Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I am back with part three of a four post series I have put together with the best of the IHeart Organizing best. It’s been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.

The four-part series will include:

Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn’t? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!


My Top Organizing Tips!

Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It’s going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.


Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven’t failed me yet, and that you won’t need any fancy tools to utilize.

Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!

If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.

So let’s dive in with part three of the four-part series: Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques.

I have always enjoyed the creative side of organizing, and labeling has really allowed me to play with a variety of craft tools, papers, vinyl, and embellishments. Labels can really add to the overall aesthetic of a project while being extremely useful at the same time!

There are times that I may decide to invest more time and energy into the creative process of an organizing project, but for the majority of my projects I have THREE tried and true labeling techniques.

However, before I dive in and talk about those methods, let’s quickly go over the reasons behind WHY we label in the first place.

Labeling is definitely a personal preference that doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all rule.

The overall purpose of labeling is to create easy identification. Generally speaking, it is best to label for safety purposes or to keep your household on the same page:

  • Label food containers to indicate a specific ingredient (or lack of ingredient) due to allergies and sensitivities.
  • Label food containers/leftovers with dates to prevent serving expired and spoiled consumables.
  • Label to indicate if an item is fragile or hazardous.
  • Label to identify the contents of a solid container or bin.
  • Label to differentiate multiple items that appear similar.
  • Label to help children identify where to find things/put things away (toys, snacks, clothing, etc…). 
  • Label to identify the possession of items between household members.
  • Label to create consistency or understanding between household members.
Again, it really comes down to how your household functions and the dynamic of everyone who resides there. Labels can be extremely helpful but are not always necessary.

I use to label clear pantry containers and fridge containers with the contents, only to change the contents each week with my grocery shopping. Changing the labels became too much maintenance and we really weren’t gaining much by labeling the obvious clear bin of crackers, as “crackers”. So I stopped. Now, I quickly add the purchase date on the bottom of the container with a dry erase marker and call it good (unless it is allergy specific of course). If a label is causing extra work, then is it really adding value?

That said, we have benefitted greatly by labeling over the years. Having a household of five, labels have really made it easy for all of us to collectively pick-up and get things back to their proper homes, and also identify our personal belongings to avoid mix-ups. And by labeling cleaners, drawers, bin contents, etc…, I avoid a lot of questions from my crew.

OK, so now you are ready to start labeling, but what are the best methods? Here are three that haven’t failed me yet!


This one is obvious but also the most important. I used this label maker for many, many years, but after a few drops, it broke and I was left scrambling to replace it. It doesn’t seem to be available any longer (because the prices on it have since skyrocketed), so I shed some tears and set out to find something similar. I am not too picky, I just wanted something that was inexpensive, had a couple font options, offered clear labeling tape, and also offered inexpensive replacement cartridges. I also appreciate something battery operated/portable so that I can use it quickly and easily without any additional accessories.

I decided on this Brother P-Touch option, I found it for under $20 and the value is definitely there! I have been liking it so far, it checked all of my boxes and I really appreciate that it is an extremely flexible and affordable option. I was also able to find some off-brand tape options on Amazon, and they have also worked out really great! (I purchased these white on clear and these black on clear cartridges). I find this label maker to be really user-friendly, the font options are OK, it prints quick, and the labels stick well yet are also removable. All around a good, go-to option.

Label makers are the clear choice for almost any organizing project because they are quick to use, easy to create, and can adhere to just about anything. I have also found that most label tapes are semi-waterproof, so they can take light cleanings and handle being in kitchen/bathroom settings. Here are a few ways I use my label maker around our home:

Labeling Cords: Wrap around the base of the cord to identify what gadget/person the cord belongs to.

Labeling Cleaning Bottles: Because I make most of our cleaners, I use my label maker to identify the type of cleaner and the general purpose. And because they are semi-waterproof, they can hold up to frequent use and refills.
Labeling Canisters: Perfect for labeling baking powders and coffee beans/add-ins, as well as specialty food items.
Labeling Shelves/Drawers: This has helped my boys tremendously in putting things back where they belong and keeping some general order around our home.
Travel Toiletries: Label tape wraps perfectly around those small, clear travel bottles that constantly need refilling. And because face wash looks like shampoo and lotion looks like conditioner… well, you know how that could result in a bit of a morning disaster.
Spice Jars: If you transfer your spices to jars, label tape is a great way to identify the different varieties.
File Folders: For file folders that I reuse for the same purpose over and over, I love the look of label tape over my handwriting any day.

As you can see, I gravitate towards the clear label tape because I find that it gives a very seamless look. For some reason, the white label tape reminds me of daycares, office spaces, classrooms, and Dr. offices, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just feels more commercial than personal.
There are quite a few times when I want to add labels, but I am looking for a more polished, long term effect. This is generally in spaces that we see and use often, or for items that are typically left out in the open. In these situations, I use an adhesive label holder, and then just print out the actual label to slip inside. The holder just sticks right to the surface, making it another fairly quick and easy labeling solution.

The two styles I use are the Martha Stewart Bookplates and the Bigso Adhesive Label Holders.

Just like label tape, these label holders are adhesive and fairly versatile. I typically use them on bins and boxes that either have a rougher surface or in situations that label tape would get lost due to the shape and size of the container (because you can print your own labels, you can design the color/font to be sure they really stand out). These work well on the infamous Target Y-Weave baskets, common rattan baskets, as well as on canvas style bins. If you ever find the stick is fading, a little hot glue can give the holder new life. The narrow options also work really nicely on the face of shelves.
Last but certainly not least, clip-on label holders are becoming a new favorite! They are a really great size which makes them a perfect solution for labeling larger bins and baskets. They couldn’t be easier to use, straight from the package they literally just clip right to the container. For bins receiving a lot of use (think toys, linen closet, tool storage, etc…), these are big winners because they are really substantial and won’t fall off easily. Yet, they are completely reusable/not at all permanent.

I find these great clip-on holders at Target and The Container Store.

These holders are especially great for large baskets of children’s toys, as the surface offers enough space to print an entire image of the product inside for easy identification. Because our kids are older and we don’t have many toy bins any longer, I like to use these on woven baskets in cabinets and closets, on canvas bins, and for our tool bins in our storage room.

Now that I have covered my top three favorite ways to label, I thought I would chat really quickly about vinyl! I still receive a lot of questions on oldie posts about my vinyl labels, which I would create at home and cut with my Silhouette craft machine. I will always love the look that making these labels offer, but I find myself reaching for the machine less and less due to the mess it makes and time constraints. There will always be a place in my heart for vinyl lettering, I especially appreciate that it is extremely durable, waterproof, and can look really, really sharp.  Below are a few examples of how I have used vinyl labels around our home:

I wanted to share one last time-saving labeling technique in the kitchen. Dry erase/chalk markers! I can use them to write on our clear plastic and glass containers, and then erase the writing if the contents change. I usually use markers to add dates to leftovers or dry goods to show when the product was purchased, and also call out items that may have specific food sensitivity information. It gets the job done and just wipes away each time we change out the foods inside.

Only one more post remains in this super-sized series! Last up we are talking all things storage!


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