Most home-organization gurus will urge you to take advantage of wasted space, and one of those prime pieces of uncharted real estate is definitely underneath the bed. After all, it’s the perfect place for stashing out-of-season clothes, shoes, extra blankets, stuffed animals, toiletries, and more.
So we set out to find the best containers to hold your wares by stuffing some of the best-selling and reviewed storage bins full of things like clothing, bedding, and books, before squeezing the bins under a bed. After testing, we discovered that the Sterilite’s Ultra Storage Box with Wheels (available at Amazon) has a lot to offer. Not only is it substantial and solid, it’s sealed well enough to shelter whatever you happen to throw at it (or in it). But there are all kinds of boxes and bags that could better suit your needs—not to mention under-the-bed specifications.
Here’s how the under bed storage bins we tested ranked, in order:
- Sterilite Ultra Storage Box with Wheels
- SpaceSaver Premium Reusable Vacuum Storage Bags
- Homz Long Underbed Wood Storage w/ Chalkboard Label Front
- Container Store Long Underbed Box with Wheels
- PBDorm Extra Large See-Thru Underbed Organizer
- Container Store Wide Underbed Drawer
- Studio 3B Underbed Storage Bags
- Whitmor Rolling Underbed Cart
Sterilite Ultra Storage Box with Wheels
With a 66-quart capacity, these boxes, which come as a set of four, were by far the most spacious containers we tested. What’s more, the long, thin design allowed them to fit easily under the bed. Sturdy materials and an inflexible shape also enable them to hold either hard or soft items (or both), which you can easily identify through the see-through plastic.
Even with the addition of smooth-gliding wheels that easily help you pull the boxes out from under the bed, they can be neatly stacked with other units of their size, making them also a good choice for basement, garage, and attic storage.
The only issue (as with most plastic boxes), is the lid buckles in the center when the box is remotely overstuffed. So, while it still technically latches, the contents will no longer be air and water tight.
SpaceSaver Premium Reusable Vacuum Storage Bags
With approximately 80 percent more space than most other bags on the market, these bags can accommodate even your most voluminous down comforter. They feature a double-zip seal and triple-seal turbo valve, meaning they’re designed to get every ounce of air out of the bag when operated with the included hand pump, or your own home vacuum. You’ll not only be able to compress a mountain of clothes into one magically flat packet, but they’ll stay mold, mildew, and bacteria-free.
The bags are even reusable and average around $25 for a pack of six, making them a great budget buy. Downside? You can’t go the vacuum route with a pile of hard items.
How We Tested
I’m Sarah Zorn, and I’m a professional food, lifestyle, and pet writer and cookbook author. I’m also a (current) NYC resident and an (actual) native, meaning I’m well acquainted with storage systems, and have ample experience with making the most of small spaces.
We attempted to pack each storage unit with a standard soft load (one blanket, a set of bed sheets, four bulky jackets or sweaters, two pairs of jeans, four t-shirts and four towels), followed by a standard hard load (four heavy books, 10 paperbacks, 4 cans of food and assorted boxes of food), as well as both loads together.
We oriented the units both vertically and horizontally under the bed to assess whether they fit or not. We also slid them in and out from under the bed to determine ease of access. Lastly, we took the addition and usefulness of special features (such as wheels) into account when tabulating our final ranking, as well as durability; what’s the point of a storage unit if it can’t reasonably stand the test of time?
Things to Know When Buying Under Bed Storage Bins
Hard plastic boxes with lids are ideal for under bed storage, as they’re generally spacious, can accommodate both hard and soft items, and keep your belongings airtight and dust-free.
Zippered plastic or cloth bags are also popular because they allow for more flexibility and versatility, and take up less room. They’re also light enough to stack in closets or on shelves. Either way, wheels or handles are key, especially for retrieving your items at will when they’re squirreled away under the bed.
Then you have vacuum bags, which are great for compressing stacks of clothes or blankets into tiny packages that take up hardly any space. Bins and carts tend to be the most attractive option, but they don’t often have covers, which are key in keeping grime off of your belongings.
Other Under Bed Storage Bins We Tested
Homz Long Underbed Wood Storage w/Chalkboard Label
Unquestionably the most attractive of all the containers we tested, these white wood composite boxes would be adorable in a child’s bedroom or make a chic addition to a college dorm. Fun features include a chalkboard front for labeling and a center divider for keeping contents organized. There’s even a set of casters that allow for seamless access.
The box can also support up to 30 pounds of either hard or soft items (or both thanks to the center divider), but since there’s no lid included, it’s best for belongings you don’t mind accumulating a fair bit of dust.
The Container Store Long Under Bed Box with Wheels
Where To Buy$24.99 The Container Store Buy
For better or worse, Container Store’s own polypropylene box is comparable to Sterilite’s. They’re both robustly constructed and largely airtight; except when overstuffed, when causes the lid to buckle.
What knocks them down a notch is that they have a smaller capacity. Even when scantily packed, the cover doesn’t fit as snug as it should. The one benefit is that the wheels can be easily removed and re-clipped to roll in different directions, meaning the box can be oriented under the bed with either the long or short side facing out.
PBDorm Underbed See-Thru Organizer
Where To Buy$14.00 PB Dorm Buy
Not only did Pottery Barn’s super-roomy bag effortlessly fit the contents of our soft test load, we’re pretty sure it could have accommodated our entire winter wardrobe. The only problem is when we lifted our brimming bag by the cloth handle, it tore right off, so be conscious of the weight limit and don’t get too overzealous with your stuffing.
They are also quite stylish, with see-through plastic tops and cotton blend outfacing sides, in classy colors such as gray, chambray, charcoal, and navy. Which means they’ll look reasonably attractive under your bed...if you can get them under your bed in the first place. When packed to capacity, it proved quite a squeeze for us.
The Container Store Wide Under Bed Drawer
Where To Buy$24.99 The Container Store Buy
Not only did this slim, stackable unit (made from Container Store’s favored polypropylene, which they claim is unbreakable) easily slip under our bed, we were able to tuck it under a chest of drawers.
That said, our soft load quickly overtook it, and our hard load was a real challenge too. And, while the sliding drawer feature is fun, much like the buckling lids on standard boxes, an excess of contents render it unusable.
Studio 3B Underbed Storage Bags
About half the size of PB Teen’s bags and made of polyester blend instead of cotton, Bed Bath and Beyond’s under bed entry is unquestionably less spacious and attractive yet hardly less expensive (there’s an approximate $5 difference in price).
Still, they slip easily under beds, even low clearance dorm ones, and can even be set on shelves or inside drawers — just be sure not to ask too much of them when it comes to packing.
Whitmor Rolling Underbed Storage Cart
Budget-friendly and rather cute, this steel, white epoxy cart could potentially prove useful beyond the bedroom, as a means of storing pantry items, pet products, or art supplies. Which is to say, the open grid design isn’t ideal for soft items, as it can quickly accrue dust on all sides.
You’ll also need to invest a bit of time in piecing these carts together, and from all accounts, you’ll have to spend some energy on maintenance too, as customer complaints include parts snapping off and the wheels coming undone.