The Best Uses for Milk Crates (That Aren’t Crating Milk)

A man holding a plastic blue milk crate.
Tim Masters/Shutterstock

Milk crates are sturdy, versatile, boxes that can fill just about any role. Here’s how to turn your cheap milk crates into organizers, storage containers, furniture, and more.

By the way, these projects will work for plastic or wooden milk crates. If you want to save some money, go for the plastic crates. But if you’re worried about style, go ahead and get some wooden crates.

Stackable Storage Bins for Loose Junk

Two milk crates full of kids toys.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Do you have a bunch of crap lying around? Unorganized books, cables, balls of yarn, or DVDs? Maybe its time to throw all that stuff in some milk crates. Milk crates make for fantastic stackable storage bins, and you can keep them just about anywhere in your house.

Of course, small items will slip through your milk crate’s holes (especially if you’re using plastic crates). You can close off those holes by lining the crate with an old shirt or some fabric (hot glue or tape should fix it to the crate). Or, if you’re feeling really thrifty, you can use old grocery bags to hold loose items in crates.

Closet and Under-Bed Organizers

A shelf full of milk crates
humbak/Shutterstock

Need some extra storage in your closet or under your bed? Milk crates are great for organizing clothes, towels, and bedding. You can even add labels to your milk crates to keep everything tidy and easy to identify.

You can take things a step further by placing milk crates (open-side out) on your existing closet shelves. The tops of the milk crates can be used as an extra shelf, and the insides can be used as divided organizers.

Car Trunk Organizers

A woman with a messy trunk. She needs some milk crates!
Myroslava Malovana/Shutterstock

Your trunk may be a jumbled up rat’s nest today, but it could be an organized milk crate haven tomorrow. Milk crates are great for securing loose items in your trunk, like safety equipment, tools, towels, and junk. It’s also nice to have a few empty milk crates in your trunk, just in case you need to move some small items or temperamental groceries.

Again, small items can slip through a milk crate’s holes. You may want to close off the holes by lining the crate with an old shirt or some fabric. And if you’re worried that the milk crates will slide around in your trunk, you can secure them to each other with zip ties.

Stools, Benches, and Shelves

A living room decorated with milk crate furniture
Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

This is where things start to get a little weird. A few cable ties can transform a stack of milk crates into stools, chairs, benches, or shelves. You could even make a milk crate bedframe (if you’re feeling brave).

Milk crate stools and ottomans are easy to make. Just stuff a crate with something (newspaper, a blanket, books) and top it off with a cushion. Make a couple of these, pin them together with zip ties, and you’ve got yourself a bench (or take the cushion off to turn your bench into a TV stand).

If you want to make milk crate shelves, stack a few milk crates on top of one another (face-out) and secure them with zip ties or screws. Wooden milk crates might make safer shelves than plastic milk crates. Plus, they look better.

DIY Planters

A bunch of milk crates full of flowers and herbs
expatpostcards/Shutterstock

Milk crates are a solid alternative to expensive pots and planters. Take a milk crate, line it with burlap or old shirts (to keep the dirt in), and fill it with soil. Bang—you’ve got a super cheap reusable planter.

Bear in mind that plastic milk crates are about 10-inches tall. If you want to grow plants from seeds, you may have to cut down your plastic milk crate planter to make it more shallow (or just use less dirt, I guess).

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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