best in class

The 18 Very Best Storage Bins

Pro tip: Organize your clear containers ROYGBIV-style.

Photo: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers
Photo: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

In this article

In the home-organization hierarchy, storage bins fall somewhere in the middle. They’re below shoe racks, the crown jewel of closets, but above desk-drawer dividers, which are really only glorified catchalls. Most frequently found beneath a bed or in a basement, they typically hold things we don’t need often or want out of sight. I say this lovingly as the writer charged with the Strategist storage-solutions coverage: They’re usually nondescript and even forgettable (though there are plenty of design-y alternatives nowadays).

As any professional organizer will tell you, that’s what makes them sort of an unsung hero. A storage bin can do it all, tidying up toys in the playroom just as well as grouping groceries in the pantry. But since shopping for storage bins can quickly become overwhelming, I’ve done the hard work for you by asking professional organizers, other experienced declutterers, Strategist staffers, and anyone with enviable stuff-stashing skills about their favorites. Below, you’ll find everything from colorful multipurpose crates that serve a variety of needs to bags and baskets for kids’ toys to a file box that’s definitely not corporate.

What we’re looking for


The word “bin” is broad — I think of stacks of Sterilite whenever I hear it. But the storage-bin-scape is full of crates, containers, cubes, baskets, and boxes, and if we’re getting technical — which we very much are — these all count. The design of each has aesthetic pros and cons. A crate feels industrial, which might not work with gilded wallpaper. Bohemian baskets are perfect for cottagecore converts but maybe not so much for strict Scandinavian minimalists. Below, we’ve assigned each recommendation to a simple “shape” category — so if the pick is best described as a box, for example, we noted that. And if “bin” is truly the only way to describe one of these storage solutions, we mention if it’s lidded or unlidded, as that’ll determine what you should or shouldn’t store within it.


On that note, the material a storage bin is made from can be a deciding factor in what you put in it — and affects the overall design. A plastic milk crate, for example, is more heavy duty. But the holes “can hold onto dust and dirt and can’t be wiped down easily,” explains professional organizer Laura Cattano. Wicker is forever associated with linens and laundry, which is why home-organizer Caroline Solomon likes it for “outgoing items in your entryway,” like the dry cleaning you’ve been meaning to drop off, but it can break under too much pressure. A canvas box is not only a comfortable home for teddy bears, but the fabric means it’s “safer for your child (no hard edges!)” and can match the homey feeling you want in a playroom, Solomon says. (And while we’re on the subject, another pro tip from Allison Dunn, founder of Neat Rules, is if you’re going with something clear, organize ROYGBIV-style according to the color of the contents to make them look less chaotic.)


This point is directly tied to a storage bin’s functionality and practicality. An easy-to-carry bin (like say these you’ll find stacked in an Ikea aisle) can travel to any part of the house, holding cleaning supplies and tucking away little towels. The downside of smaller, more portable bins, though, is that you can’t really store much, so you can forget about stuffing sheet sets into them. On the other hand, a huge Rubbermaid tote can stash just about anything but takes more elbow grease to move, especially when filled to the brim. We rated each of the following storage bins as either portable or not-so-portable and made sure to detail anything else our experts said about their size. That way, you can actually visualize these in your own space, whether small or big.

Best overall storage bin

Type: Unlidded bins with lids sold separately | Material: Postconsumer recycled material  | Portability: Portable

Three of the organizers I talked to recommended these baskets, which work whether you’re in the “out of sight, out of mind” camp or like to have everything right where you can see it. Mary Cornetta of Organized Overall thinks they’re “great for virtually anything,” including hard-to-organize items like bathroom overstock and electronic cords. And if you decide to buy the optional lids, Barbara Reich of Life Organized likes they aren’t too tight-fitting and slide off easily: “You don’t have to get your finger under it to pry it off,” so they are quick to access, she explains. For a few bucks more, you can also get tags that hang on the handles, to spell out what you’re storing with a dry-erase marker. But even if you don’t buy those, the holes offer a teeny glimpse of what’s inside, which is why these bins are a favorite of Dunn’s.

There are small, medium, and large sizes, each of which is stackable if you’re using lids and nestable when they’re empty, making them versatile and convenient. The baskets come in three colors (white, transparent, and charcoal), and so do the lids (white, bamboo, and black), so you can mix and match. After naming these baskets our “best overall,” I asked the company to send me one for review and received a transparent, medium-size basket with a bamboo lid. So far, I have mostly stored linens in it — it fits a full-size set of flat and fitted sheets, plus their pillowcases — and the ventilation from the decorative dot pattern helps keep them smelling fresh. I have mine underneath my bed; sometime I slide it across the carpeted floor out of sheer laziness, but it’s easy to carry around, too. And I appreciate its clean, minimalist appearance — just looking at the bin makes me feel as though I have my life together.

Best stackable storage bin

Type: Crate | Material: Recycled plastic | Portability: Portable

Danish interior-design house Hay redesigned its cult-favorite Colour Crates so that instead of first-run plastic, they are now made from recycled postconsumer plastic and are more square in shape. Otherwise, the crates are still stackable, collapsible, and come in three sizes (small, medium, and large). The company has now introduced lids (crafted from powder-coated steel and designed to match in color) and wheels as add-ons that you can buy separately.

Although the crates have evolved since this story was last updated, I feel confident in crowning them with the “best stackable” title since that part of the design remains the same. (I will be testing the newer design soon, so stay tuned.) I own the space-saving, junk-organizing OGs — it’s their stackability that makes them special. Once on top of each other, these feel reminiscent of a space-age furniture piece you’d fight for on 1stdibs, whether you go for a monochrome or multihued tower. You can even place the different sizes within each other to create compartments. Anytime I don’t know where else to put something — half-opened hairstyling creams, just-in-case power strips, bags of cotton balls, a pharmacy of extra-strength Excedrin pills — I can tuck it away in a Hay crate. Their brightness stands out in a space dominated by clear, semitranslucent, white, and dark opaque “colors.” Although I use them for more mundane things, Strategist associate editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell keeps these under her bed to store her sex toys in.

Best storage bin to buy in bulk

Type: Box | Material: Plastic | Portability: Portable

Both Beth Penn, owner of Bneato Bar Professional Organizing, and Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio have bought these multipurpose boxes in multiples. Though you can buy them individually, the real value is in the sets of five and 20 (there’s a larger version, too). They are sized to hold shoes, but I heard about a number of uses for them. Penn counts on them to store medications, first-aid supplies, and bathroom essentials like dental and feminine-hygiene products. The boxes help her set “boundaries” whenever she’s organizing, to keep shelves and cabinets tidy. Trolio has them all over her house, holding sidewalk chalk in the garage and Lego bricks and Barbies in the playroom. She also uses them to store art supplies — brushes and paint in one; PlayDoh in another; “a back stock of school supplies” such as markers and glue sticks in a third; and assorted pom-poms, pipe cleaners, and felt scraps in a fourth. Their stackability and transparency are especially useful for quickly finding what you (or your kids, as in Trolio’s case) need.

Best under-the-bed storage bin

Type: Case | Material: Polyester | Portability: Portable

Under-the-bed storage is often dominated by seasonal clothes. There are two sides to the “how should you store clothes” debate. One side prefers open-storage solutions (Rachel Winkler of Tidyspot likes these baskets, for example, to put on a shelf or inside a closet), while the other prefers closed storage to keep clothes dust-free and in tip-top shape. The latter made the most convincing case, so I settled on this under-$10 Skubb from Ikea as the best option. It comes recommended by Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa, who appreciates its collapsible yet sturdy design. Rellosa says his Skubbs have kept their shape even when filled to the brim. The cases have ventilated nets in the corners to promote airflow and keep his clothes from smelling “stale” after months of storage. But they work for plenty of other items, too: Rellosa relies on the Skubb to hold bedding, sheets, books, and even “various unsent love letters that are best kept unseen.” And when he moved apartments recently, these were easy to pack and unpack with.

Best storage bin for shoes

Photo: Courtesy of Retailer

Type: Box | Material: Plastic | Portability: Not-so-portable (when stacked)

Several varieties of see-through lidded storage bins were popular among our experts, but these drop-front shoe boxes took the top spot in part because we’ve heard about them before. They made an appearance on our guide to the best shoe organizers, earning the title of “most stackable.” Naeemah Ford Goldson of Restore Order Professional Organizing pointed out how versatile these boxes are — keep them under your bed, stacked on shelves, or by themselves. (A word of caution: Once the boxes are stacked high, they’ll be harder to move around.) The box’s “closed drawers keep shoes protected from dust, while small ventilation holes allow shoes to breathe,” Jessica Decker of Become Organized told us. And Cornetta actually prefers the box’s drop-front style, as you don’t have to “move them all to get to the bottom” to reach your favorite pair.

Best storage bin for kitchen pantries

Type: Container | Material: Plastic | Portability: Portable

Clear storage bins are especially practical for a kitchen, as you’ll easily be able to tell produce from packaged products. These ones from OXO have earned raves from food writer Rebecca Firkser, whose kitchen is more filled with groceries than that of the average home cook. She uses the brand’s POP containers to hold bulk dried goods like granola, oats, flours, and sugars. The pop-up button on the lid, which is where they get their name, creates an airtight seal to keep foods fresh. Firkser adds: “Though they don’t stack on top of each other, the wide base helps these containers balance easily in places that weren’t necessarily designed for food storage but are often used as such, like the top of the fridge.” That makes them especially useful for small kitchens. We like that these can be purchased individually for whatever space you do have. But if you want to go the bulk route, Ann Lightfoot, a founding partner at Done & Done Home, says the ten-piece set is well worth the investment. And if you want a more zhuzhed-up version, get the ones with stainless-steel tops.

Best storage bin for recycling

Type: Lidded bins | Material: Plastic | Portability: Portable

Professional organizer Britnee Tanner turned us on to these bins from Ikea. The stackable Sorteras are notable for their angled, hinged lids — a feature you won’t find elsewhere on this list — which allow you to drop items in (a “similar experience to a waste basket”) without having to move or unstack whatever you might have on top of them. Since you don’t have to keep taking the lid on and off, “it’s that much easier to avoid stuff piling up around you,” Tanner explains. She primarily uses them as a place for recyclables including glass, plastic, and even old electronics, and as a catch-all for items headed to a donation bin. These are washable, too — you can wipe them down if soda drips all over from a seemingly empty can.

Best storage bin for bedding

Type: Basket | Material: Rope | Portability: Portable

When one reader wrote in to our advice column, “Ask the Strategist,” in search of nice-looking baskets for bedding, our writer Lauren Ro (who happens to be our team’s home-décor expert) shared her own favorite. Ro has bought a couple of these OrganiHaus baskets over the years. That’s in part because of their affordability, especially compared to other rope baskets out there (“You really don’t need to spend a lot on them unless you want to,” she says). These are roomy enough to hold sofa cushions and a big yoga bolster, “so it’s safe to say one would accommodate a couple of pillows and a blanket or two,” Ro explains. These are tricolor and well-made with easy-toting handles, she says, which makes them look more expensive than they really are. Note that they’re slightly floppy when emptied, but that isn’t a problem if they’re packed with bedding. 

Best storage bin for small toys

Type: Bin (open front top) | Material: Wood | Portability: Portable

To keep your kid’s shelves in order, consider this Tanner-approved bin from the only-at-Target brand Pillowfort. The bins are probably best for smaller toys that could get lost in a bigger basket or an ever-expanding book collection. You can choose between small and large sizes, which can all be stacked — a fact that she likes in order to avoid crowding up floors, which might otherwise be covered in train parts or dollhouse furniture. Or you could place several side by side, as Tanner recommends, which will help little ones grab them more easily and start putting their toys out by themselves.

Best storage bin for large toys

Type: Basket | Material: Canvas | Portability: Portable

A basket lends itself well to a kid’s room, too, where Lego sets, bedtime books, and the latest talking dolls can quickly take over. We previously heard about these adorable animal-printed baskets from two declutterers, Nicole Abramovici of Genius Organizing and organizing expert Christina Giaquinto. These combine form with function, being actually sturdy enough to hold the heaviest of toys, Giaquinto explained. The furry friends can serve as reminders of where their favorite stuffed animals or action figures are sleeping.

Most portable storage bin for toys

Type: Bag | Material: Nylon and polyester | Portability: Portable

Swoop bags are probably the most portable toy-specific storage bins I heard about. They come in mini, medium, and large sizes that let you throw in a number of playthings, pull up on the drawstrings, and “swoop” them away. (Here’s an official video from the company so you can see them in action for yourself.) Trolio asked the company to send her some after reading customers reviews on the website: “One of them mentions that the bags are good for ‘picking through without dumping everything on the floor,’ and I think that really gets to the heart of it,” she says; that particular functionality also earned the bags a spot in our guide to non-hideous Lego storage, because it’s easy to rifle through what’s inside and then close them back up again. Trolio has used them to corral stuffed animals, fruits and veggies for the play kitchen, and miscellaneous bits and bobs that have migrated all over the house (“I collect everything that’s out of place and then haul it around putting stuff away, like a Santa’s sack but for decluttering”). She does caution against overfilling, noting that you want enough weight inside to be able to pull the drawstrings tight, but not so much that the bag is too hard to carry. (“Magna-Tiles get really heavy fast.”)

Most (less expensive) portable storage bin for toys

Type: Basket | Material: Seagrass | Portability: Portable

The “smooshing” Flådis baskets are another favorite of Penn’s for their strength. Though the criss-crossed seagrass seems like it’s begging to be broken, her baskets have survived being shoved around and stuffed with Magna-Tiles and musical instruments. She adds: “I can quickly tidy and not care about how [toys] land inside, because you can’t see what’s stored for the most part.” And one of her suggestions is to keep an empty one at the end of a hallway — she does this so that she can put items into their “proper homes” later.

Best storage bins for Legos

Type: Box | Material: Plastic | Portability: Not-so-portable

If you’ve ever found a missing Lego piece by accidentally stepping on it, you know how difficult (and painful) it can be to wrangle all those little blocks. Finding a storage bin that can work for the toys can be a challenge, as you need a fix “flexible enough to house in-progress sets, completed structures, prized bricks, and all the rest,” according to Strategist contributor (and mom of two Lego-obsessed kids) Youngna Park. Park wrote the aforementioned guide to parent-approved Lego-storage options, and this box is my favorite of the recommendations she collected. I included it on this list because it hits all the marks outlined above while also being delightful on its own. Abby Clawson Low, a Dallas-based graphic designer and art director, appreciates its practical stackability, and notes that each brick has an easy-lift lip that toddler hands won’t have too much trouble with. Clawson Low adds, “Who doesn’t love an oversized object?” You could also go with something with a similar look but smaller; Park backs Ikea’s Bygglek collection. “Each child gets a large box for storing builds in progress and a smaller box for LEGOs the other sibling can’t pilfer,” Park says.

Best storage bin for offices

Type: Box | Material: Acrylic | Portability: Portable

The days of needing dedicated oversize filing cabinets in our home offices are largely behind us, but there could be some paperwork that you’d rather have printed out. For that, Cattano pointed us to this acrylic box that looks more like a CB2 sculpture than the usual corporate folder holders. Oftentimes, she’ll buy clients multiple boxes based on what they need filed away — one for insurance paperwork, another for finances, and so on. It’s simple but easy to carry, which is especially useful if it’s tax season or you’re moving to a new apartment. She recommends getting color-coded hanging files like these “so you don’t mind looking at it” (especially for serious documents that need sorting through). There are slimmer versions of this box for smaller archives as well.

Best heavy-duty storage bin

Type: Container | Material: Plastic | Portability: Not-so-portable

The Container Store’s Weathertight Totes are much-beloved in the world of professional organizers, as I’ve come to learn on the home-storage beat. There are several factors in their favor: They’re stackable, see-through, and available in nine sizes, from 6.5 quarts to 156 quarts. Those three features mean you’ll actually be able to easily store the off-season or overstock items in your basement, garage, or attic — and know where everything is when you need it again. I also heard praise for these totes while working on our guide to the best storage solutions for holiday decorations. Their quality is top-tier, according to professional organizer Britnee Tanner, who explains that they are “by far one of the most durable on the market,” made from a “mega-sturdy” thick, translucent plastic. Lauren Saltman, owner of organizing company Living. Simplified., points out that their strong latches mean business. Goldson suggests neatly arranging what you have inside “like you’re playing Tetris.” But the bins are also helpful for whatever it in that purgatory stage between “keep” and “toss”: Susane Colasanti, owner of Organized Home NYC, has used the bins with clients who don’t want to get rid of their CD collections (but have relegated them to long-term storage).

Best stackable heavy-duty storage bin

Type: Container | Material: Plastic | Portability: Not so portable

For rugged storage of everything from Halloween skeletons to baby hand-me-downs, two names are synonymous: Sterilite and Rubbermaid. And these are one of Rubbermaid’s toughest. Because the edges of their lids have a much more pronounced dip than the lids and latches of the Container Store’s Weathertight Tote, Rubbermaid’s Roughnecks are a better bet if you want a bin that’s both heavy duty and securely stackable — you won’t have to worry about a tower of the totes toppling over. Jane Stoller, author of Decluttering for Dummies, suggests stacking them based on use, and placing bins with the things you need most often on top. She credits the handles for making the Roughnecks easier to lift; they also securely snap to the lid. That snug closure is part of the reason they are ubiquitous in storage units: there’s very little that can get through the bin’s plastic walls (Stoller has even seen wedding dresses preserved in these).

Best (extremely) heavy-duty storage bin

Type: Container | Material: Plastic | Portability: Not-so-portable

This Rubbermaid “Brute” bin is especially hard-wearing, thanks to its tough, commercial-grade plastic and ribbed bottom that’s meant to be dragged around. (It’s also designed to hold industrial weight loads, so you know it means business.) Lisa Zaslow of Gotham Organizers notes that “any of the big bins made by Rubbermaid are fantastic quality.” Like the Roughneck, the Brute is stackable and has a secure-fitting lid and ergonomic handles to make it a little easier to haul around. The trick is to label the outside — “You think you won’t forget what’s inside,” Zaslow says, “but you will.”

Best storage bin for holiday ornaments

Type: Box with interior dividers | Material: Plastic | Portability: Portable

Those who’d rather not risk putting their ornaments in the cardboard boxes they came in should invest in these specialty bins, which also earned a place in our guide to the best holiday-decoration storage. Lightfoot points out that the winged lid design, which resembles two puzzle pieces, is easy to open and close. Meredith Goforth, founder of House of Prim, likes that these offer “homes” for holiday items — each bin can hold up to 75 3.5-inch ornaments once you put the included cardboard dividers inside. And there are handles on each side of the bins for carrying them around.

Some more storage bins we’ve written about

Our experts

Nicole Abramovici, founder of Genius Organizing
Laura Cattano, professional organizer
Abby Clawson Low, graphic designer and art director
• Susane Colasanti, owner of Organized Home NYC
Mary Cornetta, professional organizer
• Jessica Decker, professional organizer at Become Organized
• Allison Dunn, founder of Neat Rules
Rebecca Firkser, food writer
Christina Giaquinto, organizing expert
• Meredith Goforth, founder of House of Prim
• Naeemah Ford Goldson, owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing
Ann Lightfoot, founding partner at Done & Done Home
• Jenna Milliner-Waddell, Strategist associate editor
Youngna Park, Strategist contributor
• Beth Penn, owner of Bneato Bar Professional Organizing
• Jeremy Rellosa, Strategist writer
• Barbara Reich, professional organizer at Life Organized
• Lauren Ro, Strategist writer
• Lauren Saltman, owner of organizing company Living. Simplified.
Caroline Solomon, home organizer
• Jane Stoller, founder of Organized Jane and author of Decluttering for Dummies
Britnee Tanner, professional organizer
• Jen Trolio, Strategist senior editor
• Rachel Winkler, owner of Tidyspot
• Lisa Zaslow, owner of Gotham Organizers

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best comforters, bath towels, bed sheets (twice), pillows for side sleepers, weird kneeling chair, and sleep accessories. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

The 18 Very Best Storage Bins