Small Component Storage From Ariel 3 in 1 Wash Pods Box




About: IT / CAD Professional with keen amateur interest in technology for the visually impaired.

I needed an efficient way to organise and store resistors so it was easy to find specific values. This Instructable describes my solution using an empty Ariel 3 in 1 Wash Pod box (30 pod size), 16 cotton bud stems, 6 slide binders, some balsa wood and 16 grip-lock bags. It is my entry in the 'Trash to Treasure' contest.

Within the box are 16 hanging T shaped 'storage units' each consisting of a grip lock bag held in a clip. The clip provides a good surface for a label indicating the contents.

The system can be used to store any small items.

Step 1: Materials

Ariel 3 in 1 Wash Pod box (30 pod size)

6 Flat Backed A4 Slide Binders (10mm White Square)

16 plastic shaft cotton buds

Balsa wood 500 x 6 x 6mm

16 Plastic resealable grip seal bags 75 x 80mm

Step 2: Preparing the Box

Peel off as much of the Ariel labels as possible (why do manufacturers insist on using high tack adhesive for labels? It just makes upcycling more difficult!). Any remaining pieces have to be soaked off using hot water.

Residual adhesive can be removed using WD40.

The box is in two parts, the hinged lid assembly and the container itself.

Carefully remove the lid assembly by springing the six clips and gently easing the frame away from the box. It is held in place with a low tack adhesive. Do not remove this adhesive as this will help keep the frame in place when the box is reassembled.

Step 3: Preparing and Installing the Support Rails

Cut the balsa wood into 2 lengths of 230mm.

Round the ends off so the rails fit neatly in the box. There are ledges at the ends of the box that will support the rails at the correct height.

When satisfied with the fit, glue the rails in place. I used a small amount of Evo-Stick Timebond contact adhesive. Do not use too much as it melts the plastic of the box. Hold the rails in place until the glue has set.

Replace the lid assembly, checking that the six clips have engaged correctly.

Step 4: Creating the Hanging Storage Units

The box can accommodate 16 storage units.

Cut the slide binders into sixteen 88mm lengths to create clips.

Each unit is assembled as follows:

Remove the cotton from a cotton bud - soaking in hot water makes this easier - leaving the plastic shaft.

Put the shaft fully into the bottom of a grip lock bag.

Ease one of the clips slightly open and slide the bottom of the bag into the slot, ensuring the cotton bud shaft is within the clip. This ensures that the bag does not pull out of the clip.

Centre the bag within the clip to create a T shaped hanging unit.

Label as required - I use a Dymo LabelWriter 450 Duo with Black on Clear 24mm tape. Printing two rows of text, and cutting the tape down the centre gives labels of a suitable height.

Place the storage unit on the rails in the box.

Note that the clips lie on their sides as shown.

The grip lock strip is at the bottom of each unit so it can be opened without having to remove it from the clip.

When the box is shut and latched the storage units are held firmly in place by the moulded ridge under the lid.

Step 5: Finishing

If making more than one storage box, label the outside of each.

In the case of my resistor storage box, I laminated a resistor colour code chart and glued it to the inside of the lid.

The boxes stack neatly.

I hope that you have found this Instructable useful - at least it gives a use to discarded plastic cotton buds, an important source of pollution in the oceans. Perhaps a contest to find other uses would be interesting whilst helping the planet!

Peter Mead

Swindon UK

Trash to Treasure

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure



    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    44 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This is a nice hack - and I'll share it with my colourblind electronics students. They have this issue of not being able to see the coloured stripes on the resistors, so I had suggested getting a storage box, measuring the resistors and keeping them sorted while labeling the different compartments. This works well. I also had a question about the parent of a blind student who wanted to get into electronics, and I was struggling how they could mark the resistors. That huge bar across the top would certainly provide sometime big enough to put some tactile indicator of the resistor's value, so that might help.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi ianjuby. My wife is totally blind so we have a lot of experience of access tech and labelling. You could use a braille Dymo labeller - the clips are wide enough to take the tape. Alternatively, consider a 'PenFriend' available from the RNIB in the UK. This is a pen like device that allows the user to record a short audio clip assigning it to a special self adhesive label. When the pen is later touched on the label the relevant audio clip is played back. It can store clips for hundreds of labels so could easily cover the many resistor values. Very useful device in many situations and only costs about £85.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Really good info! Thanks, I'll pass it along.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Many thanks! I am finding the system works well and has been invaluable during the build of my next Instructable. Watch this space!


    1 year ago


    "at least it gives a use to discarded plastic cotton buds" yeah, I can't understand why the old paper based stems needed change. Perhaps we need to start a movement for plastic free ear buds, EPLF, Ear-bud Plastic Liberation Front...

    2 replies

    1 year ago on Step 1

    I’m always looking out to reuse plastic packaging. Brilliant idea, off to find my old boxes in the shed to make this.

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Thats an amazing idea! I have to sort my components in the same way! Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi EldarM1. Please upload a photo when you have built your own version of my little idea!


    1 year ago

    Simply Brilliant! I have always hated trying to fish out those small components and now that I'm disabled it had become excruciating! Great job!