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20 Organizing Products You’ll Actually Use

Organizing is different for everyone.  You might be a contain and label everything person, you might be a contain and label somethings person, and maybe you just prefer to use the shelves and drawers in your home and stack and stash accordingly.

I’m somewhere in between BUT I’ve found that there are a handful of organizing products that actually make our lives a little easier. Stuff stays where it’s supposed, things get put back and put away, and chaos doesn’t ensue.

I have oodles of organizing quick tips and tricks in my new book SIMPLY CLEAN that I know you’ll love – pre-order it if you haven’t!

Today I’m going to share a handful of organizing products that ARE worth the expense, have stood the test of time, and the ultimate test, a busy family. Just the good stuff folks – I strive to share just the good stuff with you all the time, but these products are just so great that I had to round them up for you! If I have a related blog post where I talked about a system or tool, I’ve also added that link so you can go there for more information. I’ve linked up almost every product at the bottom of the post – if you’re looking for something, check there first!

Bathrooms

I love using a tray for placing makeup and tools on in the bathroom – when I go to wipe down the counter I simply put the tray on the floor and spray and wipe the counter off. Bonus points, I keep makeup in that little basket and brushes and tools in the cups.

If you struggle to keep products contained under the bathroom sink, get a divided lazy Susan – you can compartmentalize your products and it keeps them organized in a smaller space. I keep lotions and deodorant in a basket on a little shelf. This keeps any extras out of the way but still accessible.

One of my favorite organizing projects of all time was when I put all of our master bedroom closet ‘stuff’ in bins and labeled them. So simple, but still well over a year later, it still looks like this. Go here for the how-to.

I use these clear acrylic divided drawer organizers in every bathroom drawer – measure your drawers and find ones that work – they are amazing tools!

I love this hack – I keep a stash of cheap (linked below) washcloths in a wire basket on the side of my sink for washing my face at night. It’s a little luxury that I enjoy.

I can’t talk about bathrooms without talking about a bathroom cleaning caddy – the BEST tool for keeping bathrooms clean most of the time. Put together your favorite bathroom cleaning supplies and keep it handy for quick clean-ups and weekly cleaning. You can find all of these products in my Clean Mama Home shop (except for the scrubber which may be coming soon 😉

Closets

Everyone’s closet has a donate basket – if something no longer fits or has seen better days, it goes in the basket and once the basket is filled up it goes to our favorite donation place or relative. This is the basket in a corner of our master closet – this is a great system!

A couple years ago we re-did our master bedroom closet and had built-ins installed – I added these laundry baskets for my husband’s socks – one basket is for white socks and the other is for dress socks. No folding, just throw them in the basket while doing laundry.  (He has a lot of socks!)

If you don’t use a hamper system for doing laundry, you might find it really helpful for cutting down on your laundry time.  This was a must for our closet (I love it!) but you can easily just use a laundry hamper with the same results. My husband’s hamper is on the left, towels are in the middle, and my laundry is on the right. When it’s time to wash the clothes I just separate them out by whites and darks and that’s it! I do wash our clothes separately about once a week and towels get washed on their own.

Kitchen

This fall we had shelves installed in our pantry and it was a game changer for organization – I love them! My favorite organizing systems in this space are the clear acrylic bins for storage – easy access for the kids and the mason jars for dry goods. I also keep shopping bags in the basket below the bottom shelf.

I use glass jars all over the house for storage and decoration but my favorite use is to store bar mop cloths in them on the counter. This helps cut down on paper towel usage and it looks cute too! I also keep a vintage Ball jar on the counter with dishwasher pods.

I love keeping dish soap, hand soap, and granite cleaning spray (get my recipe here) in a small casserole dish. So cute and all I have to do to wipe down the counters is move the dish. Easy peasy.

Paperwork and Office

I love this little caddy for keeping paperwork and daily things organized – go to the post all about 3 things every command center needs here.

I have a HUGE filing cabinet – in the top I keep our personal and business files and in the bottom I have it divided into 3 for the kids stuff. We put memorabilia, school stuff, and other things we want to keep in the filing cabinet. Keeping files cute, labeled, and organized makes it slightly more enjoyable. Here’s an oldie but goodie post all about paper clutter if you’re interested!

Kids and Toys

Milk crates – they’re the perfect size for kids toys – I like using open baskets so there’s no guessing about what’s inside.

We use felt hangers for everyone’s clothes – I get them on sale at Homegoods – they keep clothing in one place (no slipping), and I love that they take up less space and give a closet a more put together look. This is my daughter’s closet – you can see she has milk crates above her clothes for storage.

Enough with the milk crates, but if you have young kids and struggle with the constant cleaning up all.the.time, try using an on your way up basket and putting those loose items in the basket.  When the kids go upstairs, they take the basket and put away the stuff.  Everyone wins!

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Sink Side Organization

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I love an organized sink!  Having a little sink side system and organization in place will help you  keep your sink neat and tidy.  Need a little inspiration for your sink?  I’ve put together a handful of sink organizing ideas – grab an idea and get started!

First of all, you need a couple items to get your sink organized.  Here are a couple ideas:

  1. Start with a tray – this will keep drips and water off your counter and it helps to contain your items to keep them organized.  Bonus: it looks cute!
    pictured are a plate from Target, a Fiesta bread tray, a small casserole from Crate&Barrel, and a small wood cutting board from Macy’s.trays-clean-mama
  2. container to hold scrubber and/or sponge – if you do a little or a lot of dish washing, you need some type of scrubber or sponge.  Save space by using vertical storage, choose wisely and make sure that whatever you use allows it air-dry between uses. Pictured are a narrow mason jar, a couple vintage creamers, and a vintage planter – I bet you have something  already.containers-clean-mama
  3. scrubber and/or sponge – every sink needs a scrubber – the type of dish washing you do will determine the scrubber you need.
    pictured are a bubble up, a glass cleaner (I use this for washing out the coffee pot), and a dish scrubberscrub-brushes-clean-mama
  4. hand soap, dish soap, counter spray – these 3 things are why you need a little sink side organization.  Use products that you love – I like having the scent coordinated and I enjoy using seasonal scents to bring a little festivity into the the kitchen.
    pictured are my granite cleaner and spray bottle, Caldrea Pear Blossom Agave and Mrs. Meyer’s holiday collection
  5. soap-and-spray-clean-mama

Once you have your sink side components it’s time to organize them.  Put them next to your sink and arrange them in a way that makes sense for you and your needs.  Add a kitchen towel and you’re all set! Don’t you just love a simple organization ‘project’?

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Do a little revamp of your sink or ‘doll’ it up for the holidays – either way, washing dishes will be a little easier on the eyes and your sink will stay organized a little longer!

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Organizing A Simple Pantry

organizing-a-simple-pantry-tips-products-and-solutions-clean-mama

Sometimes the littlest changes can bring the biggest results.  Switching out wire shelving with wood shelves was a game-changer for our pantry.  I always look for simple systems and ease of use when planning out a new system and the pantry was no different. One of the biggest frustrations for me in our kitchen were the shelves in the pantry.  The wire shelving wasn’t stable enough to hold glass storage containers and it wasn’t functioning the way I hoped.  I know it’s a little detail and the shelves were fine, but by adding something like stable shelving, it completely changed how I could organizing the space.  The concept is simple – add wood shelves (we hired this out), new storage solutions, more space, and an additional shelf.  Want to take a peek?

Here’s the before:

Keep Food Storage Easy - Create Different Zones via Clean Mama

The during – everything was removed, holes were filled, and the space was painted.

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Once the shelves were in I used Post-It notes to plan the space:

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Then I lined the shelves with plastic shelf liner (non-stick) to protect the surface of the shelves:shelf-detail-clean-mama

Next was the fun part – filling the space.  I used 4 basic organizing items in the pantry – acrylic bins, glass mason jars (this post has a couple sources and details), acrylic turntables, and acrylic tiered storage.  I chose all clear storage because I like being able to see everything at a glance and I find that it’s easier for the kids to grab their own snacks and gather supplies and food for their lunches.

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Once I had the space planned out I filled jars and bins and placed everything into the pantry.  Then I arranged and re-arranged and lived with it for a couple weeks, tweaking it a bit for out needs.  And here’s where it’s at today – I’m sure it’ll be tweaked a bit but as of right now we’re loving it.  I added labels to the picture so you can see what’s where – the shelves aren’t actually labeled 🙂

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One of the reasons I wanted to add wood shelves was so we could add turntables for baking and cooking supplies – I love this feature.  Not only does it make it easy to access, it frees up so much space.  I also love the tiered storage for canned goods.  I could put the canned goods on the second to the top shelf and still be able to see everything.  (The crock holds potatoes and/or squash and the basket holds grocery bags.)

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I separated the baking and cooking supplies on the middle shelf – this is also where I put the majority of the glass storage. I like having all the cooking and baking supplies grouped together.

Here are a couple more views:

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See that narrow shelf at the very top?  I keep bags of flour and ‘overstock’ of vitamins and Halloween candy up there 🙂

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So that’s the pantry redo – 6 shelves and the whole pantry gets a new life.

I labeled the glass storage jars (and I love how this functions) – check out this post for all the details and sources.

how-to-label-jars

There are affiliate links in this post – go here to see my full disclosure policy.

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How to Label Jars for Pantry Storage

how-to-label-jars

Last week we overhauled our pantry – new shelves, fresh paint, and a whole new look.  I was going to do one big blog post on the whole process but when I posted this picture on Instagram I had so many questions on what I chose for my dry storage, that I decided to do a quick post on how I set it all up.  Go here for a full ‘tour’ of the pantry, but here’s a quick tutorial of what I did for the dry storage.  The best part?  Each jar is about $1 WITH the lid!  Chic and affordable pantry storage is my jam.

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After searching high and low for jars that didn’t have any logos or designs on them, I FINALLY came across mason jars at my local Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the quart sized jar so I ended up purchasing them from Anchor-Hocking directly.  (Keep reading for links – I’ll link everything up at the end of the post.)

Once I found the right jar, I wanted a lid that didn’t have a ring or a rubber seal.  A two or three piece lid is a little too cumbersome for storage (for me) and I like the ease of a one-piece plastic lid.  Some other jars that I considered had a metal lid with a paper liner – like a cracker jar – that would work, but I really like a 100% dishwasher-able storage option.

Here’s my step-by-step process:

Buy jars

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Wash jars (I ran them through the dishwasher) and allow to thoroughly dry

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Use an oil-based marker to label jar – if you want a consistent look, make a template or use a ruler to keep the ‘label’ at the same spot on each jar.

QUICK TIP:  Use lemon essential oil to remove the marker if needed.  Just a drop on the surface will quickly remove the paint.

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Decide how you’ll label your jars – all caps, lower case letters – think it through and pre-write it out if necessary.  (This might sound tedious, but if you are taking the time to hand-label the jars, you will probably be annoyed if you don’t love the way it turns out.)

I wrote what was in the jar on the front

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Then I wrote cooking instructions and an expiration date (if needed) on the back

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Decant dry goods and apply the lid – if you have a powdery ingredient to transfer, make a funnel with parchment or waxed paper to make sure everything makes it into the jar

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Continue the process until you have your jars completed

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Arrange the jars on your shelf

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Sources:

Glass Jars – use any glass jar – I love the Anchor Hocking Mason Jars for this project.  They’re a slightly different shape and there isn’t any branding or designs on the sides, making it perfect for dry storage like this.  I bought some jars at Wal-Mart and some online at Anchor Hocking.  I also found them online at Farm & Fleet if you have one near you. (The jars through Anchor Hocking DID NOT have lids and the ones at Wal-Mart have a gold 2-piece lid.)

Lids – I always have these lids on hand for just about any food storage (I use mason jars for just about everything).  These Ball canning lids are my favorite because they seal extremely well, can be placed in the freezer, and are top rack dishwasher safe.

Marker – An oil-based paint marker is the most semi-permanent marker you can use for this project.  Choose a color or black or white – match it up with your kitchen or pantry.  I chose the white medium tip because it looks clean and it shows up the best with a variety of colored contents.

Psst….if you’re looking for healthier alternatives for your pantry, I love Thrive Market – most of the ingredients in my dry storage containers came from Thrive.  Check it out!

Thrive_Sharing_0004_5

how-to-label-jars-for-pantry-storage-clean-mama

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What’s on My Book Stack : 13 Homekeeping Books to Inspire Organization

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Fall is the perfect time of year to do a little cleaning, decluttering, and getting ready for the ‘long winter’.  I find that I’m always a little more motivated once fall hits – maybe you are too?  The books I’m sharing today are ones some of my favorites and have a little something for everyone.  I’m breaking them down a bit so you can see if a book will fit your personality and needs.

Feel like getting cozy?  These 3 books have fun projects to boot, perfect for fall

Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful Family Home

The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures

The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping

If you clean and organize a little differently or feel like you’re not a ‘naturally’ organized person

Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Successful and Less Stressed

What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?

Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD : Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized

New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)

Simple Household Wisdom: 425 Easy Ways to Clean & Organize Your Home

If you feel uninspired or discontent with where you are and are struggling with starting the process

Make Room for What You Love: Your Essential Guide to Organizing and Simplifying

The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well  

Love the House You’re In: 40 Ways to Improve Your Home and Change Your Life

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating

And my book – perfect for cleaning up after you’ve done some decluttering and organizing!

The Organically Clean Home: 150 Everyday Organic Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself–The Natural, Chemical-Free Way

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Have a favorite to share?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Love homekeeping books?  My new book, SIMPLY CLEAN comes out in March 2017 – it will definitely be a favorite homekeeping book!

There are affiliate links in this post – go here to see my full disclosure policy.

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Simplify Homework : Put Supplies in a Caddy

Simplify + Organize Homework - Put Supplies in a Caddy - Clean Mama

One of my favorite kids’ organizing projects ever has been our homework caddy.  It’s a take on the caddies I had at each of my student tables when I was an art teacher.  I loved having everything accessible for my students – it kept them at their spots and engaged in the activities at hand.  Using this same idea, I put together this little caddy with my oldest kiddos a few years ago and every year right around school supply time we assess it, refill it, and get it ready for the next school year.  I posted about it 2 years ago – you can see that post here –  I thought I’d re-visit it this week as part of the Fall Organization Mini Challenge.

back to school

The great thing about a homework or crafting caddy is that it can work for kids of all ages – toddler-high school and beyond that if you are an adult that likes to craft, it can work for you too.  Think of what your kids use daily for crafting and homework and gather those things into one place.  I use a divided cutlery caddy – you can use a bin, a box, a basket, or any other type of container you can think of.  I added mason jars so the kids can grab just one thing from the caddy at a time.  We put the caddy on the middle of the kitchen table for homework time and one kid will grab the markers and the other will grab colored pencils and another will grab a pencil.  For some reason that one step of extra containment works better for keeping it neat and tidy, easy to clean up and put away.  If you don’t want to use glass, use plastic cups for the same idea.

Gather your supplies:

  • caddy/box/basket/bin
  • jars to hold the supplies
  • markers, pens, pencils, crayons
  • rulers, scissors, glue, sticky notes

Homework Caddy - Supplies - Clean Mama

Put your caddy together:

While you’re picking up all the school supplies your kiddos need for the school year, pick up a couple extra boxes of pencils and markers and make a little homework caddy.  I’ve found that keeping homework supplies in a caddy makes  homework time a little easier to start and finish.  My kids come home from school, have a snack, and start in on the homework.  We try to get everything done right away while we’re already at the kitchen table and having a tote-able homework caddy helps us stay organized and efficient.  This year I tweaked the caddy and system and thought you might want to see what I put together.

Caddy - Clean Mama

Then I just loaded it up with the supplies that my kids seem to use on a nightly or weekly basis for homework and crafting – markers, pencils, erasers, glue, Post-Its, and scissors.  I don’t think we’re ready for back to school quite yet, but at least we have our homework caddy ready!

Homework Caddy - Clean Mama

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Fall Organizing Mini Challenge

I’m challenging myself (and you!) to a little fall/back to school organization this next week!  Follow along on Instagram for each daily challenge.  Every fall I tackle a couple areas that need to get whipped into shape and this year I’m making it public 🙂  I’ll be showing you my completed challenge in our home ‘live’ as it’s completed each day and sharing a couple posts throughout the week as well.

back to school

The premise is that with about 15 minutes each day, we can put a couple simple systems in place that will carry us through the busy months ahead.  Most of these topics I’ve talked about on the blog before and they’re systems that WORK! I’m linking up some posts here that will be helpful if you’d like to check out what I’ve said before on the topic.  I’ll be posting all of my live progress on Instagram so follow along or peek over there each day.  If you don’t have kids heading back to school, the ideas are still applicable, just adjust it to fit your needs.  For instance, instead of putting together a homework caddy or area, organize your desk or get your planner ready.  Instead of working on kids clothes you can do a little purge of your own clothes.  I’ll be doing more of these mini challenges – I hope you enjoy it!

Make sure you sign up for my posts too!

Ready for a mini challenge?  Here are the tasks for each day:

MONDAY – Homework caddy

A Simple Homework Caddy via Clean Mama

TUESDAY – Snack and Lunch Prep

How to Organize Snacks + Lunches via Clean Mama

WEDNESDAY – Kids’ Clothes

How to Organize and Maintain Kids Closets via Clean Mama

THURSDAY – Command Center

3 Things Every Command Center Needs - Clean Mama

FRIDAY – Clean/Organize the Refrigerator

The Best Way to Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator via Clean Mama

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Mud Room Tour

Easy to Clean Mud Room - Clean Mama

I’m slowly making it through my home tour this year and today I’m sharing the mud room with you.  It’s a simple space but it definitely gets a daily workout.  In the original home plans it’s supposed to have a closet laundry room but the original owners moved the laundry room upstairs (thank you to them!).  The mudroom is the first room you enter if you are coming in from the garage and while I would love custom built-ins and cubbies for the kids, it’s completely functional and easy to keep clean and neat.  Here’s a little peek:

Mud Room Entry - Clean Mama

We removed the original linoleum and had tile put in a couple years ago.  I love the look and how easy it is to clean.  I vacuum it weekly on Wednesdays and wash it on Thursdays.  (See my cleaning routine here.)

The paint color is what’s in the majority of the house – Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter – it’s my favorite neutral.

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I love the cast-iron rack for coats and such – we only keep one or two coats per person here and store the extras in our entryway coat closet.

Mud Room Bench + Hooks - Clean Mama

The bench is from Pottery Barn too – it’s done really well for 7 years – I just replaced the cushion this month for the first time.  The baskets are from Target.  Each kiddo has their own basket for shoes and they are in charge of putting their own shoes away.  They just toss the shoes in the baskets and tuck the basket back in the slot.

Mud Room Bench - Clean Mama

The closet is my cleaning closet and holds all those goodies – you can see that part of the home tour here.

Mud Room Closet - Clean Mama

I love having a big basket for backpacks – the kids just put them in here at the end of the school day and they’re ready to grab on the way out the door – simple and decorative.

Back Wall - Mud Room - Clean Mama

There’s an utility sink in the mud room that definitely comes in handy and I keep our cordless vacuum at the ready as well – it’s great for grabbing to quickly vacuum up crumbs, dirt, grass, whatever gets tracked in.

A couple musts for an easy to clean mud room?

  • shoe storage
  • coat rack
  • rug for wiping feet
  • easy to clean floor
  • storage for backpacks if you have kids

Here are some posts in this series that you might like – just click on the pictures to head to the post:

CLEANING CLOSET

LAUNDRY ROOM TOUR - Clean Mama

A Whole House Color Scheme - Clean Mama

How to Decorate So Cleaning Is Easy - Tips, Tricks, and Methods that Work - Clean Mama

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4 Steps to Organized Photos

4 Steps to Organized Photos - Clean Mama

While the majority of picture taking these days is done digitally, if you are anything like many, you have a stash of photos tucked away somewhere in your home. It may be intended for your child’s baby book or precious family photographs from years past that you have been meaning to put in a photo album. Regardless of how old or random they may be, sorting and organizing photos can be an overwhelming tasks. Rather than continuing to ignore those boxes or envelopes of photos, let break organizing those photographs in to five easy steps. Ready?

Step 1 – Collect:

Dig out all the bins, boxes, envelopes and stashes of photos and relocate them to one central sorting place. If you have a large amount and know you won’t be able to complete this task in one session, find a place or table in your home where you can spread out without having to relocate come mealtime or when you need the spot again.

Step 2 – Edit:

Set aside pictures that are doubles, blurry, redundant or don’t share a meaningful memory. While that picture of your child’s first tooth may be really cute, you probably don’t need ten variations of the same picture.

Step 3 – Categorize:

As best as you can, sort the photos by chronological year. You can begin by making piles of each year to rapidly sort and then organize them by month or event after. After you have gone through a year, label with a sticky note and put them in to an envelope or container to keep them separate for later.

Step Four – Store and Label:

There are many different systems and organizing tools that you can purchase or use for storing photographs. No matter what you choose, keep it uniform by using the same container. The Container Store has a tidy and logical photo storage system that I have used and love. It has 12 separate photo boxes that each hold about 100 photos that all fit in to one box.  Amazon also has a similar option here and here.

You can also use cardboard photo boxes that you can find at your local craft or photo store. For long term storage, just be sure to look for an acid free container to protect your photos from yellowing and discoloring over time.

Be sure to label your newly organized system either by year or event. You can use a sticker on the box to keep it cohesive. If you prefer to write details on the back of photos, use a photo safe pen or pencil so that it doesn’t bleed through or destroy the photo over time.

Once you have sorted your photos, you can put them in photo albums to enjoy or keep them stored or maybe a little bit of each.

Your family photographs and memories don’t have to be contained in a disorganized jumble any more. With a little time and organization method, you can cross this task off your list once and for all.

 

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