How to Create Storage in Used Containers for Small Items

Sick and tired of finding thumb tacks, bobby pins or paper clips all over the place--wandering aimlessly without a home? You don’t have to hit the office supply store and purchase a full blown organizational system to hold your tiny items. Instead repurpose containers at home to wrangle small pesky pieces under control.


  1. Image titled Create Storage in Used Containers for Small Items Step 1
    Reuse small candy boxes or a bottle of “stick” sun screen. Don’t throw away old Tic Tac boxes or even an empty bottle of stick sun screen--instead use them to store small items like bobby pins or Q-Tips.
    • Wash out empty boxes. Especially with the sunscreen bottles--make sure you use dish detergent and hot water to thoroughly clean empty containers.
    • Remove label or create your own. You may toss the empty bottle or box if you can’t remember what’s stored inside. You don’t need a fancy label--either hand write on a blank adhesive name tag what’s inside or you could type a small label using your computer and printer. Use a glue stick to hold it in place.
  2. Image titled Create Storage in Used Containers for Small Items Step 2
    Repurpose old cardboard matchboxes to hold paper clips and thumb tacks. The sturdy cardboard provides ideal storage opportunities for a variety of tiny items.
    • Seek a wide variety of matchbook sizes and shapes to hold nearly every type of item--some come in round shapes whereas others are presented in the traditional rectangular size.
    • Create labels to place over the matchbox top to identify what’s inside. Or you could use a small symbol that you could possibly purchase as a sticker or you could print from your computer. For example, a picture of a large paperclip would do the trick to identify a box of paperclips.
  3. Image titled Create Storage in Used Containers for Small Items Step 3
    Design a classy organization system by storing items in decorative teacups on your desk or bathroom vanity. You don’t have to transform the cups you typically use at home, but could pick up inexpensive vintage cups at a yard sale or second hand.
    • Scrub the desired number of tea cups before use. Even if the cups are clean use vinegar and hot water to remove any stains inside the cups.
    • Fill cups with everyday items such as loose change, thumb tacks, paper clips, jewelry, bobby pins or Q-Tips. Make each teacup the official “home” for everyday items, getting them off your countertops and in one place.
    • Strategically place the teacups in easy-to-access areas on your desk or bathroom vanity. If you have small children or curious pets, place them out of reach so curiosity won’t result in a smashed cup.
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    Line metal items against a magnetic strip inside your desk/bathroom drawer. For metal items, keep them in place and hidden using a long magnetic, self adhesive strip run along the inside of your drawer.
    • Identify the items that can be housed along the magnetic strip such as office supplies (paper clips, thumb tacks, etc.) or beauty items (bobby pins, hair ties with a magnetic clasp, jewelry).
    • Purchase self adhesive magnetic stripping from the local craft store. Make sure you purchase a strip that comes with a self adhesive backing for mounting ease.
    • Clean the area that will receive the magnetic strip. Your strip will be less likely to stick to a dirty surface. Also, you don’t want to adhere your strip to an area that’s dusty or has loose strands of hair stuck to it.
    • Measure for desired length. Make sure you cut the strip to fit the exact space by using a ruler or measuring tape.
    • Cut strip to fit and adhere to surface. Use sharp scissors to cut strip as it will be thick and may be difficult to cut using dull (or child) scissors. Remove backing and run the strip along the desired area. Smooth your hand over it to remove any bubbles and ensure it fully sticks to the surface.
    • Add items to be stored. You may want to test other items to see if they cling to the magnetic surface.
  5. Image titled Create Storage in Used Containers for Small Items Step 5
    Repurpose a hard plastic soap case you can use for travel. Don’t toss those old travel, hard plastic soap cases. Instead use them to hold loose supplies.
    • Inspect the soap case for damage. After being in the shower or bath, the case may be too far gone for repurposing.
    • Clean the case to remove old soap build up and scum. Dish detergent, hot water and a little elbow grease will do the trick.
    • Create a label if the case is not created from clear, see through plastic. If you are working with see through material you won’t need a label (as you’ll be able to see exactly what’s inside). However, for quick reference consider either creating a label using your computer and printer (and adhering the label using a glue stick) or write what’s inside on a self mailing sticker.


  • Keep receptacles in several locations throughout your home if items tend to "wander" (i.e. loose change or paper clips).
  • Old mason jars also create great storage opportunities for a lot of loose change and other small items.

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Categories: Home Organization & Recycling