Get Organized With Good Ol' Dishpans

The foundation of organizing is keeping like or related items together. Inexpensive durable plastic dishpans are a great way to keep like items together. Fancy baskets are great and prettier but when you need a few dozen they get expensive.

Anything that fits and doesn’t need a secure lid can be kept in a dishpan. Examples:

  • Book Storage: Store picture books on end in a dishpan so children can flip through them. Assign one dishpan to library books so you can find them easily when time to return.
    See more great ideas for storing children’s books at Jeri’s Organizing Blog.
  • School Storage: Workbooks, flashcards, art supplies etc. can be easily stored in and retrieved from their own dishpan. Consider sorting by subject. Keep phonics things (mini-books, tiles, etc.) , math items (workbooks and manipulatives) art supplies, crayons, markers, etc.)
  • Under the Kitchen Sink: All the cleaners, sponges, etc. fit great into a few dishpans. When you are looking for an item you can lift out the entire bin and look in it and even behind it quickly.
  • General Cleaning Aids: Clear a table with a handy dishpan; clear the family room of toys quickly; tote cleaning sprays from room to room.
  • Toy Storage: Sort toys in several different dishpans. Label each dishpan to let children know what goes where (use picture labels for pre-readers). Store the dishpans on shelves. Make a rule that one dishpan has to be returned before playing with the next pan full.
  • Kitchen Appliances Storage: : Keep all your pieces to mixers, food processors and slicers in a separate dishpan in your kitchen cabinets.
  • Plastic Lid Storage: They sell devices for plastic lids but dishpans work just as well and cost less.
  • Sewing and Craft Storage: Dishpans are great to store sewing supplies, fabric, craft materials, yarn, and patterns. Find more sewing and craft storage ideas here.
  • Cleaning Out Fridge or Freezer: Take everything out and store your piles in dishpans while reorganizing.
  • Freezer Organization: Use dishpans to sort meat, vegetables, breads, etc. in your freezer.
  • Pantry Organization: Keep all baking supplies in one dishpan, vinegars and oils in another, etc.
  • Laundry Room: Store detergent, bleach, and softener in a dishpan. Assign each family member a dishpan for clothing. Dishpans are the perfect size for socks and baby clothes.
  • Stationery Storage: Keep all your greeting cards (thank-you, birthday, etc.), envelopes, stamps, etc. in one convenient dishpan.
  • Tool Storage: Keep small power tools and attachments as well as gardening tools in dishpans.
  • Car Care Storage: Corral washing solution, wax, tire treatment, plastic protectant, rags and towels in one waterproof dishpan.
  • First Aid Kit: Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit within easy reach in a dishpan (sterile gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic cream, tweezers, disposable instant cold packs, calamine lotion, Band-Aids, peroxide, antiseptic, sunburn spray, etc.)
  • Plants: Use dishpans for container gardening. You could grow an entire vegetable garden in dishpans and not worry about weeds. Plants can be started indoors in a dishpan and later moved outside to be planted in the ground.

Here is a simliar idea from Tote Tray Cabinets

Your Turn

How do you use dishpans? Share your tips in the comments.

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About the Author

Homeschool mom to 11, Marmee to 14 and author.

Comments (20)

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  1. Cindy Hastings says:

    Great suggestions, thank you.

    I have four dishpans of toys for my toddler in the closet out of sight. Every few weeks I bring out a dishpan of toys. She is delighted with “new toys” she forgot about..

  2. You covered a lot of ground. I use lots of dishpans and baskets to organize. I haven’t used them for gardening yet. I have a small house with very little storage space. I use many large Rubbermaid type bins for storing photos, fabric, yarn, crafts, seasonal clothes, and girls’ toys in the garage. Yes, I rotate the girls’ toys out. I get rid of toys all the time. I keep them organized in separate bins as such: dolls, doll accessories, doll house furniture, Little People, dishes, dress-up, and stuffed animals (there are 2 of these – ugh – but, they LOVE to play with them and they do so very creatively, so I have kept them so far.) There is no room in their room for all these toys.

  3. This is a GREAT article! I am going to submit it to the homesteading carnival for this week that will be hosted at the HSB Company Blogs!


    Jocelyn @ A Pondering Heart’s last blog post..Outta Water!

  4. Ginny says:

    Right now I am only using one dish pan & I use it for my girls kitchen toys. It is a great way to organize things & you can get them at the dollar store. I have been wanting to pick one up for school supplies 🙂

    Ginny’s last blog post..Sunday Salon

  5. I love that shelving idea! Hmmmm…. looks like I just found a way to organize toys in the children’s rooms.


    Laura @ Laura Williams’ Musings’s last blog post..Mom of the Week at From Dates to Diapers, and beyond.

  6. […] Get Organized with Good Ol’ Dishpans […]

  7. Olivia says:

    Now, that is so clever! I would have never thought about planting in dishpans, but really it makes great sense! I mean, the dishpans would have to be food-grade plastic.

    I was planning on asking my husband for a basket for our anniversery. I wanted one to tote my current craft project around the house ( I have a one project at a time rule). I may get a dollar store dish pan instead- it will even slide right under the skirt of our living room chair!

  8. […] Get Organized with Good Ol’ Dishpans […]

  9. Great ideas on dishpans! I love the way you have thought through various uses for a simple tool. I have one thought to add for your readers:

    As you go through your home to group like things together, make sure that you are defining “like things” in a way that is going to be effective for you.

    The examples you give are fantastic. You are grouping things by how you use them. Many of my clients group like items, but they are grouping them by what they are not how they use them. For example, all scissors in the house are in one spot. This does not work really well because you might be on the second floor wrapping a present and need to go to the first floor to get scissors and then back to put them away. A better solution would be to make sure one of the pairs of scissors is with the wrapping items.

    Thanks for sharing the great ideas and examples.
    To your success,

  10. Layla says:

    Nothing can be as important as knowing first aid in a time of need. It truly can be a lifesaver.

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  12. SewnForU says:

    I love the tip on using dishpans for books! My children always have to drag out 20 or 30 at a time.
    I’m going to be looking at dishpans in a whole new light and see where they can work for me in my sewing room!
    Thank you for post this!

  13. carlac4509 says:

    I need a lot of dishpans, approximately 3 dozen. Where is the cheapest price for these online?

  14. Jacque Dixon says:

    A great post still Robin!
    I am going to mix this idea with the one about the home school room and use these instead of crates. 🙂
    Thanks! I re-tweeted it.


  15. Inexpensive durable plastic dishpans organize like or related items together. G8 4 #homeschool http://budurl.com/dishpans

  16. Jacque Dixon says:

    RT @heartofwisdom Inexpensive durable plastic dishpans organize like or related items together. G8 4 #homeschool http://budurl.com/dishpans

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  18. […] Get Organized with Good Ol’ Dishpans […]

  19. we use a national panasonic food processor and this seems to be a bang for the buck~;’

  20. food processors can really shorten the time it takes for you to prepare home cooked meals ‘–

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