If you feel like toys and games are overrunning and cluttering up your house, this is the ultimate guide to toy organization you’ve been looking for! These are the best positive parenting tips for purging toys, toy storage and details for organizing everything from board games to coloring books. Plus, lots of ideas for getting kids to pitch in with clean-up time.
This article originally published July 16th, 2020 and has been updated and republished with a new date.
Toy Organization Ideas That Work
My family of six recently moved from a 1000 square foot home into a house that’s 3 times as big. And yes, while I have more storage options in the new place, cluttered bed rooms and toys are still a struggle!
In my small house, I had an organization system that kept toys from cluttering up the entire house. I know what it’s like to organize small spaces and have carried over those best toy storage ideas into my new space.
The two littlest in my family share a bedroom so I’ve gotten creative with my toy organization ideas. We keep their room a fun place to play, while also making it easy to clean up!
What Organization System Will Work Best?
It’s important to keep things in perspective when coming up with toy organization. What might work in my house, may not work at your house. Space constraints as well as the actual toys you own will determine what kind of toy organization is required.
Also, the best toy organization ideas won’t work if you don’t use them! It’s ideal if everyone is on board with control on the number of toys and the actual clean up tasks.
I’ve included practical tips that will fit a broad range of families, including minimalists, apartment dwellers and families with a separate playroom dedicated to toys. I also share ideas on getting kids to pitch in with toy organization – and why it’s important to make tidying up part of your daily routine!
Purging the Toy Collections
Don’t want to spend all the time tidying up toys and reorganizing? Then it might be time to downsize the toy collection! Once you’ve made piles and can see all of the toys in one place you’re ready to purge what you don’t want or need anymore.
Involve Children in the Clean Out – Kids can have very strong attachments to their toys and other things. Some children will be very sentimental about getting rid of items and should be involved in the process of decluttering their toys. If your kid doesn’t mind either way, feel free to clean out toys in their absence.
Get Rid of the Toy Box
The cavernous toy box is nothing more than a glorified junk drawer. Each of the items jumbled together into a single toy box should be siphoned into smaller boxes. Once every toy has a place, it will be a breeze to clean up and find what you’re looking for.
- Dump everything out of the toy box into a big pile in the center of the room (yes, really!).
- Have a trash can available to dump garbage, broken toys or anything weird and random you don’t want/need.
- Sort items into separate piles by organizing into like groups (we’ll discuss this more later in the article).
This step of seeing ALL THE TOYS in one place is actually really important in the clean up, purge and organization process. Don’t skip over this step!
Selling and Donating Toys
If toys are in good condition and you have all the parts, you could try to sell them online. Otherwise donating or offering to family and friends is a good way to pay it forward.
- Once you have all the toys gathered up that you’re getting rid of, bag each grouping into gallon-sized zip closed bags.
- Move the toys to a place somewhere your kids won’t get them back out!
- Immediately schedule a donation pick up, drive it to the Goodwill or arrange to have a friend take the toys for her kids.
Toy Organization and Storage Ideas
Once you’ve made the decisions on what you want to keep, it’s time to assess your need for storage options. Toy storage is especially important when creating organizing solutions for small spaces. These are the questions to consider when planning out which toy organizer works best for your needs:
- Where will you be putting the toys?
- Is easy access to toys important? Will toys be stored on a shelf or under the bed?
- Do you have the room space for a large shelving unit that will hold everything in one place?
- Are the storage bins appropriately sized to the location? Measure the spaces you’ll be putting the storage so you can purchase the correct sized storage units.
- Does the closet have usable space for toy storage?
- Are there other areas in the home that could use storage for toys (ie: living room where your child plays).
- What is the room’s aesthetic? Will the storage be seen and do you want it to be part of the room’s décor?
- Will the chosen storage option hold up well in a kid’s room? Items like baskets or fabric bins might look cute in a nursery. But over time, they aren’t going to be sturdy for toys as a hard plastic bin would be.
For example, these Paperboard Suitcase Storage Boxes are precious but probably not appropriate for daily use. Consider items like this as decorative for toy storage that is kept up and away on a shelf.
Choosing the Right Type of Toy Storage for Your Needs
Before you run out to the Container Store and buy every storage container you can get your hands on, you’ll need to assess your needs. Some toys are too bulky or large, even for oversized containers. Smaller toys may fit into bins, but how should they be sorted? More on that in another section, keep reading!
Evaluate a Variety of Storage Locations
If your child’s bedroom or play room has room to hold lots of toys, then this is probably the most logical space for storage. But if the room is too tight to hold much stuff, consider expanding your search into other locations in the home.
Take a hard look at areas of the home that could potentially store toys. Consider the hall closet, linen closet, living room, garage, and shed. Think about higher shelves that are generally unused. These are all possible locations if you have the space for storage when using a toy rotation system.
Determine Storage Logistics
Draw up a simple plan of the space in which you’ll be storing the bulk of the toys. Take measurements to determine the size.
Decide Which Toys Stay on the Floor
In a perfect world, toys would be off the ground and put away. But larger toys generally can’t be shelved. Larger play items like baby doll strollers, doll houses, water tables, and race car tracks have to take up residence on the floor. That includes this gigantic ride-on horse (thanks Grandma!).
True confession: When we lived in a smaller home, we banned big toys like this because we just didn’t have the space to store them! If you have toys that can’t be put away, consider creating a dedicated location where they are returned each day.
Best Furniture Storage Options for Kids
If you have a home without built-in storage you’ll need to look at furniture pieces that fill the void. There are a variety of storage options in the way of actual furniture pieces. From shelving to organizing units, furniture makes storing kid’s toys easier. Note that large furniture needs to be secured to the wall to prevent toppling.
Wire Shelving Unit – For items that don’t require a bin, open storage shelving like this wire shelving unit is the great option for toys.
Placing a wire shelving unit inside a kid’s closet is one of the easiest ways to create toy storage. Make use of the extra space under hanging clothing as a place for keeping toys organized. My family has these shelving units under the kid’s clothes for stacking toy bins and for open storage.
B. spaces by Battat Tidy Toy Organizer – The playroom classic, the open plastic bins can be removed for play then conveniently put back into place for fast clean up.
UTEX Kids’ Toy Storage Organizer – Kid-friendly open bins make it easy to drop toys in when play is done. Not the best option if you want items out of sight, but it’s a handsome piece of furniture with versatile use.
MAGDESIGNER Kids’ Toys Storage Baskets on Wheels – A good choice for toys that don’t require individual bins. This unit can be rolled into a closet for storage.
KidKraft Little Dreamer Reading Nook – This combination book shelf and reading nook is a great use for small spaces! Bonus is the cute aesthetic that’s perfect for kid’s bedrooms.
Organize Toys Into “Like” Groups
In order to stay organized, you’ll want kids to avoid tossing all of the toys into random boxes and bins. Giving each toy a proper home allows kids to clean up and organize properly on a daily basis.
Organizing toys into “like group” also helps prevent kids from dumping entire boxes out in the search for that ONE thing they’re looking for! Here’s how to start:
Sorting toys into “like” groups – If you have bins or boxes already you can use them for this sorting process, otherwise piles in the room work just as well.
Assess each toy – Pick through every single toy individually. Sort the toys into like groups (ie: train track pieces in one pile, building blocks in another). Once you can see the toys together in their groups, you’ll be able to assess the size of storage unit needed for each grouping.
Sorting toys into subgroups – Items that have subgroups may require extra bins to keep pieces additionally separated.
For instance you won’t want to store ALL the LEGO bricks in one box for fear of your kid dumping the entire load to find they one piece they need! Considering bagging LEGO sets separately with their individual instructions for easier access.
Create subdivisions – Some groupings may be too heavy or bulky to keep all in a single box, requiring subdivision. For example, my daughter’s Barbie dolls require separate bins – one for dolls, another for clothing and accessories. Keep reading for additional tips and suggestions on divvying up similar items.
Kid-Friendly Storage Bins for Toy Organization
When choosing storage bins for children’s toys, there are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want open topped storage or stackable bins with lids? Storage bins with lids are often ideal for toy storage. Items won’t fall out, be overfilled and units can be stacked.
- Are clear bins best, so kids can see what is inside at a glance? Or is concealing the contents more ideal (like in communal spaces)?
- Is the bin material sturdy enough to withstand daily use?
- Will your child be able to access and open each storage box themselves or will they need help? Some lids have plastic flip sides that are easy for preschoolers to open, while others have closures that require assistance.
Rather than just being pigeonholed into “toy storage options”, check out other organization sections. Storage bins that are in the kitchen or office section can work just as well as those sold specifically for kid’s toys.
These are a few of the optimal storage bins to look for when starting toy organization –
Snap Top Plastic Stackable Bins – Quart-sized clear bins are small enough for young kids to lift and put away. Nicely sized for tiny toys and for subgrouping similar items.
OrganiHaus Rope Rainbow Storage Baskets – Slide these open top rope baskets onto a shelf or leave on the floor for storage of bulky items, like plush dolls or books.
IRIS USA Plastic Under Bed Storage Bins – Make good use of under-the-bed space by storing toys. These bins have buckle lids that are easy for small hands to open and close.
Stero Fabric Storage Bins with Handles – Fabric bins that fit into cube storage shelves are a great solution for lightweight items, like dress-up clothes and plush toys.
mDesign Open Top Plastic Bins – These sturdy plastic bins are clear to see contents, with a dip front to easily pull out from shelves. Great storage space for babies and toddlers to access their own toys.
Sorbus Unfinished Wood Crates – Wooden crates are an easy organization solution for storage of heavier items, like blocks and books.
How to Label Toy Bins for Easier Clean Up
Clean up at the end of the day is quicker when kids can grab the appropriately labeled box and sort the toys back inside. Getting them to do it is another matter that I’ll address further on in this article!
For kids that can read, label toy boxes so they’ll know what goes inside. I personally use a Brother P-Touch Label Maker, which prints out labels in seconds.
For younger kids who aren’t yet reading, make clean up more organized by labeling each box with a picture of the items that should go inside. These Simple Labels for Toy Organization are perfect!
Outside the Box Toy Organization Ideas
Other than the usual plastic storage bins, what other ways are there to organize random toys? These are some unique storage suggestions.
Try a combination of wall hooks to store toys. These Tibres Metal Wall Hooks are strong enough to hold a fabric bag filled with toys.
Looking for a less permanent solution? No need to put holes in the wall with Command Wire Hooks. They are quick to remove but stay up well, even with heavier items.
Bean Bag Chair with Hidden Storage
Too many plush animals and stuffed toys? Consider this Stuffed Animal Bean Bag Chair option that’s practical and functional! I’m am soooo ordering this for my daughter’s plush lovies!
Clear Plastic Bags
For a cheap and easy solution, look no further than your kitchen. Zip-close plastic bags are ideal for holding loose items together, like Barbie doll shoes.
Clear plastic zippered travel bags can be so helpful when organizing small toys and other kid’s items. Use these sturdy plastic bags for holding playing cards. Rubber band each set of game cards together first, then put them together in a bag.
I personally use these travel bags to subdivide LEGO kits with their instructions, then store all the bags together in a single plastic bin.
Need a few more uses for these zippered plastic bags? They are great to grab when taking toys on-the-go or for storage in the car. Occupy little ones while running errands – keep one of these bags with a few toys inside your purse!
An inexpensive plastic shoe organizer is one of the easiest ways to store toys out of the way. Hang on a hook behind the bedroom door for storage of action figures and toy cars.
Toy Storage Bags
For kids who like to tidy up in a jiffy, I love these quick close Play & Go Drawstring Play Mat Storage Bags. Kids can open up the bag wide, play with the toys and then tug the cord to tighten the bag, creating a cinch-sack that holds everything inside!
Another budget-friendly toy organization idea, these handled Plastic Tote Bags can store toys while sitting on a shelf or hung on a hook.
What to Do With Kid’s Knick-Knacks
I’m not a big fan of decorative clutter because, more things to dust! But for kids who have special collections, it’s important to find a way of displaying them. Or at the least, a way to keep them together.
- Have a single shelf for prized possessions. Keep the shelf from getting overcrowded by implementing an in & out rule (for each new thing added, one thing has to go).
- Use a shadow box to keep breakable or delicate collections up and away.
- A cork board with push pins is a good way to display items like prize ribbons, paper awards, photographs and collectors pins.
- Make a special memento box for storage of smaller items like travel maps, ticket stubs and commemorative buttons.
What to Do With Lost and Loose Toy Pieces
Throughout the week, I’m constantly coming across “lost” toy pieces like LEGO bricks, doll shoes, board game items and puzzle pieces.
Keep a small box in the kid’s room as a “catch all” for these items. Toss these loose items into the box as you find them. At the end of the week, have your kids help you match up these toys and put them back where they belong.
Making Toy Organization Part of the Room Design
When choosing kid’s toy organization tools don’t feel like you have to only choose “kid styles” that are so prevalent. You know, those bright plastic rainbow colored bins or cartoon themed furniture pieces? If wood and black metal fits the room’s aesthetic, then definitely go that route instead.
Look for versatile and timeless solutions – Toy organization should blend with the room’s theming so you should not feel trapped with only purchasing kid-specific items. Products outside of the kid’s department may also be higher quality.
Incorporate toy storage into other parts of the home – If toys are creeping into your family room living space, consider a permanent solution. If space is minimum inside your kid’s bedroom or your child plays in other areas of the house, think of other locations you might be able to store toys.
Recycle for a new use – Once these storage solutions have outgrown their use for toys, you’ll be able to put the items to work in other areas of your home. For a uniquely creative touch that works throughout the house, look for handcrafted storage options on Etsy, like these Wall Hanging Baskets.
How to Organize Kids Books
I used to work at a book store so my kids have a LOT of books! Paperbacks were mingling with picture books and chapter books, and nothing was sitting nicely on the shelf together. These are some of the ways I organized my kid’s books –
Keep Favorite Books Close – My kids and I read together nightly, so I keep the most-often read favorite books up front and center where the kids can easily grab them. Other books are sorted and separate on the shelves for best organization.
A Place for Paperbacks – I found these inexpensive plastic Book & Magazine Organizers and they are perfect for holding paperbacks. I use them on the shelf next to the taller books as a sort-of “book end”.
Organize Coloring Books – Weed through coloring books, recycling anything that was completely colored in. Coloring books are too floppy to stand up on shelves like a regular book, so place all the coloring books into a large bin. Then, sort crayons, markers and colored pencils into individual cases to make art time easy for clean up!
No Shelves? No Problem – If shelf space for book storage is limited, consider a Wooden Book Trough like this one found on Etsy. Kids can grab the books at their level and easily drop them back in for quick organizing.
Board Games and Puzzles
Just like any of the rest of the toys in the house, take an assessment of games and puzzles. Get rid of anything that doesn’t get played with.
My family personally keeps board games, cards and puzzles in a hall closet, away from other toys. If you have a general area in the home, usually shelves to store games, this is ideal for game and toy storage.
- Consider keeping games with lots of parts (especially if they are small choking hazard pieces) high and out of reach of younger children. This also eliminates preschoolers from helping themselves to the games and mixing up the pieces!
- Put together puzzles and play board games, then take note of any missing pieces. Tape a note inside the box so you know next time you play what’s missing.
- Use sturdy packing tape to repair torn boxes or to strengthen corners. If the box is beyond repair, remove all the pieces to an appropriate sized storage box with a label.
- Use snack sized zip close bags to contain parts and pieces within each game box. Rubber band cards together in a stack.
Toy Organization Ideas for Babies and Toddlers
The toy organization and storage that you’d use for older kids might not always be best for babies or toddlers. Little kids need to be able to access their own playthings, which means toys should be stored at their level in containers they can open themselves.
Use Open Storage – Young children generally don’t have toys with multiple parts. Low bins, baskets and wooden crates are most practical for baby and toddler toy storage. There’s also no struggle to open and close lids for young kids when using open storage.
Low Baskets – Large low baskets are perfect for storing plush toys, pillows and blankets or musical instruments.
This Crocheted Rope Basket is sturdier and able to hold heavier items like wooden blocks. Look for large sturdy organizers that are great for tossing in loose baby toys like mirrors and rattles.
Fabric Storage Bins – Cloth and fabric storage bins can become quickly misshaped when overloaded with items that are too heavy. Lightweight toys and dress up clothes are perfect to keep inside cube storage boxes.
Toy Hammock – Does your toddler like to dump all their stuffies onto the floor? This corner hammock holds lightweight toys like plush animals.
Check Baby’s Toy Storage – Check baskets occasionally for broken wicker, rattan, cracked plastic, or wood pieces that may scratch or pinch skin.
Don’t Forget the Bath Toys
Moving into the bath room, it’s easy to forget the clutter of bath toys in the tub! My family has always kept the tub toys to a minimum, keeping only what can fit in a small box with ample drainage. Here’s how to organize toys in the bathroom.
- Immediately toss out anything that might have gotten water logged – mold can grow inside!
- Get rid of toys that are unused or create too much clutter.
- Contain bath toys into a single bag or bin. Make sure the bin is water resistant and has proper drainage holes. Have kids clean up toys into the bin after each bath time.
- This Mesh Bath Toy Storage Bag hangs by wall suctions near the tub and keeps bath toys organized in a single space.
Rotate the Available Toys to Keep Them More Organized
I find that my kids tend to gravitate towards their favorite toys day after day. Having those items close at hand is important. It’s also a good idea to make those daily use toys easy to clean up with appropriate storage options.
What about the toys that don’t get played with everyday? If it’s been several months since a toy was played with, consider donating. Or try putting them into a toy rotation.
Here’s how a toy rotation system works: Put the toy bin out of sight for a month and then rotate it out with another bin. Do the kids play with it now? Keep it out for a while until interest wanes and you rotate toys again. If they still don’t show any interest, consider getting rid of it.
Toy Organization Tips – What to Do on a Daily Basis
Clean Up Play Areas Several Times a Day – Throughout the day I let my kids play with their toys and they pull out lots of stuff! Twice a day, I have them stop and clean up – before lunchtime and before bed. Requesting the toys be tidied in the afternoon and again in the evening makes clean up fast.
End of the Night Tidy – Just before bedtime, my kids and I do a quick tidy of anything that’s not yet put away. Usually this means we’re tossing stuffed plush toys into a basket, scooping up building blocks back into their storage box and neatly shelving the books back into place.
Doing the nightly tidy is part of the bedtime routine, just like pajamas and teeth brushing. Everyone cooperates from the toddler to the teen in cleaning up the house, including their own toys and playthings. If you make it a daily event, eventually your children will handle the clean up automatically.
READ MORE about daily household Decluttering Tips for a Clean House.
What to Do Monthly for Better Toy Organization
Each month, I take the time to quickly organize each toy bin. It doesn’t take me more than 30 minutes and the result is an ultra-organized space! Add this organizing task to your calendar and repeat monthly!
- Dump out the contents of each toy bin, one at a time.
- Sift through and replace back into the box only what belongs.
- If you found an out-of-place item, set it aside until you get to the bin that the item belongs in.
- Do this for every labeled toy bin, replacing items back to their proper home.
- Along the way you’re sure to find broken toys and trash you can get rid of. Have a trash can nearby.
Create a Culture of Responsibility
Should kids learn to pick up their own toys? Absolutely! I have tips on how we get our kids to do housework and cleaning up toys is one of their personal tasks.
Do I step in to organize things? Yes, I still do because I like to weed things out and keep shelves looking tidy. How to include children in toy organization? – These are my best tips:
Make Cleaning Up Routine – Create a routine that includes clean up every single day. Start when kids are very little by singing a “Clean Up” song while putting toys away. Include toy organization as one of the items on the printable behavior charts for kids.
Minimize Messes During Play Time – Implement a rule that only one or two toy bins should be out at a single time. If your child has trouble with this, try placing bins in a high, out of reach location. They need to ask you for certain items and you can dole them out as you wish.
Try a Time Out – Put toys into “time out” for a designated amount of time when they aren’t cleaned up by the end of the day.