7 Things You're Storing or Using Incorrectly

Organizing has left your home in a state of tamed clutter. Believe it or not, though, you may need to make some adjustments. As it turns out, most people organize some of their personal items the wrong way.

This isn’t to suggest that your shoes belong in the dishwasher or your guitar up the fireplace flue. However, you’ll probably want to take care of a few of the following organizational faux pas.

1. Leaving kitchen knives in a drawer

Does it seem like your knives seem to get duller and duller—even the turkey carver you only use twice a year at holidays? The problem might be your storage. Plenty of folks toss cutlery into a drawer. All that bumping against other metal objects wears down the blade, forcing you to either replace knives sooner or invest in a really powerful knife sharpener that you actually know how to use.

What’s the right fix for this issue? Store knives in a special block, on a magnetic rack, or in padded packaging. They’ll stay in pristine condition until your pot roast has finished its low-and-slow journey in the oven.

2. Storing medications in the bathroom

Most people have a bathroom cabinet. You know what it’s called? The medicine cabinet, of course! So you’re supposed to put medications like birth control and allergy tablets in there, right? Nope. The problem with bathrooms is that the temperature and humidity goes haywire. One minute the bathroom’s cold as a popsicle. After your roomie’s 10-minute shower, it looks and feels like a sauna. And all those fluctuations affect the potency or shelf life of pharmaceuticals, even packaged ones.

Where can you store medicines, then? Try any place that’s going to stay cool and dry, but will be out of the reach of kids. A high linen closet shelf in the hallway could work, or even the top drawer of a tall dresser. Some people put their medications in the kitchen, although depending on which area you choose, you could have the same conundrum with moisture and heat.

3. Keeping your dry cleaning in those plastic bags

You feel like such a grown-up every time you bring back dry-cleaned winter jackets, heavier curtains, sweaters, and suits. Nevertheless, you’re doing yourself and your treasured items a disservice if you’re not going the extra mile. Always remove the plastic on your dry cleaning before putting your clothes in a closet or storage area.

Doesn’t the plastic keep the clothes looking newer longer? In theory, but the longer they stay in the plastic, the higher the chance that the residue from the chemicals used during dry cleaning won’t be released. Those chemicals can damage delicate fabrics. Plus, all the plastic can create an environment where mildew could grow if moisture collects. So rip off the plastic ASAP and let your clothing breathe.

4. Putting tomatoes and coffee in the refrigerator

Open up your refrigerator. The coffee can is on the door shelf. The tomatoes are in the produce bin. All is not right with the world, unfortunately. The trouble is that the tomatoes need to be able to ripen. Storing them in the fridge just lessens their flavor and turns them bland. As for coffee, the beans will start to absorb the flavors of foods around them. And coffee in the fridge tends to gain moisture, which robs it of its deliciousness.

To remedy this situation, put your tomatoes on the counter to continue their ripening process. Make sure you eat them within a few days or they might get mushy and moldy. With coffee, you may want to invest in a truly airtight java container stored in the driest, coolest regions of your pantry.

5. Displaying cologne and perfume bottles on a dresser

Brand makers design colognes and perfumes to smell distinctive. Their creativity doesn’t end with what goes in the bottle, though. It extends to the container itself. Many perfume bottles are works of art in their own right. So it only makes sense that you’d want to line yours up out in the open.

Here’s the issue with your choice: Colognes do not respond well to light, excessive temperature, or moisture. Placing perfume bottles on the vanity will look attractive, but the perfume inside may become rancid. A better alternative, albeit one that you can’t enjoy visually, is keeping your perfumes and colognes on a closet shelf.

6. Stashing spices and seasonings above the stove

What could go wrong if you stash cinnamon, cumin, and paprika right above your stovetop? Isn’t that the most convenient place for your spices to hang out? Maybe for you, but the spices won’t appreciate things like temperature changes and steam rising from boiling saucepans of chicken broth.

Seasonings may seem like they last forever, but they do expire eventually. To keep them as long as you can, put all your spices in an easy-to-sort container with a secure lid. Keep the container in a cool location and pull it out when you need a dash of cardamom or pinch of cayenne.

7. Leaving your workout gear in the car or garage

The steps happen like clockwork: Remove yoga mat from back seat of car. Go into yoga class. Come out of yoga class. Put yoga mat back in car. Repeat. It’s the cycle of your workout life, and you appreciate the exercise. But your yoga mat’s probably breaking down because of exposure to sunlight mixed with a lack of cleaning.

From sneakers to football helmets, workout gear can take a beating. However, it’s not indestructible. Sooner or later, you need to take care of it or you’ll have to order replacements far sooner than you should. Oh, and be sure that you occasionally toss your workout bag in the washing machine. It’s not meant to be abused, either.

By making just a few changes, you can be sure your home and life is organized beautifully—and appropriately.