Labeling plastic totes

dian57December 4, 2010

My son and DIL downsized from a 3500+ square foot rental with a full attic and basement to owning a 1900 sf cape cod with no attic but full, unfinished (takes minimal water in heavy rain) basement. They have 3 children, the oldest is 4.

Naturally, everything that wasn't immediately needed for daily use was relegated to the basement. It looks like a warehouse down there.

They got a 12 tote rack storage system (someone posted about it here--WONDERFUL) and due to MIL enthusiasm, are the proud owners of twelve 18 gallon totes and twelve 30 gallon totes. YES, that's a lot of totes.

The issue now arises--how can the totes be labeled? Naturally, a tote labeled Boys Size 4T Clothing will not be needed in a few years. They don't want to write directly on the tote unless there's a marker that will completely erase after a time.

Any ideas?

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I think I would do marker on strips of masking or white painter's tape. Not the prettiest, but quick and easy.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 10:32AM
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I use a label maker for my totes.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 10:38AM
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I'm a p-touch fan too. They have cartridges in white, clear and colors which can help. We allocated a room in the basement- for various holiday decorations mostly- that's full of those metro shelves and bins. I grouped in more general categories to start, (Xmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.) then got specific (linens, ornaments, outdoor) If I seemed to have a lot of one thing, wreaths in my case, I put them all in a tote together.

I tried to think about what would make the identifying and unpacking process easy and kinda worked backwards. lol.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 11:03AM
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If the totes are clear or semi-translucent, you can simply list the contents on a piece of paper and put the paper INSIDE the tote on the end between the contents and the tote. If they aren't clear, buy a package of write on labels to stick outside.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Ahha! Been there! I used plain white index cards (paper would work- you can print out on printer using clip art if you wanted to!) I used clear packing tape and taped the paper/card to the tote,leaving a 1/4 inch tab on one side of tape stuck to itself. You can pull the tape off in a snap and move it to a larger or smaller one when you need to.
I try to code mine with color also, to make it easier to locate- blue= grandsons, pink= granddaughters, gray+ Hubby, etc.
Holidays are easier also- I picked up 1 or 2 each Holiday- red=Christmas, yellow=Easter, orange=Halloween etc.
I try to limit myself to no more than I truly need to store...can get carried away! Probably eight have fabric, 4 have crafty stuff....
Pretty handy system. I also try to put the Holidays in order. Makes it easier to put one away and pull the next one without extra shuffling...
I am in the process of downsizing a lot of stuff/clutter/crap I really don't LOVE- and it is nice to have 6 or 7 empty ones!!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 4:15PM
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I use the p-touch in the kitchen but on totes I need print large enough to see labels on the top shelf. I print on plain paper from the PC and tape on the totes with wide packing tape to ensure that the labels are kept dry.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 5:16PM
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When I got most of my totes years ago they came in blue or the larger ones were tan with a green top. I use masking tape and write on it with a sharpie.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Wow, thanks for all the great ideas. The first order of business is getting all the boxes unpacked and INTO some sort of organization within the totes. For now I'll suggest the printed paper with clear tape to secure.

Mustangs, the organizer in me LOVES your photo, I may have to ask for a label machine for my birthday!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 3:55AM
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There are new removable labels that work like post-it notes. Those might work for you. I don't have brand names but I've seen them at Target and Office Depot.

I've used my labeler for years for the same purpose, but if you don't have one, the labels should cost less than a P-Touch or similar labeler.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 8:18AM
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I'm big on labeling and color coding. Each of my family has a color or for their containers. When we couldn't find containers in their color anymore we went with clear containers and used white card stock and colored sharpies to write the contents. I'm a bit obsessive so I write down everything little thing that's in each container. Unlike our daughter when I asked her to pack up the basement family room and make sure she labeled everything. She did. "Misc. Family Room".

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 12:14AM
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Miscellaneous Family Room. That's priceless.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 8:33AM
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My very best day at a charity auction was the day I won a bundled item: P-touch label maker AND a shredder. What more could a wanna-be-organized person want? And I'll second the vote of appreciation for Mustangs' photo.

Relatively new removable tabs are made by Post-it "Durable Tabs". Lots of colors and sizes. They are also great for a musician's sheet music so the performer doesn't have to struggle to turn a page in a hurry. Love those!

Here is a link that might be useful: Post-it Durable Tabs

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 5:11AM
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Glad you enjoyed that WestVillager. I can't say that I did at the time, but it's one of those things I look back on and laugh about. That daughter is now serving our country in South Korea and I miss her terribly! With the time difference and the cost of cell phone use we've only Skyped once. I did just get an email from her that she sent a week ago from her phone. I hope they all don't take that long.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 9:27PM
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JGTBM, I'm thinking of your daughter and appreciating her service!! I would be honored to supplement the cost of a holiday phone call to your daughter. Is that possible?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 3:15PM
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Thinking of her too -- especially after hearing a few Senators complain about working over Christmas to review START. In your daughter's case it couldn't be more relevant.

A labelmaker's import suddenly seems much less so. :)

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 4:30PM
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One more option I don't see listed here... You can use the clear plastic sleeves that FedEx uses and slip paper inside it. Easy to change out as needed. :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 6:04PM
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