Weekend Project: Clear clutter from under furniture

I read an organizing book many years ago that suggested hiding random possessions like magazines and children’s toys under the couch. It was such a bizarre suggestion to me. How is cramming something under a couch an organized solution? Yes, it may get it out of the pathway and out of sight, but is that the best place for those items? Magazines belong in a magazine caddy or on bookshelves, and children’s toys belong in toy chests or bins. I read the suggestion as a way to create clutter, not curb it.

This weekend, tackle the spaces under furniture in your home. Are you hiding things under dressers or beds? Under table skirts? Under your couch? Pull out items and find them a better home that shows that you honor and respect your belongings. If under furniture is the only place you have for storage, then use storage bags or bins. Dust mites and other yucky things don’t belong on your possessions.

If the areas under your furniture are clear of clutter, check the spaces behind your furniture. Have books, pens, or other items fallen out of sight? Has a water cup rolled back behind your headboard?

Good luck unearthing the clutter from under your furniture!


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

35 Comments for “Weekend Project: Clear clutter from under furniture”

  1. posted by Cole on

    A wonderful suggestion I will get to immediately. Yet I can see the comments now that Unclutterer is a site run by busy-bodies. I would reject this notion and instead wonder why those who are so offended by cleaning would come to this site so often!

    Perhaps the coach analogy is best, cribbed from another site Unclutterer linked to: You don’t go to a coach to hear good things about yourself, you go to be pushed and improved. Now to crawl under that couch…

  2. posted by Chris Blackwell on

    A great way to hid remote controls, game controllers, DVDs, magazines, etc. is to buy small rectangle baskets with a closable lid. They are very easy to stack and really do hid the clutter from the home. I have been using these for years and my house has dozens of remotes and game controllers but you sure wouldn’t know it.

  3. posted by Josephine on

    How ironic to read this suggestion (storing items under furniture) in an organization book. I, too, have come across this suggestion in such books. And I agree it is perhaps one of the worse suggestions ever made. Other than leading to items that will be forgotten or to a huge collection of dust bunnies, I feel that from a Zen perspective, heeding this advise thwarts a positive energy flow.

    So glad you posted this as a weekend task. Personally, I love looking under my entertainment center, etc. and seeing nothing but a solid wood floor.

  4. posted by Yi [email protected] Simple Wealth on

    One Feng Shui book I read recommends to clear out the space under furnitures to help the chi circulates, that’s one more reason not to store things under furnitures.

  5. posted by Meg from All About Appearances on

    *Looks around under the furniture*

    O.k., I don’t feel too awfully bad. Here’s what I found:

    * A few stray kitty toys that’ll go back in their toy box the next time I get up. Unfortunately, I haven’t trained them to put them back yet, but it’s cool to see which ones they take out overnight.
    * A few power-strips and some cables — but they need to be there and the cables nicely coiled.
    * One rather large but toy-size musical keyboard (haven’t been able to figure out where to put it that’s still quickly accessible for checking singing parts).

    And behind one end table is a bunch of magazines — in a magazine rack.

    I can understand using under the bed as storage, and I could even justify putting stuff in nice boxes or baskets under tables. In fact, our kitty toy box is a nice fabric covered basket under a table we’re using as a tea center in the kitchen. But just cramming stuff under there? Nope.

  6. posted by Louise on

    There’s an exception to every rule, though. In an RV, the areas under furniture often are designed to be storage. We have specific items stored in those spaces because every cubic inch is precious!

    For instance, I have winter blankets under the couch because I will need them when the weather is cold, and they are stored in dust-free zippered bags to protect them from getting dirty. I can tell you exactly what is in each clean plastic bin under the bed, love seat and couch and when I will probably use it next.

    However, what keeps that stuff from being clutter is the mindfulness of knowing WHAT is under there, WHY it is there, and HOW it is kept. If I don’t know what is in a given nook, chances are I don’t need it and it is clutter. If I can’t answer why I kept it, then it is probably clutter. And if it isn’t being stored in a way that takes good care of it, then it is probably clutter.

  7. posted by infmom on

    Most of our furniture has nothing more than a bit of cat fluff and dust underneath.

    However… we recently inherited ten carousels full of slides from my inlaws’ long-ago travels. I couldn’t put those in our outside storage room, where bulky items usually go, because the temperature variations out there would be bad for them. And we have no space big enough to hold them inside the house (it was built in 1930 when closets were about the size of shoe boxes).

    So… under the couch they went, till we figure out something better. At least they are not sitting in a big box on the living room floor any more.

  8. posted by Shalom on

    What a horrible suggestion (from the magazine)! That would only create more work down the road. I have seen features where stuff is cleverly stored under furniture – IN low storage bins and baskets, but you shouldn’t just shove stuff under your couches to get it out of the way.

  9. posted by Pat on

    Hmmm….I live in very small place and yep, I store stuff under the bed, the sofa, a cabinet and the TV. Airtight plastic containers with built in casters. It’s better than having to look at it.

    Off season clothes go under the bed. The Wii Fit board goes under the TV cabinet.

    We also get a lot of earthquakes too – so I store a few heavy items as low as I can get them – which is under the sofa. Under furniture storage is really common here (Japan.)

  10. posted by Susan on

    Thanks Louise. You put it so well! I store two folding cots under the king sized bed in the guest room and the two mattress pads for the cots are under the king sized bed in the master bedroom. Today these cots and pads are in the office/third bedroom awaiting children of our guests who are arriving tomorrow. These items are soooo NOT clutter

  11. posted by Sandra on

    I also agree that storing things under furniture senselessly is silly, and storing them purposefully is good. So I agree with everyone, poster and replies.

    I live in a tiny dorm room (which I am currently cleaning because I had to go home for spring break and have also been too sick to clean for several weeks – agh!) and if I didn’t store things under my bed, I might die.

    I don’t think my dorm will ever qualify for the Unclutterer workspace of the week, but I like to think I’m using my space wisely and I get a lot of value out of most of the things I choose to have with me!

  12. posted by Dream Mom DBA www.dreamorganizers.com on

    I’ve never thought that storing stuff under furniture was a great idea. Most of the time, it’s a sign a person has too much stuff and needs to pare down. I have also heard it’s bad Feng Shui.

    That being said, I do have one exception. I keep a bin with cat toys stored under the chair in my living room. I like to play with him and don’t like them sitting out. Plus, he likes to grab them and play on his own.

  13. posted by georgie on

    There is no other place to store larger items except under the bed. However you reminded me to check under the china hutch-where trays had been stored/hidden. Euuwwww! They were filthy and lots of dust! No more storing in that area.

  14. posted by Anne on

    Great idea for the weekend…my kids loved it (4), they were under the bed (one bunk and 2 regulars) pulling out stray socks, and one son found his missing wallet with money! We have all wood floors, and keeping it clear helps me swift! I do have a rolling plastic storage of barbies under one girls bed! I rearrange my living room furniture so much storing under that would be a hassle!
    Love the idea! Bet same amount of folks have “stuff” stored on top of bookcases, hutches etc…. 🙂

  15. posted by N. & J. on

    I have a rather small apartment and since I am getting married in July I have aquired a lot of stuff that goes with that. Since my “dining room” has been turned into an office by pushing the dining room table against the wall I started stacking stuff up underneath it. Normally I have a table cloth and don’t see the growing pile but it took less then a day after the tablecloth went into the wash pile before I started sorting.


  16. posted by Guinnevere on

    how did you know i store all my used water cups behind the headboard! lol… i knock them off while i’m asleep : /

  17. posted by Christine on

    Well, magazines are probably not a good idea, but when I had a sofa with a skirt and limited storage, it was a great place for my board games that were too big for anywhere else (i.e. my scrabble!). Also, i store a LOT of stuff (off season clothes, fabric) under my bed.

  18. posted by anon on

    One that I do (in addition to the under the bed thing – my closet is very small!) is keep my broadband modem, wireless router and VOIP box under a small table, along with my excess office supplies and the paper files which must be kept. This is more about hiding them from sight but keeping them accessible. All the electronics are attached to a single power bar which is easily accessible to flip them on and off.

  19. posted by Ellie on

    I understand and respect that in some situations storage under furniture is a must but the thought of it in my home sends shivers down my spine! I love furniture on legs so you can see underneath it, and since I have dust allergies creating more places for dust to hide and making it harder to clean out would be a very Bad Thing. I didn’t realise that feng shui has something to say about it but it doesn’t surprise me and it confirms my own feelings about under-furniture storage.

  20. posted by Tameson O'Brien on

    this year we got both of our kids (still at home) storage beds that have drawers under the mattresses. this makes it physically impossible to have anything UNDER the bed, and anything that would have been (train sets – cloth diapers – sweaters etc.) is now neatly stored in the drawers in their beds.

  21. posted by Lisa on

    We have one closet, minimal kitchen storage, and no basement in our 1500 sq ft 3 bedroom apt. We’ve done a lot of purging, as you can imagine, and it’s an on-going process. But the area under the love seat will remain in use as intentional storage until/if we move into a larger home with more storage options.

  22. posted by SaveChange on

    Most of our furniture is only domain to dust bunnies and the little gremlins (a.k.a. giant fur balls) that pop off of my cat during spring shed until we sweep them up. That being said, I must say I’m still a huge advocate of utilizing underbed storage for the winter/summer clothing exchange. We have one bin for sweaters and our winter blanket and under the bed it goes… and stays. But any place else? Clean it indeed!

  23. posted by Michele on

    I guess I would distinguish “regularly store things neatly under furniture” from “toss unsightly, disorganized things under furniture because you are choosing not to deal with them.”

    I keep winter blankets under the bed in a flat roll-out bin. But I don’t cram magazines and children’s toys under the couch to fool guests about the state of my house.

  24. posted by jeremy on

    I agree that if you have items you never use, it doesnt make sense to hide them under the couch to be forgotten until you move.

    However, we store our indoor clothes drying rack under the couch as well as our Logitech CD wallets which hold 200 cds each. Since these items arent used on a daily basis and they arent the most beautiful things to look at, under the couch is a great place for us to store these items.

  25. posted by H... on

    i personally dont like to store things under or besides furniture. it makes hard to sweep the floor among them. i dont have big storage issues like some commenters have. i keep my magazines in my bathroom.

  26. posted by Craig on

    Where do you put your stuff if you live in a small townhouse with no basement, no garage, and very little closet space?

    The answer: Under the bed and every nook and cranny, whether you like it or not.

  27. posted by Erin Doland on

    I agree that having a small space can affect your storage options. However, there is a big difference between storing out of season clothing in moth-proof boxes under your bed and shoving dirty clothes under your bed when guests come to visit. Obviously, the first option is an organized solution, while the second option is clutter.

    With this post, I was suggesting getting rid of the clutter.

    I will say, though, that I live in a tiny house by most American standards (1300 sq. feet), and I have found that owning fewer things is the easiest way to alleviate storage needs. I don’t have a garage or attic, and so there just isn’t room for keeping much of anything stored. In most cases, either we use an object on a regular basis, or we don’t have it in our home. There just isn’t room.

  28. posted by Katie on

    We definitely store things under the bed. But they are for intentional long-term storage-holiday decorations, etc. And it has recently been decluttered and reorganized.

    We also store our laptops on lapdesks under the sofa. It seems totally logical to me and I can’t think of a better place to store them. But it did take a bit to get used to, I felt like I was slacking but anyplace else just seemed to create clutter.

  29. posted by Hayden Tompkins on

    All the furniture I purchased has in-item storage. The sofa has storage under the cushions, same with the chair and loveseat, the ottoman, and end tables. I read (A LOT) and I like having all my semi-torn up sci-fi paperbacks in reach, out of guests view. It saves my bookshelves for my ‘pretty’ books.


    Besides, YOU are the one who got me thinking about how everything should have multiple uses!

  30. posted by Audrey Johnson on

    Under the furniture is one of my pet peeves too. Whenever I vacuum I get under their. We forget that this is a spot that needs attention because we do not see it.

  31. posted by laura ann on

    Plastic storage bins under beds for extra bedding, shoes, etc. is ideal. Why wouldn’t anyone not want to take advantage of this extra area for storage is baffling. I have used under bed storage forever.

  32. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    This post was aimed at those who use under bed storage for “out of sight, out of mind.” I use the storage space under my beds too but every once in awhile, it’s time to clear it all out and ensure I still want everything I have under there.

  33. posted by CJcollins on

    In spite of above comments, let me make a suggestion about underbed storage spots. It is the best place in the world to store leaves from dining room tables. I have a dining room table that holds 2 extra leaves but don’t want to keep them in that table 100% of the time. I carefully wrap them in old sheets and slip them under my queen sized bed. They are safe there, being flat will help prevent any warping and convenient for me to pull out to use when needed. Perfection solution for those extra leaves, much better than standing them on their edges in the back of a closet.

  34. posted by Her from There on

    I’ve been decluttering for years and finally got to the point where I could tackle the underbed boxes. I was thrilled! I only had items stored in plastic tubs (so I thought) but found two cardboard boxes that I didn’t know were under there absolutely coated in dust. I rehomed their objects, seriously sorted through the off season stuff also stored under there and returned way less items to under the bed than before. I do have a big quilting board and long rulers stored under one couch though, because as CJCollins was saying, its the best place to keep them flat. If I stand them up, they will warp from the weight and even though they will eventually go flat again, I’d rather them be flat when I want to use them. My boys also have things under their beds in tubs because they can’t reach the cupboard shelves.

  35. posted by momof3 on

    Large Over size platters can be stored under the bed!!

    My great aunt kept hers there. only place big enough for the platters, esp. her huge turkey platter. Imagine everyone’s surprise when she would ask one of us kids to get it from under her bed. (Large family…large platters needed)

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