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It’s a rookie mistake – the endless investing in household gadgets that promise to keep daily life effortlessly ordered and beautiful-to-boot.

Be it that shoe storage system or cupcake maker, we must have it – needed or not. That is until we realise it’s not life-saving and retire it to a drawer brimming with other useless “must-haves”.

We asked the professionals what products to avoid, and their top ideas and great buys for running a ship-shape home that won’t cost a lot of lolly.

1. Plastic shoe boxes

They seem like a sensible idea, but professional organiser Georgie Rees from Clutterfly finds them annoying. “Fiddly to use, they never stay put together, and easily collapse.”

Tip: Use the box your shoes came in. “Cardboard is breathable, and easily stackable,” agrees Rees. “Attach a label facing outwards for quick identification.” Ditched the original box? Restock with these cardboard shoeboxes from

2. Utensil organisers

Own a wayward cutlery drawer? Organiser Robyn Amott from Bless This Mess says set-sized utensil storage containers are best avoided. “They waste a lot of space,” she says.

Tip: “Customise your drawers using separate varying sized organisers,” she says. “You will reduce clutter and wasted space while taking advantage of the drawer height.” Kmart stocks different sizes that can be mixed and matched.

3. Electric salt and pepper grinders

“One of my least favourite kitchen hacks,” says caterer Katrina Sykes of Soiree Catering. “They can break down or malfunction – not ideal when you are seasoning food!”

Tip: Revert to the original and give your wrists a workout. “Ditch for a beautiful mill set. They’re prettier, and it’s easy to twist the wrist,” she says. We like Cole Mason’s Bobbi Salt and Pepper Mill Set from Peter’s of Kensington.

4. Vacuum pack storage

Remember when vacuum storage was a thing? Clever until you had to stash them somewhere, or found them deflated. “I don’t recommend them for long term storage,” agrees Amott, “and being cumbersome they are difficult to store.”

Tip: “Invest in free-standing cube shaped bags that are easy to stack and fit into high storage spaces.” Try the Original Space Bag range at Howards Storage World.

5. Decorative light switch cover

“A useless design item that doesn’t solve any decorating issues and gets grubby quickly,” says interior stylist Emma Blomfield. “A light switch is not a feature to showcase, and you will if you attach a patterned sticker to it.”

Tip: Keep it simple opting for a stainless steel or white cover. “Keep clean with a quick Windex every now and then,” she recommends. Find good versions at Bunnings.

6. Garment folder

“If you love folding then this is a useful tool,” says Amott, “but will you really use it long-term?”

Tip: Opt for hanging over folding. “Being able to see clearly what you own means you will get more wear out of your wardrobe,” she says. For a beautiful and well-organised wardrobe, invest in matching hangers. Try the Neat Freak range from Howards Storage World.

7. Packing boxes

“When moving, grabbing boxes from the grocery store seems like a smart idea,” says home organiser Carol Martyn from Dr Declutter. “In reality, they prove back-breaking to move and awkward to stack given they not the same size.”

Tip: “Use professional same size packing boxes,” she says. “Your back will thank you, and they are a space saver and cinch to stack.” Stock up on removalist-style boxes from Officeworks.

8. Garlic crusher

“A waste of money!” says Nicola Evans of Sort It Now. “A good one can cost around $20, is tricky to clean, and takes up drawer space. “

Tip: Put a chef’s knife to work for good results. “Place the blade flat on top of an unpeeled clove, and using the heel of your hand, press down firmly. Presto! Self-peeled and crushed beautifully!” she says. Invest in a long-lasting, good quality knife like Wusthof’s Classic Cook’s Knife from Kitchen Warehouse.

9. Self-dispensing dish brush

The perfect cheat for an easy wash-up? “It is the most annoying tool!” says Skyes. “The scourer wears out quickly, and you either forget to refill, or it bubbles over with detergent.”

Tip: “Wash-up the old fashioned way,” she says. “Hot water, suds and a decent quality brush – easy!” We like the stylish and practical Edge Dish Brush from Joseph Joseph.

10. Hanging storage

While it seems like a smart solution, hanging storage takes up a lot of valuable hanging room. “It’s better utilised in the car boot,” says Amott. “I use one to organise shopping and school paraphernalia. It won’t keep your wardrobe organised but your boot will be clutter-free!”

Tip: “Store underwear and pyjamas in drawers, and add additional shelving inside your wardrobe for bulkier items like folded sweaters,” she says. Check out IKEA for a range of storage solutions.

11. Large storage tubs

“Stashing lots of items in a big tub doesn’t make you organised’,” says Amott. “It ends up becoming a general dumping ground.”

Tip: Use smaller tubs and categorise the items you store in them. “Storing items based on categories, makes it easier to find things quickly,” she says. We like the beautiful and affordable woven Living Space Matilda Baskets, available in a range of sizes from Spotlight.

12. Omelette maker

“Another impulse purchase letdown,” says Sykes. “It sounds like a kitchen life-saver, but consistently fails to deliver. As a general guide, always avoid any appliance with the word ‘maker’ in it!”

Tip: “Buy yourself a good looking omelette pan and teach yourself how to make a simple omelette – it’s super easy.” We like the non-stick Circulon Elite Crepe and Omelette Pan from Peter’s of Kensington.

Written by Elizabeth Clarke. Republished with the permission of