Why listen to me about storage containers?
A few weeks ago we helped a relative with a yard sale. It was a massive sale because she’s an antique dealer, and boy oh boy does she have a lot of stuff. She also has a plethora of storage containers of various sizes (and in various states of repair). Outside of a store, I don’t think I’ve seen such a wide variety of storage containers.
I’ve also worked at a big-box store that sold numerous storage containers and I’ve seen some pretty sweet ones, and some pretty sour ones, to take it the other direction. Oh, I’ve also worked for a moving and storage company and have seen the beating things can take when both moving and storing stuff.
That being said, what do you need to look for in storage containers? That depends. Do you need to see what is in side? What do you need to store – heavy or light items? How often do you need to access the storage container? Will temperature be a factor?
Believe it or not these are really important questions, and here’s why; If you need to see what’s inside you can opt for clear storage containers, but a lot of the clear storage containers aren’t as durable as those that store heavier items. Conversely, if you want to access the storage container you’ll want it to be light and accessible, possibly on wheels. Some containers can stack several high, others storage containers can only be stacked a few containers high before they become a teetering game of Jenga-like tension.
What to look for in storage containers
You want storage containers that are going to withstand those “beatings” I mentioned earlier. You may not think those containers will get tossed around, but trust me, they will – especially if you’re moving! Why buy something that’s flimsy, brittle, awkward, or simply cheap. And even if you’re not moving, are you telling me you’ve NEVER dropped anything in your life? EVER?
*A word of warning. If your storage containers will be in direct sunlight or cold climates, the direct sunlight and cold temperature can affect the integrity and strength of the plastic.*
Many of the containers recommended here will have snap-close handles rather than just a lid that snaps tight around the container, and this comes from experience. They’re great for providing a good tight “close”. Some lids almost seem to lay on top of the storage container itself, and if you’ve filled the container slightly beyond capacity you may think the lid is on, only to watch it fall off when you go to lift and/or store it.
Amazon product links are provided so you can see the container being referenced. It’s always a good practice to read some of the reviews, but try to omit any reviews that relate to delivery, at least for now. That’s not what we’re focusing on, we’re focusing on storage containers as a product. The products we link to will have at least a 4-star Amazon rating at time of writing, and for good reason, they’re decent storage containers! Prices listed are also the price at time of writing and we cannot be held accountable for pricing changes. Unless the price is cheaper, then you should wholeheartedly send us praise.
We’ll break down our list of the best storage containers into three categories:
BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!
Haha, total cheese line, right?! Okay, but we are going to finish off with an added bonus category – Aesthetically Pleasing Storage Containers. Because storage shouldn’t always be ugly.
Something to keep in mind: The majority of storage containers are advertised with lid dimensions, so always do your due diligence to either inquire about the bottom dimensions of the storage container, or read reviews which detail the measurements. The bottom is often the smallest part of the container, and the last thing you want is for you to become giddy with joy that your item arrived only to find out your stuff won’t fit! And if your stuff won’t fit, you must return it! Eat your heart out Johnny Cochrane!
You’ll find there are many options and many brands selling many storage containers of many sizes. The big players are Steralite and Rubbermaid, and for good reason – they make great storage containers. Rubbermaid also has some great food storage containers, but that’s a whole other blog post right there!
Back to the containers – lets’s start off small…
Best Small Storage Containers
Small storage containers are generally clear/translucent plastic so you can see what is inside said container, which is great for your organizing and decluttering needs.
Keep lids in mind and look for storage containers that stack. You won’t be able to stack small storage containers from floor to ceiling, or even half that, simply because of the laws of physics, but being able to stack between shelves is VERY important, especially for those looking to organize and declutter.
Here’s a list of our favorite and recommended small storage containers below.
1.) Leading things off; the 6 Quart ClearView Latch Boxes by Steralite. They stack. They have secure handles that snap the container lid on. They are affordable. They are transparent so you can see what’s inside. They’re durable. You can leave the lid off and can organize those bottles and avoid messy mishaps, but these totes with the secure handles are able to be turned on their side too. So satisfy your inner Tetris desires and make the best use of small storage spaces. These are perfect for smaller items.
2.) Next, we go with the Sterilite Deep Clip Box for those smaller and sometimes awkward items like crafts, or in one persons Amazon review; LEGO! We even have a friend that uses these for storing sea-polished glass she finds on the beach, organized into color of the glass (I thought we were OCD). Again, these are stackable containers with secure handles. These one’s are a little more tapered at the bottom, so make your stuff will fit inside.
3.) Making it a clean-sweep for Steralite, this 12-pack of small storage containers is our favorite for storing bottles and other containers holding liquids, like cleaners. We opted to not use lids and used these in our bathroom closet for just that. It made it a lot easier to keep things neat and tidy. We used to have bottles of shampoo, hair product, cleaners, etc. just sitting on shelves, but if we needed something behind those products we’d often knock them over trying to access anything behind them. These containers solved that problem – QUICK!
What I like about small storage containers is they can fill in spaces that would otherwise be empty, and the also help organize drawers with stuff just gets tossed inside. My mom had a credenza that became a catch-all for stuff, which also made said stuff very difficult to find. Some of these storage containers would have helped keep things neat and tidy (and easier to find).
That being said, let’s move on and tackle some midsize storage containers.
Best Midsize Storage Containers
Small storage containers tend to be used more for organizing, so these midsize containers are definitely more popular options for actually storing stuff. The containers listed will all be around the 30-40 quart (28 – 38 liter) capacity.
Here are our favorites when it comes to the middle of the pack (get it…PACK…STORAGE…never mind, I’ll shut up now).
1.) Pretty good bang for your buck is the 32 Quart Rubbermaid ActionPacker Storage Box (also comes in 24, 35, 48 gallon sizes). Drop it. Kick it. Drop kick it. This tote can take a UFC-like beating regardless of which Big-Gulp size you go with.
2.) Steering back to the clear (rather than steering clear), another midsize option is the Sterilite 30 Quart tote. As mentioned, we love the secure clasping handles. Remember when I said I worked at a moving and storage company? I was a mover. And these totes would make ANY mover gleam with joy. Easy to carry. Easy to stack. Easy to open and close. Easy to store (moving trucks become a game of Tetris too).
3.) I love the idea of under the bed storage. Let’s face it, lots of people toss stuff under the bed when we can. My wife used to put her “out of season” purses under the bed. She had a half-dozen or so at one point and, believe it or not, she actually did rotate through them. The space under the bed is often lost space, so why not utilize it? If you have carpet or a rug, Rubbermaid’s Configuration series has this sweet underbed storage, which are great to slide in and out from under the bed (or under somewhere else). If you have a solid surface floor like tile, hardwood, or laminate, you can opt for Steralite’s Underbed storage container with wheels. (pictured). Again, for either underbed storage or possibly under a workbench or desk?
Lastly we’re going to discuss large storage containers. There are plenty of options when it comes to the big boys. And to be honest, what you are storing is largely going to determine the storage container you choose. The larger the capacity, the more likely you’re going to want to go with something that IS NOT clear. The HEAVY DUTY containers listed below should suit almost any need and they really are heavy duty!
So let’s break down the large storage containers into two sub-categories; CLEAR and HEAVY DUTY storage containers.
CLEAR Large Storage Containers
1.) At 116 quarts, the Steralite Ultra Storage Box is about as large as they come for clear storage containers. You’ll lose some storage space at the bottom where the container has indentations (for strength), but these totes are likely best used for things like linens and clothing rather than heavy items like books or tools.
2.) The Rubbermaid Clear Roughneck Storage Tote are great large storage containers that stack and give you the ability to see all your stuff. These ones pictured are one of the few larger Rubbermaid totes that are both clear and have the secure clasp handles.
3.) I used to hate this next one because when I worked at a big-box store they would stack them inside one another and shove them under a bay, but they stacked them as high as possible, like, 30 high, making it difficult for people to see them because 30 of these under a bay is pretty tight and difficult to move. But here’s the beauty of these 12-Gallon clear totes from Akro-Mils ; they’re SO easy to work with. They stack (very high as mentioned), but most important; you have to try VERY hard to lose the lids with these storage containers. And when you’re not using them, they stack inside each other and you don’t have to worry about finding the lid! Just don’t stack em’ 30 high.
HEAVY DUTY Large Storage Containers
1.) Let’s start with the grand-daddy of them all: Stanley 50 Gallon Mobile Chest. This thing is like a tank, only with wheels. Wheels. Secure clasps to close. Lock it up too if you want! You could store just about anything in this heavy duty storage container. And it’s solid and durable. The handle definitely helps too, especially if you load this thing with tools, books, or other heavy items.
2.) The Rubbermaid Brute Tote is another rugged storage container. Pack em’ and Stack em’ with whatever you want. Just remember when you put a lot of heavy stuff in them you’ll still have to pick those totes up. These come in both 14 and 20 gallon capacities (56/80 quart or 53/75 liters).
3.) And just for fun,we’ve added this Ammo Crate to the list (you don’t have to use it for ammo). Just read the write up on this sucker! And while you’re there, check the reviews – this one’s a dandy. I’m sure any guns and ammo enthusiast would also love the fact that I used “dandy” when referring to an ammo crate!
Again, your storage containers should suit your needs. Are you storing tools? Books/magazines? Crafts? Clothes? Ammo? Some storage containers can easily store all of the above. And some storage containers can’t! When it comes to large containers, if you’re storing heavy items, don’t opt for the clear storage containers. Clear plastic is thinner then the plastic used for the heavy-duty storage containers (listed above or elsewhere).
And now, here’s an added bonus for those who want something a little more easy on the eyes when it comes to storage containers:
Aesthetically Pleasing Storage Containers
Let’s face it, storing stuff can get ugly, and those large, bulky, plastic containers aren’t exactly appealing to the eye. So, if you’ve decided that you’d rather not Sell All Your Stuff and instead just need to declutter your life, we recommend something a little nicer for organizing stuff around the house. So put your stuff in some of these:
1.) Mix and match and make a Rubik’s cube out of your storage! These little storage cubes by Sorbus are probably my favorite and they come in such a wide array of colors you can’t go wrong. And many people opt to buy these containers in conjunction with this shelving unit. In fact, these two items were displayed together at the big-box store I worked at. But if you have existing shelving, go with that instead of adding another item. We’re trying to organize and declutter, not redecorate. Remember, we’re all about spending LESS on STUFF here.
2.) With four different sizes and colors, the Rubbermaid Bento Box with Dividers not only allow you to store (and organize) just about anything, but your place will look snazzy while doing so!
3.) We used to put magazines and other nick-knacks in these wicker shelf totes. Ours, however, were free because they were part of a gift basket from someone – but hey, that just became two gifts in one, so that’s even better! They are also available in different colors too, and it would appear the uglier the color, the cheaper they are!
Well, there you have it, our recommendations featuring some of the best storage containers on the market. While we’d rather see people sell their stuff instead of storing, we totally understand the need for storage – be it in your home or if you need to rent a storage unit.
Stay tuned for more organizing, decluttering, and storage advice when we discuss:
- Storage Shelving Units
- Shelving Racks
- Garage Overhead Storage racks
Now go store some stuff!