Professional organizers explain how to organize a kitchen without plastic bins


Organizing your kitchen efficiently is key to making meal prep and cooking as seamless as possible. While plastic bins have become a popular option for kitchen organization thanks to their affordability and versatility, going bin-free can have its advantages. Professional organizers explain that with a bit of forethought and effort, you can organize your kitchen in a functional and aesthetic way without the use of plastic bins.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through professional tips and strategies for organizing your kitchen using only the existing cabinets, drawers, shelves, and other storage infrastructure of your kitchen. From clever ways to corral food staples and cooking tools to solutions for maximizing vertical space, professional organizers share their methods for creating a clutter-free, bin-free kitchen that works for your unique needs. Read on for an in-depth look at how to organize a kitchen without the use of plastic bins.

Utilize Cabinet Organizers and Dividers

One of the key ways professional organizers create orderly interiors without bins is through the strategic use of cabinet organizers, dividers, racks, and trays. These accessories allow you to section off cabinet space to keep items separate and easy to find. Opt for stackable, adjustable, or removable dividers and compartments to create custom storage solutions within your existing cabinets.

Shelf Organizers

Invest in shelf organizers that can slide onto existing shelves or be secured in place to create small divided compartments for food staples, pasta, spices, cans, and other kitchen items. Look for sturdy organizers made of materials like stainless steel wire or bamboo. Stackable options with adjustable shelves allow you to customize the dividers to fit your cabinet space and storage needs.

Drawer Organizers

Just like your cabinets, drawer organizers can transform the inner space of your kitchen drawers into neatly divided compartments for utensils, cooking tools, wraps, and more. Look for lightweight organizers with adjustable dividers so you can customize the layout. Removable cutlery trays also help keep utensils organized in a single drawer.

Vertical Dividers

Sliding vertical dividers are designed to stand up in cabinet spaces to create separate compartments for food items, plates, or small appliances. The slim vertical design is perfect for deeper cabinets. Look for dividers that can be secured in place or positioned wherever you need them.

Tiered Storage

Tiered cabinet organizers feature stacked trays or levels to take advantage of vertical storage space. They are a great way to neatly store and separate items like spices, canned goods, mixes, and baking supplies. Tiered racks with adjustable shelves provide maximum customization for your space.

Optimize Drawers for Kitchen Tools

One of the handiest ways professional organizers declutter kitchens is by optimizing drawers to store specific types of cooking/baking tools and utensils. This makes it easy to quickly find what you need while cooking. Consider dedicating certain drawers just for the following purposes:

Cutlery Drawer

Designate one drawer for all of your cooking/eating utensils. Use a divided cutlery organizer tray to neatly separate knives, forks, and spoons. You can also buy trays specially designed for kitchen gadgets like spatulas, whisks, peels, opener, etc.

Baking Drawer

Give baking tools and supplies their own drawer for easy access. Use sectioned off dividers, racks, or trays to keep items like measuring cups/spoons, rolling pin, pastry brush, piping tips, and mixes organized.

Cooking Utensil Drawer

Outfit a drawer just for cooking utensils like wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, ladles, potato masher, etc. Slotted racks or cutlery trays work well to keep utensils separated and prevent jumbling.

Towel/Pot Holder Drawer

Designate a drawer just for dish towels, pot holders, oven mitts, and other textile kitchen tools. Use shelf dividers or small baskets to neatly separate and contain these items.

Make Use of Cabinet Dead Space

Professional organizers know that often the most underutilized space is at the front and back of cabinets and within corners. Take advantage of this dead space with specialized storage solutions:

Lazy Susans

Install lazy susans, which are circular trays that spin for easy access to items stored all the way in the back of corner cabinets. Great for storing spices, canned goods, baking supplies, etc.

Vertical Racks

Vertical racks mount to the interior walls of cabinets to take advantage of vertical space. Perfect for tall bottles, cutting boards, baking sheets, etc.

Under Cabinet Racks

Mount racks, baskets, or bins under upper cabinets to hold items like cookbooks, trays, or small appliances that are used frequently when cooking. Get them up and out of the way but still easily accessible.

Door Storage

Use storage options that mount to the inside of cabinet doors like racks, baskets, and acrylic trays to neatly hold smaller items like spices, oils, condiments, etc. Perfect for items you use a lot while cooking.

Organize Pantry Items in an Orderly Fashion

For many professional organizers, organizing the pantry starts with taking everything out and only putting back what you regularly use and consuming foods before their expiration date. Then, consider these tips:

Categorize Food Items

Group pantry items into categories like: grains (pasta, rice, quinoa), baking essentials (flours, sugars, oils), snacks (chips, bars, nuts), etc. Store foods from the same category together for easy access.

Use Shelving Strategically

Reserve upper shelves for lightweight items or things used less often. Place heavier items and everyday essentials at eye-level for convenience.

Optimize Air Flow

Avoid overcrowding shelves to allow for proper air circulation, which can help food stay fresh longer. Also be mindful of expiration dates and rotate stock.

Label, Label, Label

Use labels to clearly mark categories of foods as well as dates of purchase/expiration to keep your pantry inventory in check.

Take Advantage of Vertical Wall Space

In addition to cabinets and shelving, don’t forget the valuable hidden storage potential of underutilized wall space. Professional organizers recommend these solutions:

Mount Spice Racks

Free up cabinet space by installing mounted wall racks to store spices, oils and other cooking essentials you use routinely when cooking.

Utilize Floating Shelves

Incorporate floating shelves above counter spaces to store appliances like the microwave and coffee maker or frequently used items like cookbooks.

Use Wall-Mounted Pot Racks

Get pots, pans, and lids off the cabinets and up on mounted racks on walls or ceilings to free up cabinet storage. Hang them above an island or cooking area for convenience.

Install Knife Strips

Free up drawer space by mounting magnetic knife strips to wall space for easy access and safety. Position near chopping areas for efficiency.

Mount Utensil Rails

Utensil rails that mount to walls or inside cabinet doors allow you to neatly store cooking/eating utensils vertically for quick access when cooking and easy organization.

Repurpose Household Items for Storage

With a little creativity, you can upcycle common household items into customized storage solutions for your kitchen. Professional organizers love these repurposed storage ideas:

Use Canning Jars

Wash out glass canning jars and use them to store dry bulk foods like beans, rice, pasta, or baking ingredients like flours and sugars.

Repurpose Baskets

Use vintage baskets or colorful crates for an aesthetic way to corral fruits, vegetables, or baked goods. Hang them from ceilings for vertical storage.

Display Dishware

Repurpose open shelves, hutches, or wall-mounted racks intended for displaying dishware to also store your everyday dishes and glassware.

Opt for Multi-use Furnishings

Look for furniture like kitchen carts with storage drawers and cabinets that can pull double duty as both storage solutions and extra counter/prep space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of organizing my kitchen without plastic bins?

Some benefits include: better use of existing cabinet and drawer space, more aesthetically pleasing look, reduced plastic usage, and encouraging the use of what you already have on hand.

What basic items do I need to get started?

Helpful basic supplies include: adjustable shelves, drawer organizers, vertical dividers, tiered racks, cutlery trays, lazy susans, and mounted racks.

Should I organize by food category or storage type?

Organize first by category (produce, snacks, baking, etc.) and then use storage accessories to divide items within those categories for easy access.

How do I maximize vertical storage space?

Use wall-mounted racks, extra shelving, multi-tiered racks, hanging baskets, and items stored on top of cabinets or the fridge.

What are the best storage solutions for small kitchens?

For small kitchens, focus on dual-purpose furnishings, installing storage on walls/doors, using vertical space, and editing down to essentials used most.


As professional organizers can attest, with some planning and creative storage solutions, you can organize your kitchen in an efficient and eye-pleasing way without relying on plastic bins. By taking advantage of your existing cabinet and drawer space, making use of vertical areas, repurposing common items, and investing in some key accessories like adjustable shelves and drawer organizers, you can customize your storage to suit your needs. Remember to store like items together, label items clearly, use vertical space wisely, and optimize organization based on convenience and frequency of use. With an organized, bin-free kitchen, you can cook and prep with ease and find any item you need in a snap.

Professional organizers explain how to organize a kitchen without plastic bins

Here is a detailed 5000+ word article explaining how to organize a kitchen without using plastic bins, written in an optimistic and authoritative tone aimed at providing helpful information to readers.

Introduction to Organizing Your Kitchen Without Plastic Bins

These days, plastic bins are commonly used to organize kitchen items like food, dishes, utensils, and more. However, it is entirely possible to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free without relying on plastic bins at all. Professional organizers have plenty of clever tips and innovative techniques to help maximize your existing kitchen storage in an aesthetic way.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through pro strategies for organizing every corner of your kitchen – from cabinets and drawers to countertops and vertical space on walls – without the use of any plastic bins. You will learn creative ways to take advantage of the storage infrastructure already built into your kitchen through things like cabinets, shelves, and drawers. We will also cover how utilizing organizational accessories like dividers, racks, and trays can help you optimize and divide storage right where it already exists.

Read on for an in-depth look at how to organize your kitchen like a pro and do away with plastic bins for good!

Section Your Cabinets with Dividers and Organizers

One of the keys to organizing your cabinets without bins is taking full advantage of the existing shelf space with dividers and organizational accessories that section off areas into smaller compartments. Here are some of the top solutions professional organizers turn to:

Cabinet Shelf Organizers

Slide sturdy wire, bamboo or acrylic shelf organizers onto existing shelves in your cabinets to create neatly divided compartments for food items, plates, canned goods and more. Look for stackable options with adjustable shelves so you can customize the divider layout to your storage needs.

Vertical Dividers

Thin vertical dividers stand up in cabinets to create unique compartments, perfect for organizing deeper cabinets. Securable dividers can be moved and positioned wherever you need them.

Drawer Organizers

Like cabinets, drawer organizers can transform the inner space of your drawers with adjustable compartments, racks and removable cutlery trays to neatly organize cooking tools, utensils, towels and anything else you store in your kitchen drawers.

Tiered Storage Racks

Multi-level racks with stackable trays or adjustable shelves are great for vertical storage real estate in cabinets. Useful for neatly separating spices, baking ingredients, canned goods and other food staples.

Lazy Susans

Install lazy susans – the circular spinning trays – in corner cabinets to help you access items in the back without digging around. Great for corner pantries and spice storage.

Designate Drawers for Specific Items

To make your most-used kitchen tools instantly accessible, professional organizers recommend dedicating certain drawers just for storing particular types of cooking and eating essentials. Consider these drawer designations:

  • Cutlery Drawer: Reserve a drawer just for cooking/eating utensils separated into divided sections.
  • Baking Drawer: Store all baking tools and supplies like pans, mixers, flour, etc. in one handy spot.
  • Cooking Utensil Drawer: Keep all your go-to cooking tools like wooden spoons, tongs, spatulas, etc. together in one drawer.
  • Dish Towel Drawer: Give kitchen towels, potholders, oven mitts their own divided drawer.
  • Plastic Container Drawer: Store a collection of reusable plastic food storage containers of all sizes.

Maximize Unused Cabinet Space

In many kitchens, the corners, depth and vertical space of cabinets often ends up wasted. Make use of this prime real estate with specialized storage solutions:

  • Under Cabinet Racks: Mount metal racks or baskets underneath upper cabinets to hold items you use while cooking like oils, cookbooks, etc.
  • Inside Cabinet Door Storage: Outfit the inside of cabinet doors with racks, magnetic strips and acrylic trays to hold spices, condiments and other oft-used items.
  • Vertical Racks: Tall, mounted racks on the inside walls of cabinets are perfect for safely storing baking sheets, cutting boards, sheet pans and other bulky items vertically.
  • Cabinet Top Organizers: Use the top of wall and base cabinets for oversized items like large bowls, serving platters, stand mixers, etc.

Strategically Organize the Pantry

When it comes to pantries, professional organizers advise taking everything off the shelves to do an overhaul. Then implement these tips:

  • Group like foods together on shelves – grains, snacks, baking goods, etc.
  • Use upper shelves for lightweight items used less often.
  • Store heavier items and everyday essentials at eye-level for convenience.
  • Allow space between items for proper air flow to keep food fresh longer.
  • Use labels to mark categories and dates for a clear pantry inventory.
  • Store bulk dry goods in repurposed glass jars.
  • Hang a mounted rack on the inside of the pantry door to hold small jars, spices and oils.

Utilize Vertical Wall Space

In addition to traditional cabinets and shelves, don’t underestimate the value of vertical wall space when organizing your kitchen. Maximize walls with these pro organizer ideas:

  • Mounted spice racks
  • Floating shelves above counters for small appliances
  • Wall-mounted pot racks and utensil racks
  • Knife strip mounted to the wall
  • Rail systems for hanging cooking tools
  • Custom shelving units sized to fit odd wall areas

Repurpose Household Items for Storage

One of the keys to going bin-free is creatively repurposing things you already have on hand for kitchen storage and organization. Professional organizers love these repurposed storage solutions:

  • Vintage crates or baskets under cabinets to hold bulk foods.
  • Hanging a shower caddy inside a cabinet to corral oils, spices, etc.
  • Reusing glass jars for dried goods like beans, pasta, rice, etc.
  • Turning bookshelves or hutches into open shelving for dishes and glassware.
  • Using over-the-door racks on the pantry door to hold small supplies.
  • Repurposing dresser drawers as vertical drawer organizers.

Additional Professional Organizer Tips and Tricks

Here are some extra pro pointers for organizing your kitchen without the use of plastic bins:

  • Invest in stackable containers in different sizes to hold leftovers and bulk foods.
  • Label the front of shelves/drawers so everyone knows where to return items.
  • Store everyday dishware on open shelves near the dishwasher for easy unloading.
  • Use hanging wall racks or mounted shelves to display pretty cookware.
  • Sort food storage containers by size and store them together.
  • Hang utensils right on the walls/splashback near your prep area.
  • Use magnetic strips to hold knives and frequently used tools within reach.

Key Takeaways for Organizing Without Bins

To recap, here are the key strategies professional organizers recommend for organizing your kitchen without using any plastic bins:

  • Take full advantage of existing cabinets and drawers with dividers and organizers.
  • Designate drawers and shelves for specific types of items.
  • Optimize unused cabinet space with racks, shelves and door storage.
  • Strategically organize the pantry for efficiency.
  • Incorporate vertical wall space with mounted racks and floating shelves.
  • Repurpose household items like jars, baskets and dressers for storage.
  • Invest in stackable containers and labeling system.
  • Focus on convenience and frequent use when deciding storage locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main benefits of organizing my kitchen without bins?

Some top benefits are reducing plastic usage, fully utilizing the existing kitchen storage infrastructure, creating an aesthetic look, and encouraging the use of what you already have on hand.

What are some good basic supplies to get started?

Helpful starter supplies include drawer organizers, adjustable shelves, over-the-door storage, vertical dividers, tiered storage racks, turntables or lazy susans, and wall mounted racks.

How should I decide what items should go where?

Organize by frequency of use and convenience first. Daily-use items should go in prime spots at eye-level while lesser used items can go in higher cabinets or pantries. Related cooking items should be stored together when possible.