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Label Ideas: 12 Tips for Organizing with a Label System

One downside of having stuff is finding what you need, when you need it. Constantly searching for something not only wastes time, but it can drive you bonkers! Organizing labels can help. Here are a slew of smart and creative labeling ideas and tips from our readers and Field Editors.

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Label Maker ManiaFamily Handyman

Label Maker Mania

My addiction to my label maker started when I innocently labeled our tool cabinet drawers. I did our power strip next, and now I just can't stop. The confusing light switches in our entryway—labeled. The kitchen items we take to potluck dinners—labeled with our last name. File folders, the fuse box, pantry jars, tools the neighbors borrow, power adapters—stop me before I label again!

Tomkin Lee

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Instant Labels for Parts DrawersFamily Handyman

Instant Labels for Parts Drawers

Plastic drawers let you see the nails or screws inside, but you can't always tell their size. Here's a simple solution: Cut the labels off fastener boxes and tape them inside the front of each drawer. You'll know exactly where everything is located at a glance.

Brett Meineke

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Color-Coded WrenchesFamily Handyman

Color-Coded Wrenches

I use colored vinyl tape on my wrenches to identify the type. I wrap a strip of blue tape around the handle of my metric wrenches and red tape around the SAEs. I don't cover the whole handle, just a strip of tape once around at one end so I don't cover up the size marking.

Cameron LiDestri

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Chalkboard PaintFamily Handyman

Chalkboard Paint

Chalkboard paint is great for creating reusable labels on metal bins, jars, drawers and a ton of other things. When you change the contents of a drawer or jar, you just wipe off the chalk and rewrite the label. Chalkboard paint is available in spray-on and brush-on versions at home centers and hardware stores. You can apply chalkboard paint directly to most non porous surfaces. Or make your own adhesive and magnetic labels by covering mailing labels and refrigerator magnets with chalkboard paint.

Merrilee Post

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Printable Magnetic LabelsFamily Handyman

Printable Magnetic Labels

I have terrible handwriting, so I love making magnetic labels with my home printer. Just create the labels on your computer, put the magnet sheets in your printer, hit 'print' and cut them up. They're great on metal file drawers and tool chests. When you reorganize, just move the labels around or add new ones.

Jordan Van Moorleghem

Editor's Note:
Avery Magnet Sheets, which are compatible with ink-jet printers, are available in five-sheet packs at office supply stores and online retailers.

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Chalkboard Sticky LabelsFamily Handyman

Chalkboard Sticky Labels

You can buy already painted self-adhesive chalkboard labels at amazon.com and other online retailers. Search for 'chalkboard stickers.'

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Tough Labels for Soft BagsFamily Handyman

Tough Labels for Soft Bags

If you carry around soft-sided bags like camping duffels, sports bags and tool cases, you'll want labels that stand up to being squashed, mashed, soaked, yanked, dropped and rolled around. They can be tough to find, but a good solution is nylon webbing (found at camping and fabric stores) or short lengths of tie-down straps. Just tie the webbing around the handle of your bag and label it using a waterproof marker.

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Headache RemedyFamily Handyman

Headache Remedy

Whenever I buy child-protected bottles of aspirin or ibuprofen, I color both of the white arrows with red fingernail polish. That way, when I need some medicine, I can immediately see how the arrows line up and get the cap off fast.

Dave Switzer

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Storage Bin IndexFamily Handyman

Storage Bin Index

Like a lot of other people, my wife and I love large plastic bins. But remembering what's inside each bin is tough, and reading a small label is nearly impossible when your bins are stored high on garage shelves. We solved both problems by labeling our bins with large numbers. Each number corresponds to a page in a binder that lists the contents of each bin. It's simple to change the list, and it's a heck of a lot easier to find what you need by checking the binder than by rummaging through each bin. — reader Gerald Naumann Editor's Note: When it comes to bin I.D. tags, we like adhesive storage pouches that let you slip index cards in and out easily. You can find these at office supply stores or online retailers. Find out another reason why three-ring binders come in handy around the house.

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Self-Stick Vinyl LabelsFamily Handyman

Self-Stick Vinyl Labels

Self-adhesive vinyl letters make great labels indoors and out. You can get them at office supply stores, art stores and online retailers. Some versions are reflective and perfect for dark areas such as basements and the garage. I also use mine inside the kitchen cabinets to remind my kids to put things back where they got them!

Beckie at infarrantlycreative.net

Reader Photo

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Emergency LabelsFamily Handyman

Emergency Labels

I label all the important switches and valves around the house with shipping labels. These include the main water shutoffs and the well electric switch. Then I take photos of all the shutoffs with the tags attached and put them in a 'House Reference' binder. If there's a leak when I'm not home, everyone will know what to do to prevent a disaster. I did the same thing at our cabin.

Terry R. Boylan

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Stencil SmartsFamily Handyman

Stencil Smarts

My favorite labeling technique is to use plastic stencils (available at art and office supply stores) and spray-paint our name and address on things that have a tendency to 'walk' away. I have stenciled our trash cans, sleds, tool cases and recycling bins so far. If my youngest child doesn't stop wandering away, I may have to stencil him, too!

David A. Kurczi