Reader Yasmeen submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I currently store all cleaning products in a cupboard underneath my kitchen sink. Products include polishes, all household detergents, sponges, laundry liquids, waste disposal bags, scourers etc. I cant seem to think through a convenient and neat way to store these given the depth and dimensions of this cupboard. Please help.
The area under the kitchen sink (or even a bathroom sink) is a weird area where supplies often go to get leaked upon. If your pipe bursts or drips, all of these products will be soaked. This isn’t such a bad thing for sponges, bags, and scourers, but can ruin detergents and polishes. Additionally, the easy access to this area makes it prime for visits from children and pets who can be poisoned or made very ill by toxic polishes and detergents or could be suffocated by a plastic bag. Even if you don’t have children or pets, there is a strong likelihood at some point in your life there will be one visiting your home.
Noting this, the first thing I recommend doing is sorting through everything under your sink. Make three piles: keep under the sink, store someplace else, and purge. Place items that can’t be ruined in the event of a leak and that are completely safe for children and pets in the pile of things to continue to store under the sink (sponges, scourers). Place items that are dangerous for children and pets (laundry detergent, plastic bags) in the pile of things to be stored someplace else. And then, purge anything that is expired, oozing, or has gone rancid.
The next step is to purge all the items that belong in the trash. If any of your items are hazardous materials, as some polishes are, be sure to follow your city/county/country’s laws for proper disposal.
After getting rid of the yucky stuff, it’s time to find homes for all of those items that don’t belong in storage under a sink. Polishes and laundry detergents belong on high shelves, preferably in locked rooms or locked cabinets. Regular dish detergent, which isn’t toxic in small doses, can probably just be stored on a higher shelf in your kitchen. If you are limited on space, maybe you’ll decided to continue to store these items under your sink, but if you do please get a childproof cabinet lock that you can put on the door whenever a child or pet comes into your home. However, a cabinet lock won’t protect these items if your water pipes ever leak or burst.
With the remaining items that you plan to continue to store under your kitchen sink, you’ll want a storage device that will be useful and won’t leave things hiding in far back corners of the space. I prefer to use cabinet organizers that have a couple levels to them, attach to the wall of the cabinet, and slide out so you can see everything in the organizer, such as one like this:
There are other styles (ones that don’t attach to the wall but serve the same function, ones that don’t slide but are shallow so nothing gets pushed to the back of your cabinet and that wrap around your pipes) if this particular one doesn’t exactly suit your needs. Just try to find an organizer that takes advantage of the height of the cabinet and makes it easy to access items stored in the space. And, as is the case when storing any items in a cupboard, group like items with like items (all sponges together) so it is visually obvious whenever you open the cabinet how much of any type of thing you have, as well as where it is and where to return it.
Thank you, Yasmeen, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Please check the comments for even more ideas from our readers.
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