Free Your Space: Just zip it

The zip-top plastic bag is the best invention ever. There, I said it. Well, it’s at least a close second to ice cream or the Internet.

At a conference I attended for professional organizers a few years ago, this was the item most voted for when asked “What organizing tool would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island.”

Zip-top baggies (ZipLocs® are my favorite), originally used for food storage, come in a vast assortment of sizes and can serve in so many useful and paradoxically diverse ways. For instance, they can be used to keep things dry – pack a few of them on excursions to the pool, beach or on a boat trip. You can actually keep your cell phone dry and useable while still safely zipped! Conversely, they can also keep things moist – seal some wet wipes into one and they’ll stay damp and ready to use when you need them.

Zippered plastic bags, as well as maintaining a wet or dry environment, can keep like items together – or un-like items separated. Have you spent the morning separating craft or office supplies? Sorting puzzle pieces from Polly Pockets®? Paper clips from buttons and loose change? Picking out all the blue Lego® pieces from a multicolored mass of modular madness? Don’t let your time and effort go to waste by returning them to the same undefined circumstance from which they came. Simply drop your nicely sorted piles into separate bags and…zip!...they’ll stay sorted and in place until the next time you need them.

Here are a few ideas for using zip-top bags to stay organized:

For Travel:

Use gallon-sized bags for toiletries and medications. This will help keep these items sorted, contained (in case of leakage), separated from your other belongings and will make it easy for TSA to check if they open your bags.

Use Ziploc® “Big Bags” in the large size to pack shoes, keeping them from touching your clean clothing. Put one or two extra in your suitcase for dirty or wet clothing that you might need to pack on the return trip.

Going away for a while and need more room in your suitcase? ZipLoc® SpaceBags® will allow you to compress your clothing and fit more in. You might even consider leaving your clothing loose at the beginning of your trip and then using the compression feature later to make space for souvenirs.

At Home:

Grab for a ZipLoc® when you need to keep items together like broken jewelry, appliance parts, picture-hanging hardware and cords for your electronic devices.

Use the extra large sizes to store spare pillows and blankets, keeping them fresh and dust-free until they’re needed.

ZipLoc® Flexible Totes or Space Bags® are great for storage of seasonal clothing.

With Children:

Puzzle pieces – why don’t these come in a zippered bag in the first place? Well, since they don’t, grab a gallon-sized bag and write on it the name of the puzzle before dropping in the pieces.

Keep some large bags in the car or travel bag for wet or soiled clothing and shoes. If you’re sure you’ll need a change of clothes, start with the clean ones in the bag and replace them with the dirty ones later – clean stays clean until it’s needed, dirt stays away from everything else on the return trip.

In Handbags:

Keep a sandwich or snack sized bag or two to contain loose change, keep tissues clean and fresh, or to hold candy, gum or snacks. Why let cheap mints ruin the inside of your nice handbag?

Finally, for the best organization, add labels by simply writing the contents directly on the bag in permanent marker. Sure, you can look right through these bags to ‘see’ what’s inside but a label will also be a reminder that will keep you from throwing other sundry items in, thus losing the organization you’ve already spent time creating.

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and Immediate Past President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Visit her websites at and Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook and Pinterest. To contact her for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610-213-9559 or email her at

The opinions expressed were those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to:




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