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I often have trouble differentiating the storage bins in my basement from each other, and their is no particular organization other than trying to keep one category of things to a bin. I've tried dry erase markers for the plastic bins, but they rub off to easy, and permanent markers have to be cleaned with alcohol. Unless all corners and edges are taped on, paper just catches on something can comes off when moving the boxes around.

Does anyone know of an easy way to label storage bins that won't accidentally come off easily but can easily be changed when desired?

  • What is your aversion to permanent markers and removing with alcohol? – Adam Zuckerman Aug 14 '15 at 0:44
  • @AdamZuckerman If it's a rubber storage bin, the marker typically never comes all the way out. – Sidney Aug 14 '15 at 0:53
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Blue painters masking tape. Sharpie.

Blue painters tape is a paper tape like regular masking tape but it is designed to remove cleanly without leaving residue. It's probably the best solution you will find that combines solid adhesion with easy removal.

Sharpie is a permanent marker.

  • Even blue painters tape does get stuck to the grounding when on for months, leaving a hard to remove residue. (Friends made the mistake not taking off the tape after painting.) – Willeke Apr 27 '17 at 9:52
  • I do this for kitchen containers, works great – amphibient May 4 '17 at 15:53
  • Leave the residue, and apply the new label over the residue. – Hobbes Dec 19 '18 at 8:57
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You can buy these replaceable label holders which allow you to slide a small card into the slot and write whatever you like on it. You can then slide the label out and replace it as often as you see fit. Many of these are either magnetic or nailed/screwed into a drawer or cabinet face, but they are just as easily glued to any storage container you have.

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My suggestion, based on personal experience, is to go to the other way around. Make the labels permanent, and implement a system keeping track of what is in the boxes.

This system could be anything from as elaborate and keeping lists of what you put into the different boxes, or as simple as taking pictures before you close the box. The key element is to have some kind of system which helps you identify in which box you have the stuff in, when you go searching in half a years time from now.

I've numbered the boxes, and have a personal wiki (but this could be any text document) which I update with the contents of the boxes. I've named some of the boxes in addition to numbering them, i.e. BB01 Car - Big Blue box no 01, with car stuff, BB02 Electrical - Big Blue box no 02 with electrical stuff, SR10 - Small Red box with various items, and so on.

Naming the boxes shifts the focus into permanent marking, which I find easier, and into keeping track of the content. And this latter part needs to be done anyway, as you, in my experience, never temporarily name the boxes good enough!

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Not sure this counts as a hack, but a label maker (Brother is a prominent brand here in the US) makes labels that aren't designed to come off all that easily (certainly shouldn't brush off like a post-it or paper label), but when you're ready they peel off without too much trouble, and since they're plastic they often don't rip while removing but even if they do, they don't tend to leave the paper-covered adhesive like a paper label would.

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I bought plastic name tag holders and glued them to the storage bins. The plastic holder is permanent but I can replace the name tags with index cards cut to fit the holder whenever I need to. My friend liked the idea but she used velco strips to attach the plastic holder instead of glue.

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