How to Organize Kids' Toys

Shelves of toys.
Keeping a child's room clean is easier with a good organizational system in place. See more pictures of toys.
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When it comes to keeping your house clean on a daily basis, the most important thing is to make sure everything is organized -- if everything has its place, there's an easy way to get it back there and have a room picked up in no time. But every house has those few areas that never seem to stay clean, and kids' bedrooms and playrooms are often high on that list. With so many stuffed animals, art supplies, games and building blocks, it can be difficult to keep everything put away. Figuring out the best way to organize your kids' toys can be the first step in minimizing clutter.

Chances are your kids have more toys than you know what to do with. Some they've outgrown and rarely play with and others are well-loved favorites that they -- or you -- can't bear to part with. If you're completely redoing your kids' playroom, you'll need to take stock of what you have and what you can throw out so you can find the best storage containers for the remaining toys [source: Today]. Storage containers should be durable, practical and easy for kids to use since you won't always be the one picking up [source: Good Housekeeping].


Once you have your system in place, it'll be much easier to maintain. You can break down your cleaning and organizing into different steps -- daily steps to pick up, weekly steps to deep clean and annual steps to weed out old toys. If you keep up with organizing -- and teach your kids to as well -- your playroom clutter will be manageable and you can worry about what's really important: having fun with your kids.

The first thing you'll need to do when organizing a playroom is to take stock of what you already have. Read on for tips on how to take that first step.


Taking Inventory of Kids' Toys

With holidays, birthdays and other special occasions, kids receive so many new toys a year that it can be overwhelming to know where and how to store them. This is why the first step to organizing your kids' playroom should be to take a good look at what you have. It may be time to weed out some of those toys -- the less clutter you have to deal with, the easier it will be to start organizing.

To begin, take inventory of the toys and games your children have. Look for duplicates, broken toys, toys with missing pieces and toys your kids rarely play with. This may seem like a daunting task at first, but having a good idea of what's in your playroom will make the next organizational steps much easier.


Once you have a solid list to work with, begin dividing toys into categories: toys to keep, broken toys to throw away and gently used toys to donate. Don't hesitate to get your kids involved in this process and let them choose what they would like to keep or give away. Set ground rules and then let your kids decide. You may be surprised how excited they are to donate old toys to less-fortunate children [source: Rosemond].

Now that you have an idea of what's in your playroom, you can take the necessary steps to reduce clutter. You can now look at what you have to work with and start sorting your toys into easy-to-organize groups.


Sorting Kids' Toys

Now that you know what's in the playroom, it's time to start organizing. The best way to begin this process is to sort toys into easy-to-manage groups -- this will provide the basis for your playroom's organizational system. Once this framework is in place, it's easy for most children to follow it.

Begin by sorting toys by genre. Keep your children's dress-up clothes and accessories together, and sort all crayons, craft supplies and drawing paper into another group. You can't have too many groups: Just base your system on your children's toy needs. Once everything is sorted, you can come up with "play zones" in the room. For example, you might set up a craft table and keep the art supplies close to it. Costumes and accessories can go in their own trunk next to a mirror. Blocks and other building toys can all go together in an area with enough empty floor space to build. Children can move toys around during playtime, but it's always clear where things go when it's time to put them away. [source: Parenting].


You can also sort toys into groups by how often they're used. If there are certain toys your kids play with every day, be sure those are stored in easy-to-reach areas. That way, your kids won't have to tear apart the playroom to find their favorite toys [source: Gaulin].

Once you have everything sorted, you'll probably find more than a few things you want to throw out. Read on for tips on how to decide what to keep.


Which Toys Should I Keep?

Even the most organized playroom will become cluttered if it contains too many toys. It's a good idea to weed out the toys your children don't play with while you're organizing the playroom, and to purge the playroom periodically afterward. You probably have a good idea of what should stay and what should go, but it's a good idea to get the kids involved when it's time to purge. You may be surprised to learn which toys your children would hate to part with -- or the ones they're eager to give away.

If a toy is broken or missing a lot of pieces, it can probably be one of the first things to go. There's no point in keeping something that's lost its usefulness or can't be repaired. You can only donate good-quality toys to charity, so anything that's broken can be thrown out.


Talk your kids through this step, and let them know that by donating the toys they don't play with anymore, they can help another child. Set ground rules about how many things your children can keep, and then let them do the bulk of the sorting [source: Good Housekeeping].

You may be hesitant to throw out some toys, especially if your family is still expanding. When deciding what toys to hold onto for younger children, choose items that are durable and classic. Toys such as building blocks or doll clothes are great to keep if they're still in good condition. Remember that toys are a popular gift, so you're likely to continue adding to your collection once your new child arrives. Store keepsakes and family heirlooms in a dry, climate-controlled space in your home.

Now that you've gotten rid of all the toys you don't need, you'll have much less to store. For tips on how to best use your storage space, read on to the next page.


Storing Kids' Toys

To keep your playroom clutter-free, you'll need a creative storage system. To work best, this system should be easy for both you and your children to use.

First, make the most of your space by getting extra shelving for your playroom. Keep toys and games that aren't used as often on the higher shelves, and place your children's favorite toys at eye level on easy-to-reach shelves [source: Ewer].


Use baskets or clear storage boxes to store smaller toys, dedicating each labeled storage bin to a particular item. Transparent boxes or uncovered baskets work well since children can easily find what they want. If your children want to play with building blocks, they'll just need to grab the bin from the shelf and take it anywhere in the play room. Once they're done, they can easily put the toys back in the bin and put the bin away.

Try to limit the number of large toy bins in the playroom -- as these fill up, you'll wind up with a layer of never-used, forgotten toys at the bottom. However, larger bins can be great for stuffed animals or balls -- items that are bulky, unbreakable and free from small pieces that can easily get lost. You can also use nets suspended in a corner of the room for these types of toys, maximizing the play space for your kids [source: Rice].

For more information on how to organize your child's playroom, see the links on the following page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Castagnoli, Francesca. "How to Declutter Your Play Room." Parents. April 2009. (Accessed 1/15/10) play room/
  • Ewer, Cynthia. "8 Great Tips to Organize Kids' Rooms." Organized Home. 2009. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Gaulin, Pam. "Organization Tips for a Child's Bedroom." Modern Mom. October 11, 2009. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Good Housekeeping. "52 Ways to Get Organized." 2010. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Good Housekeeping. "Cleaning and Organizing Kids' Toys." 2010. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Parents. "Smart and Simple Space Savers". 2010. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Parenting. "Play Zone." 2010. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Rice, Bonnie. "Toys go here: 7 tips to help you get organized." iVillage. 2009. (Accessed 1/15/10),,433f,00.html
  • Rosemond John. "Too Many Toys?" Better Homes and Gardens. 2010. (Accessed 1/15/10)
  • Today. "How to Organize Your Child's Playroom." MSNBC. (Accessed 1/19/10)