Picture of 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

Picture of 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.

Yeah, not too bad, but I like this concept with the hollow pipes, or big cans instead. More aesthetic in my view.

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...?

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

xhua1 year ago
Good idea!
katelyn35652 years ago
I wonder if this would work with plain old milk jugs?
lobo_pal6 years ago
Too much water can kill you.
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.
I read up on it after the lady died, I think it's actually closer to 15-20 in an hour.
These guys are barely drinking one every 3 days, so there's no cause for worry...
I'm just saying, don't to try to get all these containers in one day.
haha. Yea, I hope most people have THAT much sense.
I don't know, did you hear about the death during the radio contest? She died after drinking 20 gal of water. Stupid people.
People are morons
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 lobo_pal5 years ago
stupid? Cmon now there was a valuable Wii at stake there!! haha
dude you're about 10 months late on the joke, bud
That why they have the dates.
lobo_pal Bernyk5 years ago
I hope she didn't say "I could just die for a wii" right before.
Yo'all are just being silly now. Course you dont drink it all at once. lol.
Wow, I know that it only takes like a gallon to kill a baby.
only if u drown
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!
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.
It's not the water that kills you, it's running out of air. (like the falling one)
sabbott4 years ago
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.
http://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/039470228X - 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.)
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.
Jaci4 years ago
I'm seeing cheap and easy shoe storage! Thanks for the post.
Quills Jaci4 years ago
: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.
Dragonbone4 years ago
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.
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.
couldn't you just super glue it? it would help more and it would stick together longer and stronger.
randofo (author)  hannahheartsyou7 years ago
You could... but aside from seeing the glues spots, this way I can easily swap, rearrange, replace, redesign and move the entire unit.
good point (i are stupedo)
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.
Goop would do the trick. It's a nice all purpose flexible adhesive.
it's still a real cool instructable :)
I totally agree, if I didn't give that impression, it was unintentional.
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.
i just tried super gluing them and it didnt work. the glue just gummed up... :(
mtbpilot434 years ago
Why not take the spout off and cut the opening out on the back side. That would look a lot neater.
criggie4 years ago
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.
kchapmans4 years ago
Cool idea. I have those jugs myself, and I have just decided what I'll do with mine using YOUR idea: KITTY CONDO! :) I have a feeling they are gonna love it....only it will be a smaller version of what you created (4 on the bottom row, 3 on the next, two above that and then a single on the top. Pyramid-shaped, in other words, that is "stepped" on the sides so the cats can run up and down.) It will be outside and I will tie it to my porch posts for stability. Thanks for the idea!
suzyqhoo7 years ago
Love it! And to think I have been recycling my water jugs! NO MORE! Storage bins shall be made!
Same here. No more trips to the recycle center for those large water jugs.
beackmaniax4 years ago
aweasome instructable, bery clever !!!!
I have no idea who's idea this was originally, but when I saw this, my mind went into a whirl wind of ideas of things that could be stored like this, especially craft supplies, embroidery thread, buttons,tiny doll accessories such as the Polly Pockets or the action type figures and all of those tiny little things that kill your feet when stepped upon etc... !!!! :-). These would be great for a child's room. Instead of investing good money into cubbies,(which by the way can be climbed on, drawn on etc...) why not use this method to introduce orginization when the child is in those early learning stages, and once you have accomplished that, then as they grow a little older, go out and purchase those nice cubbies or storage bins. After all if they get damaged, there won't be any big loss and won't cost you an arm and a leg to replace. Thanks so much for posting this. I can't wait to show this idea to my granddaughter, and decorating them to their liking will be hours of fun, while being constructive at the same time.Thanks again ! :-) :-) :-)
randofo (author)  Joliesmawmaw6 years ago
I'd like to say this was my idea, but it was actually my girlfriend's idea. She did most of the drinking and I did most of the work. I store craft and electronics in them. They are great. You should be careful with small children as the edges around the opening can be sharp. You would want to pad/cover them with something soft.
Sandpaper!! That's the solution to all of my sharp edges :) nice project - if my family drank those water things i'd definitely make this!
I'm sorry, but the word cubby makes me twitch. I don't know why, but I've always hated the sound of that word in relation to what it's used for. But yeah, it is a really useful piece of furniture.
RefStone4 years ago
Find similar containers in apartment recycling bins (or personal bins on pick-up day).
samuel1435 years ago
pongada polapedutha payakala
Printy6 years ago
If you wanted more of the containers, buy em and hand out to friends to drink. You'll have the containers you want in a couple of days (depending on how many friends you have...)
Hahaha! Better idea!
hevydrop6 years ago
This is a slightly creative idea, but what a huge waste of money and resources to buy that much bottled water. Every drop has been drawn from someone's aquifer, filtered, packed and shipped at an enormous cost in energy, and you paid a buck a gallon for a product no better than you can get from your tap for virtually nothing.
randofo (author)  hevydrop6 years ago
If you would like to solve this problem, please contact my landlord about replacing my plumbing so that it no longer contains lead. In the meantime, I would settle for more suggestions in ways to reuse 2 gallon water jugs.
randofo, you could talk to a lawyer about that, I think there's a law that you have to change your pipes or something.
My guess is that your tap water tastes better and has fewer chemicals that do harm than most. Besides, if you do drink that much bottled water and then if you do have all these containers left over, then this is not only a slightly creative idea, but a great idea. Not everyone has the same conditions or is in the same station in life.
jessa6 years ago
milk jugs! great idea for those of us who don't buy our water. would it be better to cut out the handle portion, or leave the handle and cut out a different side? since milk jugs don't have those built-in grooves what would be the best way to make them modular (connect them together)? and to think i have spent all that wasted money on those little plastic drawers at walmart. jessathewolf
They have these new jugs you find at Costco, they made them so they're easy to stack, and they're like rectangular prisms. Probably easier than buying so much water. Also, I really like those plastic drawers, they have so many sizes.
you could, possibly, buy a filter for the tap. just sayin....
Yeah, I mean, the best way to get these jugs is to ask for empty ones from friends. Then again, if your country's drinking water is unsafe, or if you're going to a foreign country, bottled water may be the way to go.
nallen6 years ago
Great idea(s)! Pity I live in a country with good drinkable water in the tap... and the milk comes in (thin and flimsy) cardboard boxes holding a mere one or two litres.
sandijayne6 years ago
how cute you have a bunny :)
claincar6 years ago
me parece muy buena idea, asi podemos reciclar y tener todo ordenado en nuestra casa
Earthotter6 years ago
this is so awesome , im thinking this would be perfect for my dorm window the ledge is about 11 1/2 inches deep, would these bottles fit? this is so cool !
mrshawklady6 years ago
pretty clever, but is there a way to do something similar with 1 gallon jugs?
TukalHut6 years ago
Thanks for posting! I've been saving those jugs thinking there must be something to do with them besides putting them in the recycle bin! Great idea to hold all my art supplies. Thanks!
I have over a dozen 5 gallon jugs much stronger than those cheap store bought ones. But I planned on putting them on ebay. Someone is already selling similar jugs on ebay. A lot of 11 for $50 bucks.
Does anyone know where i can get these already empty for free
Very cool instructable!!! Could you turn & stack them horizontally, so you'd have a wider but shorter cubby hole?
dianaw7 years ago
This is great! Love it. It would take me forever to dtink all that water though. though I guess I could (and should) cook with it. I don't trust the pipes in my building. I wonder if there is something that could be done with the spouts to make them less obtrusive, OR... more... zanier if you know what I mean. Anyway this is great. I am a vintage textile addict and art supply addict too. This would be great for sorting all those textiles. thanks!
Meggz dianaw6 years ago
Those spouts look a bit like door knobs (small ones) so maybe hinging the cut-off bits from the top so they are like a hatch/door would be aesthetically appealing. Also, the use of woodgrain contact or similar to cover the front (and hinged door) would camouflage the plasticy look of the water bottles would help make the appearance less obvious. AND another idea, remove the pouring plugs (spouts) and add a mini door knob like one of those faceted crystal-looking beauties, as long as the cost is kept down, will really add the bling to 'em!! Another alternative to the string supports could be a metal pole run through them and anchored to bottles for extra strength. Awesome idea, and thanks for the inspiration.
whiteoakart7 years ago
I was thinking of doing this with all of my leftover kitty litter buckets. They have nice durable lids and require no cutting. Thanks for the motivation to get off my bucket.
that was exactly what I have been thinking about doing. They're so strong and so big - they have to be good for something!
I have a friend who uses them under a piece of plywood and a table cloth in his living room. You'd never know.
tega C.DirtBag6 years ago
how sneaky - what a great idea! no one needs to know our little space saving secrets.
Here's another use for them (kitty litter buckets). Fill them up with your kids' McDonald's Happy meal Toys. By the time the bucket is full, the kids don't care about the cheap-o toys anymore, so you take the whole bucket out with the garbage. It beats stepping on some pokey plastic toy in bare feet in the middle of the night.
Hey! cool idea whiteoakart. I've been getting bags of litter and pouring them into the old bucket... now I can begin getting the buckets again. The tidy cat has a flip top lid that stays on. hmmm. I wonder how they will stack. Anyway thanks for the idea. Makes me think about getting another cat or two. Unfortunately my cat Sophie is too much of a primadonna for such nonsense. LOL
dianep7 years ago
I hope people aren't going to switch to bottled water just to get the bottles! How about using detergent bottles instead? They come in tons of colors, too!
tega dianep6 years ago
this is a most excellent idea dianep. check out "garage storage from the laundry room" in this site. I found it quite by mistake. It shows exactly what you are suggesting. plus it shows the label on the handle. it looks really good and organized. i'm drooling - haha
Kiteman7 years ago
Nice trick. I guess, if it gets fairly tall, you could screw through the bottles into the wall to stop it all falling over and recreating the original mess.
randofo (author)  Kiteman7 years ago
We're probably just going to keep it at about the height it is now and start a new one on another wall. Right now, I'm not too concerned about it tipping over because everything has been tied together and the heavier stuff has been strategically placed on the bottom. It should be fine until we have an earthquake, but then, this will be the least of our concerns. We probably will wish we hadn't drank all the emergency water.
tega randofo6 years ago
LOL hey you can always "store" a couple of extra filled water bottles right in there for the emergency ;)
Great Instructable! What I think would work better, though, would be those big jugs that are usually in office buildings and stuff to dispense water in little cups. The dark blue ones. You could simply cut off the top and then since they are round they would look a lot more pretty when stacked. Instead of having straight up columns, you could have a sort of textiled look. I think that made sense?
randofo (author)  rawrgoesmycow7 years ago
That would look really nice, especially if they are stacked to look more like floating air bubbles (or to that effect). Unfortunately our apartment is too small for such thing.
tega randofo6 years ago
one thing to keep in mind is that when you store things in round containers, more space is used up to store less. square containers allow more usable storage space. think tupperware/gladware plastic sandwich containers vs. round bowls.
bluefatdogs6 years ago
Looks like you have filled this one up and need to build more. Very creative. However openings look like they are sharp and might scrape little arms and hands even big ones. nice job
You can heat a rounf metal object (I'm thinking a used pen, or something like that) and slide it over the edges so it will make them smooth.
Time consuming, but good solution! Like the project even more.
tputnam717 years ago
Neat idea! Great for organizing all the knick-knacks laying around the house. Although, I wouldn't have this "unit" visible in the living room... not very pleasing to look at.
Besides, you can spray paint them in a darker color, so they won't be all white and shiny.
Think college student and college dorms...
Phade6 years ago
Another thing you could do to make stacking quicker is put Velcro on them. Two strips of the "hook" side on the bottom and right sides and two strips of the "loop" side on the top and left sides.
That's a quick thought, but the price of Velcro is greater than the price of string. I like the string idea better.
randofo (author)  Phade6 years ago
That's a pretty good idea.
aznliu6 years ago
Great idea! You can even turn the water jugs upside down and write labels on the spouts for quick referencing. Or even make the hole a hinged opening by leaving one side attached and just fold it back a couple times to make a door.
Very clever!
This is a great idea for starving students (my son). You could also use milk jugs if you don't get bottled water. Way to go neat idea!
Sorry if this has already been asked: what do you recommend cutting the jug with? I would think a box cutter would do the trick...? Thanks!
randofo (author)  superhipcrystal6 years ago
A box cutter will do it. I've used scissors, razor blades, exacto knives and pocket knives too. Pretty much anything sharp will slice through it.
AznPanda6 years ago
Ha ha! i saw this in a diffrent instructable of yours and wanted to see how you did it :O now im gonna go buy some water jugs get a blanket/rug put it on the ground and whenever i want water ive got water and i can store stuff :D
Lindie7 years ago
I've seen this in person. Very Cool!
cornboy37 years ago
Wow, you must have been really thirsty :D
Spectrace7 years ago
Another great thing is that when one "module" gets broken some how. like if it was bumped into and the plastic collapsed or something... you can recycle it and get a new one. :)
i love it . i can use this for all my art supplies and project nick nacks. very very creative
Thats exactly what i will do for my mom for her birthday or christmas or something.
i hope she doesnt read that.

Sunny1246137 years ago
Wow this would be good for schools and play areas for young kids(cubbyholes)you know, for their books or shoes.
Sweet idea!!! I used to use those jugs and I wonder how many "modules" I could have scored for free! I had no idea!
Gnosis7 years ago
Thanks for sharing your idea, I love this forum :-) Isn't it unstable? Won't it tip over? How do you keep it stabilized?
ideaer0077 years ago
tinic7 years ago
this is a brilliant idea. I use tap water in my country. i'm just thinking about containers that I could recycle...
gwalker1077 years ago
I just had a WOW and a DUH moment at the same time. This is great.
bricmpt7 years ago
SWEET!!! Was just getting ready to build something very similar, this design is better than what I had in mind. Thanks for doing this work, man. Go Green!!!
shooby7 years ago
This is cool. I'd like to see one with a frame built into it, and with each jug hanging from a pivot, opening facing up. Sort of like drawers, but you tip them instead of pulling them pen. That way you don't have to look at the contents of the drawers, but instead get a nice "frosted plastic" look, with some wood framing in between.
shooby shooby7 years ago
Modular systems are awesome of course, thanks for adding to their supreme power.
i use these jugs all the time and usually recycle them but starting NOW i'm going to be saving up to make this sweet ass contraption. This is such a magnificent way to really reuse something before you recycle. It makes a statement and a conversation piece as well. (added to faves, bookmarked etc) + this is groovy to the max xD
randofo (author)  recycledthoughts7 years ago
Glad you liked it. :-)
WHY??!?!?!?! can i not rate this darn it?
randofo (author)  iamthemargerineman7 years ago
I'm not sure. Are you still having that problem?
RC Cowboy7 years ago
Cool I'm going to use that to organize my electronic parts for building robot or what ever I can think of.
this is magical.
ry259207 years ago
:P Step 1. But wow, this is just an awesome idea! I would do it, but my mom would want to recycle them, but this is just brilliant! +1 rating. (added to favorites)
After the "reduce" comes "reuse". (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?)

Reusing before recycling is best as recycling requires "reprocessing". Chemicals need to be added to change the materials into something else that can be used. After this stage, it is possible that it cannot be recycled, depending on the material.

Recycle should be the last step. Here is a site that may help you convince your Ma to let you "reuse" first. http://www.onebagatatime.com

Once your storage unit is no longer "reusable" it can then be "recycled". Good Luck and have fun!~
Thank you for that perspective. I never thought of it in those terms. Well stated. Huckleberry.
Tell your mom that this *is* recycling :)
evolution887 years ago
i found one DIY similiar to this but with boxes. I always wanted something like this but then I was always too lazy to get boxes. However I drink a lot of water out of those water jugs you use and finally now, thanks to this great DIY, I'll keep them to finally get junk stored and organized. very nice !
Spokehedz7 years ago
Actually, more recent studies have shown that drinking a lot of water actually makes you flush a lot of vitamins and minerals from your body before it has a chance to absorb them. But good job on the storage though.
servant747 years ago
Would be good to try with 1gal milk jugs or 1gal distilled or drinking water jugs. Where we live, we don't buy bottled water due to the high cost. It makes sense if your water is bad. Years ago, my mom did buy water until she had the plumbing in her house replaced. The old plumbing was contaminating her water and she had almost no flow. The few $K investment helped make her house much more livable. It was a very old house then, over 50 years, but the city had good water (even if it has lots of minerals, just not enough to need a water softener).
Mexicoman7 years ago
I not know what this water cost in bottle but last time I look price for water in bottle, was more money than gasoline. If must buy water for get can maybe is cheaper for build storage with wood. If doctor say must drink special water, is good idea for make storage. But most faucet water good to drink. Even Mexican water good. Not need to buy expensive water when come from faucet very cheap. Maybe I make storage from old beer bottle. Is not better, but is more fun. In Mexico, we want get beer from faucet, not water. Is good idea, No? We think is great idea!
cheezstake7 years ago
Great idea! My kids could organize ALL their toys with this. However, I'd have to figure out how to smooth out the plastic where the cut is made. Maybe we should switch from gallon bottles to these babies!
Cut it with your soldering iron. If you don't have a soldering iron, you shouldn't even be lurking here... #:)
Another way of getting a smoother edge might be to cut the holes with a hot-knife. Then the edges would be slightly melted and rounded.
You could get some plastic tubing and slit it open lengthwise, then sit the tubing over the edge of the opening. More simply, a little sandpaper should smooth things out enough that your kids won't scratch themselves too much.
Go to a better hardware store (like ACE) and ask for something called lace. Show them what you want to do. It's basically a type of U-Shaped plastic cord that slips over rough and uncomfortable edges.
randofo (author)  cheezstake7 years ago
I just go around with a scissor when I'm done cutting it an remove the sharp corners and anything else poking out. The edge of the plastic itself isn't too bad.
How about softening cut edges with a small gas blowlamp passed evenly over the edges. Best done outside in case the whole thing turns into a drippy fire show but done gently, could work...
ScottSEA7 years ago
This is a wonderful re-use of plastic bottles, which is better for the environment than throwing them into the trash. Environmentally, tho, it would be better to give up bottled water and switch back to the tap (if potable water is on tap where you live). Arrowhead, Coke and Pepsi (and others) make a goldmine off of water that they bottle... from a tap.
Browncoat7 years ago
It's a neat idea, and good if you buy bottled water anyway. (But it's not really "recycling" if you don't normally buy bottled water.)
gardenwife7 years ago
This is a cool idea! I have a question for you, though: Would it work to cut out the opposite end of each container, so the spouts are in the back? I've not seen this type of packaging before.
This is awesome, I am a huge advocate for anythign having to do with recycling, and well organization is quite a challenge for me. Thanks!
leebryuk7 years ago
Oops...forgot to say +1. Great job!
leebryuk7 years ago
Just out of curiosity, have your tried using the allmighty hot glue gun to bind the jugs up. Also, you'd be surprised how strong el cheapo rubber gluue/cement for office use would be in this case.
Nifty idea. I get loads of jugs like these in the recycling at my dump. Let me tell you, they're a pain in the tookus to recycle, because they take up so much space and are hard to squish. I love to see people reusing such stuff, rather than going and buying some piece of crap. One caution, however. This type of plastic doesn't like sunlight much. Ultraviolet light exposure makes it brittle. I suppose your window glass will filter the uv somewhat, though. My experience with these jugs going to pieces, was in the great outdoors, using them to haul plant watering water.
gamer7 years ago
nice, i still havent found a good thing to keep my "crap"organized, but this is very close to what i need. by the way, i can drink a whole bottle like that perday, i already so........ nice instructables. -gamer
ll.137 years ago
It looks really good!

-did I see some AKG headphones in there? =)
brainwise7 years ago
That is mighty impressive. Kudos to you for your clever re-use of a common item.
awoodcarver7 years ago
Very nice reuse ....have to stop recycling them now
Brennn107 years ago
Wow this is a very good idea! Nice mashup!