If you’re anything like us, treating your pet to a new leash, fun bandana, a plush toy that just screams [enter your dog’s name] or a restock of their absolute favorite treats is just another typical Tuesday occurrence. As much as you may love to spoil your pet, all of that can quickly pile up—especially if you live in a small space.
Before you either panic-toss everything in a closet or ditch things on a whim, there are some simple ways—aka no Martha Stewart-level skills required— to organize your pet’s belongings. We spoke with Marie Kondo, tidying expert and founder of KonMari by Marie Kondo, and other organizational experts, who gave us their top pet organizing tips.
1Sort Supplies by Type, Not by Location
You might be tempted to go room-by-room or start in a specific location with the biggest mess, but Kondo recommends gathering all of your pet’s supplies and sorting them by category or type.
Categories can include food, toys and accessories.
Sorting by type—not location—helps you grasp what you have, how much of it you have and whether you have multiples in various spots of the home. When you see everything laid out in front of you, it helps you make informed decisions about whether to keep or let go of items.
Gathering all your pet’s stuff in one place can also help you see the bigger picture of what you buy—and how often you buy them. So, now is also a good time to create a list of the essentials or recurring purchases, says Jen Robin, founder and CEO of Life in Jeneral.
“Keep a running list of all of your pet's supplies and update it as needed,” says Robin. “This will help you keep track of what you have and what you need to restock.”
2Decide what to keep, toss or donate—and invite your pet into the process.
Now that you’ve separated everything into categories, it’s time to decide what to keep, what to toss and what to donate. But don’t leave your fur baby out of this step!
“I encourage owners to lay all of their pet’s items out and really consider what items are truly sparking joy for your pet,” Kondo says.
With everything on the floor, have your pet interact with the items:
- “If a toy or item clearly seems to excite them, hold onto it,” says Kondo. Place the item in your “keep” pile.
- “If it is something they often avoid using, it's most likely time to thoughtfully let go or donate to a local shelter or pet donation center,” says Kondo. Place the item in either your “donate” or “toss” piles.
Not sure what to do with something? As a rule of thumb, “it’s a good idea to say goodbye to accessories that haven’t been worn or used in the past year,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of NEAT Method. If they’re in good condition, you can place these items in your “donate” pile. Anything that’s broken, worn-out or expired belongs in the “toss” pile.
3Store items where they’ll be used—or in one centralized place.
Now that you have all your “keeps,” it’s time to find proper homes for everything. You can go one of two ways with this:
1Store where the items are typically used or needed.
“The most important thing when organizing your pet’s belongings is to be thoughtful about where each category is located,” says Murphy. “A leash makes more sense hanging in the mudroom, while food should be placed near their bowls.”
2Carve out a space that acts as a one-stop shop.
Robin, for example, designates the laundry room for all her dogs’ things. (She has a Maltese-Yorkie mix and yellow Labrador, both adorably named Charlie.) “We keep a drawer for all their toys, under the sink cabinet for their food and treats and one shelf for all their grooming essentials,” she says. “I can grab their leash, food and brush all at the same time.”
No matter the size of the space you are working with, designating one area–or several specific storage areas–for your pet's supplies is, as Robin puts it, "amazing for keeping everything efficient and accessible."
4Contain the clutter with the right containers.
It’s not a secret that corralling all your pet’s things will help you keep things organized, but the kind of container matters, too.
- Baskets: Baskets and bins are great for storing your pet’s toys, as they allow for easy access and independent playtime. “Having a low, soft bin located within their space works well—whether that be in the living room or kitchen—so your pets can easily access their toys themselves,” Kondo says.
- Plastic or metal bins: Choosing bins that can be easily wiped clean are a great solution for messier items such as pet food or dog treats, Murphy says.
- Stackable bins: For tight spaces, “stackable bins can be a great way to save space and keep your pet's supplies organized,” adds Robin.
- Storage bags or jars: Storage bags or jars are a great way to store treats, kibble or medicine. Reusable, washable storage bags, like Kondo’s Stasher Bags, are fantastic for on-the-go pet organization.
- Drawer organizers: Drawer organizers are a smart way to keep small items, like grooming tools and treats, organized and easy to find.
Small Space Organizing Hacks
5Label, label and label again.
After you’ve found a home for your pet’s items, there’s one universal tip each tidying pro we spoke with agreed upon: labels!
“Labeling areas where your pet items live is an easy trick that can help you keep track of what specifically lives where such as inside drawers, bins or on shelves,” Kondo says.
While some vessels might seem obvious (a toy bin probably doesn’t need a label if you can literally see the toys in there), if they are closed boxes, bins or storage containers, you may need a reminder of what exactly you put in there and why. Not to mention, it’s a smart solution for pet sitters (or forgetful partners) who don’t necessarily know their way around your home.
“Having your bins visibly labeled creates a fool-proof system so anyone in your home can easily find and put items away,” says Murphy.
But a word to the wise, she adds:
“Don’t be too specific with your label terms. Broad category names such as ‘pet care’ and ‘pet walks’ will ensure your system lasts as your pet’s needs change.”
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