under-the-bed storage, each category or group of items can benefit from a dedicated approach. The professional organizers we spoke with break it down.
Shoes: With shoes, you have two groups to work with—the pairs you wear every day and the ones that are better reserved for special occasions or alternate seasons. Regardless of which you’re storing, they should always be enclosed, Socci says. This is important to keep the shoes from gathering dust and prevent odors from seeping out. She also recommends using lidded bins with wheels when possible (for easy accessibility) and avoiding fabric shoe bins because they don’t hold their shape and tend to collapse.
Containers with a drawerlike functionality are also convenient for everyday use; both Lowenheim and Engelbach recommend a stackable underbed drawer ($21 at The Container Store; $38 for a pair at Amazon), that comes with a bonus of keeping contents visible yet dust-free.
Pro tip: For shoes that need extra protection, Socci advises placing them in cloth bags before storing them inside bins.
Linens and bedding: Linen closets are right up there on the list of underrated luxuries in a home. Spare bedding and towels can take up a significant amount of space, and if you don’t have storage in the bathroom, the area underneath the bed might just be the next best solution.
Given that bedding tends to be heavier, opt for a container with wheels for lightweight mobility. Lowenheim suggests a long underbed box ($28 at The Container Store; $18 for a similar one at Target), which also features a hinged lid for even easier access.
Unless you’re going for containers with drawers, avoid a stacked setup so you won’t have to lift and lower a bulky bin every time you need a new pillowcase.
Pro tip: Socci suggests putting in a few dryer sheets or a scented sachet to keep bedding from smelling stale.
Off-season clothing: Under-the-bed storage is ideal for off-season clothing because it’s possible to go months at a time without needing them. Before packing these items away, be sure to thoroughly launder them to preserve the integrity and cleanliness of the entire stack—unwashed clothing will not only spread odors from item to item but also attract critters. Toss in a couple of fresh cedar blocks as an extra precaution against moths.
To figure out what kind of container you need for the clothing you want to store under your bed, consider the space you have and how much clothing you will need to store. Lowenheim’s go-to is a modular bin that’s stackable and space-efficient ($17 at The Container Store). Its locking lid, which will keep your staples secure from critters, is a plus.
If you prefer to go with a more breathable alternative, which Engelbach says can help your clothes last longer, containers made from natural fibers will be your best bet. She suggests choosing between compressed felt storage bins ($128 at Open Spaces) or a zippered canvas storage bag ($28 at Lands’ End).
Odds and ends: Your toolbox, batteries, a package of spare lightbulbs, or other miscellaneous items might not quite fit anywhere else and end up in a cluttered box under the bed. Think of it as the equivalent of a junk drawer—a concept Lowenheim says can be functional if the containers are shallow, enabling you to see everything in them. And a little organization within can go a long way.
If your odds and ends are items that you’ll need regular access to, like gym clothes, electronics, or socks, Socci suggests using an extra-large drawer that can slide out with ease such as this solid wood storage solution ($59 at Walmart, $63 at Amazon). To keep things extra tidy, you can also bring in smaller organizational elements that can live within the drawer, like dividers or compartmentalized bins.
For items you need to keep on hand but only use periodically, such as documents or books, Engelbach recommends this rolling lidded storage bin ($24 at The Container Store; a similar one costs $25 at Wayfair), made even more convenient with its cut-out handles. You can use this as a makeshift filing cabinet that can hold it all.
But that doesn’t mean you should keep it all. “If you are storing things under your bed simply because you may need them someday, or you feel guilty for letting them go, consider why you are keeping them in the first place,” Socci says.