Introduction: Modular Water Jug Storage Bins

Around here I have more odds and ends than I know what to do with. I used to keep it in piles strewn about our tiny apartment until my fed up girlfriend came up with a solution to make the room a little more organized.

It basically involved drinking a lot of bottled water and using the jugs the water came in to store stuff. Using her method, not only do you get a $2 rugged modular plastic storage bin, but you also get 2 gallons worth of drinkable water for free. I highly advocate such a storage system. Especially if you are overrun by small parts.

Step 1: Drink Water

Before you can even consider starting to store stuff in the plastic water jugs, you have to drink the water they're holding. It's recommended that you drink 8 full glasses of water a day. However, drinking a little more than that will not hurt you and may, in fact, be beneficial. If there are two people drinking water from the container, you should be able to go through one in about two to three days.

Step 2: Cut the Jug

When you are done drinking, cut open the jug. You should do this by slicing away the label on the front side of container. You don't want to make too large of a hole or the container will lose it's structure. You also don't want to make too small of a hole or it will be hard to put things inside. Make the hole just right (see below).

There may be a little water left inside. You can shake this water out in the sink and then let it air dry for a day or two before putting things inside. If you're really in a rush and don't care about moisture, wipe out the inside with a dry rag.

Step 3: Bundle the Jugs

Once you have completed four water jugs, you want to start bundling them together so that you can begin stacking them without worrying about the whole thing collapsing.

The 2 gallon jugs fortunately have two grooves that can be used to tie them together. I used some basic white string that I got at the hardware store.

I wrapped the string completely around the outside of the front groove on all of the four containers. On one end of the string I tied a loop using a figure-8 knot (although, any old knot should do). With the other end, I cut the line a little long and pulled the extra string through the loop I just made. I made sure the string was in the grooves all the way around the four containers. Then I folded the string all the way back and tied it onto the taught part of the string using a slipknot. I pulled this knot to make sure the bundle was very tight.

To begin with, I would then glue the slipknot in place using hot glue, but I later realized that this wasn't necessary.

I then repeated this process for the other groove until there were 2 taught bands wrapped around the whole bundle.

Step 4: Put Your Junk Away

Finally! The time has come to start organizing and putting your stuff away into your new cubbies.

Step 5: Reinforcement

The nice thing about this is that you can expand cheaply and efficiently to your heart's content.

A tip:
Once your shelving is of a considerable height and width (say 10 wide by 4 high), you are going to want to tie the whole thing together with two long strings.

See the image below to see what in the heck I'm talking about.


ericbosloor made it!(author)2016-03-31

I think this idea is great especially when you need to resort to cutting costs after moving house. However, I personally find that the area is still messy as the clutters are just dumped in the individual jugs without any lids on to conceal in the mess. I would rather cut the opening halfway through the top so the remaining plastic piece that dangles from the top can be used as covers.

CC51 made it!(author)2016-01-05

hot glue would just do the job perfectly

Luna+Lovegood1 made it!(author)2016-01-04

I hope my mom allows me to do It

HelenaTroy made it!(author)2016-01-04

I was thinking of doing something similar with large plastic milk bottles, but I doubt they'd be self-supporting when stacked (depends on the weight of the contents, of course) so I've been trying to work out a way to brace the tiers.

BenL22 made it!(author)2016-01-03

good for emergency raft when flash floods hits.

SereneY made it!(author)2016-01-03

good idea

thank you share

Yonatan24 made it!(author)2015-11-15

My grandpa has been using this storage strategy for like 30 years!

MarkSindone made it!(author)2015-09-11

This seems like a good idea for college kids to have some sort of organization in their dorm room, but for any other person, I think IKEA will probably have something that looks a bit better in terms of aesthetics!

littlemissmaker123 made it!(author)2015-05-02

This is sooooooooooo cool!!!!!! I am so doing it. I am in a real need of somee good organising. I wonder if it would work with two litre milk bottles...?

CameronRobertson made it!(author)2014-07-07

Interesting storage idea! I would personally prefer cubbies with a little more space, but in a bid to be environmentally friendly...

xhua made it!(author)2014-01-30

Good idea!

katelyn3565 made it!(author)2013-05-21

I wonder if this would work with plain old milk jugs?

lobo_pal made it!(author)2009-02-15

Too much water can kill you.

Coodude26 made it!(author)2009-02-19

Yes, about 8 gallons in five minutes will kill you. Even if you drank one entire jug of water, nothing bad would happen, besides frequent visits to the bathroom. BTW, ANYTHING can kill you.

lobo_pal made it!(author)2009-02-20

I read up on it after the lady died, I think it's actually closer to 15-20 in an hour.

Coodude26 made it!(author)2009-02-20

These guys are barely drinking one every 3 days, so there's no cause for worry...

lobo_pal made it!(author)2009-02-20

I'm just saying, don't to try to get all these containers in one day.

Coodude26 made it!(author)2009-02-21

haha. Yea, I hope most people have THAT much sense.

lobo_pal made it!(author)2009-02-21

I don't know, did you hear about the death during the radio contest? She died after drinking 20 gal of water. Stupid people.

bassclarinet23 made it!(author)2009-04-04

People are morons

DIY-Guy made it!(author)2013-04-16

To the author, Great work! Simple concept, simple solution, very elegant.

bassclarinet23 says:                                   Apr 4, 2009. 8:00 AM
"People are morons"

DIY-GUY replies-
I totally agree! In fact I competely understand how you say people are mor... uh, hmm...

Bernyk made it!(author)2010-01-04

stupid? Cmon now there was a valuable Wii at stake there!! haha

Coodude26 made it!(author)2010-01-04

dude you're about 10 months late on the joke, bud

lobo_pal made it!(author)2010-01-05

That why they have the dates.

lobo_pal made it!(author)2010-01-05

I hope she didn't say "I could just die for a wii" right before.

Coodude26 made it!(author)2009-02-21


borisvaletto made it!(author)2009-04-03


mrshawklady made it!(author)2009-05-16

Yo'all are just being silly now. Course you dont drink it all at once. lol.

Oblivitus made it!(author)2009-05-23

Wow, I know that it only takes like a gallon to kill a baby.

weasel999 made it!(author)2009-09-21

only if u drown

SydneyTripp made it!(author)2010-04-09

No, to much water makes you 'whiz' out all your nutrients. Do it enough and you'll die like an anorexic person. Mal-nutrition and Starvation!

lobo_pal made it!(author)2010-04-10

Actually water has no effect on the nutrients. It's a common misconception, but if you urine collor simply indicates how much of the nutrients your body doesn't use.
The extra water is similar to dehydration, because it removes the salt from your body, similar to what happens when you sweat and don't get electrolytes.

lobo_pal made it!(author)2009-09-21

It's not the water that kills you, it's running out of air. (like the falling one)

sabbott made it!(author)2011-04-11

This reminds me of some knock-down furniture book ideas I found in the late 70's. Here is a link to one of the best books ever on the topic. - Nomadic Furniture by James Hennesy and Victor Papanek
Your waterjug idea is great (except it's better not to use bottled water if the local stuff is safe to drink, right? Unless of course you need the bottles for storage.)

makalove made it!(author)2012-02-01

i checked those books out from the library on Fort Sill when my ex-husband was in the Army. i loved them so much that later, when the web became a real thing, i bought copies from someone on eBay. :) i still use ideas from them in my home.

Jaci made it!(author)2011-04-10

I'm seeing cheap and easy shoe storage! Thanks for the post.

Quills made it!(author)2011-08-30

:D Same here! We don't have those water jugs but our cat litter comes in a similar shaped container. Sturdy plastic too! My shoes will have homes now lol.

Dragonbone made it!(author)2011-04-28

I like the idea of using magnets between them but that might not be strong enough, if they are cheap enough magnets. However you could slot a wooden bar through the handles and stack the rows, or hang each row from ordinary shelf brackets - or even the ceiling. I think these containers are polypropylene, which doesn't glue very easily.

synchronousmosfet made it!(author)2011-04-14

Hmmm, I wonder if these could be welded together. The string idea is elegant, no doubt about that, but I've used those hot-air plastic welding guns, and it might be that this sort of plastic is a weldable sort. You just cut strips from the part you cut out for the hole and use the strips as welding rod.

hannahheartsyou made it!(author)2008-04-26

couldn't you just super glue it? it would help more and it would stick together longer and stronger.

randofo made it!(author)2008-04-26

You could... but aside from seeing the glues spots, this way I can easily swap, rearrange, replace, redesign and move the entire unit.

hannahheartsyou made it!(author)2008-04-27

good point (i are stupedo)

Grey_Wolfe made it!(author)2008-06-17

Superglue is also rather fragile. Likes to crack and chip over time. If you were going to glue, maybe epoxy or hot spot would be better. Though I prefer the modular nature as well. Perhaps snap rivets (if you don't mind seeing the spots) so you could pop them together. Wouldn't be too cheap though. But just a long term idea.

rbeck1 made it!(author)2011-04-11

Goop would do the trick. It's a nice all purpose flexible adhesive.

hannahheartsyou made it!(author)2008-06-19

it's still a real cool instructable :)

Grey_Wolfe made it!(author)2008-07-16

I totally agree, if I didn't give that impression, it was unintentional.

C.DirtBag made it!(author)2009-01-20

I have been amazed lately with all the creative ways people are re-using plastic bottles and food containers - of all descriptions. Great idea. I like the modular aspect.

MrsHill made it!(author)2011-01-30

i just tried super gluing them and it didnt work. the glue just gummed up... :(

mtbpilot43 made it!(author)2011-04-10

Why not take the spout off and cut the opening out on the back side. That would look a lot neater.

criggie made it!(author)2011-04-10

How about a nut and bolt between each bottle, horizontally and vertically?
Or a pop-rivet with a couple of spreader washers?

These water bottles are not common here, we can drink our tap water.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
More by randofo:Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge RecipeBuild a Mad Scientist LightUseless Machine Instructions
Add instructable to: