Utility storage alternatives

Of the 16 different homes in which I have lived, 12 of them did not have a designated utility closet. Most of the houses had basements or garages and we were able to our utility items in those areas. However, in a few homes, we had to be creative with our storage space, as in addition to not having a utility closet we didn’t have a basement or garage. The following are some storage solutions we’ve come up with over the years as alternatives for storing utility items in areas other than a utility closet, garage, or basement.

Cleaning products

Start by cutting down on the amount of cleaners you have. Consider using an all-purpose cleaner instead of specific cleaners for bathrooms or kitchens. Also, purchase smaller containers of cleaning products. It is a little more expensive in the longterm, but it is worth a few pennies per ounce not to have crammed cupboards. A small wash bucket can double as a caddy in which to carry the cleaning products around the house.

Here are some possible places to store cleaning products if there is no designated utility closet.

  • Bathroom cupboard
  • Kitchen cupboard (away from food storage and preparation areas)
  • Laundry room cupboard or shelf
  • Hallway or linen closet on an upper shelf

Most cleaning products, even the all-natural, organic ones, can be toxic. It is important to keep them out of the reach of children and pets. Ensure the products are on an upper shelf or cabinet doors are fitted with safety locks.

Paper products

Paper products should be stored close to where they are used. In the bathroom, consider using a multi-roll toilet roll holder so you don’t need shelf storage. Extra rolls of toilet paper can also be stored in a bathroom cabinet, in a basket or bin beside the toilet. A narrow shelf above the toilet can also provide some storage space. Surplus rolls also could be stored in a hallway closet or under a bed.

Paper towels (or kitchen roll as it’s called here in the UK) and paper napkins are often stored in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, however, if there is a leak, all of the paper towels and napkins may get ruined. Since these paper products are lightweight, consider storing them on the top shelf in a hallway closet, above kitchen cabinets, or in the cupboard over the refrigerator. Remember that paper towels are flammable and should not be stored above or near the stove or oven.

Brooms, mops, and vacuum cleaners

Brooms and mops can fit in narrow spaces. Additional storage suggestions:

  • Between the refrigerator and the wall
  • Inside closets or tall cupboards
  • Behind kitchen or bathroom doors

You can even squeeze a folding stepladder in these narrow spaces.

Vacuum cleaners are generally big and bulky. More storage options:

  • In one end of a hallway closet or bedroom clothes closet.
  • In a tall cupboard in the kitchen.
  • Behind a doorway.
  • Under a stairwell.
  • Behind a tall houseplant in the corner of the living room (upright vacuums)
  • In a chest or trunk that doubles as a table or seat (canister vacuums).


Having a few essential tools handy will help you complete household projects quickly and easily. Ideally tools should be stored in a locked box so little fingers cannot access things they shouldn’t. A toolbox can be stored under a bed, sofa, or chair or it can be stored on a shelf or in the bottom of a closet. A larger toolbox can be stored inside a closet or it can double as a console table in an entryway.

Everything Else

There are many small items that may be kept in a utility closet. These include batteries, extension cords, screws, nails, bolts, extra cable ties, bungee cords, padlocks, keys, and even some UFOs. It is best to sort these items into categories and use small containers to keep them organized. My favourite container is the Professional Organizer by Stanley. It is great for small things like nails and screws. A tower of plastic drawers is ideal for a closet or cupboard and can be used to store larger items such as flashlights, duct tape, and vacuum cleaner attachments. If you’re looking for something a little more aesthetically pleasing than plastic drawers, consider purchasing end tables with drawers and using chests of drawers as console tables and hallway tables to maximize your storage space.

There is no right or wrong way to organize utility items — use whatever method works best for you and the space where you live.

5 Comments for “Utility storage alternatives”

  1. posted by Alix on

    I never use the dishwasher that came with my apartment, so I store all my cleaning supplies in there!

  2. posted by Vicki on

    I have almost no bathroom storage, so I use a small rolling cart with three wire drawers. The cart drawers hold some bathroom essentials that don’t fit in drawers – like my hair dryer and an electric razor. The rolling cart also holds at least six rolls of toilet paper. The cart is usually “parked” next to the bathtub, but I can roll it out of the way as needed.

  3. posted by Matt Gibson on

    I can sympathise a lot here; I have a one-bedroom flat with no utility room and virtually no cupboard space.

    When I was decluttering earlier this year, one thing that made a surprising difference was a broom & mop rack. I got mine from an Amazon seller—it’s basically a wall-mounted rack with five sprung grips for broom handles. I realise this thing is technically a unitasker 🙂 but it got my various brooms and brushes out of an untidy pile in a corner and (a) made them look a lot better out on display, and (b) freed up the corner below them for recycling boxes. I still have a bunch of cleaning stuff in the corner of my hall, but at least it doesn’t look like I just threw it there now…

  4. posted by Sandy on

    One downside to buying cleaning supplies in smaller containers: these items usually come in plastic bottles, and the more containers we use, the more plastic waste we generate. And it’s likely waste even if it’s recycled. I don’t know what the best answer is — admittedly, large containers are harder to store, but maybe the use a little less energy to manufacture, and thus are a little easier on the environment. I guess the best of all is to use natural products that come in paper or glass containers to mix our own cleaners — baking soda anyone? Vinegar?

  5. posted by Marie on

    This Stanley organizer is exactly the sort of item I was looking for to serve as a sewing kit. Thank you!

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