In search of a nail care storage solution

My wife’s manicure bag (pictured below) is in complete disarray. She has had the bag since high school, and it serves as a storage bag for all of her nail manicuring needs. She has the terrible habit of putting things into it and then never taking anything out of it:

For years I have looked the other way and ignored it, until recently when the bag’s contents spilled onto our bathroom floor. The accident provided a perfect opportunity to talk to her about a new upgrade for her manicuring storage.

She is interested in cleaning it out and finding a better solution, but we are at a loss to find a decent replacement. Anyone out there with a recommendation? We’re eager to read your suggestions.

90 Comments for “In search of a nail care storage solution”

  1. posted by Peter on

    Here is the bag my wife uses…

    She is pretty organized with her make-up. For her, its her jewelry box.

  2. posted by Madame Meow on

    I’d also like to find a good storage solution, but I just wanted to point out that if you like your nail polish lasting longer and staying in good shape, you should store it in the refrigerator.

  3. posted by Joanna on

    I use my old shower tote from college. It’s great for pulling out when I want to relax with a home manicure or pedicure. The tote has some different-sized spaces which are meant for toothbrushes, soap, etc., but they work well for nail files and sugar scrubs too. The tote does not travel well outside the house, so that’s the only down side. But it works great for carrying from under to bathroom sink to the living room. This is a great time of year to find that stuff too, since everyone is selling college dorm gear.

  4. posted by Kristen on

    There’s a lot of similar alternatives to this kind of bag, but it seems like this might work.


  5. posted by shris on


    Try tackle boxes. You can get them in a variety of sizes to suit how much stuff you have, most of them offer adjustable compartments so you can fit long, skinny stuff as well as the polish bottles, and you can get the smaller, transparent ones very cheaply.

    I happen to have a giant size model that I use for art supplies. When my husband started working with fishing lures, he bought some wild nail polish colors (as paint for the lures) and stuffed them into the same tackle box as my craft paints. They fit very well into the little plastic compartments. This particular item has two sets of trays that fan out after you open the top, with a large open space underneath. For other supplies, I have three sets of the transparent tackle boxes that I’ve stuck together into a single unit with self-adhesive velcro.

    If you only keep three bottles and a few emery boards, you can find a tackle box small enough for that, and if you have twenty bottles, emery boards, cotton pads, manicure tools, lotions, potions, and cleansers, you can find a tackle box big enough for it. Most tackle boxes are pretty impervious to spills and solvents, too.

    Side note: Craft storage containers at the craft store are just tackle boxes–but they might be charging you more than the bait shop down the street would. Check around.


  6. posted by Kathy on

    I have a simple decorative box with a few organizing trays in it. Of course, i don’t travel with my manicure set, so it doesn’t have to service well for that. But i can keep it on my night table or grab it to take outside, but not feel like it is unsightly.

    Also, I just have the minimal supplies – some tools, files, just a couple of bottles of nail polish, a clear, a color (they don’t last well outside of the refrigerator, so i don’t invest in multiple bottles that i won’t use well) and some cuticle cream, and toe separators. You REALLY don’t need that much for a decent manicure set!

  7. posted by Cecily T on

    I actually just cleaned out my nail stuff…not that I had tons, but still. I settled on a cheap solution that works for me. You know those plastic tubs that come free with lunchmeat (like Hillshire Farms and now most supermarket brands make a copycat)? I use one for tools and base/top coats and one each for spring/summer and fall/winter colors. That was I can swap them, and they stack.

  8. posted by Courtney on

    Well, it may be more utilitarian than it is pretty, but I store my makeup and nail items in zip-pull plastic bags. They’re inexpensive, and if nail polish spills, it affects only the contents in that bag.

    For example, I have one zip-pull bag just for nail polish bottles, one zip-pull bag for files, emery boards, and cuticle sticks, one zip-pull bag for hair accessories, and one zip-pull bag for makeup.

    It has worked really well for me. Maybe there will still be clutter in that bag, but at least it will be sorted by type and contained.

  9. posted by James E. Robinson, III on

    I’m with @shris, a tackle box would be ideal.

  10. posted by gypsypacker on

    I use a damask travel bag with enclosed plastic bottles and jars and plastic interior cases. It can be hung by its handle and kept out of the way.

  11. posted by Sabrine on

    I use a plastic box that used to contain salad. It’s not pretty but it closes airtight – and you would not believe the nailpolish smell it contains! To think that this used to spread through my room: ewl!
    Definitely go for something plastic/something that you can close airtight – it also contains any possible spills plus is usually square/stiff/stackable and thereby reduces clutter.

  12. posted by Melissa on

    I have a large bedside stand with drawers and I store my in one of the drawers. When I decluttered our bedroom a while back, I realized that I had an empty drawer and decided to use it for my nail stuff because I generally did my nails at night while watching tv in bed. I have about three baskets within the drawers to organize things. It’s not very portable, but I can easily see what I have.

    I like the tackle box idea :).

  13. posted by Anne on

    So, my solution is ANCIENT – but I love it! Do you remember Kaboodles? Well, I have an “original” that I use but, in the kid’s toy section, they still sell stuff similar to that and it usually holds more than you need (I know I’m holding on to colors I’ll never wear again). I guess that’s something I should unclutter when I clean the bathroom cabinets again.

  14. posted by Shelley on

    I use a plasket basket type thing. I think I have every bottle of nail polish I’ve ever purchased since the beginning of time though. I recently purchased a new bottle of polish and realized I’d been cheating myself all this time. Throw out all your old polish and buy some new!

  15. posted by Shelley on

    A plasket basket? What am I thinking? Of course I meant plastic basket. Hey, I think I just came up with a new word – plasket!

  16. posted by Lola on

    I just use a small plastic bin, it’s probably 6×8″. I keep it in a drawer by my desk (where I’m usually polishing my nails). The size is great because it limits the number of bottles I can have at once – and they do get gunky after a while anyway, so it’s a good idea to sort through them. Nail files, orange sticks, buffers, etc. lay alongside the basket.

  17. posted by leah on

    I agree that a tackle box would be a great fix. They have a million little compartments for polish and little tools and the open bottom for a bottle of varnish remover or lotions.

  18. posted by Sarah on

    I was tired of the manicure clutter and reduced my materials to nail clippers, one “signature color” of nail polish, a file, and remover. It all fits neatly into a small zippered pouch. Most of the time, my nails are unpainted and kept quite short, but it works for me, I guess I don’t mind being a minimalist where nails are concerned.

  19. posted by Lori on

    I’m with Lola: just a small plastic basket. Mine lives under my bathroom sink. At any given time I have five or six colors. The “rule” is, if that new color doesn’t fit in the basket, an old one has to go. It’s not hard to find one to cull, since old nail polish doesn’t work very well.

    Keeping fingernails is impossible for me between the gardening and the art, so I spend some time and effort on my pedicures to compensate. But you truly don’t need much to do a good pedicure: pumice stone (lives in the shower), clippers, orange stick, file, base coat, and color coat. You could add a clear coat if your nail polish tends to chip, but mine rarely does, so I skip it. I use a regular household bucket and a squirt of good shampoo for soaking.

  20. posted by Divine Bird Jenny on

    I second the Kaboodles vote if you’re looking for something truly organized AND designed for cosmetics. I used to keep all of my nail stuff & makeup in a single box, and it was attractive and cute, too!

    Currently, I am using a very pretty oval hatbox that I liked but was too small for my art or craft supplies. Even the polish remover stands upright, and like Lori above, when I get a new polish, an old one gets tossed. It’s also not portable, but then, I only do my nails for special occasions and I don’t travel with anything beyond a pair of emery boards in different grits and a nail clipper.

  21. posted by Kersti on

    I have a temporary solution that has been working just fine for the last 2 years – and it’s a simple paper bag that I got when I purchased something at LV. The size is perfect for fitting in my bathroom cupboards and I’ve even cleared it out a couple of times. I’ve been kind of looking for a more permanent solution, but to be honest this little bag is just perfect and will probably stay in use until it breaks.

    Your wife’s bag may seem ugly/old/just not right to you, but to be fair it’s worked perfectly for her for so long that perhaps just a replacement of it is all that’s needed. Be care ful that if you provide an over-engineered solution such as a multi-complatment tackle box that if she’s like me she’ll use it for a little while and then revert to the tried and true old bag method.

  22. posted by Aria on

    you do realize that bag is more organized than 99% of the ladies I know right? I’d say just clean out whats old and needs getting rid of in the bag and stick to what has worked…

  23. posted by Erin K. on

    I used to use a shoe holder hung up inside a hall closet, the kind that hangs on the wall and has lots of clear pockets.

    Then we moved, and I separated my nail stuff into 2 categories- pedicure stuff, that I don’t use every day, which is in a giant ziploc bag, labeled, in my basement.

    The other everyday nail stuff is now upstairs, in one drawer of a little see-through plastic set of drawers.

    In that drawer I also have a zippered clear plastic travel bag that I can grab when I want to do my nails on a long car ride: it has a neutral color and clear top coat, a file, an orange stick, some kleenex, and solar oil quick-dry spray, which can save your nails if you need them to be done quickly at the end of the car ride. 🙂

  24. posted by sue on

    I’ll confess that my initial reaction to the OP was less than kind; more along the lines of “MYOB, hubbie!” LOL!

    “My wife’s manicure bag (pictured below) is in complete disarray.” (in YOUR opinion, right?)

    “She has had the bag since high school, and it serves as a storage bag for all of her nail manicuring needs” (Has she kept it BECAUSE it “serves her needs”?)

    “She has the terrible habit of putting things into it and then never taking anything out of it.” (I assume you have no areas of your personal items that she would say the same about?)

    “She is interested in cleaning it out and finding a better solution, but we are at a loss to find a decent replacement. We’re eager to read your suggestions.” (I’d suggest she simply purge the old, the gloppy, the colors that no longer flatter her; she’ll gain space and enjoy what she has.)

    Now, since turn-about is fair play………..what of YOUR personal belongings can we help you with?

  25. posted by Mo on

    I use a small wicker basket I picked up at Trader Joes with a French Country-ish napkin lining it. It lives in one of the cubbies in our IKEA Leksvik coffee table. My husband is a hobbyist, and does detail work, so it is a co-ed manicure basket. Foot/pedicure supplies are in a clear shoe holder (the kind with pockets) we have on the back of the bedroom door.

    I’d like to remind people that nail polish is fairly nasty stuff. If you were to dispose of it by the barrel, it would qualify as hazardous waste. I do my best to only keep one shade of each category I wear (red, pale pink, nude, etc.), and to keep it until it runs out or separates.

  26. posted by Dawn F. on

    I use this acrylic organizer from Container Store:

    It is PERFECT for holding more than 12 bottles of polish and keeps all of my footsie gadgets standing upright so it’s easy to grab what I need. I love the handle – easy for toting. Plus, it is easy to clean with a quick rinse out in the sink. Having a container like this also helps me limit the number of polishs, gadgets, tools, etc. – I only stock what will fit in my nail care organizer. Best Wishes!!

  27. posted by Erin Doland on

    @sue and others — Matt’s wife liked the idea of Matt writing this post. She was the driving force, actually, for him to write it. She also confessed that there were nail trimmings in it (ewwwwww!) and that it is definitely time for an upgrade. His presentation of the facts may seem like a “shame on her,” but he didn’t intend it that way.

  28. posted by Courtney on

    I just had to add as it seems no-one else has – if you really want to clean up, get rid of the lot and indulge yourself weekly/monthly at the nail artists, there are plenty around and for the price you pay it is well worth the agonising over buying this colour or that colour only to have to throw it out after only using it once or twice. Just my two cents worth 🙂

  29. posted by Janet on

    She doesn’t need a new “solution”. Keeping it all in a bag is about as organized as you need to get (compared to having it scattered all over the house). Tackle boxes would work great, sure, but that’s over-engineering it. All she needs to do is clean out the bag, go through the contents a bit, and she’s good to go.

    And I’m sorry but I can’t let this go unchallenged – “For years I have looked the other way and ignored it”??? This storage solution has really annoyed you that much? Dude, it’s self contained and probably out of the way most of the time. It’s a perfectly acceptable organizing solution. You need to let this one go, and I say that as a neat freak who lives with a messy person. Her current solution is fine, she just needs to purge the contents a bit.

  30. posted by Aimee on

    I store the tools (clippers, file, cuticle cream, etc.) that I use regularly in a hard glasses case that snaps shut. I throw this in the basket by my bed or into my suitcase if I’m traveling or grab it when I’m headed to the living room so I can clean up my nails while watching TV.

    I keep a pumice stone in the shower so I remember to scrub my callouses down when their already softened and foot lotion by the bed so I remember to put it on a couple nights a week. This way my feet don’t need intensive pedicures. My polishes and cuticle removers live in a small rectangular basket that is small so I can’t keep more than 10 or so bottles of polish at any one time. I have a couple of foot scrubs and soaks that were gifts, but I store them with other extras and rarely used products in my closet.

    When I do my nails, I pull the polishes I want to use from the basket, grab the glasses case, along with polish remover (under the bathroom sink) and some q-tips, and plunk myself where ever I please. It’s not a centralized system but it works quite well for me.

  31. posted by Janet on

    Ok Erin’s comment wasn’t posted yet when I was writing mine, so if she wanted him to write the post then that’s different.

  32. posted by leslie hope on

    Try the eagle creek medium sized pack-it protech cube.>&;packing solutions. It has the advantage over the one she has now because it has a full zipper and rigid sides. It also has a carrying handle and a removable divider. There is also a smaller size that might work if she is uncluttering her polishes. It was designed for carrying small electronics when traveling.

  33. posted by leslie hope on

    Sorry. The link in my previous post wasn’t supposed to be a link. Go to

  34. posted by Joelle on

    Ladies, remember the old Caboodles girly tackle-style boxes from high school?

    They still sell ’em and they’re SO much better than a nasty colored, rough-edged tackle box. I’ve had the clear train case holding my manicure goods for over 15 years, and I’ve always been pleased with it.

  35. posted by Jenna on

    I use a shallow rectangular tupperware type thing, in which all the polishes can stand up straight and other items can be assembled in an orderly fashion.

  36. posted by Carol on

    I have very few nail care items so I keep them in a small bag. But I have seen a product very similar to the Kaboodle on QVC made just for nail care items. I always thought it looked very neat and organized for anyone who has a lot of polish!

  37. posted by mm on

    i keep my manicure items in a clear plastic shoe box, so that all the bottles of nail polish can stand up striaght and a small basket inside of it for nail files, clippers, etc. also, that can be stacked easily with additional shoe boxes for other extra toiletries or make-up.

  38. posted by jane on

    I go to a nail salon once a month and so I only own nail clippers which store quite nicely and compactly in my medicine cabinet. < $20 / month = great nails and skin + no clutter.

  39. posted by Karolina on

    I just keep all the supplies in my medicine cabinet in the bathroom. The nail polishes look very nice displayed this way; the filers and scissors stand in an old glass.
    This way I don’t have to figure out where to store yet another bag.

  40. posted by TAC on

    The thing is, nothing *NEW* is going to improve the situation if she doesn’t change her habits of “putting things into it and never taking anything out of it.” Why not keep the bag she has and start a new habit of cleaning it out on the first of the month? I’m not aware of any kind of box, bag, etc. that will self-clean nail clippings or purge old jars of polish.

    You can’t buy your way out of clutter.

  41. posted by ns on

    IMO, there is *no* need for as much stuff as would fit in a caboodles. i use this

    there’s no need for more than a couple colors, combo base & topcoat, remover, and some small metal tools like files and trimmers. all else is just clutter (or uni-taskers)! i realized this a while ago and my manicure life is much simpler and happier now.

  42. posted by JW on

    All nail polish is clutter. It’s toxic and unnecessary. A clipper, a file: these make sense, but rest should go.

  43. posted by Mary on

    @Sue – I’m convinced that Matt does these posts on purpose to get a reaction! I predict this will be the top post of the month with the most comments. Anything he writes that’s not connected with his family is usually a great read!

    @Erin – every guy I know would have asked along these lines … “hey do have some advice for because my wife mentioned because ….I’d really like to help her out .. what do you think?”

  44. posted by adora on

    I use a basket/caddy. I think it is a lot easier to find things in a basket than in a bag. And a lot less likely to stuff unrelated matters into it.

  45. posted by Mary on

    @Erin – My previous post got eaten due to some the “greater than” and “lesser than” characters I used … sorry about that. But seriously – the guys I work with ask questions with respect to their wives’ needs – not the other way around.
    And since you mentioned nasty grams – that was a pretty nasty comment you made about Matt’s wife. Did she really want that posted on the Internet?

  46. posted by Maxie on

    I use a fairly small Lock & Lock container that fits all my mani/pedi stuff (except I don’t do polish, just buffing). It’s clear, so easier for me to keep it uncluttered. I just throw in my bag when packing for a trip and I have everything I need, plus it seals tightly, so no chance of spilling/losing anything.

  47. posted by Karen on

    I use a shallow, open wicker basket inside a shallow bathroom drawer. It’s portable, and I can reach whatever I need with one hand. When I had to trim my kids’ nails, I could keep it out of their reach, get what I needed by touch alone, and hold a wiggly foot at the same time.

    I’ve found it helpful to make things easier to put away than to get out. You may have to rummage a moment to get the emery board, but tossing it back in is so easy that it’s never left out. Open baskets work great for this concept, and this one’s normally out of sight so it doesn’t look messy.

  48. posted by larochelle on

    From the post, it seems like the biggest issue is not cleaning/culling the bag so her solution needs to resolve that issue.

    First, she needs to cull her nail care materials down to only what she absolutely needs, then make sure her new storage solution does not have any room for growth, that way she can’t keep adding to it until its clutter again.

    Forced adherance to the old “one in, one out” rule is the most important aspect of any storage solution for me.

    My nail care items are: 1 clear & 2 colors which are stored in the door of the fridge; nail polish remover in the medicine cabinet; foot stone next to the bathtub; nail clipper, file & cuticle stick in one vintage cocktail glass on the sink counter; and cotton pads & q-tips in another vintage cocktail glass on the sink counter.

    Lastly, I have a “disposable” mani-pedi kit in the cabinet under the sink (similar to this but in a plactic box – The kit is from my neighborhood nail salon. I get a $2 discount on my mani-pedi for bringing it in since that way they don’t have to sanitize their supplies and I get to know that only my cooties are on the buffer & foot stone.

    When travelling, I use ziplock bags.

  49. posted by Harris on

    The best mani/pedi unclutter is neat, clean, trimmed nails without the toxic polish and remover. One small nail clipper can be stored anywhere that’s convenient and our environment isn’t further polluted.
    I love pretty nails as much as anyone but I enjoy having less stuff and less to do SO much more.
    Uncluttering and simplifying go hand in hand.

  50. posted by Catherine on

    I would handle this bag the same way I deal with my purse. Turn it upside down on a large flat surface and shake everything out of it about once a week (lay down a towel if desired…) Then I sort out the pens (keep 2) the wallet, keys, sunglasses, phone, travel compact, lipstick and migraine medicine back into the bag and put away the 1200 pens, 2nd lipstick, swatch of fabric I already matched up to the paint, assorted screws and other hardware (my job, don’t ask), and all the other random crap back into their places.

    Doing this with the beloved manicure bag (she’s had it since high school, why give it up after it has worked so long and spend money on new clutter?) might do wonders. Toss the old nail color, the empty remover, the worn down file and the toe clippings and move on…

  51. posted by Harris on

    And….think of the money you will save! 🙂

  52. posted by Sara on

    I use a couple of these drawer separators in all my bathroom drawers. That way, I have to keep things organized – I can’t just dump stuff in like I used to. It also limits the amount of stuff I can have at all. My manicure stuff is tucked away with some other specialized makeup/hair stuff.;

  53. posted by Groovymarlin on

    For items like this, a hard-sided box will work better than any type of soft-sided container. In a soft container or makeup bag, the nail polish bottles will fall over too easily and just generally make things disorganized.

    A tackle box, “Caboodles” type makeup box, or shower caddy are all good suggestions. I use a small plastic bin with a lid that I got at Target; I believe it was originally intended to be used for photo storage. I just never inserted the plastic divider things and it works great (I use the same type of box for non-prescription medications in a cabinet, office supplies, etc.).

    When you travel you wouldn’t want to take the whole array of nail products anyway, so all you need is a small makeup bag to stow a bottle of nail polish, nail file, clippers, and some of those individually-wrapped nail polish remover pads. I keep something like that with my travel items, which are stored in a bin in my closet when I’m at home.

  54. posted by Meg on

    For storing nail stuff at home, I have a rather simple if unglamorous storage solution. I use a plastic ‘shoe box’ (I also use similar boxes around my house to store shoes, personal care products, and just about everything else that’ll fit).

    It’s shallow enough that I can see everything, and it stacks well with other boxes.

    I did make one modification. I added a wall of duct tape a few inches from one side. On one side I store my nail polish bottles, on the other side I store everything else. That way the polishes stay upright under normal conditions and the little tools don’t get mixed in.

  55. posted by Farmwife on

    Sorry, I’m still with Janet —

    What’s the problem with the bag she has now? You just HAVE to buy something new???? Keep it purged, and the top zippered up and the problem is solved.

    Mountain out of a mole hill here.

  56. posted by Christine on

    Cargo brand media box. (see or

    They are an organizer’s best friend: awesome, come in really cute colors, totally discreet, absurdly sturdy (I once spilled most of a bottle of nail polish remover into mine, and it’s still fine). The one I’m using is the perfect height for nail polish bottles, with plenty of room for files, clippers, toe-separators, etc.

    I have another, slightly larger one, for pedi supplies (lotions, pumice sticks, etc). I also keep one on display on a bathroom shelf and fill it with, erm, “girly” products.

    I cannot rave about this solution enough.

  57. posted by Leslie on

    First of all, ixnay on any bag-type solutions. The polish and remover and solvents need to be kept UPRIGHT! A tackle box sounds like a plan, as long as the sections allow for this upright storage. My solution is a cleaning caddy – hard sided plastic with handle on the top, right there by the cleaning supplies (mops, buckets) at Target. You might have to trick this out by adding a few paper/plastic cups for files and tools, but the main point is BEING ABLE TO SEE ALL THE CONTENTS so that you can discard old products as necesssary.

  58. posted by Melissa on

    I concur with the previous tackle box suggestions – they’re cheaper than a Kaboodles box and there’s a wider variety of sizes out there. Mine allows all the bottles to stay upright in the lower part, with space in the top for nail files, clippers, etc. I also have the rest of my makeup/beauty type items in there as well – I don’t have much so a small tacklebox is perfect. It keeps everything organized and all in one place, instead of scattered around in a bunch of small containers.

  59. posted by sue on

    Do what DH & I do—-have separate bathrooms! LOL!

    Seriously, if she purges the old stuff, cleans the inside, and replaces what she keeps, it’s a win-win. She can keep something that has worked for her since high school, no money needs to be spent, and she can zip it up and tuck it under the vanity–out of sight.

  60. posted by CrimsonCrow on

    I’m with JW!

    Keep it simple. Polish and remover can be dangerous, particularly if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

    A file and a clipper. Easy peasy.

  61. posted by Keeper Of Stuff on

    I used to spend time every week filing, smoothing, and polishing my nails. Strengthening coat or base coat, a couple of coats of color, and then a top coat. Often a protective coat on top of all that, and then a coat of quick-dry.

    In addition to the considerable time it took to apply all the above, there was the endless waiting for each layer to dry – and the repairs when I didn’t wait long enough. All the paraphernalia required to do this took up space, and then the dad-gummed stuff spoiled and had to be thrown out and repurchased regularly. If I went anywhere special, I had to carry along supplies to make repairs. That can get complicated with polish removers and other liquids.

    Of course, many products contained formaldehyde and other odious chemicals (think of the fresh polish smell). There you are, making an organic salad or veggies for your family’s dinner, and doing it with hands layered in toxic gunk. Yuck.

    In addition, my nails have always been thin and get ragged quickly, snagging on everything. Don’t know about you, but that snagging feeling is sort of like scratching a chalkboard to me.

    A few years ago, I did go the professional phase and got a regular manicure and pedicure. Yes, it does feel relaxing, and my nails stayed snag-free far longer. The downside was it took lots of time, it cost money, and I was still wearing toxic chemicals on the ends of my digits. I was fortunate enough, and careful enough, not to get a nail fungus or infection from the process, unlike many others.

    A couple of years ago, after ripping a nail down a lot shorter than the others, I was in a hurry and used a pair of quality nail clippers (Revlon) to make all my nails short and neat.

    You know what? I kept on doing it. Just this week, I decided to file my nails for a change and spent the required time. Before the day was out, I had snags which I again filed. The day after that, I got out the clippers again, and I haven’t had to spend another minute messing around with my fingernails. I haven’t put anything on them in ages except hand lotion – I don’t need it if they’re short. I keep my cuticles pushed back, clip about once a week, and do other things with my time.

    Over the years, while on vacation, my family would be outside frolicking in the hotel pool while I sat sweating under hot rollers in my hair, polishing my nails for the evening out. Good grief! What a waste!

    If having long, gorgeous nails “floats your boat” or your significant other’s boat, have at it. For me, it just isn’t worth it!

  62. posted by Kelly on

    I’m with Keeper of Stuff, except I’m not a keeper of stuff! I did the self-manicure for a million years, with base coat, top coat… the works. Finally, as a statement of my commitment to the minimalist lifestyle, I dispensed with the whole shebang.

    Years ago, I’d read about a Parisian nail expert (a man, can’t remember his name) who commanded staggering fees for his services, and he used NO POLISH! Instead, he filed and buffed each nail to perfection, using creams and even a dentist’s drill with buffing attachments. So now I do my abbreviated version of this, for both fingers and toes: cuticle cream, buffing, filing.

    Now my nail-care kit consists of Sally Hansen cuticle remover, nail file, clipper (for toes), and two buffers – one heavy-duty, and one chamois. I still have one shimmery champagne polish, but I doubt I’ll use it any time soon. The entire thing fits in one small acrylic cosmetic organizer. C’est fini!

    I also used to have thin, splitting nails. Now they’re strong, and grow so frequently that I have to file every other day. My other big tip is that I use face cream on my hands – Olay Age Defying.

  63. posted by Heather on

    From all the organizing books I’ve read, you never ever shop first! She needs to sort and purge that bag first. Only when you know how much stuff you have will you have the dimensions for what kind of storage box to get. Shopping is the reward!

  64. posted by Amanda on

    If it’s not required that she lug the whole enterprise out to travel, what about a spice-rack? That’s similar to what the nail salons display thier colors in, and you can hang it on the inside of a cabinet door and take out only what you need to do your nails, then put it all back exactly where it goes! the taller items like polish remover can live up top, with maybe a small container that sits in it for to stand upright…and you could see all your colors at once.

    I like this idea so much, I think I’m going to do it myself!

  65. posted by Michele on

    I see someone already suggested tackle box. That’s what I use. I also use a clear tackle box ( 8 by 11 ) for my jewelry. I don’t have expensive jewelry but it’s easy storage and nothing gets tangled. I can see what’s in there.

  66. posted by Amy on

    I used to have a toteable or something like that – it was a brand of storage cases desiged for different purposes. It was AWESOME until during a move the locking mechanism got trashed.

    I now use a semi-transluscent toolbox from Wal-Mart. It does what I need it to and it was inexpensive…

    I also found this from the container store:

  67. posted by Kate on

    I keep mine in a recycled plastic container. I think it came with some kind of wipes. Anyway, it allows all the nail polish to be kept upright. I also keep a small bottle of nail polish remover in the container. All the files, clippers, scissors, etc, get kept in a shallow cup in my medicine cabinet. Hubby hates to paw through nail polish to find the clippers! And heaven knows I would rather him use my clippers than chew them off!

  68. posted by Lia on

    I use [img]

    It has worked well for years!

  69. posted by Kristy on

    I use a box that #10 envelopes came in; it’s about the same size as a shoe box.

  70. posted by Kelly on

    My storage solution? Throw it all away…or better yet, donate it to a local charity – and make an appointment every other week to get my nails done! 🙂 Storage problem solved! Ha! Ha!

  71. posted by Mer on

    I wanted to comment this morning and held back until tonight when I read the first SEVENTY comments.

    Matt’s posts have a tendency to set my teeth on edge.
    It seems that they always deal with him trying to tell someone else how to manage their stuff.

    @ Erin – If Matt’s wife was genuinely interested in solutions, that’s fine. But that’s not the impression I get after reading the first paragraph. I guarantee she did not read what he wrote before he posted it.

    I understand and admire his desire for an uncluttered life (believe me, it’s something I strive for), but at times he comes across like a controlling clean-freak. I don’t think I’m alone in my assessment.

    If you delete my comment, I’ll understand.

  72. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Mer — Don’t think of Matt as some controlling neat-freak. He’s honestly the most laid back person I know. Think of his writing style more like mimicking the style of Andy Rooney.

  73. posted by Majken on

    @Erin – Sorry, I can’t think that Matt’s writing style mimics Andy Rooney, because it mimics the writing style of a control-freak. I have to agree with Mer and Sue with their objections to this post. Even if Matt’s wife asked for the post, Matt didn’t need to write about her as if she was a five year old.
    @Matt – You said nothing in your post about what exact problems your wife had with her system. Even organizational systems themselves can be clutter, and this is especially true of imposed systems. I suspect that many people who read this post thought “wow, she has her nail supplies all in one place!” She already has the ultimate unclutterers solution: A simple bag with all her stuff in it.
    About “She has the terrible habit of putting things into it and then never taking anything out of it”
    Terrible habits are things like excessive gambling, domestic violence and driving the wrong way on the freeway. Messy manicure bags don’t make the list.
    However by “never takes anything out” means “never takes the time to indulge herself with a pedicure, then there is an easy fix to her Pedicure Bag problem:

    YOU start giving her a weekly pedicure.

  74. posted by jocelyn on

    I’m with Courtney and JW. Of course, it is partially because I’m really bad at doing my own nails, but I also think it helps with clutter to outsource whatever can be outsourced, in this case a manicure.

  75. posted by NewLeaf on

    I use an insulated lunch tote for all of mine. There is a see-through zipper pouch on the top where I keep nail files and such and the depth of the bag itself is perfect for storing all of my colours!

  76. posted by Stacy on

    I like to use a simple plastic shoe box. You can find them for a dollar or two at places like Target. All of my nail polish can stand up in the box and the length allows for long items such as nail files. I also keep a stack of cotton squares, q-tips, and nail polish remover (laid on it’s side) in the box. This makes it really easy to grab out of the hall closet and take to what ever room I plan on painting my nails in. Also, I can use the lid as something to put my foot or hand on while I’m painting or clipping my nails so that the polish doesn’t get on the floor or counter. Plus, it is easy to collect the clippings and take them to the trash.

  77. posted by sue on

    I couldn’t resist this!

    Matt, perhaps your sweet wife falls prey to the same purchasing temptations that lured you in?

  78. posted by Karyn on

    I’m with the commenters who recommended the minimalist approach to nail care–keeping them trimmed short, buffing, and using cuticle cream. While I understand the desire to have beautiful, feminine nails (the few times I’ve gotten manicures, it was really wonderful and I liked the results until the polish chipped), it’s not worth it to me to have toxic chemicals in breakable bottles lying around the bathroom. Even when I was in high school and college and still trying to “do” my nails, I often just put on clear polish so they looked “done” and it worked fine.

    So if i had a “nail bag” it would have, at the most: a good nail clipper, orange sticks, cuticle cream, and a buffer. I think a small bag is perfect for items like this–it’s easily tossed in luggage for traveling, or in a purse, or whathaveyou. A tackle box, or a Caboodle, can’t. I’d tell your wife to just keep the bag and maybe cull out some unused polishes and old files.

  79. posted by a*p on

    perhaps this would be useful:

  80. posted by Tiffany on

    Wondering why Unclutterer commenters think Matt’s marriage is any of their business. I’m sure Mrs. Matt is quite capable of telling Matt how she may or may not feel about the article and doesn’t need US to do it for her.

  81. posted by Angel on

    She may have already told him!

    Maybe Matt want the bag lightened up in case she heaves it at his head!

    ;- )

  82. posted by jocelyn on

    with tiffany.

  83. posted by Elizabeth on

    When I was in high school, my mom got me a medium sized silver metal case that was a manicure kit inside. It’s maybe about 8.5x11x3 inches.

    It has a little flap at the top that has elastic loops for clippers, files, and other little things that then unhooks to become a flat work surface. The bottom used to have dividers for all the polishes and lotions that came with teh kit, but those are long since used up. It’s the perfect size, it’s a pretty stylish box (in my opinion) but it also fits perfectly under my bed, when almost nothing else does.

    Sadly I have to admit that it isn’t my only nail care box, I’m still recovering from a nail polish addiction ; ) But I think a box like that, where everything has it’s place and there’s only room for one or maybe two of a specific thing is rather perfect. You can get them in most stores, I think my parents picked my up from a mail order catalogue but I’ve seen similar in Sally’s Beauty Supply. The biggest bonus is that I’m never fishing around for things, or dumping it out to find something that was hidden at the bottom. It’s all laid out.

  84. posted by S on

    I have those three drawer tupperware type boxes that hold all of my getting ready things. Each drawer holds different things, and are all labeled. One of them is for nails, and these are shallow drawers so I can only keep a few polishes and supplies in there so I’m careful about what colors I buy.

    Same for my eye makeup drawer, feminine things, hair clips, chap sticks, etc. Since it’s see through it keeps down the content amount as well so it looks less cluttered.

  85. posted by Angie on

    If Matt’s wife has a problem with losing things in the zip bag, I suggest she switch to a transparent one. I prefer a box with a lid so I can store it on the bathroom shelf. We’re back to the weeding out of the unnecessary if we really want to be uncluttered. I have been the victim of impulse nail polish buying. But luckily I have teenagers who are glad to relieve me of my transgressions.

  86. posted by Lauren Halagarda on

    Contrary to popular belief, shopping for products should not be the first step when seeking a better storage solution. I know, I know- it’s just a manicure bag, right? Bear with me…

    I would recommend:
    First, remove everything from the bag, sorting as you go and tossing any unnecessary items (i.e. nail clippings)

    Then, review what remains while considering how you use the items within. A basket under the sink would work as long as you don’t want to travel with it (even down the hall).

    Next, MAP it out or Make A Plan- Do you want pockets for each polish? Clear container? Mesh? Is it best to use a Containers within container (perhaps some smaller mesh pouches)? Is there anything else you would like to store that you currently don’t have room for? Measure (stand everything on a flat surface and approximate length, width, height and cubic footage). It may sound strange but you would be amazed at the value in that step.

    Finally, purchase the perfect storage container!

    OK, I admit- that was a bit overkill but a fun exercise anyway 🙂

  87. posted by gquaker on

    I use the green plastic boxes that strawberries and other berries come in to store my nail polish. I put the bottles around the edges, so that I can see the colors without lifting each bottle individually. In the center, I put cotton pads, nail files, etc.

  88. posted by jgodsey on

    may i interject and say that you should keep your organizing limited to your things and communal things.
    If you want to GIVE her a new container for her things, that’s nice, but keep your criticisms of her storage of her personal items to yourself.
    seriously if my husband wanted to have an intervention about my manicure items, i’d have him looked at and then tell him to stuff it.

  89. posted by Laura on

    I use an old wet-wipe container. Huggies gave them free with wipes for a while, and after my daughter outgrew wipes, I confiscated the container. It’s tall enough to handle the bottles, and long enough to handle files, etc.

  90. posted by spa tables on

    There are many nice and beautiful cosmetics box available in the market where your wife can put all the things in organized way. I use such boxes and its really useful. I dont think always it needs to carry with , but for traveling its very handy for carrying with.

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