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BestReviews cleaning expert shares how to make space in the toy box for new gifts

Expertly reviewed by Ketia Daniel

The kids are back in school and the holiday decorations have been put away, but where did all those new toys end up? If the kids rooms are overflowing, tackling the clutter with them will not only make your home look and feel nicer, it can set your child up for success by teaching them responsibility and living skills.

So we asked BestReviews cleaning expert Ketia Daniel, founder of BHM Cleaning Co., how families, including children, can declutter and reorganize toys.

In this article: Better Homes and Gardens 8-Cube Organizer, Melissa & Doug White Wooden Toy Chest and Costzon Kids Bookshelf.

Toy clutter solutions

"I always say that if I purchase my daughter a toy, we have to choose one thing to donate," said Daniel. "I named this the 'one thing in, one thing out' rule."

This policy can help keep clutter manageable in the future. If it has already reached critical levels, Daniel recommends having your children select the toys they play with most and setting them in a safe "no-touch" zone.  From there, help them as they sort through the remaining toys to donate or reorganize.

Daniel said that during cleaning sessions, kids often insist that they play with all their toys and don’t want to set any of them aside. If that's the case, she said, sort the toys you see them using most into the "no-touch" zone while they're not in the room, then let them sort through the remainder.

Once the rest of the toys have seen set aside for donating or designated as keepers, the reorganization can begin. Using storage cube organizers or toy boxes, keep similar items, such as stuffed animals, board games or action figures, grouped together.

Tips to help kids clean their rooms

Daniel is a proponent of a chore chart for helping kids learn to help out around the house and keep clutter to a minimum. "Great cleaning habits start with practice and repetition," she said. 

She suggested working up to a chore chart by first assigning at least one task each day, such as placing their dishes in the sink after dinner, storing shoes and backpacks in designated areas, or making their bed in the morning.

"Once you get them in a routine, start a chart and give the kids one thing to do each day," said Daniel. The chore chart can include bigger responsibilities, such as washing dishes or cleaning their bathrooms. You can even include the kids in creating the chore chart by making it a DIY project. Chalkboards, magnetic dry-erase boards, dice or labeled popsicle sticks can all make chore time more interactive, fun and motivating.

Best toy storage solutions

Room Essentials 11-Inch Fabric Cube Storage Bin

For Daniel, storage cube bins are an organizing essential. "Keeping a general area for items makes it super easy for kids to pick up and clean after play," she said. These lightweight, affordable cubes come in 20 colors and are built with easy-to grasp grommet handles.

Sold by Target

ClosetMaid Fabric Cube Storage Bin

Available in nine colors, these collapsible fabric cubes fit into 11-inch openings for easy organization. They're made with sturdy, wipe-clean polypropylene, and they feature a front handle so kids can access their contents easily.

Sold by Home Depot

Better Homes and Gardens 8-Cube Organizer

This cube storage unit can be used horizontally or vertically, and can be mounted to the wall for additional security. Its shelves can fit storage cubes up to 13 inches square.

Sold by Amazon

Bush Furniture Salinas 6-Cube Organizer

This sturdy bookcase can hold storage organizers or books in its six cubbies. It comes in five finishes and features vintage design details that give it character.

Sold by Amazon

Cambridge Toy Storage Organizer with 9 Storage Bins

"Toy storage bins are another must for me," said Daniel. "Just like the cube organizers, it provides a general area for the kids to place their toys after play." This storage unit comes with nine bins, which sit at an angle to help kids easily reach and put away their belongings.

Sold by Target

Melissa & Doug White Wooden Toy Chest

This classic white toy chest fits in with almost any decor. Its safety-hinged lid opens and closes easily and gently. It offers 4.5 cubic feet of storage space.

Sold by Amazon, Wayfair and Target

KidKraft Limited-Edition Wooden Toy Box and Bench

Sturdy and traditional, this wooden toy box looks beautiful and holds lots of toys. It also function as a bench. Cutout handles on the sides make it easier to move.

Sold by Amazon

Costzon Kids Bookshelf

"Books can take up a lot of space and often make a room feel cluttered," said Daniel. "Having a generic place for them to go makes it easy for the kids to keep up with their books." This storage unit has three display shelves for books plus two cube shelves sized to fit storage bins up to 11 inches tall. It's sturdy, yet easy to assemble.

Sold by Amazon

Seirione Kids Bookshelf

Display up to 50 books in these sturdy cotton sling display shelves. Two bins at the shelf's base provide additional storage for toys. It has a one-year warranty.

Sold by Amazon

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Responsibility Chart

This two-part chart from a trusted brand includes 90 magnets to help track chores as well as good behavior, such as hand-washing and saying sorry. You can arrange magnets on the top board to set goals with your child.

Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out


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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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